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The 1980s produced a catalog of some of the best movies ever (while time really hasn’t served some well at all!). Rom-coms boomed, thrillers thrilled, and actors pulled out all the dramatic stops.
1980s films are a perfect way to explore the fashion of the decade, with some truly fabulous pieces among others that are a little questionable.
Here are the biggest movie hits of the decade, their leading ladies, and the iconic outfits they wore on the big screen. Get ready for plenty of fluffy hair, oversized shoulders, and unexpected layering.
‘American Gigolo’ 1980 Lauren Hutton
The style: beige tones, simple knits with smart slacks, and simple cotton shirts. An iconic grey trench coat, and a purple blouse with indigo jeans, a red clutch, and 70s sunglasses. Bronzed 1970s skin and a soft-textured blonde bob.
‘Xanadu’ 1980 Olivia Newton-John
The style: a creamy-toned, off-shoulder, peasant-style top and fluttery mid-skirt with thigh splits. All polished off with slouchy cream boots (or roller skates). A sparkling black-gold jumpsuit with halter neck, gold belt, and gold heels.
‘Mommie Dearest’ 1981 Faye Dunaway
The style: A black gown with bold shoulder pads. A face covered in cold cream, a headband, red lipstick, and that iconic, terrifying scream. A shimmering metallic silver gown with wide shoulders and cinched waist. Overdrawn, overarching eyebrows and sharp cheekbones. A fashion feast, but a terrifying movie.
‘Body Heat’ 1981 Kathleen Turner
The style: a silky white blouse with a popped collar and top buttons undone, worn with a red high-waisted pencil skirt. A white shirt-style dress with a belted waist, thigh split, and vintage covered buttons. A silky white lace and satin chemise with a fluffy gown.
‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ 1982 Jennifer Jason Leigh
The style: a very demure pizza parlor uniform; red and white striped dress with puffed sleeves, red bowtie, and white apron. A bright sweater with a pink shirt collar peeking out, a sweet headband worn over fluffy hair. Perfect 80s 15-year old good-girl styling.
‘An officer and a gentleman’ 1982 Debra Winger
The style: a slinky red cocktail dress with spaghetti straps, V-neckline, and gathering at the hip. A green and pink wrap day dress with flutter sleeves, waist belt, and peep-toe heels. A plaid shirt, camel baker boy hat, grey slacks, and boots (and a uniformed Richard Gere picker scooping her up).
‘Blade Runner’ 1982 Mary Sean Young
The style: space-age black leather pencil skirt and jacket with dramatic shoulders, cinched waist, and necktie. Glossy red lips and glossy black hair with mid-part and barrel fringe. A cloud of cigarette smoke.
‘Flashdance’ 1983 Jennifer Beals
The style: slouchy, off-shoulder grey marle sweater with raw hemlines. Ripped jeans, a white tank, and bouncy curls.
The style: A high-neck black leotard with black leg warmers and jazz shoes. (See recent takes on the look by Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez).
‘Scarface’ 1983 Michelle Pfeiffer
The style: slinky silk slip dresses with diamante trim, plunging necklines, and thigh-high slits. Diamond earrings and necklaces, with a short blonde bob.
The style: A white skirt suit with belted waist, sunglasses, white peep-toe shoes, and a white wide-brimmed hat.
‘Sixteen Candles’ 1984 Molly Ringwald
The style: a lilac prom dress with puffy tulle cap sleeves and neckline trim. A satin sash around the waist and princess-style flared tulle skirt. All polished off with a floral headband.
The style: A navy off-shoulder tee with a natural-toned plaid skirt and layered bracelets.
‘Purple Rain’ 1984 Prince
The style: a crisp white blouse with elaborate front ruffle, high neck, and cinched cuffs. A purple velvet coat with silver studs on the shoulder, and high-waisted trousers. Black point-toe heeled boots. Metallic waistcoat (with signature studs on the shoulder). Glossy black curls and round, reflective sunglasses.
‘Footloose’ 1984 Lori singer
The style: a cowboy hat, cowboy boots, blue jeans, and pink tank top with lace-up front.
The style: A pale pink prom dress with off-the-shoulder ruffle tier and cinched waist.
The style: Pale blue jeans, a slouchy white top (with shoe motif), and signature red cowboy boots. Bouncy 1980s blonde curls.
‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ 1985 Demi Moore
The style: a black lace tank with multi-layered tulle flare skirt and turquoise wide waist belt. Pink ankle boots with turquoise socks. Ultra-feathered and crimped hair worn half-up-half-down. Everything accessorized with layered bracelets, earrings, and necklaces.
