Big Hair, Don’t Care

1980’s Fashion Was Big and Bright

Carly Plotkin

More stories from Carly Plotkin

Men Must Learn
May 23, 2022

It’s no secret that the 1980s were an adventurous time for fashion. With bold colors, styles and lots of hairspray, the ‘80s were full of self expression and fashion icons. Everything in the ‘80s was bigger. With bigger hair came bigger silhouettes, jackets with shoulder pads, and poofy skirts swept the nation. 

Fashion in the ‘80s was all about wealth and materialistic values. Having enough money to buy the most popular brand names and sports goods with well-known logos like the familiar swoosh of Nike or the interlocked Cs of Chanel. Contrary to other decades, fashion was influenced less by the youth of the decade. Baby boomers became more mature and affluent and started getting involved with the upmarket fashion influencers of the time. However, the influence of celebrities on fashion was most certainly the greatest. Madonna, Prince, Mollie Ringwald, Michael Jackson and so many more, the 1980s were never short on fashion icons.  

Due to the limited opportunities for exposure that we have now, such as cell phones, social media and the wide variety of TV channels, the celebrities who did make it on screen had a bigger influence on fashion. In fact, the only other chance for designers to gain exposure was to get a picture of celebrities wearing their clothes in a magazine or to advertise the brand in newspapers and billboards. 

Some of the most popular brands of shoes in the ‘80s are still very popular now. The list of trendiest shoes in the ‘80s were Jordans, Doc Martens, Vans Classic slip-ons, Adidas Campus, medium-heeled pumps, and Mary-Janes. Men’s fashion included Oxford shirts, polo shorts and turtlenecks, slacks most commonly in khaki, suspenders, corduroy, and striped linen suits. Women wore mom jeans, leg warmers, ripped denim, spandex and lycra, acid wash jeans, shoulder business suits usually worn with skirts, leotards and punk leather items. Many of these items, or versions of them, are still very popular now.