The eighties were a time when many of the fashion trends that people
love to hate were created. In complete contrast to the 70s, shirts became looser and trousers became tighter. Hair was heavily styled (teased and permed to the limits!) and make-up was bold, almost like face paint. Some call it "the time that fashion forgot", as most laws of fashion were broken & torn into
Music Videos were a major influence for 80s fashion, as well as
American TV shows such as 'Dynasty' and 'Dallas' - shoulder pads spring to mind!
The 80s keep fit look for women included items such as neon-coloured, plain or stripy legwarmers that were scrunched up, tight shorts (interlock shorts with a V opening on the sides were popular) or hot pants, headband, wristbands, leotard, tights or leggings and sometimes a neon mesh top.
New Romanticism was flourishing in the early eighties, and was born in the nightclubs of London such as The Blitz and Billy's. We saw flamboyant men wearing frilly shirts, eye-liner and other forms of make-up. 70s glam rock was a big influence for the look, whilst Kraftwerk influenced the sound, with many (but not all) acts using synthesizers and electronic drums to create their music.
Above we see some typical New Romantic hair styles. On the left is some bloke I've never seen before wearing a dodgy wig, and on the right is the cover of Quiet Life by Japan, featuring a very typical fashion look from the early 80s where we see the hair sweeping over one eye. Quite often the hair was also cut shorter on one side of the head.
One of the earliest examples of New Romanticism can be seen in the video Planet Earth by Duran Duran.
In 1984, whilst Wham made the "Choose Life" T-Shirt popular, Frankie Goes to Hollywood made the "Frankie Say Relax" T-Shirt even more popular!
Pepsi and Shirlie, the backing singers with George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley's Wham! made the Katherine Hamnett "GO GO" and "Choose Life" t-shirt famous by wearing them in the video for the 80s hit single 'Wake Me Up (Before You Go-Go)'.
These days there are more Wham style T-shirts available than ever before, with lots of variations of the original "Choose Life" message and also available in a whole array of colours.
Photo: Holly Johnson with Paul Rutherford who is modelling a "Frankie Say War! Hide Yourself" T-Shirt, which was designed by Frankie Goes To Hollywood's PR manger (and co-founder of ZTT records) Paul Morley. The design was based on Katherine Hamnett's slogan T-shirts, and also included "Frankie Say Arm The Unemployed" and, of course, the more popular "Frankie Say Relax".
This is one eighties fashion craze I'd rather forget about. The trend for yukky acid wash jeans was popular from the mid to late 80's and into the early 90's before they died a quick death.
The process involves washing denim with chlorine using a pumice stone and was invented by the Rifle Jeans company in Italy. They were often worn with motorcycle jackets or fringe jackets (cowboy/country music style leather jackets with lots of tassles) by heavy metal and rock bands, although plenty of non-rock acts (such as Bros and Salt N' Pepa) also jumped in on the trend. Acid Washed jeans made a bit of a comeback during the late noughties.
The 1985 advert featuring Nick Kamen (see the video playlist at the top of the page) dramatically increased sales of Levi's 501 jeans in the mid 80's. Nick Kamen also had a #5 hit single in 1986 with Each Time You Break My Heart which was written and produced by Madonna and Stephen Bray.
After this success, ads featuring old classics by artists such as Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Ben E. King and Percy Sledge also boosted sales of both Levi's and vinyl records during 1986 and 1987.
The popularity of the movies Flashdance and Fame started a new aerobics fashion craze, and girls went crazy for leg warmers in the early 80s. These were popular in neon colours, and often worn with leggings or stirrup pants, tights or even over jeans.
Pixie Boots featured pointy toes and fold-over cuffs and were extremely popular with girls in the early eighties.
80s Disco Diva Fancy Dress Costume
Create a similar 80s look on the 80s Fancy Dress page. Plus, discover more info about tutus and ra ra skirts.
There has been something of a resurgence in this 80s fashion trend in recent years. When I was 14 years old back in 1982 I bought a pair of cheap mirror lens shades from the local market. Street Markets were really popular back in the eighties (in the UK, at least) as there were no chain pound stores or numerous discount clothing superstores on the high street like today.
Ray Bans were also popular and worn by many of the pop stars and film stars of the day, but I suspect that a good many of us ordinary folk bought cheaper replicas.
Funny how Ray Bans (particularly Wayfarer), Aviators / Mirror Lens sunglasses are popular once again, along with so many other 80's clothes.
80s Mullet Compilation