The style: An oversized black and white houndstooth blazer with black beret and leather lapels. Big shoulders, big hair, sequins, leather, satin, pearls, tulle…all worn together.
‘Weird Science’ 1985 Kelly LeBrock
The style: a pink metallic bandeau dress with sweetheart neckline, black over-the-elbow gloves, and diamond dangle earrings.
The style: White short crop top and blue briefs with 80s curls and hazy makeup.
The style: Black studded short sleeve top and studded finger-less leather gloves with 80s makeup and 80s big hair.
The style: The classic 80s workout look.
‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ 1985 Madonna
The style: ultra-baggy black high-waisted trousers tapered at the ankle, black lace corset top, and shoulder-padded jacket. Layered necklaces, a black velvet bow in curly blonde hair, angular sunglasses, and red lips.
A black tank top with exposed bra straps, tight mini skirt, lace stockings, fingerless gloves, and layered bracelets.
‘Blue Velvet’ 1986 Isabella Rossellini
The style: a black sequin lounge-bar gown with a high neckline and low back, blue eyeshadow, and glossy red lips. A black lace dress with plunging neckline and open, strappy back, snuggling Rossellini’s curves. A crushed blue velvet robe with puffed shoulders, long sleeves, and 80s curls.
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‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” 1986 Mia Sara
The style: grey pleated Bermuda short with a black leather belt and white jacket with wide shoulders and long fringe. Knee-high socks, and a white sweater (tucked into the waistband of the shorts) with casual, rolled-up sleeves. Dark sunglasses, silky brown waves.
‘Pretty in Pink’ 1986 Molly Ringwald
The style: a very questionable pink prom dress with a high neckline, lace front, open shoulders, and ¾ sleeves.
The style: A cream blouse, brooch at the neckline, pink vest, and mint green maxi skirt.
The style: Floral pants with white lace-ups, lace shirt, and eggshell embroidered cardigan. Plenty of pearls, round-rimmed glasses, and fresh makeup.
‘Fatal Attraction’ 1987 Glenn Close
The style: a high-shine black leather coat, black turtleneck, and black gloves.
The style: A white off-the-shoulder dress with dropped waist and pleated skirt (and kitchen knife brandished wildly). A tight perm with a slight mullet atmosphere.
‘Dirty Dancing’ 1987 Jennifer Gray
The style: long-line denim shorts with a cropped white shirt.
The style: Denim cut-offs with a black leather belt and orange bodysuit with white leather trainers.
The style: A boat-neck striped swing dress with a cinched waist and flared skirt.
The style: Cropped white trousers, white lace-ups, and pale tartan shirt (dancing on a bridge, solo).
‘Wall Street’ 1987 Daryl Hannah
The style: a stark white halter dress (Marilyn style) with a plunging neck and low back. Wispy blonde hair and pearl details.
The style: A black, blue, and red leather-look wetsuit emerging from the ocean. Special mention: Michael Douglas’s suspenders over pale shirts and slicked-back hair.
‘Heathers’ 1988 Winona Ryder
The style: pleated skirts with shoulder-padded blazers and colored tights.
The style: A tight black pinafore dress over a grey Bardot-top and statement necklace.
The style: A blue ruffle-tiered skirt with black leggings, black lace crop, and grey jacket.
‘Working Girl’ 1988 Melanie Griffith
The style: a grey skirt suit with white sneakers. a brown leather jacket with front draping and extreme shoulders, with ultra-fluffy crimped mullet.
The style: A pale pink jacket worn over a cream mock-neck blouse, with oversized, red-rimmed glasses.
The style: A black cocktail gown with Bardot neckline and gold metallic polka dots. Frosty, metallic bronze lipstick and kohl-smudged eyes.
‘When Harry Met Sally’ 1989 Meg Ryan
The style: a black bowler hat, pleated slacks, black leather gloves, and grey blazer with extreme shoulder pads.
The style: A chunky, high-neck cable knit sweater and brown suede jacket.
The style: A black cocktail dress with Bardot neckline and asymmetric ruffle-tier hemline.
‘Batman’ 1989 Kim Bassinger
The style: a white button-down dress with a scoop neckline, cap sleeves, and belted waist.
The style: An 80s, frou-frou white gown with corset-style waist, huge, ruffled off-shoulder sleeves, and a bell-shaped, princess-style skirt.
The style: A seafoam green drop waist dress with long sleeves, soft pleats, and crossover draping across the torso.
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