Popular Brands And Styles Of The 80s

Are you interested in learning more about some of the most popular brands and styles that took prominence in the 80s? When you think of the 80s, we’re sure that “vibrant” and “bold” are just some of the words that spring to mind. 

Popular Brands and Styles of the 80s

The 80s were all about eye-catching designs and fun prints, not to mention the style trends that were often situated around flaunting your wealth and showing off many different items linked to materialism.

But what were some of the most popular styles and brands? This is what we’re here to uncover.

So, if you are currently curious about what some of the most popular brands and styles of the 1980s are – you’re in the right place!

Below, we are going to be talking you through all of the most popular fashion influencers of this era, as well as providing you with some additional style and fashion insights from this period.

You know what to do – just keep on scrolling! 

1980s Fashion And Style: A Brief History

Before we jump into what some of the main brands and styles of the 80s were, we first think that it would be a great idea to provide you with a general overview of the 1980s, as this will help you to better understand why it was such an influential time for fashion and style. 

Generally speaking, during the 1980s, just about anything went. However, it is worth noting that during this time, the bigger the clothing the better – especially with regard to women’s clothing.

So much so, that while men would often wear tailored suits during this time period (that were often characterized by lots of colors) women would often find themselves wearing “power outfits” in professional settings due to shows such as Dynasty and Dallas.

Many women in professional settings would find themselves opting for bold shoulder-padded suits to create a “powerful” appearance.

Besides that, though, this decade was also typically known for its innovative sportswear and soft “new romantics” clothing style. 

Along with disco wear, the trend of sportswear from the 1970s also trickled across into the 80s and might be the main catalyst for the fitness craze that was defined by this decade.

A great example of this “Fitness clothing craze” can be seen in the outfits that Jennifer Beals wore in the cult favorite movie Flashdance. 

Along with this, there was also a variety of other notable dance-wear-inspired fashion trends that took center stage during this decade, including off-the-shoulder tops, cropped sweatshirts, colorful neon tights, and leg warmers.

You might be pretty interested to discover that Jane Fonda’s extremely popular exercise videos popularized the fitness trend of clothing that many people incorporated into their everyday wear during this fun decade for fashion. 

Continuing with the popularity of sports clothing during this decade, fashion designers such as Norma Kamali encouraged the rise in popularity of stylish sports clothing thanks to her creation of cozy jerseys and other sports clothing that were marketed for everyday wear. 

Many people agree that Norma Kamali was one of the first fashion designers to make “sports streetwear” a fashion trend, and there’s no denying that this has directly inspired much of modern fashion, too.

Athleisure, as it is more commonly referred to today, is one of the popular clothing styles worn for everyday, casual wear – and was re-popularized by notable figures such as Kim Kardashian.

But, although Norma Kamali is often credited with making sports clothing acceptable as everyday wear, it’s worth noting that she wasn’t the only designer making waves in this area.

Fashion designers such as Donna Karan and Alaia were experimenting with stretchy fabrics to make figure-hugging sportswear clothing that could be worn in everyday life, with a specific focus on women’s clothing.

An excerpt from the book Fashion: The Ultimate Book of Fashion and Style, reads: “Women’s bodies were now shaping the clothes”. So, it should come as no surprise to learn that the extremely popular bodysuit was created by 1980s fashion designers.

New Romantics clothing also became extremely popular in the 80s, which is another trend that is worth noting. This trend of clothing was characterized by prairie, pouf-style dresses that were often huge statement makers.  

Even if you aren’t overly familiar with this style of clothing, we’re sure that you’ll at least be familiar with some of the historical clothing pieces that personify this style.

For example, Princess Diana’s “fairy-tale” wedding dress that was created by British fashion designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel captured this trend to a tee, and is one of the most memorable wedding dresses in history.

On a more general note, however, the New Romantic style was characterized by very puffed sleeves, flowy materials, and eye-catching, bold accessories.

The “New Romantics” name was given after Vivienne Westfield released her infamous Pirate Collection in the very early 80s. 

