1980s Fashion Trends

1980s Fashion Trends (Guide)

The 1980s was a decade filled with iconic styles and fashion moments that still resonate today. From bold hairstyles to vibrant neon colors, this era was a true game-changer in the world of fashion. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and explore the top 10 80s fashion trends that defined the decade.

Key Takeaways:

  • The 1980s introduced bold and daring fashion styles that continue to influence the industry today.
  • Big hair, spandex, ripped knees, and lacey shirts were just a few of the iconic trends from this era.
  • Leg warmers and high waisted jeans added both style and functionality to outfits.
  • Neon colors were embraced, creating a vibrant and energetic fashion scene.
  • The 80s will always be remembered as a time of creativity and individuality in the world of style.

Big Hair

Big hair was a hallmark of 80s fashion, with people rocking voluminous perms, curls, and feathers. It was all about creating height and drama, and people went to great lengths to achieve their desired look. Perms were incredibly popular, and you could find people sporting big bangs and curls everywhere you turned.

The 80s saw an explosion in hair products and styling techniques to achieve this larger-than-life look. Hair mousse, hairspray, and teasing combs became essential tools in the pursuit of big hair. People spent hours in front of the mirror, carefully tousling and teasing their locks to achieve the perfect level of volume. The result was a head-turning hairstyle that became synonymous with the era.

Celebrities and pop icons played a significant role in popularizing big hair. Singers like Madonna and Cyndi Lauper embraced the trend, making it a staple of their stage presence and music videos. Television shows like “Dynasty” and “Dallas” showcased characters with extravagant hairstyles that became the envy of viewers. The 80s was truly a time when bigger was better, and hair was no exception.

Table: Iconic 80s Hairstyles

Hairstyle Description
Mullet Short hair at the front and sides, long at the back
Afro Natural hairstyle with voluminous curly hair
Rat Tail Long, thin strand of hair at the back of the head
Hair Metal Long, teased and heavily styled hair associated with metal bands

“Big hair was the ultimate fashion statement in the 80s. It was a symbol of confidence and individuality, with each hairstyle reflecting the personality of the wearer. The beauty of big hair was that it couldn’t be ignored – it demanded attention and made a bold statement. Whether you sported a perm, curls, or feathers, your big hair was a testament to the spirit of the decade.”

Trends and Influences

  • Perms and curls were popularized by celebrities and music icons.
  • Big hair was a reflection of the excess and flamboyance of the 80s.
  • The rise of hair products and styling techniques made achieving big hair more accessible.
  • Television shows and movies showcased characters with extravagant hairstyles, inspiring viewers to follow suit.


Spandex took the 80s by storm, becoming the go-to fabric for athletic wear and everyday fashion. Whether it was leggings, leotards, or even t-shirts, everyone was wearing spandex. This stretchy material, also known as lycra, was seen as the material of the future and was embraced by men, women, and children alike.

Spandex offered a level of comfort and flexibility that other fabrics couldn’t match. It allowed for unrestricted movement, making it perfect for athletic activities like aerobics and dance. The form-fitting nature of spandex also accentuated the body, providing a sleek and streamlined look that was highly sought after.

Not only was spandex functional, but it also added a vibrant splash of color to the 80s fashion scene. From neon hues to bold patterns, spandex garments stood out in a sea of denim and cotton. It became a symbol of the fitness craze that swept the decade, with people embracing active lifestyles and expressing their individuality through their clothing choices.

The Rise of Spandex in Popular Culture

“Spandex isn’t just sportswear, it’s a way of life.” – Fitness Guru Jane Fonda

Spandex became so ingrained in 80s culture that it made its way into popular music and movies. Singers like Olivia Newton-John and Madonna donned spandex outfits in their music videos, showcasing the trend to a global audience. Jane Fonda’s iconic aerobics videos, complete with brightly colored spandex ensembles, inspired millions to get fit and embrace the fashion of the times.

