3 Easy Ways to Give Your Shirts a DIY 80s Makeover

by Jane Duncan, freelance writer

Sept 22 2019

The 1980's were without a doubt the biggest, boldest, and brightest decade to date. The era that brought you The Beastie Boys and Ghostbusters also saw the birth of some of the most iconic fashion trends in history. Apart from big hair, neon leg warmers, and ripped jeans, everyone’s favorite decade was also known for its striking collection of t-shirts sporting everything from popular logos and funny phrases to cool artwork. Although you will be spoiled for choice with all the funky 80s t-shirts on sale in shops and online stores, you can easily turn an old shirt into a vibrant 80s-inspired fashion piece by making a few alterations to it.

Why not Create your own 80s slogan Tee?

Cut Them Up

One way to give your old t-shirts an 80s makeover is to cut them up. Shredded tees were all the rage in the 80s and you can make your own at home with very little effort. For ladies who want a simple off-the-shoulder look, simply cut a deep scoop neck out of it, taking care not to cut any prints in half in the process. If your t-shirt has sleeves you can opt to keep them, or cut them off to turn it into a tank top.

If it’s a shredded, rock star shirt you are after you will need to do a bit more cutting. After cutting the scoop neck, fold the shirt in half and make horizontal cuts down half of the shirt all the way to the bottom. Give the thin strips of fabrics a good stretch before doing the same to the other side. While guys can wear a shredded shirt on its own, girls should either wear it over a brightly-colored tank top or bikini top.  

Print on Them

The iconic "Frankie Say Relax" and Wham "Choose Life" T-shirts are still among the most popular choices among lovers of the 80s and with very good reason. Short-sleeved t-shirts made from a cotton-poly blend with funny or crude sayings and pictures on were extremely popular in the 80s. Although it is never a good idea to copy someone else’s design, you can come up with your own bold phrases that would look perfect on a retro t-shirt. Alternatively, choose fun geometrical patterns or simply images in neon colors to bring a plain black shirt to life.

Brighten the Colour

If you have a pile of boring white t-shirts at home that has long lost their appeal, why not pick up a few packets of dye and turn them into retro 80s showstoppers. Neon pink, green, yellow, blue, and orange shirts look incredibly good when paired with a pair of ripped jeans or black leggings while a shredded black shirt worn over a neon tank top will turn heads wherever you go. 

Although tie-dye garments are typically associated with the sixties and seventies, they were probably at their most popular during the 80s. Tie-dye is once again enjoying a revival and is a fun way to transform your plain white tees. There are countless tie-dying tutorials available online that will help you create fabulous colorful creations right in the comfort of your own home. 

While it is impossible to bring back the 80s, it is possible to relive a part of that era by creating and wearing amazing retro t-shirts. With so many great guidelines to help you make your own t-shirts you may soon have a whole closet full of gorgeous 80s attire.