1980s in Western fashion

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Among women large hair-dos and puffed-up styles typified the decade.[1] (Justine Bateman, 1987).
The short, tight spandex mini skirts were a popular fashion item for young women in the second half of the 1980s

1980s fashion in Britain, America, Europe and Australia had heavy emphasis on expensive clothes and fashion accessories. Apparel tended to be very bright and vivid in appearance. Women expressed an image of wealth and success through shiny costume jewelry, such as large faux-gold earrings, pearl necklaces, and clothing covered with sequins and diamonds. Punk fashion began as a reaction against both the hippie movement of the past decades and the materialist values of the current decade.[2] The first half of the decade was relatively tame in comparison to the second half, which is when the iconic 1980s color scheme had come into popularity.

Hair in the 1980s was typically big, curly, bouffant and heavily styled.[3] Television shows such as Dynasty helped popularize the high volume bouffant and glamorous image associated with it.[4][5] Women from the 1980s wore bright, heavy makeup. Everyday fashion in the '80s consisted of light-colored lips, dark and thick eyelashes, and pink or red rouge (otherwise known as blush).[6][7]

Some of the top fashion models of the 1980s were Brooke Shields, Christie Brinkley, Joan Severance, Kim Alexis, Carol Alt, Yasmin Le Bon, Renée Simonsen, Kelly Emberg, Ines de la Fressange, Tatjana Patitz, Elle Macpherson, and Paulina Porizkova.[citation needed]

Women's fashion[edit]

Early 1980s (1980–83)[edit]


Young woman in 1980 wearing a low-cut spaghetti strap dress.
  • The early 1980s were very different from the rest of the decade, with some carryovers from the late 1970s. The early 1980s saw a minimalist approach to fashion, with less emphasis on accessories, and practicality considered just as much as aesthetics. Clothing colors were subdued, quiet and basic; varying shades of brown, tan, and orange were common.[8]
  • Fashionable clothing in the early 1980s included both unisex and gender-specific attire. Widespread fashions for women in the early 1980s included sweaters (including turtleneck, crew neck, and v-neck varieties); fur-lined puffer jackets; tunics; faux-fur coats; velvet blazers; trench coats (made in both fake and real leather);[8] crop tops; tube tops; knee-length skirts (of no prescribed length, as designers opted for choice); loose, flowy, knee-length dresses (with high-cut and low-cut necklines, varying sleeve lengths, and made in a variety of fabrics including cotton, silk, satin, and polyester); high-waisted loose pants; embroidered jeans; leather pants; and designer jeans.[8][9][10] Women's pants of the 1980s were, in general, worn with long inseams – a style carried over from the 1970s.
  • Accessories for women in the 1980s were mostly late 1970s carryovers. This included thin belts, knee-high boots with thick kitten heels, sneakers, jelly shoes (a new trend at the time),[11] mules, round-toed shoes and boots, jelly bracelets (inspired by Madonna in 1983),[12] shoes with thick heels, small, thin necklaces (with a variety of materials, such as gold and pearls), and small watches.[8]

Aerobics craze[edit]

  • The fitness craze of the 1970s continued into the early 1980s. General women's street-wear worn in the early 1980s included ripped jeans,[13] leotards, tights, sweatpants,[14] and tracksuits (especially ones made in velour).[8][15]
  • Athletic accessories were a massive trend in the early 1980s, and their popularity was largely boosted by the aerobics craze. This included leg warmers, wide belts,[14] elastic headbands, and athletic shoes known as 'sneakers' in the US[16] or 'trainers' in the UK.[17]

Professional fashion[edit]

  • In the 1970s, more women were joining the work force, so, by the early 1980s, working women were no longer considered unusual. As a way to proclaim themselves as equals in the job market, women started to dress more seriously at work. Popular clothes for women in the job market include knee-length skirts, wide-legged slacks, a matching blazer, and a blouse of a different color. Kitten-heeled shoes were often worn.[8] Formal shoes became more comfortable during this period in time, with manufacturers adding soles that were more flexible and supportive.[18] The shoes with moderately spiked heels and relatively pointy toes from the very late 1970s remained a fashion trend.