Spandex wasn’t limited to the gym or the dance floor. It also made its way into everyday fashion, with people incorporating spandex leggings, bodysuits, and even t-shirts into their casual wardrobes. The comfort and versatility of spandex made it a staple for people of all ages, and its popularity continued to soar throughout the decade.

Spandex fashion in the 80s

Spandex in the 80s Characteristics
Popular Garments Leggings, leotards, t-shirts
Main Features Stretchy, form-fitting, vibrant colors
Inspiration Fitness craze, active lifestyles
Influencers Jane Fonda, Olivia Newton-John, Madonna
Legacy Continues to be a popular fabric for athletic wear

Ripped Knees

Ripped knees were a signature 80s fashion trend when it came to denim. Whether jeans were bought pre-distressed or torn intentionally, having ripped knees was a must. It added a rebellious and edgy vibe to any outfit, and even Grandma couldn’t resist the trend, despite her disapproval.

Denim was the fabric of choice for many in the 80s, and ripped knees took it to the next level. The intentional distressing of jeans became a popular way to showcase a carefree and nonconformist attitude. Whether paired with a band t-shirt or a lacey blouse, ripped knee jeans were a staple in both casual and edgy looks.

The ripped knees trend wasn’t limited to just jeans. Denim skirts and shorts also featured this distinctive ripped look. It was all about embracing individuality and expressing oneself through fashion choices. Ripped knees became a symbol of rebellion and a way to stand out from the crowd.

Today, ripped knee jeans are still a popular fashion choice. They continue to be embraced by those who want to add a touch of edge to their outfits. Whether it’s a subtle rip or an all-out distressed look, ripped knees remain a timeless trend that captures the spirit of the 80s and adds a unique flair to any ensemble.

Table: Iconic 80s Fashion Trends Keywords
Ripped Knees ripped jeans, torn knees, denim
Big Hair big hair, perms, curls, feathers
Spandex spandex, athletic wear, lycra
Lacey Shirts frills, lace, shirts, Prince
Leg Warmers leg warmers, trends, fashion accessories
High Waisted Jeans high waisted jeans, mom jeans
Neon Colors neon colors, vibrant, black light skate

Lacey Shirts

The 80s saw an influx of frills and lace on shirts, giving them an extra dose of femininity. From button-up shirts to t-shirts and even bedtime gowns, everything was adorned with frills. This trend wasn’t limited to women’s fashion; men also embraced the frilly shirt style, making a bold fashion statement.

One iconic musician who contributed to the popularity of frilly shirts was Prince. He was known for his extravagant style, often seen wearing vibrant and embellished frilly shirts in his music videos and performances. Prince’s daring fashion choices inspired many to experiment with frills and lace, pushing the boundaries of traditional gender norms in fashion.

Prince’s iconic frilly shirts showcased the fusion of masculinity and femininity in 80s fashion, creating an aura of individuality and self-expression.

The frills and lace added a touch of whimsy and elegance to shirts, transforming them into statement pieces. This trend allowed individuals to express their creativity and personal style, whether through delicate lace detailing or bold, ruffled collars. From casual streetwear to formal occasions, frilly shirts became a versatile fashion choice that transcended various settings.

Table: Famous Frilly Shirt Moments in the 80s

Event Description
MTV Video Music Awards Prince’s performance of “Purple Rain” in a purple frilly shirt became an iconic moment in music and fashion history.
Movie Premieres Actors and actresses graced the red carpet in frilly shirts, adding glamour and flair to their ensembles.
Concerts Musicians across different genres embraced frilly shirts as part of their stage outfits, captivating audiences with their unique style.

The frilly shirt trend may have faded away with the end of the 80s, but its influence can still be seen in modern fashion. Designers continue to incorporate elements of lace and frills into their collections, paying homage to the bold and daring spirit of the 80s. Whether it’s a subtle lace trim on a blouse or an oversized ruffled collar, the legacy of frilly shirts lives on, reminding us of the vibrant and fearless fashion era that defined the 1980s.

