1980 was one of the best decades for fashion. However, it was only in the mid-1980s that many fashion subcultures were finally able to affirm themselves and find their identities. This led to the creation and experimentation of new styles, making those some of the most variegated and important years for the history of worldwide fashion.
If you want to learn more about this era, or if you are looking for some new inspiration for your look, here you will find all the details that you need.
Iconic Fashion Trends from the Mid 1980s
One of the first things we think about when it comes to the 80s is the hair. In the middle of the decade, people were all about perms, flat tops or even mullets.
Preppies usually slick their hair back just like Michael Douglas or bleach it like Kiefer Sutherland.
A New Style
This was also the era of both sportswear and business wear. The hip-hop subcultures started to ask for more space. On the other hand, TV shows and fashion icons were promoting a different lifestyle, made of suits and shirts. In the end, they all find the perfect solution by creating a new look, which was able to merge elements of both styles, and was both modern and relevant.
Denim and Pants
Another piece of clothing which found new life in those years were jeans. Acid and bleach washes, in particular, were very popular, as they made both punkers, hip-hoppers and rockers happy.
New Fashion Icons
Musicians, actors and celebrities became proper fashion icons. Young people were inspired by their outfits, and soon fashion designers understood how to use their popularity to promote and sell their clothes.
Madonna, David Bowie and Michael Jackson lead both men and women’s fashion subcultures with their flamboyant and extravagant styles.
On the other hand, TV shows like Miami Vice, Dynasty and many others were promoting more casual and approachable outfits, which did not necessarily feature high-fashion pieces.
Men’s Fashion in the Mid 1980s
Both men’s and women’s fashion became more colourful around 1982 until it reached a full explosion of colours in the middle of the decades. Finally, young people were not shy anymore, and they enjoyed expressing their personality through their colourful outfits.
Photo by Zaful (Colour Blocking Geometric Print Button Up Vacation Shirt)
Jeans have been an iconic piece in basically every decade. However, it was only in the mid-1980s that designer jeans became a real thing, after the success of international brands such as Guess. Finally, denim was much more than a casual piece, and high-end designers fell in love with it.
Photo by Farfetch (Dsquared2 Distressed Washed Jeans)
Long and bulky sweaters became a statement look, to empower people’s silhouettes. They are still a prominent trend, although we recommend wearing them with a pair of skinny pants to balance your body shape.
Photo by Asos (Asos Design Heavyweight Jumper in Multicolour Stripes)
A few pieces of clothing are more versatile and comfortable than a good, old jumpsuit. It does thus not surprise that these clothes are now back in our wardrobes, and they can be styled with basically any piece of accessory. Go for bright or pastel colours to immediately highlight your outfit.
Photo by Banana Republic (Heritage Flight Jumpsuit)
It all started when Madonna became a fashion influencer and made rubber bracelets iconic. Every girl was wearing one of those, and soon men’s fashion adopted these accessories as well. Playing with different accessories is the best way to create a unique outfit. Let’s admit it: we all have had a “Like a Virgin” phase.
Photo by Trendhim (Lucleon Black on Black Bracelet Set)
Shoulder pads accompanied men’s fashion over the whole decade, in particular after the success of TV shows Dynasty and Dallas. Soon, blazers with shoulder pads became imperative for business attire. Today, should pads still have a significant vintage vibe, although they are struggling to find their place in contemporary fashion.
Photo by Asos (Asos Design Oversized Sleeveless T-shirt with Shoulder Pads)
Large Scarves and Beanies
We all want to feel comfy and cosy in the winter time. However, in this phase of the 1980s, the purpose of bulky scarves and beanies was much more than functional. They were a proper statement look, worn to empower young people’s silhouettes.
Photo by Begg X Co. (Jura Ernest Lambswool Angora Scarf in Orange)
In the mid-1980s, all preppies were united under the love and veneration for madras shirts. Initially inspired by TV shows Magnum P.I. and Miami Vice, those t-shirts perfectly met the new passion for bright colours typical of those years. Style these shirts with your favourite denim or cargo pants!
Photo by End Clothing (Sophnet Patchwork Madras Check Shirt)
In those years there was a shift from aviator glasses to round lenses. Sunglasses were now a proper piece of accessory, much more than a functional item, and high-end designers were always promoting new pieces.
Photo by The Glasses Company (Ray-Ban RX6392 JA-JO)
Bright colours were undoubtedly a thing, but pastel colours were still able to find their place under the spotlight. From sweaters to business suits, pastels became even more popular than neutral colours.
Photo by French Connection (Classic Colourblock Oxford Shirt)
Miami Vice was one of the first TV shows where business suits and business attire, in general, was portrayed as cool, stylish and versatile. With their pastel blazer and pants, the two detectives were always ready to save the day and spread the love for fashion.
Photo by Moss Bros. (Moss 1851 Tailored Fit Blue Texture Suit)
Cuban Collar Shirts
Recently rediscovered by TV shows like Narcos, Cuban collar shirts were a huge trend back in the 1980s. Floral pattern became a men’s prerogative, while women were following different styles and inspirations.