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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 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 usually in neon colours and often worn with leggings/stirrup pants, tights or even over jeans.
This ad 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.
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.
I have to admit that I wasn't the most fashion conscious person in the 80s, although, I did buy a pair of Chinos in 1989 when they came back in to fashion. Well, maybe they didn't come back into fashion (?) but I do remember Holly Johnson singing about "Americanos, blue jeans and chinos", and Fosters displaying them them in their shop window - what ever happened to Fosters?
Well, I suppose I preferred the more casual look, and I decided to ask my parents to buy me a pair of white shoes. I didn't go for the white suit (as worn by Don Johnson out of Miami Vice), and so I looked far from from casual wearing them with jeans. In fact, I probably looked a right prat!
Yes, that ended up being one of many fashion disasters I brought upon myself during the 80s. Why the heck did I think that I was going to look cool in a pair of white shoes with jeans? Anyhow, I used to get into a right mess with a bottle of white, liquid polish. Yes, my clothes just ended up being covered in white patches. Try explaining that one to your girlfriend.
Well, you can't blame me for sticking to more casual attire these days - I think it's safer that way!
I do remember many of my friends suddenly starting to boast about the fact that they were wearing Boxer shorts in the late 80's. An old school friend who had started a market stall tried to sell me a job lot, but I wasn't having any of it. I couldn't stand the things back then and I still won't go near them today. What is the point of them anyway? They don't hold anything in place!
Big hair (Click here to visit the mullets page) was everywhere and no woman would dare venture out without an enormous can of hairspray in her handbag. Come to think of it, some blokes wouldn't go out without a can of hairspray either!
There are more eighties hair styles below.
80s Mullet Compilation
"Get yer hair cut you long-haired hooligans!"
By the mid-80's, glam metal was experiencing major mainstream success, and with it came ultra long hair for men.
The Quiff hairstyle became prominent in the second half of the 80s, with Rick Astley sporting one of the most memorable ones. But the style faded into obscurity (Even Rick grew long hair!) until a revival in the late 90s, due to the advent of the French crop, a modern version of the quiff, and continues through today.Of course, the most extreme example of a quiff is now being sported by those annoying, camp Irish twins, Jedward.
The cover of Everyday is like Sunday
The best quiff award has to go to Morrissey, though!
Bros had an almost military-style quiff hair cut