Mid 1980s (1984–86)[edit]

A young woman from the mid 1980s wearing a denim mini skirt with two thin belts.

Bright colors[edit]

  • Women's fashion in the mid-1980s became more colorful around 1984. This included long wool coats, long flared skirts, slim miniskirts, slightly tapered pants and stirrup ones, designer jeans,[9] spandex cycling shorts,[19] extremely long and bulky sweaters, jumpsuits, pastel colors, leather trenchcoats, fur coats, extremely large scarves, beanies, leather gloves, and dresses worn with wide or thin belts. The aerobics craze of the early 1980s continued into the mid 1980s, but the clothes became more colorful than they were before.
  • Women's shoes of the mid 1980s included strappy sandals, kitten-heeled sandals, pumps, and Keds.[8]
  • In the 1980s, rising pop star Madonna proved to be very influential to female fashions. She first emerged on the dance music scene with her "street urchin" look consisting of short skirts worn over leggings, skeggings which is a skirt with attached capri or ankle length leggings, necklaces, rubber bracelets, fishnet gloves, hairbows, long layered strings of beads, bleached, untidy hair with dark roots, headbands, and lace ribbons. In her "Like a Virgin" phase, millions of young girls around the world emulated her fashion example that included brassieres worn as outerwear, huge crucifix jewelry, lace gloves, tulle skirts, and boytoy belts.
  • Gloves (sometimes laced or fingerless) were popularized by Madonna, as well as fishnet stockings and layers of beaded necklaces. Short, tight Lycra or leather miniskirts and tubular dresses were also worn, as were cropped bolero-style jackets. Black was the preferred color. Prior to the mid-1980s, it had been taboo to show a slip or a bra strap in public. A visible undergarment had been a sign of social ineptness. With the new fashion's most extreme forms, young women would forgo 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.

Power dressing[edit]

President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, are seen with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
  • The television prime time shows Dallas and, in particular, Dynasty influenced increasingly oversized shoulder pads. Shoulder pads, popularized by Joan Collins and Linda Evans from the soap opera Dynasty were popular from the mid 1980s to the early 1990s. Dallas, however, promoted displays of wealth involving jewelry and sparkling clothing.[20] Meanwhile, women's fashion and business shoes revisited the pointed toes and spiked heels that were popular in the 1950s and early 1960s. Some stores stocked canvas or satin covered fashion shoes in white and dyed them to the customer's preferred color, preferably bright colors.
  • Women are becoming more confident in the workplace and are trying harder to step up in their career. More and more of these women want to fit into the management level by trying to emulate men via fashion and outward appearance to appear more masculine and powerful. Most of the higher position in the work field were occupied by man at that time, it is understandable that how womenswear is influenced by man’s figure and body feature to mock the general existing powerful image at that time. Hence, they would want garments that empower them and make them look more masculine in shape, thus making the woman appear to be more capable of higher level tasks and seem more professional by fitting in with the male majority. This would be accomplished with attributes such as wider shoulders with the aid of padding and larger sleeves.[21]
  • A movie by Lizzie Borden, Working Girls affected how the society perceives women in different fields and positions, it also features feminism and topics on capitalism. Working Girls is an independent production published in 1986 about the daily life of upper class prostitutes in a small Manhattan bordello. The main characters in the story have backgrounds such as graduates from Yale university and Law; the movie makes it clear that they were not forced into the field but chose it themselves. Throughout the film, power dressing was promoted along with the capability of women taking control of their own future.[22][23]
  • After the western economic boom of the mid-'80s, the younger generation had a decreased influence in fashion as they had less of an impact on the market. The main consumer became the older generations that were more financially stable and were influenced by international political news. Thatcherism were promoted in the UK by the British Conservative Party. Leader of the British conservative party, Margaret Thatcher, in her power suit quickly became one of the most well-known symbol in the 1980s. Suits worn by Margaret Thatcher were usually single color toned with a matching hat, jacket and skirt, that ends below the knee. A wide shoulder cutting and pearl necklace was also part of her regular attire. Her political style was straightforward, effective and sometimes criticized as not empathetic enough. But there is no doubt that her appearance portrayed her ability, power and authority, which is what a lot of working women at that era desired.[24][25]

