Miami Vice

What Fashion trend did Miami Vice helped make popular?

Miami Vice was a television series starring Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas as undercover cops in Miami. From 1984 to 1990, the show aired on NBC for five seasons. The clothes worn on Miami Vice had a big impact on men’s fashion. The iconic “T-shirt under Armani jacket” look was popularised, if not invented, by the show. Many of the styles popularised by the TV show, such as wearing a T-shirt under pastel suits, wearing no socks, and wearing rolled-up sleeves, have now become the standard image of 1980s culture.

The main purpose of this article is to explore and highlight how the popular 1980s TV show “Miami Vice” had a significant influence on men’s fashion trends and styles during that era and even up until today.

People should read this article if they are interested in:

  1. I am understanding the iconic fashion styles popularized by the show, such as the “T-shirt under Armani jacket” look, pastel-colored suits, no socks with dress shoes, and rolled-up sleeves.
  2. They are learning how the show’s lead characters, especially Detective Sonny Crockett (played by Don Johnson), set major fashion trends with their distinctive outfits and accessories.
  3. They were gaining insights into how specific fashion items like Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses, double-breasted blazers, V-neck T-shirts, and hoop earrings became popular due to their appearance on the show.
  4. I was exploring the lasting impact of “Miami Vice” on the fashion industry, including how it influenced brands, clothing lines, and even the tourism industry in Miami.
  5. They appreciated the cultural significance of the show’s fashion choices and how they became representative of the 1980s aesthetic and style.
  6. I was reminiscing about the iconic fashion trends of the 1980s and understanding how a popular TV show like “Miami Vice” played a significant role in shaping and promoting those trends.

The article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of how an influential television series like “Miami Vice” managed to transcend its entertainment value and leave a lasting imprint on the fashion world, both during its original run and in subsequent years, cementing its cultural legacy.

Introduction to the show

Miami Vice was a television series starring Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas as undercover cops in Miami. From 1984 to 1990, the show aired on NBC for five seasons. The clothes worn on Miami Vice had a big impact on men’s fashion. The iconic “T-shirt under Armani jacket” look was popularised, if not invented, by the show. Many of the styles popularised by the TV show, such as wearing a T-shirt under pastel suits, wearing no socks, and wearing rolled-up sleeves, have now become the standard image of 1980s culture.

There was a time when the fashion world was obsessed with Miami Vice. Every woman and her best friend seemed to be wearing this one-of-a-kind brand of footwear in neon colours. This is, of course, in addition to the large sums of money that some of these “Vice” customers spent on this one-of-a-kind brand. So, which fashion trend did Miami Vice help popularise?

James “Sonny” Crocket

Detective Sergeant Sonny Crockett was a Metro-Dade Police Department officer. He worked undercover in the Vice division of the Organized Crime Bureau. Crockett was portrayed in one of the first episodes, “Brother’s Keeper,” as an aloof and laid-back character. Crockett had a distinct appearance that set the fashion world on fire, as made famous by Don Johnson. His famous loose-fitting suit over a T-shirt, paired with loafers or boat shoes, became an instant trend in the 1980s and early 1990s. He was known for having blonde hair and a suntan. That’s only from the first season. Season 3’s harsh neons were extremely influential, but it lacked the timeless pastels that have become heavily ingrained in fashion today.

Crockett’s suits and shirts were tailored in pink and blue for the first two seasons of the show, gradually transitioning to dark neons in the third season. Don Johnson wanted Crockett to dress like an urban cowboy at first. However, once in Miami, the contact heat and humidity changed his mind. He adopted Executive Producer Michael Mann’s pastel linen suit ideas.

Don Johnson’s “designer stubble” was imitated by men all over the country. It even prompted the marketing of the “Miami Device,” a face razor that left a short layer of stubble. After Six designed “Miami Vice” dinner jackets, Kenneth Cole designed Crockett and Rico Tubb’s shoes, and Macy’s even opened a “Miami Vice” section for young men.

Guest stars

It did not end there. Guest stars such as Bruce Willis would appear on the show for a few episodes wearing similar outfits. Crockett would be seen wearing Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses, which helped to popularise the brand. It nearly quadrupled Wayfarer sales. Sonny Crockett’s style was inspired by Duran Duran’s John Taylor, who is seen in the video “Hungry Like the Wolf” wearing a white sport coat and slacks with no shirt and slip-on shoes. Michael Mann and Dick Wolf also stated that the show’s pastel colours were inspired by a trip to the paint store many years before the show’s premiere. Mann had gone on vacation to South Beach and experimented with different colours before settling on the theme.

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Ricardo “Rico” Tubbs

Tubbs, played by Philip Michael Thomas, was Detective Sergeant Crockett’s partner. They’d ride in Crockett’s Ferrari… with Tubbs wearing a similar style. Ricardo Tubbs’ outfits didn’t catch fire like Crockett’s because his character suffered from constant tragedy, despite being stylish. Tubbs’ outfits, on the other hand, took Italian men’s fashion and brought it to America. Unconstructed blazers, shiny fabrics, and lighter colours saw a significant increase in sales. Philip Michael Thomas was not as well-known as Don Johnson’s character in the show. It explains why Sonny Crockett was such a big character from the beginning.

Less prominent characters, such as Detective Stan Switek (played by Michael Talbott), also wore pastel and distinctive outfits. However, the show’s designer fashions would be offset by Martin Castillo (the department’s police chief). The character, played by Edward James Olmos, would dress simply, in cheap black suits and skinny ties. Throughout the show, he wore the same outfit.

