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 the words “vibrant” and “bold” are just some of the words that spring to mind.
The 80s were all about eye-catching designs and fun prints, not to mention all of the style trends that were often situated around flaunting your wealth and showing off many different items linked to materialism.
But. despite all this, 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 in time as a whole.
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 period of time for fashion and style as a whole.
Generally speaking, during the 1980s, just about anything went.
However, it is worth noting that during this time period, the bigger the clothing the better – especially with regards 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 color, might we add) women would often find themselves wearing “power outfits” in professional settings due to shows such as Dynasty and Dallas.
That being said, during this decade of fashion, many women in professional settings would find themselves opting for bold shoulder-padded suits in order 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 from 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.
Interestingly enough, 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 on with the popularity of sports clothing during this decade, fashion designers such as Norma Kamali encouraged the growth in popularity of stylish sports clothing thanks to her creation of cozy jerseys and other sports clothing that were marketed for everyday wear.
In fact, 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 as today, is one of the popular clothing styles worn for everyday, casual wear – and was re-popularized by notable figures such as Kim Kardashion.
But, despite the fact that 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.
In fact, 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 as the following ““Women’s bodies were now shaping the clothes”.
So, it should come as no surprise to learn that the extremely popular bodysuit (which is still extremely popular to this very day) was created by 1980s fashion designers.
New Romantics clothing also became extremely popular in the 80s, which is another trend that is worth noting.
Rising to prominence in the early 80s, 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 that rose to prominence in the early 1980s, 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 romantics style was characterized by very puffed sleeves, flowy materials and eye catching, bold accessories.
As for the name? Many people started to give this style of clothing the “New Romantics” name after Vivienne Westfied released her infamous Pirate Collection in the very early 80s.
From there, many clubbers began to dub this look endearingly as the “New Romantic” look.
Early 1980s Fashion Trends Vs Later 80s Fashion Trends
Now that we have given you a brief overview of the 1980s in general, you might be intrigued to learn a little more about the fashion trends that took center stage in the beginning of this controversial decade in fashion, as well as some of the leading fashion trends that took center stage in the latter half of this era.
Generally speaking, 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, despite the fact that 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 were pretty tame in comparison to the latter half.
That’s right! It wasn’t actually until the mid-80s until we started to see a huge rise in aerobic/sports-inspired streetwear, which pretty much consisted of tights, ripped/cropped sweaters and track suits.
As well as this, it also wasn’t until the mid-80s until neon and rock-inspired fashion trends started to dominate the fashion world, with icons such as Madonna and Cyndi Lauper made waves with oversized shoulders, 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, and tops and blazers that featured shoulder padding for a more masculine-shiloutee.]
As for that color we previously mentioned? Women also brought the 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 which we’re sure that you’ll have heard of!
Moving into the later years of this influential decade in fashion, the pushing of fashion boundaries showed no signs of slowing down.
Even though the neon craze that overlooked 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 that were 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, there were only some designers and brands that 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:
As we’re sure you might already be well aware, fitness became extremely popular during the 1980s!
Due to this, brands such as Adidas and Nike became extremely popular, with many people opting to wear their sportswear as everyday clothing.
Due to this, this helps to explain why so many stars and celebrities of the 1980s could often be seen wearing athleisure clothing..which has recently made a resurgence!
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 trends, it should come as no surprise to learn that scrunchies were made in many different styles and colors.
Here’s another popular fashion trend that became extremely popular during the 1980s.
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 colder months of the year.
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 being the “80s new wave fashion”.
This style of clothing 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 often colored) and match them with eyeliner, big hair and colorful tops.
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!
Along with all of the other popular trends that we have already listed, neon clothing was also another super popular trend that became extremely popular during this exciting period of fashion, and was made popular by icons such as Madonna and Cyndi Lauper.
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 in popularity of this genre of music, 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 directly inspired by a popular music genre of the 80s, punk rock was also one of the more “avant garde” trends that took center stage in the 80s.
Thanks to this, it allowed both men and women to explore their creativity and sense of expression through their clothing, as well as through their hair and makeup, too.
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 are directly inspired by this trend.
In particular, Princess Diana’s wedding dress that was created by the Emmanuel’s were directly inspired by the New Romantics fashion trends of the 80s.
We’re sure that this should come as no surprise, but denim was also a super popular style of clothing during this time period.
In fact, it is widely considered that the 1980s helped to popularize the extremely popular “denim on denim” fashion trend that is still extremely popular to this very day.
Along with that, though, you might also be pretty interested to discover that mom jeans were created during the 1980s, as well as high waisted jeans in general. Pretty cool, right?
Last but not least, the final trend that rose to prominence during the 80s was power outfits – which is something that we have already briefly touched upon already in this guide.
Essentially, power outfits became a trend when business women began wanting to be taken more seriously in the workplace.