Leg Warmers: A Trendy Fashion Accessory of the 80s

Leg warmers were one of the most iconic fashion accessories of the 1980s. These cozy and stylish garments became a must-have for both fashion-conscious individuals and fitness enthusiasts. Made from knit material, leg warmers were designed to be worn from the ankle to just below the knee, providing warmth and a touch of flair to any outfit.

Leg warmers quickly gained popularity due to their versatility and fashionable appeal. They were worn by people of all ages and genders, and they became synonymous with the energetic and vibrant spirit of the 80s. Whether paired with leggings, tights, or even jeans, leg warmers added a unique touch to any ensemble.

The trend of leg warmers was not limited to everyday fashion. They were also commonly seen in dance studios and fitness centers, where they served both as a practical accessory and a fashionable statement. From aerobics classes to dance rehearsals, leg warmers became a staple in the wardrobe of those who wanted to stay warm without sacrificing style.

The popularity of leg warmers eventually waned as the 80s came to an end, but their impact on fashion cannot be denied. Today, leg warmers are often seen as nostalgic symbols of the vibrant and unique style of the 1980s. They continue to inspire fashion trends and make occasional comebacks, reminding us of a time when boldness and self-expression reigned supreme.

High Waisted Jeans: The Rise of Mom Jeans

High waisted jeans became a fashion phenomenon in the 80s, earning the nickname “mom jeans.” These jeans, characterized by their waistband sitting above the natural waistline, offered a unique silhouette and a sense of comfort. While some may have dismissed them as a mom staple, high waisted jeans quickly gained popularity among women of all ages.

One of the reasons high waisted jeans became so popular was their ability to accentuate the waist and create a flattering hourglass shape. They provided coverage and support, making them a practical choice for everyday wear. Additionally, the high waistline offered versatility, allowing them to be paired with various tops and accessories to create different looks.

The rise of mom jeans in the 80s coincided with the rise of women’s empowerment and the desire for a more gender-neutral fashion. Women embraced high waisted jeans as a departure from the low-rise styles of previous decades, which were often associated with men’s fashion. The trend represented a shift towards embracing one’s natural body shape rather than conforming to societal beauty standards.

Pros of High Waisted Jeans Cons of High Waisted Jeans
  • Flattering for all body types
  • Creates an hourglass shape
  • Provides coverage and support
  • May be less comfortable than low-rise styles
  • Can be challenging to find the perfect fit
  • May not suit all fashion preferences

“High waisted jeans quickly gained popularity among women of all ages.”

Bringing Back Mom Jeans

In recent years, the trend of high waisted jeans, or mom jeans, has made a comeback. Many fashion-forward individuals are embracing the vintage-inspired style and incorporating it into their modern wardrobes. Celebrities and influencers have been spotted rocking mom jeans, further fueling the revival of this iconic 80s trend.

With fashion constantly evolving, it’s no surprise that trends from the past find their way back into the spotlight. High waisted jeans continue to be a statement piece, offering a timeless and classic appeal. Whether paired with crop tops for a trendy look or dressed up with a blazer for a chic ensemble, mom jeans have proven their versatility and staying power in the world of fashion.

As we reminisce about the 80s and its fashion trends, high waisted jeans stand out as a defining style that has stood the test of time. They symbolize the spirit of individuality and self-expression that the decade was known for. So, next time you’re looking for a pair of jeans that flatter your figure and make a statement, consider reaching for a pair of high waisted jeans, embracing the trend that has made a lasting impact on the fashion world.

Neon Colors

One of the most vibrant and eye-catching fashion trends of the 1980s was the explosion of neon colors. From head to toe, people embraced neon hues in their clothing, accessories, and even makeup. It was a time when fashion became a literal bright spot in people’s lives.

Neon colors were all about making a statement and standing out from the crowd. Electric blues, neon pinks, and fluorescent yellows were just a few of the bold shades that took center stage. Whether you were at a black light skate party or simply walking down the street, neon colors made you impossible to miss.

“Neon colors were like wearing a rainbow on your body. It was a way to express your fun and fearless side,” says fashion historian, Jane Johnson.