Late 1980s (1987–89)[edit]

Consumer-friendly fashions[edit]

  • From 1987 onward, the short skirt was the only length supported by fashion designers. Although skirts of any length were acceptable to wear in the years before, all attention was given to the short skirt, especially among teenage girls and young women. Shoulder pads became increasingly smaller.[8] These trends continued into the early 1990s.
  • Women's apparel in the late 1980s included jackets (both cropped and long), coats (both cloth and fake fur), reversible inside-out coats (leather on one side, fake fur on the other), rugby sweatshirts,[8] sweater dresses, tafetta and pouf dresses, baby doll dresses worn with capri leggings or bike shorts, slouch socks, and Keds or Sperrys or with opaque tights and flats or opaque tights and slouch socks with Keds or Sperrys worn by both moms and daughters, jumpsuits, miniskirts, stretch pants, tapered pants, happy pants (homemade pants made in bold designs with bright colors), and opaque tights.[8] Popular colors included neon hues, plum, gold, and bright wines.
  • Also cotton pants in bright neon and pastel color were popular and worn with a skinny colorful belt. They were usually ankle length and many time the leg was rolled up to show off the slouch socks worn with them. They were usually worn with the slouch socks and Keds or other casual sneakers or with flats by themselves or with pantyhose or tights underneath the pants.
  • Also seen was a dressed up leggings outfit consisting of leggings with an oversized v-neck sweater over a turtleneck, slouch socks, Keds (shoes) or Sperrys, and bangs with a headband or ponytail and scrunchie worn by women and girls from upper elementary, middle school, high school, and college.
  • Shorts suits were also very popular. They consisted of a regular suit top and jacket and dress shorts with tights underneath worn with ballet flats.
  • Long v neck sweaters worn over a turtleneck with leggings and slouch socks and Keds, boat shoes, or flats were common.
  • Accessories included bright-colored shoes with thin heels, flats, Keds, berets, headbands, scrunchies, lacy gloves, beaded necklaces, Swatch watches, and plastic bracelets.[8]

Asian fashion[edit]

  • In China, the unisex Zhongshan suit[26] declined after the death of Mao Zedong,[27] the removal of the Gang of Four, and the liberalisation of trade links and international relations during the mid and late 80s. Wealthier Chinese women began wearing Western inspired fashions again,[28] including red or yellow miniskirts[29] in addition to the more typical shirt dresses, white plimsolls and dacron blouses.[30]
  • The late 1980s also witnessed the beginnings of Indo Western fashion and the haute couture fashion in India that would eventually gain global recognition in the 90s. Colors like red and white[31] were popular, often with intricate embroidery. Although most women continued to wear the saree, Bollywood actresses also had access to Western designer outfits and locally designed garments like the Anarkali ballgown.[32]

Men's fashion[edit]

Early 1980s (1980–83)[edit]

Athletic clothing[edit]

