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From hammer pants to statement jewellery, everyone from the eighties will remember the hip-hop fashion scene. A style that was about attitude as much as clothing, many of the looks of 80s hip-hop fashion are still ones that are incorporated into both the hip-hop scene and the wider fashion world of today.

Championed by hip-hop legends like MC Hammer and Run DMC, it is no wonder that the hip-hop styles of eighties hold such a prominent place in fashion history.

These are some of the best 80s hip-hop styles and how you can incorporate them into your own modern look.


#1. Cazal Eyewear

Popularized by hip-hop sensations like Run DMC, Cazal glasses soared in popularity in the 80s hip-hop scene. Normally with clear lenses, these glasses are still popular today, with hip-hop stars like Jay Z a fan of the brand.

#2. Kangol Bucket Hats

The Kangol Bucket Hat was iconic in the eighties hip-hop scene and worn by almost every hip-hop star, including legends like LL Cool J. When embracing this look today try pairing a classic Kangol bucket hat with a gold chain to embrace the eighties vibes.

#3. Lots of Rings

Rings were a statement piece of the eighties hip-hop world, so the more chunky, gold rings the better. Hip-hop star Big Daddy Kane was particularly well known for wearing rings and when drawing inspiration for your own look make sure to incorporate at least two or more gold rings.

#4. Hammer Pants

Synonymous with the legendary MC Hammer, Hammer pants are iconic in the eighties hip-hop scene. Tight at the ankle with a loose drop crotch, these are the perfect attire for hip-hop dancing. Try sporting some hammer pants with a singlet and bucket hat.

Did you know? When Rap Met Hip Hop

In the late 1980s, hip hop fashion started to change and absorbed some of the influences of traditional African-American artists. In 1989, Cross Colours, the first streetwear brand and hip-hop movement was established.

The idea was to create and wear “clothes without prejudice”, inspired by the increasingly influential black nationalism. Rappers were using their voice and their clothes to highlight the social issues of the black community.

Those who embraced this fashion wore large pants, eccentric headwear and bright colours. Yet, there was still a small resemblance of the preppy style, inspired by Will Smith’s iconic character from the popular TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

#5. Gold Earrings

For an eighties hip-hop inspired outfit, earring should be large, gold and hooped. Again, an item that is as much a statement as an accessory, hip-hop stars like Antionette sported large gold earrings back in the 80s.

#6. Red, Black and Green

The staple colours of any eighties inspired hip-hop wardrobe was red, black and green. A combination of this colour palette was often seen on hip-hop stars and groups such as Public Enemy and De La Soul. When creating your own modern hip-hop look, basing it on this colour scheme is a great place to start.

#7. Gold Chains

As any eighties hip-hop star will tell you, nothing says eighties hip-hop like chunky gold chains. Gold chains were the ultimate status symbol for eighties hip-hop stars and hip-hop legends like Big Daddy Kane often wore multiple heavy, gold chains. For a more modern look, try incorporating just one or two chains into your hip-hop inspired outfit.

#8. Customized Clothing

Eighties hip-hop was all about individuality and no one knew this better than hip-hop star Dapper Dan who was famous for cutting up luxury items to make his own unique clothing. When embracing the hip-hop trend take inspiration from Dapper Dan and try incorporating different pieces to make a new and unique fashion style.

#9. Matching Tracksuits

While today it may be associated with athletic wear, anyone from the eighties will remember that tracksuits were sported by all the top hip-hop stars. The Beastie Boys were often seen in matching tracksuit ensembles as were many other stars of the day.

#10. Bomber Jackets

Bomber jackets were a popular piece of outerwear for the eighties hip-hop star, with top hip-hop groups like Run DMC incorporating these into their outfits. This style is still widely popular in the modern fashion scene and looks great with a pair of jeans and combat boots for a more modern take on this iconic style.

#11. Jean Jackets

Another outerwear style sported by hip-hop stars like the Beastie Boys was the jean jacket. When incorporating this style into a modern look, wear it with black jeans or trousers and a plain white tee for a more modern style.

#12. Fashion with your Name

Wearing fashion pieces that had your name printed or sewn on them was popular in the eighties hip-hop world. Celebrity Biz Markie often wore hats or jackets with his name featured on it. When being inspired by this look in the modern fashion scene, keep it more subtle with the name printed smaller and more subtly than the hip-hop stars of the eighties.

#13. Sunglasses

When the eighties hip-hop stars weren’t wearing Cazals, they were wearing sunglasses. Stars like Public Enemy were a fan of the sunglass look and able to be styled with almost any outfit, are a great addition for a modern look. Try styling a pair with a leather jacket and gold chain for a hip-hop vibe.

#14. Leather Jackets

A favourite of eighties hip-hop stars like Run DMC and popular within the modern fashion world, the leather jacket is a style that looks great when adopting an eighties hip-hop themed outfit. Wear it with a Kangol bucket hat and some Cazal glasses to really embrace the 80s theme.

#15. Adidas

For many hip-hop stars of the eighties, Adidas was the brand of choice. Chosen for everything from tracksuits to sneakers, Adidas was a favourite of celebrities like Public Enemy. Still a wildly popular brand today, try incorporating some Adidas sneakers into your next outfit.

#16. Basketball Shoes

Although trainers were already a popular item, it was only in 1984 that Nike and Michael Jordan created the most iconic pair of basketball shoes, the Air Jordan’s. Today, this is a legendary piece of footwear, which has inspired many high-end designers, such as Dior.

#17. Mesh Jackets

Gangsta rap was a subculture which became popular in the late 1980s, inspired by the African American gangs. Air Jordan sneakers and mesh jackets were two of the most important pieces of items of any gangsta rapper’s wardrobe.

#18. Gold Watches

The most fashionable time piece of the eighties hip-hop scene was the gold watch. Worn by hip-hop stars and celebrities around the world, gold watches of the day were large and chunky.

Although watches aren’t as popular in the modern fashion scene, a gold watch can still be incorporated into a modern hip-hop look when paired with dark clothing

The rise of hip-hop styles in the eighties fashion world created a unique and lasting look in the wider fashion community. Popularised by top hip-hop artists of the day and embracing the true attitude of hip-hop, these styles have endured the test time.

When incorporating eighties hip-hop styles into your modern look remember it is all about individuality so take inspiration from stars like Big Daddy Kane and Dapper Dan and embrace the true hip-hop style.

#19. The Homeboy Trend

In the late 1980s, Isaac Mizrahi introduced the so-called “homeboy chick” trend. Models and artists were wearing black catsuits and fur-trimmed hoodies. If you want to keep it more casual and minimal, you can opt for a fur-trimmed parka or coat.

About The Author

May is totally crazy about the 80s and everything the decade inspired! Having grown up in a household that was totally taken over by 80s music and fashion its only natural that May lives and breathes the 80s!

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