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 80s in Fashion

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PostSubject: 80s in Fashion   10.01.09 17:54

There were different trends in 80s fashion:

New Romantic

The New Romantic was a New Wave and fashion movement that occurred primarily in British nightclubs. New romanticism emerged in the UK music scene in the early 80s as a direct backlash against the austerity of the punk movement. Where punk railed against life in Britain's council estates, the New Romantics celebrated glamour and partied regularly at local nightclubs. The make-up was streaky and bold. The notoriously outlandish designer/club host Leigh Bowery, known for his exuberant designs, became a muse for artists such as Boy George and had grown a huge status in the early 1980s underground club scene. The early designer of the romantic look was Vivienne Westwood who designed clothing specifically for bands, such as Adam & the Ants and later developed the "pirate look." The pirate look featured frilled "buccaneer" shirts often made of expensive fabrics. One element of this trend that went mainstream and remained popular for most of the decade were short shirt collars worn unfolded against the neck with the top one or two buttons unfastened. Except in the most conservative communities this became standard casual wear for both men and women. With the exception of business suits, to wear one's collar folded appeared awkward or stuffy. Leggings were also very popular.

Valley Girl

Headbands became fashionable in 1982. The trend started in California and spread across the nation. Other associated trends were leg warmers and miniskirts. Leg warmers, which had long been staple gear for professional dancers during rehearsals, became a teen trend in 1982. Miniskirts returned for the first time since the early 1970s. These styles became associated with the Valley Girl trend that was popular at the time, based on a popular song by Frank Zappa and Moon Unit Zappa. The other fads soon spent themselves, but miniskirts remained in style and became an option for women's business suits throughout the 'eighties and early 1990s with dolly shoes.

Power Dressing

Shoulder pads, popularized perhaps by Linda Evans from the soap opera Dynasty, remained popular throughout the 1980s and even the first three years of the 1990s. The reason behind the sudden popularity of shoulderpads for women in the 1980s may be that women in the workplace were no longer unusual, and wanted to "power dress" to show that they were the equals of men at the office. Many women's outfits had velcro on the inside of the shoulder where various sized shoulderpads could be attached.

The Dynasty television show, watched by over 250 million viewers around the world in the 1980s, influenced the fashion styles in mainstream America. The show, targeted towards females, influenced women to wear jewelry often to show one's economic status. Synthetic fabrics went out of style in the 1980s. Wool, cotton, and silk returned to popularity for their perceived quality.

Men's business attire saw a return of pinstripes for the first time since the 1970s. The new pinstripes were narrower and subtler than 1930s and 1940s suits but similar to the 1970s styles. Three piece suits gradually went out of fashion in the early 'eighties and lapels on suits became very narrow (similar to 1950s styles). While vests in the 1970s had commonly been worn high with six or five buttons, those made in the early 1980s often had only four buttons and were made to be worn low. Neckties also became narrower in the 1980s and skinny versions appeared in leather. Button down collars made a return, both for business and casual wear.

Meanwhile women's fashion and business shoes returned to styles that had been popular in the 1950s and early 1960s with pointed toes and spiked heels. Some stores stocked canvas or satin covered fashion shoes in white and dyed them to the customer's preferred color. While the most popular shoes amongst young women were bright colored high heels, a trend started to emerge which saw 'Jellies' - colorful, transparent plastic flats - become popular.


The popularity of aerobics and dance-themed television shows and movies created a dancewear fashion sense - professional dancewear, such as leggings and leg warmers, were worn as streetwear. The 1983 film Flashdance popularized ripped sweatshirts for women that exposed one bare shoulder. Leotards were also worn during this period and became colourful.

Other dancewear inspirations included Olivia Newton John's Physical video and Jane Fonda's line of aerobic videos.

The Miami Vice look

The 1980s saw an explosion of colourful styles in men's clothing. The growing popularity of the Miami Vice television series saw men wearing casual t-shirts underneath expensive suit jackets - often in bright or pastel colours. The t-shirt with designer jacket look was often accompanied by the "designer stubble" look that was popularized by Don Johnson in the TV series Miami Vice along with a propensity to wear shoes without socks.