  • In the early 1980s, fashion had moved away from the unkempt hippie look and overdressed disco style of the late 1970s. Athletic clothes were more popular than jeans during this period, as were more subdued colors. Popular colors were black, white, indigo, forest green, burgundy, and different shades of browns, tans, and oranges. Velour, velvet, and polyester were popular fabrics used in clothes, especially button-up and v-neck shirts. Looser pants remained popular during this time, being fairly wide but straight, and tighter shirts were especially popular. The general public, at this time, wanted to wear low-maintenance clothing with more basic colors, as the global recession going on at the time kept extravagant clothes out of reach.[8] Also worn were striped tube socks sometimes worn with the top folded over worn with shorts. It was not uncommon to see parents especially fathers wearing these along with their kids.
  • Popular clothing in the early 1980s worn by men includes tracksuits,[33] v-neck sweaters, polyester and velour polo-neck shirts, sports jerseys, straight-leg jeans, jeans rolled to show off their slouch socks, polyester button-ups, cowboy boots,[34] beanies, and hoodies. Around this time it became acceptable for men to wear sports coats and slacks to places that previously required a suit.[8] In the UK, children's trousers remained flared, but only slightly.[15]

New wave influence[edit]

Preppy look[edit]

David Byrne wearing a preppy style seersucker blazer and white oxford shirt, 1986.
  • In response to the punk fashion of the mid-late 1970s,[10] there was a throwback to the late 1950s Ivy League style. This revival came to be definitively summarized in an enormously popular paperback released in 1980: The Official Preppy Handbook. Popular preppy clothing for men included Oxford shirts, sweaters, turtlenecks, v neck sweaters over a turtleneck, polo shirts with popped collars,[10] khaki slacks, argyle socks, dress pants, boat shoes, suspenders (or alternatively, skinny ties in leather or bold patterns), seersucker or striped linen suits, corduroy, and cable knit sweaters that were often worn tied around the shoulders.[37]

Mid 1980s (1984–86)[edit]

Miami Vice/Magnum P.I. look and Michael Jackson's influence[edit]

  • In the mid 1980s, popular trends included wool sport coats, Levi 501s, Hawaiian shirts, shell suits, hand-knit sweaters, sports shirts, hoodies, flannel shirts, reversible flannel vests, jackets with the insides quilted, nylon jackets, gold rings, spandex cycling shorts,[19] cowboy boots,[34] and khaki pants with jagged seams.[8]
  • The mid 1980s brought an explosion of colorful styles in men's clothing, prompted by television series such as Miami Vice and Magnum, P.I.. This resulted in trends such as t-shirts underneath expensive suit jackets with broad, padded shoulders, hawaiian shirts (complemented with sport coats, often with top-stitched lapels for a "custom-tailored" look), and (in counterpoint to the bright shirt) jackets that were often gray, tan, rust or white. Easy-care micro-suede and corduroy jackets became popular choices, especially those with a Western style.
  • Michael Jackson was also a big influence of teenage boys' and young men's fashions, such as matching red/black leather pants and jackets, white gloves, sunglasses and oversized, slouch shouldered faded leather jackets with puffy sleeves.

Power dressing[edit]

1940s inspired pinstripe suit with large shoulder pads and double breasted fastening. These "power suits" were fashionable in Britain from the early 1980s until the late 1990s.
  • Men's business attire saw a return of pinstripes for the first time since the 1970s. The new pinstripes were much wider than in 1930s and 1940s suits but were similar to the 1970s styles. Three-piece suits began their decline in the early 1980s and lapels on suits became very narrow, akin to that of the early 1960s. While vests (waistcoats) 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.[38][38][39] The thin ties briefly popular in the early '80s were soon replaced by wider, striped neckties, generally in more conservative colors than the kipper ties of the '70s. Double breasted suits inspired by the 1940s were reintroduced in the 1980s by designers like Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, and Anne Klein.[38][39] They were known as 'power suits', and were typically made in navy blue, charcoal grey or air force blue.[38][39][40][40]

Tropical clothing[edit]

