Of all the iconic fashionable decades we can think of, eighties fashion is usually considered to be among the most ludicrous. Way back then, obviously, most of these outlandish trends were thought of as cool. Among all other decades, 80s fashion is the boldest, brightest, and most experimental.
However, this is also the decade that people most fondly remember and even try to bring back in modern times. This might be because this was a very optimistic time for most Americans, with the Depression ending and the economy looking up.
When we think of the eighties, we usually conjure up images of spandex, leg warmers, bright neon colors, hoop earrings, shoulder pads, and several other crazy fashions. At the same time, though, these very things are what make 80s fashion so singular and memorable. In order to understand this phenomenon further, here are some interesting facts about the 1980s fashion scene:
Before Jordache Jeans arrived in the 80s, the only prominent names in this sector were Levis, Lee, and Wrangler. This new addition was a designer brand that was preferred by the fashionistas of the 80s.
Jordache jeans also helped introduce later designer brands such as Calvin Klein and came up with the first risqué ads to make itself stand out among the other brands. Tommy Hilfiger also used to design for Jordache, which adds to Jordache’s history of sartorial greatness.
The ones who started this hair trend in the 80s included, most notably, Steven Segal and Eric Roberts. Male ponytails survived beyond the 80s, as most of us know. In fact, they’re making a comeback in their newest form, “man buns.”
“Big hair” was also figuratively big during the 80s. One of the trademark hairstyles of the decade is the perm, which is short for “permanent wave.” It consists of treating the hair with chemicals and setting it under a perm wave machine which will do the rest of the work. Actress Morgan Fairchild is one of the celebrities famed for this hairstyle.
The ubiquitous big hair of the eighties was a fashion symbol in that era. After the treatment and perming, one didn’t usually brush their hair. The most they did was to tease it out with a round brush, using loads of hair spray to keep the hair’s shape in place.
In fact, hairstyles have changed a lot from one decade to another. We’ve covered the different styles that were popular in various eras within the article here:
The young generation today might not be able to imagine just how high Reebok was flying during the 1980s — we mean, it was huge. The most popular Reebok models were called Men’s Soldiers (from the Reebok Men Classics), while the Freestyle and Dance Reeboks were targeted toward women.
Rock musicians, such as the legendary punk band ‘The Ramones’ started this trend, which reflected their rebellious lifestyle and taste in fashion. Like men’s ponytails, ripped jeans survived the 80s, and indeed have never gone out of style.
Scrunchies were elastic bands, only made more colorful, stylish and not-so-ordinary during the eighties. Back then, as well as in some areas today, scrunchies also functioned as wrist accessories, such as fabric bracelets. Stores like Forever 21 sell scrunchies that feature less-than-garish colors and designs. However, you only have to pull up some videos of sitcoms and other TV shows aired during the 80s to see just how outrageous the scrunchies were at that time.
Graphic shirts reached their peak in the 1980s because they were either hilarious or thought-provoking. They became the fashion staple during this decade. Like many fashions of the 1980s, these slogan T-shirts survived into the present day and you can still see them in many stores. Even some high-end brands have seen fit to come up with a few slogan T-shirts, especially if they mention a trending concern of the present time.
Smiley faces were ubiquitous in the 1980s, although they were first invented in the 1970s. Despite being connected with the psychedelic drug culture, smiley faces still symbolized goodwill. This was why they were the granddaddy of the present-day emojis and emoticons. They were (and still are) popular designs in T-shirts, pins, and mugs.
Most people who wore Spandex during the 1980s would remember them with either sheer embarrassment or sheer regret. They might also just laugh off that phase without a second thought. But really, who knew? Way back in the day, spandex pants were hugely popular. Their fitting and stretchy features led them to become the next “in” thing, especially among rock stars and girls in workout videos.
Velour has the plushy smoothness of velvet and the stretchable qualities of spandex. Velour can be sophisticated or sporty, so it was obviously a favorite in the experimental decade of the 80s in America.
High-end designer brands like Christian Dior would release low-neck sweaters made of velour back in the day. Athletic brands like Fila, on the other hand, manufactured tracksuits and sweatshirts with this material. These were quite popular across a large demographic, the youngsters in particular.
Vivienne Westwood became a household name during this decade for her hard-edged style. She rose to popularity particularly among rock stars and their devoted followings. Westwood was credited for bringing punk and new wave fashion into the mainstream.
To bring out such designs, Westwood often worked with Malcolm McLaren, the manager of the Sex Pistols and a punk icon himself. She was a big force behind the “New Romanticism” fashion movement.
Animal prints in fashion like leopard and zebra already existed before, but they became particularly notorious during the 1980s. They were seen in jackets, coats, blazers, socks, hats, and pants among several other types of clothing items.
Gucci, particularly its sweatshirts, became popular most among the hip-hop and rap crowd. Rap artists such as Eric B. and Rakim became ardent fans of Gucci. This meant that their fan followings were also devoted to such designs, striving to get an authentic version of the clothes for themselves. When this failed, there must have been quite a few knockoffs floating around on the back market!
To find out more about how versatile 80s fashion was, the book called “80s Fashion: From Club to Catwalk” might be of assistance. This work looks at this period of fashion history and showcases works by several leading designers of that age. It also talks about the clubs where fashionable clothes and accessories were displayed. Thus, we also learn about the connection between music and fashion. Check out this book here:
Be they hoop or dangling, earrings in the 80s were really chunky and clunky. This, of course, was seen as ideal during what some now consider to be the decade of excess and loudness. Every female — from huge pop stars like Madonna, to the girl next door — favored these huge and heavy accessories.
Whether we like it or not, the fashion of the 80s definitely did make an indelible mark on today’s fashion scene. We can always switch things around in order to create a sophisticated, updated look that still shows off something retro from the eighties. Grab some large earrings and a sleek modern dress, or any other combination to wow everyone you meet!