Early 1980s Fashion Trends Vs Later 80s Fashion Trends

Now that we have given you a brief overview of the 1980s in general, let’s learn a little more about the trends that took center stage at the beginning and end of this controversial decade in fashion.

During the earlier years of this vibrant decade in fashion many designers and brands were still pushing “disco” clothing – especially as the earlier years were so hot on the tail of the 70s.

Still, although the earlier years of the 80s were characterized by disco clothing that was all the rage in the previous decade, you might be pretty interested to learn that the earlier half of the 1980s was pretty tame in comparison to the latter half.

That’s right! It wasn’t actually until the mid-80s that we started to see a huge rise in aerobic/sports-inspired streetwear, which pretty much consisted of tights, ripped/cropped sweaters, and tracksuits.

As well as this, it also wasn’t until the mid-80s that neon and rock-inspired fashion trends started to dominate the fashion world, with icons such as Madonna and Cyndi Lauper making waves with oversized shoulder pads, neon clothing, and much more daring outfits that pushed fashion boundaries at the time.

But, that’s not all. In a much more professional environment, women tended to rock kitten heels (which many people still wear in this day and age) as well as wide-legged trousers instead of dresses, tops, and blazers that featured shoulder padding for a more masculine silhouette.

Women also brought color into their professional settings and often incorporated vibrant “power outfits” that were directly inspired by popular TV shows at the time including Dynasty and Dallas.

Moving into the later years of this influential decade, the pushing of fashion boundaries showed no signs of slowing down.

Even though the neon craze that overtook the middle years of this decade was slowly decreasing in popularity, it only paved the way for more innovative and fun fashion trends to take center stage.

In particular, during the latter stages of the 80s, we saw taffeta and pouf dresses become mainstream clothing, worn by many women, while men’s fashion became directly influenced by the punk fashion era that followed into the 90s. 

The Greatest Fashion Trends Of The 80s

Even though there were many different fashion designers and clothing brands that made prominence in the 80s, only some designers and brands truly captured everything that the “80s era” came to be known for. 

So, before we jump any further into this guide, let’s take a moment to explore some of the main fashion influencers and trends of the 1980s:

Everyday Sportswear

Fitness became extremely popular during the 1980s! Brands such as Adidas and Nike became extremely popular, with many people opting to wear their sportswear as everyday clothing.

This explains why so many stars and celebrities of the 1980s could often be seen wearing athleisure clothing – which has recently made a resurgence!

Jordache Jeans

During the 1980s, absolutely everyone was wearing these jeans! Jordache was truly the “it-girl” denim brand during this time, and the most popular style of denim jeans that this brand offered was a ripped style that everyone wanted to get their hands on!


As we’re sure you’ve already been able to guess by now, plenty of popular fashion trends that took dominance in the 80s have still retained their popularity in this very day and age! Scrunchies just so happen to be one of them.

These headbands became very popular during the 80s and were directly influenced by the neon trend, as well as the 80s new wave trend.

In keeping with the 80s fashion, it should come as no surprise to learn that scrunchies were made in many different styles and colors. 

Corduroy Slacks

Just about everyone owned a pair of these slacks during this decade, and they often came in a variety of different colors to match all different style preferences and tastes.

While they aren’t as popular in the modern day, these slacks were known for being extremely cozy and cuddly, which is why they are most commonly worn during the winter.

New Wave Fashion

This was another extremely popular fashion style during the 1980s, so much so that this style is quite often referred to as the “80s new wave fashion”.

This style was most commonly worn by younger men and women and was directly inspired by the 80s new wave of music…hence the name of this clothing style! 

For the women that partook in this clothing trend, fishnet tights, chunky jewelry, and leather jackets were all the rage. As for the men?

They would often swap out their regular jackets for leather jackets (which were usually colored) and match them with eyeliner, big hair, and colorful tops.

Neon Clothing

When you think about the 1980s, you wouldn’t be alone if you said that when you pictured this era, bright, neon-colored clothing sprung to mind!