Mobutu wearing safari jacket, 1983.
  • As an alternative to the power suit, the safari jacket, Nehru suit and Mao suit remained popular in Australia, South Africa, India, China, and Zaire, where it was known as an Abacost[41] and worn with a leopard print hat resembling the Astrakhan cap. At the same time, young African dandies known as sapeurs rebelled against the post-decolonisation government's suppression of Western fashions[42] by investing in expensive designer suits from Italy and France and listening to the soukous music of Papa Wemba.[43] This continued until the kleptocratic dictator Mobutu's deposition and death in the late 1990s, when the outbreak of a civil war in Zaire resulted in the sapeurs' disappearance until the 2010s.[44]
  • In Hawaii, Aloha shirts and Bermuda shorts were worn on Aloha Fridays. By the end of the decade, when the custom of casual Fridays had spread to the US mainland, this outfit had become acceptable as daily Hawaiian business wear.[45] Elsewhere in the Caribbean and Latin America, especially Mexico, Ecuador, Columbia,[46] and Cuba, men wore the guayabera shirt for semi-formal occasions in imitation of the presidents Fidel Castro and Luis Echeverria.[47]

Late 1980s (1987–89)[edit]

Doc Martens[edit]

  • Doc Martens were dark shoes or boots with air-cushioned soles that were worn by both sexes in the 1980s. They were an essential fashion accessory for the skinhead and punk subcultures in the United Kingdom. Sometimes Doc Martens were paired with miniskirts or full, Laura Ashley- style dresses.[48] They were an important feature of the post-punk 1980s Gothic look which featured long, back-combed hair, pale skin, dark eyeshadow, eyeliner, and lipstick, black nail varnish, spiked bracelets and dog-collars, black clothing (often made of gabardine), and leather or velvet trimmed in lace or fishnet material. Corsets were often worn by girls. British bands that inspired the gothic trend include The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and The Cult. This trend would return in the 1990s.

Parachute pants[edit]

Parachute pants are a style of trousers characterized by the use of ripstop nylon or extremely baggy cuts. In the original tight-fitting, extraneously zippered style of the late 1970s and early 1980s, "parachute" referred to the pants' synthetic nylon material. In the later 1980s, "parachute" may have referred to the extreme bagginess of the pant. These are also referred to as "Hammer" pants, due to rapper MC Hammer's signature style. Hammer pants differ from the parachute pants of the 1970s and early 1980s. They are typically worn as menswear and are often brightly colored. Parachute pants became a fad in US culture in the 1980s as part of an increased cultural appropriation of breakdancing.[49]

Also Champion brand sweatshirt worn over a turtleneck became popular with men as well as women and boys and girls through the late 90's. Many times they were worn with jeans or khakis rolled up to show off their slouch socks and sneakers or boat shoes or with athletic wear. And v neck and crew neck sweaters over turtlenecks were also popular during this time.

Unisex accessories[edit]


  • Earrings became a mainstream fashion for male teenagers. Jelly or thin metal bracelets (also known as bangles) were very popular in the 1980s, and would be worn in mass quantities on one's wrist. Designer jewelry, such as diamonds and pearls, were popular among many women, not only for beauty, but as symbols of wealth and power.


  • At the beginning of the decade, digital watches with metal bands were the dominant fashion. They remained popular but lost some of their status in later years. Newer digital watches with built-in calculators and primitive data organizers were strictly for gadget geeks. Adult professionals returned to dial watches by mid-decade. Leather straps returned as an option. By the late 1980s, some watch faces had returned to Roman numerals. In contrast, one ultramodern status symbol was the Movado museum watch. It featured a sleek design with a single large dot at twelve o'clock. The Tank watch by Cartier was a fashion icon that was revived and frequently seen on Cartier advertisements in print. Rolex watches were prominently seen on the television show Miami Vice. Teen culture preferred vibrant plastic Swatch watches. These first appeared in Europe, and reached North America by the mid-1980s. Young people would often wear two or three of these watches on the same arm.[citation needed]


