The Fashion Trends That Defined The 1980s
The Fashion Trends That Defined The 1980s

The Fashion Trends That Defined The 1980s

One of the most iconic and memorable eras for fashion has to be the 1980s. These bright, bold, and sometimes out-of-this-world styles defined the era and have continued to influence trends ever since. 

From Prince and Grace Jones to Madonna and Michael Jackson, many celebrities and musicians spearheaded 1980s style and created looks that won’t be forgotten any time soon. 

Whether you’re looking for inspiration for a 1980s-themed party or want to add the best of 80s looks into your everyday looks, here are some of the top pieces you need to add to your wardrobe. 

Fanny packs

Fanny packs (or ‘bum bags’ as they’re called elsewhere in the world) were popularised in the 1980s and have been both loved and hated by the world of fashion ever since. These small bags around the waist were the perfect accessories for neon outfits. A perfect example of this is Will Smith, who never seemed to go without one in the popular TV series The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

These days, fanny packs can be found in a variety of forms. They’ve graced some of the top designer’s runways and are a must-have for festival goers so they can safely store their belongings while on the go. 

Biker looks & leather.

Stars in the 1980s brought the biker look to everyday fashion, with denim moto jeans, chains, and leather worn by Madonna, Cher, and more. The leather jacket has undoubtedly always stayed in style in the years since and can add a bit of rebellion to any outfit. Pair it with a dress for an edgy and fun look, or wear it the classic way with jeans. No motorcycle is required!

Power dressing

Another considerable element of 1980s fashion is ‘power dressing.’ The shift influenced this style in women taking higher level positions and wanting to dress the part. Large, puffed shoulders, padding, and bold accessories helped relay a woman’s stature — a way of clothing to be taken seriously. 

Batwing sleeves, block coloring, and an exaggerated silhouette were critical features of this look, often paired with heeled shoes to accentuate height.  

Acid wash denim

Bursting onto the scene from 1980s punk styles and popular with almost everyone was acid wash denim. Acid wash jeans reflected the exaggerated style of the time and have never really broken away from being associated with the decade.

Whether it was an acid wash mini skirt or a full jean and jacket outfit, acid wash is one of the most well-known fashion trends of the era. It comes back as a trend every few years to bring some fun to denim. Why not get creative and DIY your acid-wash jeans with ones you no longer wear?


Of course, any list of 1980s fashion trends has to include neon. The decade was full of bright and bold colors, and neon took this premise to the next level. People of every gender enjoyed wearing neon, whether heading to an aerobics workout class in leg warmers or sporting it on the dance floor. 

And while neon has come to define the looks of the 1980s, it can bring a pop of colorful fun to a modern-day outfit. Keep it subtle with neon accessories like a purse or piece of jewelry. Or if you feel like getting noticed, go for a neon item of clothing like a t-shirt, skirt, or even hair bow! 

The 1980s were full of staple outfits, and it stands out throughout history as one of the most iconic decades for fashion. Both music and fashion combined to create a memorable style that is lived on through modern twists and fancy dress. 

Will a decade ever be as influential as the 80’s?


The 1980s remains an unparalleled era in fashion history, with its vibrant and daring styles continuing to inspire modern trends. From power dressing to neon hues, the iconic looks of this decade have left an indelible mark on fashion and culture. While we await the next influential decade, the legacy of the 80s will undoubtedly endure through its timeless allure and enduring influence.

About author


"Nancy Kataria, a renowned fashion stylist, adds flair to our fashion topics. As a nature enthusiast, she finds inspiration in the beauty of the natural world."
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