1980s in fashion

1980s in fashion

1980s in fashion


1980s fashion placed 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 jewellery, 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.  The first half of the decade was relatively tame in comparison to the second half, which is when the iconic 1980s colour scheme had come into popularity.

Hair in the 1980s was typically big, curly, bouffant and heavily styled. Television shows such as Dynasty helped popularise the high volume bouffant and glamorous image associated with it. Women from the 1980s wore bright, heavy makeup. Everyday fashion in the 1980s consisted of light-coloured lips, dark and thick eyelashes, and pink or red rouge (otherwise known as blush).
Some of the top fashion models of the 1980s were Brooke Shields, Christie Brinkley, Gia Carangi, Joan Severance, Kim Alexis, Carol Alt, Yasmin Le Bon, Renée Simonsen, Kelly Emberg, Ines de la Fressange, Tatjana Patitz, Elle Macpherson, and Paulina Porizkova.
Women's fashion

Early 1980s (1980–83)


• The early 1980s witnessed a backlash against the brightly coloured disco fashions of the late 1970s in favour of a minimalist approach to fashion, with less emphasis on accessories. In the US and Europe practicality was considered just as much as aesthetics. In the UK and America clothing colours were subdued, quiet and basic; varying shades of brown, tan, cream, and orange were common.

• 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);  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. Women's pants of the 1980s were, in general, worn with long inseams, and by 1981 the flared jeans of the 70s had gone out of fashion in favour of straight leg trousers.

• From 1980-83 popular womens accessories included thin belts, knee-high boots with thick kitten heels, sneakers, jelly shoes (a new trend at the time), mules, round-toed shoes and boots, jelly bracelets (inspired by Madonna in 1983), shoes with thick heels, small, thin necklaces (with a variety of materials, such as gold and pearls), and small watches.

Aerobics craze

• The fitness craze of the 1970s continued into the early 1980s. General women's street-wear worn in the early 1980s included ripped sweatshirts, tights, sweatpants, and tracksuits (especially ones made in velour).

• 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, elastic headbands, and athletic shoes known as 'sneakers' in the US or 'trainers' in the UK.

Professional fashion

• 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 colour. Kitten-heeled shoes were often worn. Formal shoes became more comfortable during this period in time, with manufacturers adding soles that were more flexible and supportive. The shoes with moderately spiked heels and relatively pointy toes from the very late 1970s remained a fashion trend.

Mid 1980s (1984–86)

Bright colours

• Women's fashion in the early 1980s became more colourful around 1980. This included long wool coats, long flared skirts, slim miniskirts, slightly tapered pants and stirrup ones, designer jeans, spandex cycling shorts, extremely long and bulky sweaters, jumpsuits, pastel colours, 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 colourful than they were before.

• Women's shoes of the mid 1980s included strappy sandals, kitten-heeled sandals, pumps, and Keds.

• 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, 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 jewellery, lace gloves, tulle skirts, and boytoy belts.

• Gloves (sometimes laced or fingerless) were popularised 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 colour. 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

• The television prime time shows Dallas and, in particular, Dynasty influenced increasingly oversized shoulder pads. Shoulder pads, popularised 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 jewellery and sparkling clothing. 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 colour, preferably bright colours.

• 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.

• 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.

• After the western economic boom of the mid-1980s, 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 colour 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 criticised 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.

Late 1980s (1987–89)

Consumer-friendly fashions

• From 1987 until the early 1990s, the mini 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. Accessories popular in Britain, France and America included bright-coloured shoes with thin heels, narrow multicoloured belts, berets, lacy gloves, beaded necklaces, and plastic bracelets.

• 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, sweater dresses, taffeta 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, neon or pastel coloured shortalls, denim pinafore dresses, Keds Sperrys, jumpsuits, miniskirts, stretch pants, tapered pants, skirts worn with leggings, happy pants (homemade pants made in bold designs with bright colours), and opaque tights. Popular colours included neon hues, plum, gold, and bright wines.

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