  • In the first half of the 1980s, glasses with large, plastic frames were in fashion for both men and women. Small metal framed eyeglasses made a return to fashion in 1984 and 1985, and in the late 1980s, glasses with tortoise-shell coloring became popular. These were smaller and rounder than the type that was popular earlier in the decade. Throughout the 1980s, Ray-Ban Wayfarers were extremely popular, as worn by Tom Cruise in the 1983 movie Risky Business.[citation needed]
  • Miami Vice, in particular Sonny Crockett played by Don Johnson, boosted Ray-Ban's popularity by wearing a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers (Model L2052, Mock Tortoise),[50] which increased sales of Ray Bans to 720,000 units in 1984.[51]

Slouch Socks

  • Slouch socks were worn by both boys and girls and men and women. Some common ways both girls and boys and women and men wore them were with shorts, sweatpants and with jeans or khakis or other pants with the pants rolled up to show off the slouch socks. Boat shoes, sneakers and other athletic shoes were common unisex footwear worn with slouch socks.

Boat Shoes

  • Boat shoes were worn by both girls and boys and women and men during the decade until the mid 90s and since the late 2000s and in the 2010s they have returned with Sperry Top-Siders being a very popular brand.

Subcultures of the 1980s[edit]

English singer Siouxsie Sioux in 1986 wearing black clothing, back-combed hair, and heavy black eyeliner. She was an inspiration for the gothic fashion trend that started in the early 1980s.

Heavy Metal[edit]

  • In the first half of the 1980s, long hair, leather rocker jackets (biker jackets) or cut-off denim jackets, tight worn-out jeans, and white, high trainers (sneakers) and badges with logos of favorite metal bands were popular among metalheads, and musicians of heavy metal and speed metal bands. In the second half of the 1980s, this clothing style was popular among musicians and fans of more extreme and niche (often underground) metal bands – thrash metal, crossover thrash, early black metal, and early death metal bands. It was popular particularly in European nations, but it was also popular in the US, Canada, and Brazil.
  • By the late 1980s, 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.
  • The Japanese equivalent of glam metal, known as visual kei, emerged during the mid to late 80s and incorporated punk, goth and new wave influences.[52] Brightly dyed, androgynous hair was common among shock rock bands like X Japan, together with studded leather borrowed from fetish fashion, traditional Geisha or Japanese opera inspired makeup, drag,[53] and stylized 18th century fop rock costume such as frilly shirts, tall boots and long coats.[54]


Wendy Wu, lead singer of the British new-wave band The Photos, in 1980.
  • Throughout the 1980s, the punk style was popular among people aged 18–22. Characterized by multi-colored mohawks, ripped skinny jeans, worn band tee-shirts, and denim or leather jackets. This style was popular among people who listened to punk music such as The Sex Pistols, and later, (despite the band's self-proclaimed rock'n'roll image) Guns N' Roses. Usually the denim jackets (which became an identity of the group) were adorned by safety pins, buttons, patches, and several other pieces of music or cultural memorabilia. Oftentimes, fans of the punk style would take random bits of fabric and attach them to their other clothes with safety pins. This soon became a popular way of attaching clothing, and it is now known as "pin shirts" with young women. The shirts are, essentially, rectangular pieces of fabric that are pinned on one side with safety pins. In the 1980s, a dressed down look (e.g. buzzed hair, T-shirts, jeans and button up shirts) was also very popular with people involved in punk rock, more specifically the hardcore punk scene. The Circle Jerks frontman Keith Morris said "Some of those punk rock kids they interviewed were a little over the top, but the thing historically is – the L.A./Hollywood punk scene was basically based on English fashion. But we had nothing to do with that. Black flag and the Circle Jerks were so far from that. We looked like the kid who worked at the gas station or submarine shop." [55] Punk dress was not simply a fashion statement. It epitomized a way of thinking and seeing oneself as an individual cultural producer and consumer. In this way, punk style led many people to ask further questions about their culture and their politics.[56]

New Romantic[edit]