Neon clothing was also another trend that became extremely popular during this exciting period of fashion, worn by icons such as Madonna and Cyndi Lauper.

Punk Rock

While the 1970s was a time for plenty of disco and soul music, the 80s was certainly a time for the rise of punk rock!

Due to the rise of this genre, more and more punk rock bands began to wear clothing that directly influenced this style – including colored leather jackets, big, chunky accessories as well as ripped jeans, and colorfully patterned shirts. 

Along with new wave fashion that was also inspired by a popular music genre of the 80s, punk rock was also one of the more “avant-garde” trends that took center stage.

This allowed both men and women to explore their creativity and sense of expression through their clothing, hair, and makeup.

New Romantics

Another popular fashion trend that rose to popularity during the 1980s was the “New Romantics” style of clothing, which was most commonly characterized by flowy materials, puffed sleeves, and chunky jewelry accessories. 

Even if you might not be too familiar with this trend (it’s not so common in the modern day) we’re sure that you’ll be familiar with some of the most famous historical pieces that were directly inspired.

In particular, Princess Diana’s wedding dress was directly inspired by the New Romantics fashion trend.


Denim was also a super popular style of clothing during the 80s. Many believe the 1980s helped to popularize the “denim on denim” fashion trend that is still used to this very day.

You might also be interested to discover that mom jeans were created during the 1980s, as well as high-waisted jeans in general. Pretty cool, right?

Power Outfits

Last but not least, the final trend that rose to prominence during the 80s was power outfits. Essentially, power outfits became a trend when businesswomen wanted to be taken more seriously in the workplace.

To do this, they began to wear outfits that would create a sense of “power”. These outfits often placed a strong focus on creating a silhouette that resembled that of a traditional male body.

How To Incorporate 80s Style Into Your Everyday Wardrobe

Now that we have talked you through everything you need to know about the main styles and trends that dominated the 1980s, we have some tips for incorporating the 80s style into your modern-day wardrobe! 

Below, check out the following tips and tricks for infusing a touch of 80s style into your everyday wardrobe:

1. Add Plenty Of Colors!

First things first, if you would like to incorporate a touch of 80s style into your everyday, modern wardrobe, then you’ll be making a good choice to make sure that you are opting for plenty of vibrant colors!

Color was one of the most popular trends of the 80s, which is why it’s one of the easiest ways for you to add a subtle nod to the 80s to your everyday wardrobe.

The best part about color is that you have total control over how statement-making you want it to be.

If you want to go all out and wear an outfit that looks like you’ve just time-traveled from the 1980s, you could opt to wear bright, neon leggings paired with a denim jacket and colorful accessories. 

However, if you want to opt for something a little more subtle, a pop of color in the form of a bag or pair of earrings is a great way to incorporate elements of this 80s fashion trend into your everyday life.

2. Wear A Leather Jacket

It’s certainly no secret that leather jackets became extremely popular during the 1980s, which is why we recommend adding one to your wardrobe if you really want to capture a sense of the decade in your everyday style.

If you want to play it safe and add a subtle nod to the 80s without doing too much, then we recommend opting for a leather jacket that is either black or brown. 

On the other hand, if you want to wear something that captures the fun of this vibrant decade of history, then why don’t you consider opting for a colored leather jacket?

During the 80s, there was a spike in the demand for colored leather (particularly leather jackets), and is the perfect choice for anyone that wants to make an 80s fashion statement in the modern day.

Top tip: If you want to get your hands on an authentic 80s leather jacket instead of purchasing one new, why don’t you consider going to your local vintage or thrift store?

More often than not, you’ll be able to find vintage 80s pieces from these authentic stores and at a very reasonable price.

3. Stock Up On Denim!

Along with statement-making colored leather jackets and pants, we’re sure it’s not surprising to hear that we’re also mentioning denim.

Even though denim was no doubt worn before this decade, it can certainly be said that denim has become almost synonymous with the 80s – and for good reason, too.

