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What Was The ’80s Style?

From Saint Laurent’s shoulder Pads to fitness fashion and heavy makeup, both women’s and men’s fashion took on the iconic elements we associate with the ‘80s. Known for acid wash jeans, dolphin shorts, and bum bags, this decade has a wide number of iconic styles.


Post-‘70s Punk

The post Punk, gothic style of the 1980s was popular throughout Europe and America. It featured materials such as fishnet, leather, and lace, which were used to create striking, black clothing. This style was categorised by pale skin, long, backcombed hair, and heavy makeup, with women wearing corsets. Bands like Guns N’ Roses still wore the Punk style.



New Romanticism

The New Romantic style was a reaction against Punk and the ideal opportunity for individual style to break through. Both New Romantic music and fashion jumped into mainstream youth culture in the early ‘80s. It was categorised by asymmetric haircuts, loose-fitting clothes, and excessive makeup. This style was adopted by both men and women, with music and fashion being heavily linked together.

This was a flamboyant style filled with luscious fabrics and frills. Vivienne Westwood marketed the pirate look, which was inspired by 17th-century pirate costumes.


Heavy Makeup

Man or woman, heavy makeup was an essential factor in being fashionable in the 1980s. Boy George, for example, was one of the artists who made lipstick and eyeliner cool for men to wear. Women mixed colourful and bold eyeliner, eyeshadow, and lipstick. Blush was to be worn liberally to complete the look.


Animal Print

An extremely popular choice, animal print was worn by both men and women. The more popular patterns were leopard, snake, and zebra, which were featured on clothing items like jackets, skirts, dresses, leggings, and much more. Metal bands, in particular, adopted this pattern into their style.



Fitness Fashion

Mainly due to films such as Flashdance and Fame, the 1980s saw an aerobics craze sweep the world. Workout videos and Olivia Newton-John’s hit, if controversial, video Physical are other examples of the fitness fashion craze. Women wore this style even just to go shopping, with legwarmers ranging from pastel, neon, plain, and stripy colours.

The classic aerobics look included the legwarmers, a headband, tights or leggings, and a leotard. And how can we forget the hugely oversized, grey jumper worn off-the-shoulder, made popular by Jennifer Beals in Flashdance?


Puffed Sleeves and Shoulder Pads

Shoulder pads were used in women’s fashion by female workers as power-dressing, to provide them with an authoritative look in a men-dominated environment. From dresses, suits, and jackets, shoulder pads gave the shoulders a broader look.

This helped women to achieve a defeminised top half although, paradoxically, women in the ‘80s combined this look with ostentatious jewellery, knee-length skirts, and scarves that accentuated their femininity.