Black light skate rinks became popular destinations for those looking to showcase their neon fashion choices. Under the UV lights, the neon colors glowed brilliantly, creating an otherworldly atmosphere. It was a place where self-expression went hand in hand with the adrenaline rush of roller skating.

neon colors

The Neon Revolution

Neon colors didn’t just stay on the runway or in the clubs – they infiltrated every aspect of everyday life. Home decor, stationery, and even technology embraced the neon trend. It was a visual feast that permeated all aspects of culture and left an indelible mark on the 80s.

  1. The neon trend was fueled by advances in color technology that allowed for brighter and more intense pigments.
  2. Many designers and brands embraced the neon trend, creating collections that were a riot of color from start to finish.
  3. While the popularity of neon colors eventually waned, their impact can still be seen in modern fashion trends that embrace vibrant hues.

Neon colors are a testament to the creativity and individuality of the 1980s. The decade was a time of pushing boundaries and embracing the unconventional, and neon fashion was the perfect way to do just that. Today, neon colors continue to evoke a sense of energy, excitement, and nostalgia for a time when fashion was unapologetically bold.

Neon Colors Trend Details
Key Colors Electric blues, neon pinks, fluorescent yellows
Popular Locations Black light skate rinks, clubs, street fashion
Social Impact Symbolized rebellion, self-expression, and a break from societal norms
Legacy Influenced modern fashion trends that embrace vibrant hues


The 1980s brought us a plethora of iconic fashion trends that continue to influence the industry today. From big hair to ripped jeans, the 80s embraced bold and daring styles that still resonate with fashion enthusiasts. It was a decade of self-expression and making a statement through clothing choices, and its impact is still felt in modern fashion.

While some trends may have faded away, the essence of 1980s fashion lives on. The iconic styles of the time showcased individuality and creativity, inspiring future generations to explore their own unique fashion sense. Whether it’s the voluminous curls of big hair or the rebellious edge of ripped jeans, the 80s left an indelible mark on the world of style.

Today, we see glimpses of 1980s fashion in retro-inspired collections, runway shows, and street style looks. Designers continue to pay tribute to the boldness and audacity of the decade, keeping its spirit alive in the ever-evolving world of fashion. The 1980s will always be remembered as a time of experimentation, where fashion was used as a powerful tool for self-expression and empowerment.


What were the most popular 1980s fashion trends?

The most popular 1980s fashion trends included big hair, spandex, ripped knees, lacey shirts, leg warmers, high waisted jeans, and neon colors.

How did people achieve big hair in the 80s?

People achieved big hair in the 80s through perms, curls, and feathers. They went to great lengths to create height and drama with their hair.

What was spandex used for in 80s fashion?

Spandex was used for athletic wear and everyday fashion in the 80s. It was stretchy and comfortable, making it the go-to fabric for leggings, leotards, and t-shirts.

Why were ripped knees popular in 80s denim?

Ripped knees were popular in 80s denim because they added a rebellious and edgy vibe to any outfit. Whether jeans were pre-distressed or intentionally torn, ripped knees were a must-have trend.

What was the significance of frills and lace on shirts in the 80s?

Frills and lace on shirts in the 80s added an extra dose of femininity. They were seen on button-up shirts, t-shirts, and even bedtime gowns, and were famously worn by iconic musician Prince.

How were leg warmers worn in the 80s?

Leg warmers were worn as a fashion accessory in the 80s. They added style and warmth to any outfit and were often paired with leggings or worn over tights.

What made high waisted jeans popular in the 80s?

High waisted jeans became popular in the 80s because of their unique silhouette and nickname “mom jeans.” They offered modesty and a way to keep pants up without belts.

Why were neon colors so prevalent in 80s fashion?

Neon colors were prevalent in 80s fashion because they added vibrancy and excitement. They were often seen under black lights at skating rinks, creating a lively and energetic atmosphere.

How have 1980s fashion trends continued to influence the industry?

1980s fashion trends have continued to influence the industry through inspiration and nostalgia. Elements like big hair, ripped jeans, and neon colors can still be seen in modern fashion, keeping the spirit of the 80s alive.

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