During the 80s, denim became the “go-to” everyday clothing option for just about everyone alongside sportswear. So much so, that the 80s popularized denim on denim outfits. Along with that, “mom jeans” were created during this decade, too.

So, with all that being said, if you’re interested in adding some elements of the 1980s to your wardrobe – stocking up on some new denim is a great place to start, and a super affordable way to capture a sense of the 80s style in your clothing choices.

4. Accessorize! 

Even though people have been accessorizing their outfits way before the 1980s had even begun – we do think that it’s pretty safe to say accessories that were commonly worn during the 1980s had a distinct style to them, unlike any other decades of fashion that came before.

In particular, during the 1980s there was a huge focus on “statement-making” pieces that would not only point to one’s wealth but also serve as a way to add plenty of color and vibrancy into their outfits, too.

That being said, the jewelry accessories of the 80s were mainly characterized by color, size, and shakiness – the bigger, the better!

If you are interested in adding a pop of 80s style and charm to your modern-day outfits, one of the easiest ways that you can achieve this (as well as one of the more affordable ways, too) is by opting to incorporate some 80s accessories into your outfits.

5. Don’t Be Afraid Of Neon

As we have already mentioned in a previous point above, one of the best things about incorporating elements of the 80s style into your everyday clothing choices is the ability to be as subtle or as statement-making as you like.

While denim pieces and leather jackets are an awesome way to add subtle references to the 80s, if you want to go all out, you’d be making the right choice to add a pop of vibrance to your outfits with some neon clothing! 

One of the best ways that you can incorporate neon into your outfits is with an eye-catching piece of clothing that is going to stand out from the rest – such as a dress or top.

Although, if you want a more subtle touch of neon as a nod to the 80s, a neon jewelry piece or neon bag is a fun and cute way to add a pop of color to your outfits.

6. Get Comfortable In Athleisure

The final way that you can easily incorporate an element of 1980s fashion into your everyday wardrobe is by swapping your jeans and jumpers for athleisure pieces!

Besides being a direct reference to the sports streetwear that rose to prominence during the 1980s, we’re sure that you’ll find that athleisure is the perfect way to stay cozy and comfortable while running errands and going about your day-to-day activities.

Even though sportswear has been around for years, it can be a little tricky to figure out how to piece together outfits that will be appropriate for everyday life.

The good news is that athleisure is super versatile and has no set rules – so you’re free to get as creative with your athleisure outfits as you like. Just take a look at the Kardashians who encouraged a resurgence of this style in the latter half of the 2010s. 

Still, if you’re looking to purchase a few pieces for your everyday wardrobe collection, we recommend stocking up on essentials such as biker shorts (in neutral colors as they will go with more clothing pieces) sweaters (both oversized and cropped) as well as lycra leggings and fitted, long-sleeved tops for a figure-hugging feel.

For a modern twist, you could even consider pairing your athleisure outfits with a big, oversized jacket, which is what many modern women and men often opt for.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Styles Were Popular In The 1980s?

The 1980s were a very eclectic and versatile time – especially concerning fashion!

Looking back on pictures it might seem as though there were no rules (especially given how fun and colorful the clothing was), but there were some distinct clothing styles that helped to shape this time.

For women, the most popular clothing fashion includes things such as high-waisted jeans (now commonly referred to as mom jeans), taffeta dresses, pouf dresses, and clothing that was specifically designed to be worn as a “power outfit” in the workplace.

Shoulder pads were introduced, often used in women’s clothing to create a more traditionally masculine silhouette that was celebrated in the workplace.

Fun fact: these power outfits were directly inspired by Dynasty and Dallas – two extremely popular TV shows at the time.

Along with this, many other popular styles and trends were enjoyed by both men and women.

There was the 80s new wave fashion which was directly inspired by the 80s new wave music genre, neon clothing, colored leather, metallic outfits (that were originally referred to as Lame) sportswear, and lots and lots of denim.

What Was The Most Popular Style In The 80s?

There’s no “clear cut” answer to this question, as there were so many styles in fashion that rose to prominence during this time, and directly influenced modern fashion as we know it today. 