One popular look for men in the late 1980s was Hawaiian shirts. Often they would be complemented with sport coats with stitched looks. They were often gray and white, and were worn for both casual and business settings. When worn in the business setting, they were often worn without a tie.

The Thriller look

The Thriller look was inspired by Michael Jackson's record breaking album Thriller. Teenagers would attempt to replicate the look of Jackson, which included matching red/black leather pants and jackets, one glove, sunglasses, and jheri curl.

Leather jackets popularized by Michael Jackson and films like The Lost Boys, often studded and left undone to create a messier look. Oversized, slouch shouldered faded leather jackets with puffy sleeves from Europe caught on. Gloves, sometimes fingerless, would also accompany the jacket. Late in the decade plain brown aviator jackets made a comeback, styled after World War II fighter pilot jackets. Already popular aviators were joined by other forms of sunglasses. It was not unusual for sunglasses or shades as they were known, to be worn at night.


In the 1980s, rising pop star Madonna proved to be very influential over female fashions. She first emerged on the dance music scene with her "street urchin" look - short skirts over leggings, rubber bracelets,fishnet gloves,hairbows, long layered strings of beads, bleached hair with dark roots, and head bands. In her Like a Virgin phase, millions of teenage girls emulated her fashion example that included brassieres worn as outerwear, huge crucifix jewellery, lace gloves, tulle skirts, and boytoy belts.

Gloves, sometimes lace and/or fingerless were popularized by Madonna, as well as fishnet stockings and layers of beaded necklaces. Another club fashion for women was lingerie as outerwear. Prior to the mid-1980s it had been taboo to show a slip or a visible bra strap in public. A visible undergarment had been a sign of social ineptness. In the new fad's most extreme forms, young women would forego conventional outer-garments for vintage-style bustiers with lacy slips and several large crucifixes. This was both an assertion of sexual freedom and a conscious rejection of prevailing androgynous fashions.

Rap Music and Designer Sneakers

Converse shoes were popular in the first half of the 1980s. Air Jordan (named for basketball player Michael Jordan) basketball shoes made their debut in 1984. Athletic shoes had been worn as casual wear before, but for the first time they became a high priced fashion item. The National Basketball Association banned these shoes from games when they first debuted, which increased their cachet. Soon other manufacturers introduced premium athletic shoes. Adidas sneakers took the decade by storm, popular amongst teenagers and young men. The Adidas sneaker was popularized by the Run DMC song My Adidas. Nike had a similar share of the market coming out with Air Max and similar type shoes. High-tops, especially of white or black leather, became popular.

Ensembles featuring the colors of Africa (green, yellow and red) became wildly popular among African Americans, mainly named kente cloth. In the urban hip-hop communities, sneakers were usually worn unlaced & a large amount of gold jewelry as well as headwraps donned the young of the eighties.

Hair Metal

By the late eighties, acid-washed jeans and denim jackets had become popular with both sexes. Acid washing is the process of chemically bleaching the denim, breaking down the fiber of material and forcing the dye to fade, thus leaving undertones of the original dye evidenced by pale white streaks or spots on the material. This became associated with the heavy metal trend (called "hair metal" in later decades for the large frizzy coiffures worn by both male and female enthusiasts).

Severely bleached and ripped jeans, either manufactured purposely or done by hand, become a popular fashion trend, being a main component of glam metal music acts such as Poison. Although gay men have often been thought of as trendsetters in the fashion world, elements of gay fashion exploded into the mainstream in the 1980s. The outdoor look, such as the wearing of huge hiking boots, jeans and flannel shirts in the city caught on, drag styles for men and butch styles for women spread into straight society. Tattooing and piercing began to enter the mainstream.

Preppy Dressing

Conservative teenagers, especially in the United States wore a style that came to be known as "preppy." Preppy fashions are associated with classic and conservative style of dressing and clothing brands such as Izod Lacoste, Brooks Brothers, Polo Ralph Lauren. An example of preppy attire would be a button-down Oxford cloth shirt, cuffed khakis, and loafers. Also popular were argyle sweaters and vests. It was also considered "preppy" to wear a sweater tied loosely around the shoulders. In the 1980s, preppy fashions featured a lot of pastels and polo shirts with designer logos.

source: wikipedia
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