Following Trends that were made popular by the show

  • Wearing Shoes Without Socks 
  • The Use of Pastel Colors
  • The Double Breasted Blazer Look
  • Wayfarer Sunglasses
  • The V-Neck Trend Came From This Popular Show
  • All the Shoulder Pads
  • Hoop Earrings
  • The Rolex Brand
  • Showing More Skin
  • Short Hair Became a New Trend
  • Another fashion trend that helped make Miami Vice popular was the “Chick flicks”

Wearing Shoes without Socks 

Miami Vice was a popular 1980s television series about undercover cops in Miami. Throughout the show’s five seasons, the characters wore some unusual outfits that are still popular today. 

The main characters in the show wore high-end suits and dress shoes, but they never wore socks. While it may have seemed odd at the time, wearing formal wear without socks is now the look on red carpets and runways.

The Use of Pastel Colors

The pastel colour aesthetic was popularised by the show’s wardrobe. Pastel colours were not only iconic to the world of the show, but their use in the fashion world became popular in the 1980s as a result of the show. 

This show’s influence can be seen in today’s fashion, television, and movies. The use of pastels captured both the vibrant and bold city of Miami as well as the essence of the show. On our blog, you can see how this aesthetic has influenced women’s fashion.

The Double Breasted Blazer Look

Another iconic fashion trend inspired by the show’s wardrobe was the double-breasted blazer look popularised by actor Phillip Michael Thomas’s character Ricardo Tubbs. 

The characters on the show typically wore this type of slim-fitting blazer with matching trousers. In the 1980s, you wore it by rolling the sleeves up to your elbows. 

These types of blazers are still fashionable today, and you can wear them whether you’re a man or a woman.

Wayfarer Sunglasses

This Miami Vice fashion list would be incomplete without mentioning Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses. Every outfit on the show was elevated by these glasses. The majority of the episodes featured the now-famous glasses style. 

These sunglasses were the most fashionable thing to wear in the Miami sun, and they became so popular that they are still among the most sought-after glasses today.

The V-Neck Trend Came From This Popular Show

You probably own a few pairs of V-neck t-shirts; they’re so common these days that you don’t remember when they first became popular. This is yet another fashion trend inspired by Miami Vice. 

The main characters’ signature look included a blazer, trousers, and a V-neck t-shirt. Tucked into the front of the trousers, the shirt was worn. This relaxed t-shirt outfit, worn with or without a blazer, perfectly captured the Miami vibe.

All the Shoulder Pads

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about 80s clothing and outmoded fashion trends is shoulder pads. This is a key component of what makes the 1980s so memorable.

It was all about making a big statement with your clothes. Nothing made a bigger statement than shoulder pads on a blazer or jacket. Shoulder pads were popular throughout the 1980s and appeared in a variety of TV shows and movies, but they took on a life of their own in Miami Vice.

Hoop Earrings

Hoop earrings are very popular in the fashion world. They’ve always been popular and will continue to be so. Hoops range in size from small to large and are available in a variety of colours, metals, and shapes. 

The characters played by Saundra Santiago and Olivia Brown popularised many fashion trends at the time, including the wearing of hoop earrings with any type of outfit.

The Rolex Brand

A brand can be more valuable than a piece of clothing or accessory. The right brand creates an image that attracts people, and Rolex did just that. 

This luxury brand watch was created in the early 1900s but became synonymous with the young and attractive in the 1980s when Don Johnson’s character on the show wore it. 

The power of the brand continues to draw people to this watchmaker, and wearing it on your wrist is a symbol of success. Miami Vice’s ability to elevate the popularity and power of this brand is what has made them pop culture icons.

Showing More Skin

It’s no surprise that the show featured a lot more skin because Miami attracts young and attractive people. Backless and strapless dresses are the norm in Miami’s heat and humidity, and this was clearly portrayed on the show.

Short Hair Became a New Trend

Women have been taught by popular culture that long, luscious hair is the way to go. The women on Miami Vice wore their hair in more daring styles. Short hair and curls were popular hairstyles for the show’s female characters. 

This trend spread into the real world, making short hair a staple of women’s 80s fashion.

Another fashion trend that helped make Miami Vice popular was the “Chick flicks”

You know, those movies where a girl gets totally naked and then tries to get into a car with her best friend? Well, this particular trend had actually been around for decades but it gained popularity during the height of the AIDS epidemic. Miami Vice helped make this trend even more chic by showing what women looked like when they went to visit with their friends. It also helped make the films that followed even better as they showed what a woman would look like when she wasn’t wearing anything else except for a low-cut top and some low-rise jeans.

Lasting Effects

Miami Vice had an impact on more than just fashion. It completely transformed South Florida tourism. Miami and Miami Beach were not the tourist destinations they are today before the television show premiered. The television show was instrumental in restoring the city’s infrastructure and reputation.

The show, dubbed the “Vice Effect,” resulted in protections for the city’s art and buildings. Michael Mann was adamant that earth tones could not be seen in the show’s background shots. As a result, the production team would be tasked with repairing historic structures as well as reworking boring tones with pink, blue, and other famous pastels from the show. Miami is forever changed.


What fashion trend was popularised by Miami Vice? Some of the most popular trends that are still in use today are included in the list above. 

Today’s fashion shows and everyday wardrobes feature pastel colours and shoes without socks. This is what makes the show so well-known.

About author


Muntazir Mehdi is founding member and managing director of Article Thirteen blog. He is a strategic writer. At the age of 21, he began his writing career while pursuing a bachelor's degree in business administration at Karachi University. he has published numerous articles on business tech, healthcare, lifestyle and fashion.
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