In order to do this, they began to wear outfits that would create a sense of “power” and these types of outfits often placed a strong focus on creating a silhouette that resembled that of a traditional male silhouette.
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 are now going to be talking you through 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:
Add Plenty Of Color!
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! Like we’ve already mentioned in previous points, color was one of the most popular trends of the 80s (at least, as far as fashion is concerned) which is why it’s one of the easiest ways for youth 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 the most popular 80s fashion trends into your everyday life.
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 80s in your everyday style.
If you want to play it safe and add a subtle nod to the 80s in our everyday outfits without doing too much, then we recommend opting for a leather jacket that is either black or brown in color.
On the other hand, if you want to wear something that captures the fun of this vibrant decade for 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.
If you want to get your hands on an authentic 80s leather jacket instead of purchasing one new, why don’t you consider paying a visit to your local vintage or thrift store?
More often than not, you’ll be able to find vintage 80s pieces (not just leather jackets) from these stores that are authentic and often at a very reasonable price.
Stock Up On Denim!
Along with statement-making colored leather jackets and pants, we’re sure that it will come as no surprise to hear that we’re also mentioning denim.
Even though denim was no-doubt worn prior to 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 sports wear.
So much so, in fact, that the 80s actually popularized the popularity of denim on denim outfits.
Along with that, you might also be interested to learn that “mom jeans” which are still very popular to this day, were created and popularized 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.
Similar to our leather jacket tip, if you would like to incorporate some more denim in your everyday wardrobe and you’d like to capture a truly authentic 80s look – why don’t you consider paying a visit to your local thrift or vintage clothing store?
These types of stores often have genuine denim pieces from the 1980s, and will allow you to give some pre-loved items a lease of new life.
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 that accessories that were commonly worn during the 1980s certainly 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!
So, with all that being said, 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.
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.
That being said, while denim pieces and leather jackets are an awesome way to add subtle references to the 80s, if you really 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!
If you want to make a statement, then 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.
Get Comfortable In Athleisure
Last but certainly not least, 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 and became extremely popular 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.
Not sure where to start? Not a problem. Even though sports wear 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 basic 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 to go for.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Styles Were Popular In The 1980s?
As we’re sure you might very well agree, the 1980s were a very eclectic and versatile time…especially with regards to fashion!
Looking back on pictures it might seem as though anything went (especially given how fun and colorful the clothing was) it’s important to keep in mind that there were some distinct clothing styles that helped to shape this time period.
Generally speaking, for women, the most popular clothing fashion includes things such as high waisted jeans (which are 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.
Due to this, it should come as no surprise to hear that the 1980s introduced the popular trend of shoulder pads that were often used in women’s clothing to create a more traditionally masculine silhouette that was often worn in the workplace.
Fun fact: these power outfits were directly inspired by Dynasty and Dallas – two extremely popular TV shows of the day.
Along with this, there were many other popular styles and trends that 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?
Given the fact that there were so many trends and styles that were made popular during the 1980s, it only makes sense that you should find yourself wondering what the most popular style of all of them was.
However, there’s really no “clear cut” answer to this question, as there were so many styles in fashion that rose to prominence during this time period and directly influenced modern fashion as we now 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
- 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 have the option to make it as subtle or as “in your face” as you’d like! For example, there are many iconic clothing styles from the 80s that are still popular and frequently used to this very day, such as mom jeans and biker shorts (see also ‘10 Fashionable Vintage Mom Jeans You Need In Your Life‘).
That being said, 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 in order 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, then 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 time period often wore relaxed fit jeans, leather jackets, and other popular clothing trends that defined this era, such as sportswear.
What Is 80s New Wave Fashion?
This is another great question to ask, especially where 80s fashion is concerned! As we have already mentioned at many points in this article so far, the 80s era was extremely eclectic and versatile with regards to fashion and style, so it should really 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 period of time, and was directly inspired by 80s new wave music (if you couldn’t already guess by the name!).
To be more specific, 80s new wave fashion comprised elements of mod, goth, glam rock and post punk fashion trends and made it into one big fashion 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 for the girls.
They would often opt for big hair (much like the men) and accessorize their looks with big, chunky colorful jewelry, fishnet tights and lots of safety pins.
Plus, similar to that of the neon trend that took over much of the middle part of the 80s, the girls and guys that found themselves dressing in the 80s new wave style often incorporate lots and lots of color.
The more vibrant and fun the better! Plus, along with the clothing, 80s new wave was also a lot more avant garde than some of the other popular trends of the time.
Thanks to this, it 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! You’ve made it to the end of the guide. 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 with regards to fashion, the 80s were a time where 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 aggar and Grace Jones are just a few of the stars of this time period that helped to shape modern aspects of modern fashion as we know it today.
Not just that, but 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.
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That way, if you ever needed to come back and refresh your knowledge on 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.
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