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Trends Through the Decades: 1980’s Fashion

As you will know by now, Preloved love vintage fashion. If you’ve been keeping up to date with our regular ‘Trends Through the Decades’ blog posts, then you will have taken a fashion journey through time with us! Featuring an overview of how styles have changed through the years, you can check out the previous posts here. This time the focus is on the not-so distant 1980’s.

The 1980’s was one of the most vibrant, outlandish and unique era’s for fashion. With a new wave of creativity hitting both the high street and the catwalk, we saw an eclectic mix of new wave styles and twists on traditional designs. The iconic Mini Skirt was still reigning supreme for the fashion focussed woman, whilst men started to mix up their business attire with casual colour. Accessorising like your life depended on it was the standard style, and wearing as many vibrant colours as possible was almost like a status symbol of the time!

Womens Fashion in the 80’s

Huge earrings teamed with voluminous hair styles, often offset with shoulder padding on brightly coloured garments was a common look. Influenced by popular TV shows such as Dallas and Dynasty, strong female characters like Joan Collins and Linda Evans were looked upon for style inspiration. For many women, the femininity of the hair styles and jewellery added a gentle edge to the strong, power dressing fashion statement of the decade, which also helped to define a more prominent silhouette. Feminism was increasingly important to women the 80’s, as per previous decades, and the new high street styles helped to secure the power of the female with the perception of status – through their strong shoulders! Another advocate of this style was the nation’s sweetheart of the era, Princess Diana. Known for her elegant, tailored outfits, Diana was a princess that the public could relate too and this included her fashion choices. Despite her penchant for supporting designers and often being seen in their custom made designs at events, she also streamlined her look for public appearances and her down to earth personality shone through her equally as wearable wardrobe.

When it came to style being influenced by music, there was a trend for everyone, but one of the most iconic pop stars of the day was Madonna. Madonna took style to a new level of uniqueness and ultimately became the go-to fashion icon for many women and set many of the trademark looks for the day. Lace fingerless gloves, rara skirts and statement t shirts were all part of her grungey-pop look which was the epitome of cool. Madonna was also known for her trademark beauty spot, untamed eyebrows and not to mention the more risqué looks in the later part of the 80’s  with that Jean Paul Gaultier Corse (okay, that was actually 1990, but we couldn’t go without mentioning it!).

Mens Fashion in the 80’s

Men were also influenced by popular TV shows and music in the 80’s, and you’d find them sporting a range of trends from ‘yuppie’ (which was short for ‘young urban professional’) to New Romantic, with a dash of hair metal and punk in between.  The Yuppie look was often about showcasing what your hard earned cash bought you – from designer watches, tailored suits and even a mobile phone which resembled a brick, if it was expensive at the time, a yuppie would be accessorising with it! The look wasn’t just restricted to males and with more females in professional office jobs, climbing the career ladder; you’d also see them sporting their designer skirt suits and Gucci briefcases too. This lifestyle and fashion was later parodied by Harry Enfield with his comedy character ‘loadsamoney’.

The New Romantic style was often seen as a reaction to the punk movement of the 1970’s and was the opposite of the austerity style punk was. Still influenced by Glam Rock stars such as David Bowie, the style also combined romantic themes and had a more ‘elegant’ edge to it. Frilly shirts, eyeliner, lipstick and quiffs were the basics for the boys and this was a fashion statement taken to new levels by figures such as Boy George and Marilyn.

On the flipside of the new romantic and yuppie styles, you’d also find the popular ‘parachute pant’ as a staple part of some wardrobes. The name was a reference to the material the trousers were made from, as they were characterised by their nylon material. Parachute pants were the choice for the increasingly popular breakdancing scene, as the heavy material could endure the contact with the floor better than a pair of old sweatpants! The fad for these heavy duty trousers was short lived though, and they went out of fashion just as quickly as they came in.


1980’s Hair and Make Up

No 1980’s fashion post would be complete without dedicating some focus on the hair and makeup of the era.  With more cosmetics brands getting playful with their products, it sometimes appeared to be a competition to see how much colour a single person could get on to their eyelids and in their hair!  Cyndi Lauper was the champion of vibrant hair and more styling products available meant that big hair styles could become even more adventurous, especially when teamed with fancy bows and other hair accessories to emphasise your coiffured efforts. Blue Mascara combined with intense eyeshadow of varying colours wouldn’t look out of place on men or women during the 80’s either!

In the past few years, we’ve seen more and more 80’s styles coming back around on to the high street. With leggings teamed with miniskirts being on trend a few years ago, the essence of the 80’s is still channelling through today, with even Jelly shoes making a comeback!  Being such a vibrant decade it would be almost impossible to include every fashion style of the time, but hopefully we’ve touched on a few favourites to bring back fashion memories for any of those who were lucky enough to live it!

Have you caught the bug for vintage clothing yet?

Why not browse out Time Machine section to get your hands on some statement pieces from your favourite decade of fashion and shop for vintage dresses, skirts and trousers online with Preloved!

Liv Serrage

Liv Serrage

Writer and expert

Liv writes the newsletters and looks after the Preloved social media community, hunting out the quirkiest, most beautiful items on site just for you! As an English Language and Literature graduate from the University of Oxford, Liv is passionate about all things fictional, bookish and creative. In her spare time, she loves to go to gigs and scour vintage and charity shops for one off items!