Janel Dyan


Totally 80's

MTV Music Awards: The 80s Theme Party

Whoever said ‘less is more’ didn’t come of age in the 80s.  We wore blue mascara and yellow eye shadow, we had hair to the skies and shoulder pads not far behind it, and the lines between men’s and women’s fashion blurred.  Many of the biggest fashion trends of the 80s were unisex: Member’s Only jackets, parachute pants, Converse chucks, Wayfarers, even big hair– all were enjoyed by both the girls and their dudes in the 80s.  

Here are the Top 10 80s fashion fads with a few style tips thrown in!

Shoulder Pads

Shoulder pads may very well be the most decade-defining of the top 10 80s fashion fads.  Maybe it had something to do with women's lib and the assertion of power that women were beginning to have in the workplace?  Whatever the reason, we wore shoulder pads often and we did so with pride. The bigger the shoulder pads, the better.  Style Tip: If you do not have a shirt with shoulder pads, try stuffing your shirt with some kind of padding.  Feathered hair and over-sized jackets was a killer look.  For men, channel the classic Miami Vice look - white blazer, bright t-shirt, black pants and boat shoes.

Mini Skirts

The shorter the better … women and girls loved miniskirts. Denim was the most popular, but miniskirts were made in a number of other materials including knit and leather. These were often paired with leggings. My favorite look in the mid-80s was to pair my mini-skirt with leggings, my high-top Reeboks and a pair of matching scrunch socks. Now, that’s a rad 80s look.  Style Tip:  Pair your miniskirt with an oversized sweatshirt, cutting the neck out of it so that it hangs off the shoulder will give it that 80s style.  Wear a tank top or sports bra underneath, preferably in a bright color.

Leg Warmers

Though they didn’t make a lot of sense, leg warmers make their place as #3 on my top 10 list.  Maybe we all had really cold legs because of the miniskirts we wore or maybe we just thought they looked cute. Whatever our reasoning was at the time, at least one or two pairs of leg warmers could be found in every girl’s dresser.  Style Tip: Rock that athletic, I-workout-all-the-time, look with a SWEATBAND!  A wide headband over your hair (preferably over a mullet) will be a look for all to remember.  This accessory works best with the full workout attire:  either a matching velour sweatsuit or leotard/tights/legwarmer combinations.

Huge Earrings

You know how cute Christmas ornaments look on a tree? During the 80s we thought the same would apply to our ears. Huge earrings from various costume jewelry collections were all the rage and if your earrings didn’t touch your shoulder, they weren’t big enough. Bottom line, you can’t go wrong with big earrings!  Style Tip: The earrings do not have to match each other.  Wearing two different large earrings - for a man or a woman - was quite popular.  If they are a bright color that either matches or contrasts your outfit, even better.  If no chunky colorful or feather earrings are nearby, gold hoops will always work.

Fingerless Gloves

Fingerless gloves were another 80s fashion fad that I was a huge fan of!  From romance enthusiasts to punk-rock fans, fingerless gloves were popular with quite a variety of 80s genres. These gloves are forever linked with Madonna’s look in the mid-80s in her boy toy phase.  Style Tip:  For a more punk rock look, pair these gloves with denim and lace. Lace gloves are preferable, but any gloves will work.  

Parachute Pants

Oh yes . . . and then there were parachute pants.  Parachute pants may very well be the one piece of clothing that sums up the funky styles of 80s fashion.  MC Hammer brought them onto the scene and were best worn with a bright shirt and denim vest!  They were the perfect thing to wear to the skating rink and they were worn equally by guys and girls.  Style Tip: Pair them with a ripped neon shirt, a denim jacket.  Guys, add some heavy metal necklaces, headband and high tops.  

Members Only Jackets

Who didn’t want a Members Only jacket in the 80s? If you didn’t have one, you were instantly labeled a dork, and you could forget about getting in with the “in” crowd.  Members Only jackets were all the rage, and imitations were completely unacceptable. Clark Griswold himself, sported one throughout National Lampoon's Vacation. Take Clark’s lead and push the sleeves up to just below the elbow–now you’re talking 80s cool.  Style Tip:  Acid washed or dyed jeans, shirts with large logos on them and one-piece jumpers work best with these jackets. Guys, don’t forget your fanny packs!


Unlike other iconic 80s brands like Ocean Pacific, Member's Only and Guess, Esprit felt a little more special, a little more exclusive.  If you couldn't afford to outfit yourself in head to toe layered t-shirts, sweaters and leggings you at least had to have a sweatshirt with the logo emblazoned across the front, right?!  It all felt very European - I always assumed the brand was French but it originated in San Francisco - the introduction of Esprit's ads called the "Real People Campaign" was plastered throughout the pages of my Sassy and Seventeen Magazines. 

Stretch-Stirrup Pants

The stirrup pants version of this particular fad had to be the worst. Presumably the idea of fashion and being in fashion is to look as good as possible. These pants made NO ONE look good. They created a triangle-leg effect that made even the thinnest person look big. While many of these 1980s fashions are making their way back on the scene and into our stores, the stretch pants/stirrup pants trend needs to stay tucked safely back in the 80s

Oversized Tops

Last, but not least, we have the 80s fashion fad of oversized tops. Big sweaters, sweatshirts and t-shirts were totally hot and wearing them over a miniskirt or a pair of leggings made them even hotter. These tops were most often belted with big and gaudy, low slung belts with the top bloused over the belt.

No other decade is quite as no-no-notorious as the 80s.  Big color and color mixed in unusual ways (bright yellow with red) were considered totally tubular - to. the. max.  So, whatever look you choose to rock - just have fun and dance the night away!  








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