Seinfeld's pirate shirt, a New Romantic fashion staple during the 80s.
  • The New Romantic fashion movement of the mid 1980s was a new wave fashion and music movement often attributed to the Blitz Kids, or people who frequented the club Blitz in London, such as David Bowie. Bowie even used the Blitz’s host Steven Strange in his music video for Ashes to Ashes.[57] It is also important to note that the New Romantics and those involved with the punk scene had inspired each other because of the concentration of influential individuals going to the same clubs and having the same friend circles.[57] Vivienne Westwood & Malcom McLaren were also directly involved in the movement, such as dressing the members of Bow Wow Wow. The band leader and later solo artist, Adam Ant, and Westwood had highly influenced each other as well (Adam Ant being one of the leading icons of the New Romantics).[58] Westwood’s first runway collection, Pirates AW 1981-2 is often cited as a New Romantic collection which was both influenced by and highly influential to the movement. The garments in Pirates had asymmetrical necklines, flowy pirate shirts and breeches.[59] The collection was very well received by critics and buyers.[60] However, the designer’s interference in the originally DIY fashion wasn’t taken well by some of the participants, such as Boy George who left Bow Wow Wow to form his own band (Culture Club) and who cited one of the reasons for leaving as the way Vivienne Westwood wouldn’t let him dress himself.[58]
  • The Blitz Kids described the movement as a retaliation to punk [61] due to it becoming too violent and unsavory crowds such as neo-Nazis and skinheads deciding to jump on that aesthetic bandwagon.[57] It was also a way to forget their relative poverty following the economic recession and the Winter of Discontent.[61] Features of New Romantic clothing varied from individual to individual, although these generally highlighted the implied individualism, creativity and self-expression of the movement, besides its continued adherence to the DIY ethic of punk.[57] It was inspired by different cultures and time periods, films, film noir, and theatricality. Men often wore dramatic cosmetics and androgynous clothing, including ruffled poet shirts, red or blue hussar jackets with gold braid, silk sashes, tight pants, shiny rayon waistcoats, and tailcoats based on those worn during the Regency era. Women, too, were very theatrical in terms of makeup and style, and often favoured big hair, fishnet gloves, corsets, crushed velvet, and elements of Middle Eastern and gypsy clothing.[58]


Garage rock and psychobilly band the U-Men wearing Teddy Boy outfits, early to mid 1980s.

Rude boys and skinheads[edit]

British skinheads in 1981



Also worn were striped tube socks sometimes worn with the top folded over worn with shorts.

Rap and hip hop[edit]

  • Athletic shoes had been worn as casual wear before, but for the first time they became a high-priced fashion item. Converse shoes were popular in the first half of the 1980s. Air Jordan basketball shoes (named for basketball player Michael Jordan) made their debut in 1984. The NBA banned these shoes from games when they debuted, which increased their cachet. Soon, other manufacturers introduced premium athletic shoes. Adidas sneakers took the decade by storm, becoming popular among teenage boys and young men; the Adidas sneaker was popularized by the Run-D.M.C. song My Adidas. Nike had a similar share of the market, with Air Max and similar shoes. High-tops, especially of white or black leather, became popular. In the early 1980s, long and white athletic socks, often calf-high or knee-high, were worn with sneakers. As the decade progressed, socks trended shorter, eventually topping out just above the height of the shoe.
  • Ensembles featuring the colors of Africa (green, yellow and red) became wildly popular among African Americans, as did kente cloth. In the urban hip-hop communities, sneakers were usually worn unlaced and with a large amount of gold jewelry, as well as headwraps.


