80s Fashion: The Bold ERA | 80s Fashion Icons

Fashion should reflect who you are, what you feel at the moment and where you are heading to!

The 80s were such a simpler time. Reagan was in White House, the Internet was relegated to underground military bunkers and computers were the size of any normal flat in Mumbai.

80s fashion Style

Fashion in the 80s was also at its most bold, mainly revolved around expensive clothes and shiny fashion accessories. Bright colored dresses with large necklaces spoke for themselves in the “Decade of Greek”

Shoulder pads, perms and all, the 80s was a decade of bold style, colors and silhouettes. The 1980s fashion was all about big hair, big jeans and just about big everything. Fashion designers then were trying to be creative, and it all reflected in the big, bold prints on clothing and the colors also rather striking.

80s fashion left an aftershock and parents were left cleaning up stuck-on bathroom hairspray for decades. We shouldn’t be complaining about it because man ponies not only set the trend but also broke several stereotypes. Long curly hair, who doesn’t like it?

General women’s street-wear worn in the early 80s included the ripped jeans, leotards, tights, sweatpants and tracksuits. The 80s fashion era introduced us with terms like jelly bracelets, jelly shoes, neon clothing, leg warmers, shoulder pads and guess jeans. Sports was at its peak during the 80s and so was the sporty look coupled with accessories.

The Highlights Of This Bold Era Were:

Big Hair

80s fashion hair style

Perms, perms and more perms, you could have sailed the Naina, Pinta and Santa Maria in some people’s flows. Whether it was big bangs, big curls or big feathers, 80s was just big.


Spandex, lycra or elastane is a synthetic fibre known for its elasticity. In the 80s, acrobatics was blooming in colours and so was the need of this elastic fibre which made spandex the fashion statement.

Cut-Off Sweatshirts

Cutoff sweat shirt

The bottom of the sweatshirts were cut off to show a little belly. This particular trend spread across the genders as well.


Keeping the hair short at the front and long at the back, professional from front and party animal when I turn around! Maybe mullets weren’t ever cool, but the 80s was definitely a time of mullets.

Leg Warmers

Have you ever been to any hill station? Or been in the northern parts of the country during winter season and felt only your calves freezing and the rest of the body keeping just fine? Never, right? Still the bold 80s created leg warmers- pants for your calves only.

The 80s was one of the most iconic decades of fashion for both the genders, a little more for men though. There were a slew of trends that men followed, some of which can be seen even today.

With the fitness craze that hit the 80s, men would be in training tracksuits, headbands, etc. or half sleeved shirts, slogan tees, ripped jeans which was worn high waist, baggy pants, keds without laces, high-tops and converse. Denim gained huge popularity among the masses. People loved the denim jacket in all styles namely gasoline, stripped and acid washed.

Shirts were not of one stream and boring, but of variety of different interesting types:

1. Paisley


It is an ornamental design made using the buta (Persian) or boteh, the upper part of the design was slightly curved. The pattern is still commonly seen in Britain and other English speaking countries on ties, but remains popular in other items of clothing in Iran and South and Central Asian countries.

2. Sleeveless

dress in 80s

These shirts manufactured without sleeves were quite popular in 80s men fashion, they were also worn as undershirts.

3. Kamikaze

Shirt having prints relating to the suicidal air attack, Kamikaze mission went on in trend during 80s.

The anti-punk/rock trend was started by artists like Ultravox, Japan and David Bowie when they mesmerized the stage with romantic songs. The 80s was decorated with androgynous outfits and that is when the concept of gender bending was introduced.

The 80s men’s fashion trends also reflected what was worn on TV shows by stars who ruled the decade with their fashion sense. Many of the styles knew no limits. It was common to see a man dressed for work in clothes that were also appropriate for leisure activities, such as an evening at a nightclub.

The look that ruled the 80s was mostly cool and casual for men which was in contrast with the women fashion that was pretty loud and expensive. Miami Vice was a popular 80s TV series and men followed the style of Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas. Men also wore clothing that was inspired by some of the decade’s biggest musical influences such as Michael Jackson, poison band, Boy George, Prince and Annie Lennox

The 1980s also saw the birth of a new urban fashion inspired by a music style. This new music was of course hip hop which popularized the fascination with designer sneakers, kangol caps, thick gold rope chains, three or four finger rings and parachute pants.

