1980s Clothing Style and Fashion Trends
Clothing style in the 1980s was marked by a dramatic departure from the 1970s fashion trends although many were still popular in the early 1980s. But while the 1970s clothing style favoured loosely fitting clothing on the bottom and tightly fitting top clothes, the trend in the 1980s was completely reversed as both men and women wore closely fitting trousers and loose shirts which were often oversized. However, the 1980s also saw the rise of a variety of subcultures with highly diverse styles of clothing. Joan Collins remark that the 1980s were the last decade of glamour can thus be debated.
The 1980s saw the return of shoulder pads which were popularised by Joan Collins and other stars from the popular soap opera Dynasty. But women in the 1980s also looked for inspiration elsewhere which resulted in a diversity of styles ranging from punk and heavy metal to pop and sports. Pieces of clothing which are generally associated with the 1980s were thus worn only by specific subcultures:
Miniskirts. Especially popular were the the so-called ra-ra skirts which were inspired by those worn by American cheerleaders. They were often worn with plimsolls, while many young women also wore them with leggings.
Leggings. These were either worn with miniskirts or with loose, oversized T-shirts and sweaters. They were typically worn with plimsolls.
Leotards and bodysuits. They were worn as tops with skirts and jeans.
Tracksuits. They were very popular leisure clothing.
Acid washed jeans. These were hugely popular with both men and women.
Colourful jewellery. Large, brightly coloured earrings and bracelets were mainly made from plastic and were popular with both young and middle aged women.
Leg warmers. They were typically worn with leggings.
Favoured hairstyle during the 1980s was the so-called big hair which emphasised volume that was created by the use of large quantities of hair spray and hair gel.
Just like women’s fashion, men’s fashion in the 1980s was influenced greatly by the many subcultures. Young men and teenagers to a large extent followed the style of their favourite music or film stars, while business attire abandoned large 1970s lapels. Just like the lapels, ties became narrower. Very popular were also sport coats and Hawaiian shirts. The 1970s sideburns and long haircuts were replaced by medium-length haircuts with an emphasis on volume. Other popular male hairstyles were the mullet, flattop, hi-top fade and totally shaved heads.