How To Get That 80’s Punk Girl Look

The 80s was a pretty crazy decade but from it, dozens of awesome and interesting fashion styles were born. One of the most iconic fashion styles from this period was punk. 

How To Get That 80’s Punk Girl Look

Punk subculture really reached its heights during the early 80s.

Bands like The Clash and the Ramones had paved the way for hundreds of new punk icons, denim and leather had never been so fashionable, and the ‘anyone can do it’ ethos meant that women were finding equal footing with men in a subculture first. 

The 80s gave us so many female punk icons: Joan Jett, Patti Smith, Cyndi Lauper, and so many more. Their influence is still felt in society today and these are the go-to icons if you want some inspiration for your 80s punk girl look (Check out 80s Punk Make-Up Guide). 

So, if you want to look just like these 80s punk girls, then check out the guide below for all the information you need! 

Tight Fits Are The Way To Go

The 80s is usually well known for its oversized sweaters, baggy jeans, and huge eyeglasses, but punk followed a different trend.

A lot of outfits included tight-fitted pieces of clothing such as t-shirts, leather pants and vests, tights, choker necklaces, tight skirts – the list goes on. 

So, if you want to channel an 80s punk girl look in today’s fashion, sticking with close-fitted clothes is a great place to start. However, you don’t want to completely imbalance your silhouette.

To help balance out this tightness, you can wear one larger article of clothing – like an oversized jacket or shirt. 

In general, baggy clothing was something the punk movement left behind in the 70s, and tight-fitting outfits became the more associated style. 

Mix Tartan And Leather Together

Materials are an important part of punk subculture as most outfits were entirely or mostly made up of three main materials: denim, leather, and tartan. 

Denim was not that popular with punks because of its popularity elsewhere in mainstream 80s culture (everyone was wearing double denim).

However, it could be incorporated into outfits in parts and scraps – the body of a jacket, a vest, jeans covered with patches and tears. So, although denim wasn’t very popular with punks, it could still be found in touches here and there. 

This leaves leather and tartan. 

Leather was massive with punks. It was used to make their jackets, their skirts, their pants, their boots, their belts. This helped give punks their strong, intimidating look as it was very heavy and dark.

On the other hand, tartan (or tartan plaid) was a lighter, softer material with brighter colors. It worked as a contrast material to the leather and was used to make skirts, pants, and jackets.

Most punk girls almost always wore red tartan but mustard yellow and dark green or navy were also other popular types of tartan. 

If you want to look like an 80s punk girl, you need to try and incorporate as much tartan and leather into your outfit as possible. You can fit in denim aspects like a jean vest or dark jeans, but tartan and leather are what give punks their iconic 80s look

Experiment With Color

The dominant color in 80s punk girl fashion is black. This means that when you are pulling your outfit together, most of it (around 70-80%) needs to be black. This heavy use of black in punk fashion is what made them stand out against the bright, pastel colors of the 80s . 

This doesn’t mean that punks were totally colorless. Some wore white t-shirts, colorful tartan (see above) and accessories.

The big point of color was the hair – punks would give themselves wild hairstyles and color their hair bright red, cheese-like yellow, deep blue or green. 

One 80s punk icon who used a lot of colors was Cyndi Lauper. She wore colorful beads, dresses, and make-up – so you don’t have to go so heavy on the black and white.

Try experimenting with color and see how far you can push the boundaries of 80s punk girl fashion – there’s nothing more ‘punk’ than that!    

Chains, Studs, And Patches (Oh My!) 

80s punk clothes were incredibly detailed. This is what gave them such a busy appearance and why so many find it difficult to completely replicate their style – but adding these touches will help make your 80s punk girl outfits feel more authentic. 

One popular feature was chains. Chains would work as belts, necklaces, bracelets, and dangle from random zippers stitched into pants and jackets. 

Speaking of zippers, pants were covered in them and often stitched on as taboos. They were also used in conjunction with patches – scrap pieces of fabric embroidered with symbols, band names, slogans and sayings.

They covered the lapels of jackets, the legs on pants and denim jeans, and accessories like backpacks. 

Another popular detail on 80s punk clothing was studs. These studs were small, made of silver, and shaped from everything from stars to dots to spikes.

80s punk girls would then cover their leather jackets with these studs, but they would also appear along the hems of leather skirts, around the length of belts, or on the knuckles of leather gloves. 

So, take your punk girl outfit and try adding these little touches to really make your outfit pop and channel that 80s punk girl look.

Think About Hair

All punks in the 80s used their hair to make a statement – and so, to really sell your 80s punk girl look, you may want to consider getting creative with your hair. 

You don’t have to go too crazy. Bleach blonde, pitch black, and block shades of bright yellow or red are great ways to keep your hair tame yet perfect for punk fashion. You could also get bangs and keep your hair to a shoulder length. 

Alternatively, if you want to be more adventurous, why not get a mohawk or pixie cut? Or, you can try coloring your hair multiple colors? Most 80s punk girls paired yellow and red together to make a really vibrant hairstyle (just think of Cyndi Lauper!). 

Make-Up: Eyeliner Is A Must!

Like with hair, make-up was also used by punk girls to make a statement. 

Eyeliner was big and bold, often stretching from the corner of the eye all the way to the hairline. Some punk girls used eyeliner to draw a box around their eyeshadow, drawing sharp lines between the corner of their eye up to their eyebrow and across. 

Eyeshadow and lipstick brought color to the face, usually in shades of red, orange, or purple. You can still choose a nude palette if your outfit already has a lot of color – so play around and experiment to find the style that best suits you. 

Faces were also kept pale with powder and highlighter, and contouring was used to help create sharp edges around the cheekbones to help give punk girls a sharper, harder, and tougher look. 

Basically, 80s punk girl make-up was all about trying to make the face look sharp.

This is why eyeliner was so pointed, hard lines were left in the eyeshadow, bright lipstick was used to make the lips pop, and contouring was so harsh. Keep this in mind when doing your own make-up.

Boots All The Way

There’s only two words we need to say when it comes to punk footwear and shoes: Dr.  Martens. 

Punks loved to wear leather boots and Dr. Martens were their go-to choice. Luckily, Dr. Martens are popular today and so, you probably already have the ideal pair in your wardrobe. If not, you can either splash out or buy a pair of boots in a similar style. 

As you’re going for the punk girl style, you can try heeled booties if you really want to wear heels, but most punk girls in the 80s wore flat soles. Leather was the dominant material for punk shoes so you don’t have a lot of room for variety here. 

Final Thoughts

So, there’s no denying that 80s punk girls had a totally unique style that made them stand out against other common trends of the time.

They wore tight fitted clothes, usually made of leather or tartan, and intricately decorated their clothing with tons of little details including patches, studs, and chains.

However, the hair and make-up was often the main eye-pulling point of the 80s punk girl fashion style – so consider changing your hair and experimenting with your make-up to really nail the look.

Good luck! 

Willa Price
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