80s fashion style

Parachute pants were also called Hammer pants for the reason them being popularized by rapper MC Hammer. The pants were very big and roomy, with a large space in between the crotch area that contained a massive amount of extra fabric.

80s fashion of boys mainly included neon colored t-shirts paired with bright color loose pants. Denim jackets, sneakers, wrist accessories and head bands were too much in trend.

80s Fashion Icon:                            

80s fashion was the era with trend spanning ripped tights and leather polished oversized blazers, and style icons ranging from Joan Jett to Brooke shields. Scroll through to know some of the 80s fashion icons:

Top 10 – 80s fashion icons

1. Pat Cleveland

Pat Cleveland fashion iconof 80s

This American model initially tasted success in the 1960s and 1970s and was one of the first African-American models within the fashion industry who touched the sky as a runaway model and print model. 

2. Grace Jones

Pat Cleveland-80s fashion icon

Originally from Jamaica, moved to New York in the early 60s and entered the modelling light. Grace carved out a look of herself that has remained iconic. Her shaved/angular hair, creative makeup and cloaks, suits, hats and costumes have always felt ahead of their time.

3. Olivia Newton John  

Olivia newton 80s fashion icon

She is an English- Australian singer, songwriter, actress, entrepreneur and activist (talent at its best you see!). She is a four time winner of Grammy award.  Most of her looks in her singles created a trend in the 80s

4. Diana Spencer

Diana Spence in 80s

Diana Spencer did not only attract the cameras but was also criticized, judged and bad mouthed about because of her bold personality. These criticism didn’t distract her from turning out stunning looks day after day.

In the 90s, her style statement was short curly hair and designer gowns, but when we talk about 80s when she was still a new princess, her flicked fringe, the light and gentle eye makeup and the suits was something which took all our hearts.

5. Debbie Harry

Dabbie Harry in 80s

Deborah Ann Harry is an American, a singer, songwriter, model and actress by profession, mainlyknown as the lead singer of thenew wave band Blondie. From wearing a pillowcase strapped with red tape, to a suit covered in wooden buttons and what not, Harry is without any second thought one of the best dressed women of all time.

When she emerged within the New York scene in the band Blondie, her late 70s and 80s styles mixed early 1960s girl group and mod vibes with a brash punk twist.

6. Cyndi Lauper

Cyndie Lauper 80s fashion icon

Cyndi Lauper’s anthem Girls just wanna have fun  has been the theme tune for many of us over the past few decades. Awesome big ginger hair helped along with toxic amounts of hairspray and crazy 80s punk/pop clothes were Cyndi’s trademark.

7. Adam Ant

Adam Ant

Adam Ant, the alter ego of Stuart Goddard, shot to the top 0of the charts in the early 80s with his new romantic pop punk hits including Stand And Deliver and Ant Rap. His unique look was a combination of dandy highwayman, pirate, cross-dresser, punk, military, the list is endless. And he made it OK for men to wear guyliner.

8. Prince


Prince Rogers Nelson was from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and was known as a pop artist and for his unique styling. Who could beat Prince’s contribution to style? Feminine/masculine, the beautiful black curls, beauty spot, feather boas, high necked ruffled skirt, Prince was the King of them all.

9. Madonna

Madonna biggest 80s fashion icon

Love or hate her nowadays, back in the 80s she stood for everything that was cool, exciting and super hot. She introduced lacy fingerless gloves, 3/4 length black leggings, rara skirts, and we weren’t just copying her style but the attitude as well.

10. Duran Duran  

Duran Duran

The style Gods were feeling awesome when they handed out fashion sense, good looks and great hair to these boys from Birmingham. The biggest British group of the 80s rocked pretty much every trend, they also wore lipstick.

When it comes to 80s fashion we couldn’t have asked for anything more and better.. While the decade hasn’t influenced our wardrobes for a long time, in recent months, we’ve come to the realisation that all the most current trends today are courtesy to the 80s. And if you’re sitting and raising eyebrow, it’s worth noting that at the end of last year, the trend had seen an 87% increase in Pinterest!   

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