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Trends Through the Decades: 1980’s Fashion

As you will know by now, Preloved loves vintage fashion. Featuring an overview of how styles have changed through the years, you can check out the previous posts here. This time our Trends Through the Decades series focuses on 1980’s fashion.

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 focused woman; men started to mix up their business attire with casual colour. Accessorising like your life depended on it was the standard style; wearing as many vibrant colours as possible was almost like a status symbol of the time!

Women’s 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; this also helped to define a more prominent silhouette. Feminism was increasingly important to women in the 80’s, as per previous decades; the new high street styles helped to secure the power of the female with the perception of status. 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 the public could relate to,  this included her fashion choices. Despite her penchant for supporting designers, and often wearing their custom made designs at events, she also streamlined her look for public appearances. Her down-to-earth personality shone through her equally as wearable wardrobe.

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1980s’s fashion icon Madonna. Image Credit: Pinterest

When it came to style being influenced by music, there was a trend for everyone; however, 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, setting many of the trademark looks. Lace fingerless gloves, ra-ra skirts and statement t-shirts were all part of her grungey-pop look which was the epitome of cool. Madonna’s trademark beauty spot and untamed eyebrows were in vogue; not to mention the more risqué looks in the later part of the 80’s  with that Jean Paul Gaultier Corset; okay, that was actually 1990, but we couldn’t go without mentioning it!

Men’s Fashion in the 80’s

Men were also influenced by popular TV shows and music in the 80’s. 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; this was a fashion statement taken to new levels by figures such as Boy George and Marilyn.

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1980’s David Bowie. Image Credit: Pinterest

On the flip-side of the New Romantic and Yuppie styles, there was the popular ‘parachute pant’ as a staple item 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; 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 seemed like 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. Even Jelly shoes are making a comeback! Being such a vibrant decade, it would be almost impossible to include every fashion style of the time. 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 our Time Machine section to get your hands on some statement pieces from your favourite decade of fashion? 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!