  • Wealthy teenagers, especially in the United States, wore a style inspired by 1950s Ivy League fashion 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, and Polo Ralph Lauren.[82] An example of preppy attire would be a button-down Oxford cloth shirt, Ascot tie, cuffed khakis, and tasseled loafers, Keds, or Boat shoes. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, preppy fashions featured a lot of pastels, turtleneck sweaters for girls, and polo shirts with designer logos. It was also considered "preppy" to wear a cable knit cardigan or argyle pattern sweater tied loosely around the shoulders.[83] Leggings worn with slouch socks over the leggings and Keds or Boat shoes with over sized sweaters or a turtleneck with champion brand sweatshirt over with hair in bangs or high or high side ponytail with a scrunchie or both bangs and ponytail with scrunchie was also common. And it was not uncommon to see moms right along with their daughters both wearing this oufit. Also seen was a dressed up leggings outfit consisting of leggings with an oversized v-neck sweater over a turtleneck, slouch socks, Keds (shoes) or Sperrys, and bangs with a headband or ponytail and scrunchie. And it was not uncommon to see moms right along with their daughters both wearing this oufit. Another preppy outfit was a baby doll dresses worn with capri leggings or bike shorts, slouch socks, and Keds or Sperrys or with opaque tights and flats or opaque tights and slouch socks with Keds or Sperrys. And it was not uncommon to see moms right along with their daughters both wearing these babydoll dress oufits. Moms and daughters also both wore jeans worn rolled up to show off their slouch socks with a sweatshirt especially champion brand over a turtleneck. Mom and daughters also both wore the extremely popular footwear trend of Keds. Also in the late 80s and early 90s mid calf dresses with pantyhose or tights or sometimes slouch socks and Kedswere popular with moms while mid calf dresses were popular with girls from upper elementary on up with slouch socks and Keds. Many girls had these dresses in their closets right along with shorter skater and baby doll dresses. Suspender shorts worn over a top with tights in cooler weather and with slouch socks in warmer weather were worn. Suspender dresses were also popular. They were worn with tights in cooler weather and bike shorts and slouch socks in warmer weather. Also cotton pants in bright neon and pastel color were popular and worn with a skinny colorful belt. They were usually ankle length and many time the leg was rolled up to show off the slouch socks worn with them. They were also worn with flats by themselves or with pantyhose or tights underneath the pants. Flats were commonly worn with many dresses and skirts, cotton ankle pants and ankle jeans. Many times socks were worn with the flats especially slouch socks or triple roll socks that were worn sometimes by themselves with the flats or sometimes over tights with the flats. Shorts suits were also very popular. They consisted of a regular suit top and jacket and dress shorts with tights underneath worn with ballet flats. Long v neck sweaters worn over a turtleneck with leggings and slouch socks and Keds, boat shoes, or flats were common. Also skeggings were popular. Skeggings are a skirt with attached capri or ankle length leggings.


Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins in 1986.

The sideburns of the 1960s and 1970s saw a massive decline in fashion in the late 1970s. Big and eccentric hair styles were popularized by film and music stars, in particular among teenagers but also adults. These hairstyles became iconic during the 1980s and include big bangs worn by girls from upper elementary, middle school, high school, college and adult women. Although straight hair was the norm at the beginning of the decade, as many late-1970s styles were still relevant, the perm had come into fashion by 1980. Also high ponytails, side ponytails, and high side ponytails with a scrunchie were common with all girls from upper elementary, middle school, high school, college and adult women. Headbands were popular as well. Men also wore bangs in styles such as regular frontal or side swept bangs but they were not as big as women or girls bangs.

This was largely due to many movies released at the time, as well as a rebellious movement against the 1970s. There was generally an excessive amount of mousse used in styling an individual's hair, which resulted in the popular, shiny look and greater volume. Some mousse even contained glitter. Hairsprays such as AquaNet were also used in excess by people such as the glam metal band Poison. The mullet existed in several different styles, all characterised by hair short on the sides and long on the back.

Mullets were popular in suburban and rural areas among working-class men. This contrasted with a conservative look preferred by business professionals, with neatly groomed short hair for men and sleek, straight hair for women.[citation needed]

Trends in men's facial hair included designer stubble.

Image gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


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  66. ^ Ska music of liberation
  67. ^ Skinhead photos
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External links[edit]