That being said, here are some of the most popular fashion trends and styles from this era:

– New romantic clothing style
– Power dressing
– 80s new wave
– Neon 
– Pouf dresses

How Should I Dress In An 80s Style?

This is a great question to ask! If you are currently thinking about incorporating some popular clothing styles into your wardrobe directly inspired by the 80s – then there are many ways that you can do this.

And the best part? You can make it as subtle or as “in your face” as you’d like! For example,  many iconic clothing styles from the 80s are still popular and frequently used to this very day, such as mom jeans and biker shorts.

If you’d like to incorporate some subtle references to the 80s in your wardrobe, then the good news is that you can likely find some of these classic staples from the 80s at your favorite clothing stores.

Although, if you’d like a more “authentic” 80s style, we recommend visiting your local thrift store or vintage shop to find some genuine pieces of clothing from this era – you’ll likely be able to pick them up for a bargain, too! 

Along with all of this, if you’d like to start wearing 80s-style clothing but you’re not too sure where to even begin, we recommend looking online for some inspiration on what clothing to wear.

There are many different websites that you can use for inspiration and reference, and doing so can help you piece together outfits that you’d like to wear that are directly inspired by 80s clothing styles. We recommend Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram.

What Is One Of The Major Fashion Design Features In The 1980s?

As you might have already guessed from our complete guide to 80s fashion above – the 1980s was a period that was defined by color, statement pieces, athleisure clothing, and much more!

In other words, the 80s was a time in fashion history that consisted of fun, expression, and lots of versatility. So, it should certainly come as no surprise to hear that the many design features defined the 1980s, too.

In particular, mini skirts were one of the most popular design trends to come out of this controversial era in fashion, as well as taffeta, pouf dresses, neon clothing, and plenty of colorful clothing.

The men of this period often wore relaxed-fit jeans, leather jackets, and other clothing trends that defined this era, such as sportswear.

What Is 80s New Wave Fashion?

The 80s era was extremely eclectic and versatile in fashion and style, so it should come as no surprise to learn that there were so many “trends”.

In particular, 80s new wave fashion was one of the most influential styles of this time and was directly inspired by 80s new wave music.

To be more specific, 80s new wave fashion comprised elements of the mod, goth, glam rock, and post-punk fashion trends and made it into one big trend that both women and men could wear and express themselves with. 

For the guys that took part in this fashion trend, they would often go for big hair (the bigger the better) black leather jackets, and lots of eyeliner.

As for the women? 80s new wave fashion was a lot more avant-garde. They would often opt for big hair and accessorize their looks with big, chunky colorful jewelry, fishnet tights, and lots of safety pins.

Plus, similar to the neon trend that took over much of the middle part of the 80s, the girls and guys dressing in the 80s new wave style often incorporate lots and lots of color. The more vibrant and fun the better!

This trend meant that both men and women could get creative and express themselves in other ways, such as with makeup. 

The Bottom Line

There we have it! Now that you have taken the time to read through all of the above, we hope that we have been able to help you understand a little bit more about the main fashion styles and leading brands/designers of the 1980s. 

A truly eclectic and vibrant era in fashion, the 80s were a time when color dominated the fashion industry, and there was a huge focus on sportswear, silhouette clothing, and taffeta evening wear. 

As for fashion icons of time? Well, names such as Madonna, Bianca Jagger, and Grace Jones are just a few of the stars of this time that helped to shape modern aspects of fashion as we know it today. 

The trends of the 1980s often make a resurgence into modern-day fashion (for example, mom jeans are a classic trend from the 80s that many people have as a staple in their wardrobe to this very day)

So, if you’re planning on incorporating styles from the 80s into your everyday clothing collection – make sure to follow our guide above to do it right.

Before you click off this guide, why don’t you consider giving it a bookmark? That way, if you ever needed to come back and refresh your knowledge of the leading fashion icons, designers, and styles of the 1980s – you’ll know exactly where you can find us!

Thank you for reading, and goodbye for now. 

Willa Price