80s fashion: Top trends and how to get the look

From padded shoulders to double denim, these are the top fashion looks from the 80s.

Fashion in the 1980s was all about being bold. Whether it was statement jewellery, edgy makeup or a whole lot of sequins, the era was all about maximal fashion and glamorous style. There are several main looks when it comes to 80s fashion. Power dressing was representative of the movement at the time which saw more women take on professional work roles. By night, it was all about glammed-up looks and cold-shoulder styles. The decade also brought with it aerobics fashion inspired by the fitness boom of the same name, along with the iconic punk rock fashion phase.

Many of these 80s styles are still in vogue and more are coming back into fashion right now. Whether you're looking to shake up your wardrobe with some bold 80s styles, or even if you're just looking for an outfit for an 80s themed party, here are the major trends of the time to get you inspired.

1. Padded shoulders

Shoulder pads were at the forefront of the power dressing trend in the 80s. Women were finally being accepted into working society and, to prove that they were every bit as powerful as the gents, they started rocking suits and dresses padded out with big shoulders. Add a couple of these jackets to your working wardrobe and feel your confidence surge every time you walk through the office door.

Where to shop the trend:


2. Mini skirts

Prior to the 1980s it was quite taboo to wear minimal clothing. The mini skirt showed women's rejection of this ideal and became a symbol for the assertion of sexual freedom. (It also prompted the first of many parents to say the classic line "You're going out like THAT?")

Whether these skirts were metallic, leather or even sequinned, mini skirts were the it-girl trend of the 80s and are still a staple in our wardrobes now.

Where to shop the trend:


3. Statement earrings

80s jewellery was all about going big and taking things to the extreme. Some earrings of the time were so large that they'd reach almost to the shoulders and were nicknamed "door knockers". From glamorous oversize hoop earrings to punk-style chunky crosses, statement earrings work no matter your personal fashion aesthetic.

Still popular now, statement earrings easily glam up any outfit. If you're looking to inject some 80s vibes into your wardrobe, but aren't a fan of padded shoulders or brightly coloured tights, this is the trend for you.

Where to shop the trend:

 Nadia Circle Resin Statement Drop Earrings
Nadia Circle Resin Statement Drop Earrings

Forever New

Silver-tone, gold-tone and resin earrings
Silver-tone, gold-tone and resin earrings

NET-A-PORTER


4. Sequins

One of the main things the 80s is known for is its soundtrack. A huge decade for disco and RnB, the music of the decade brought an element of sass that inspired fashion to follow suit. As such, the sequin craze was born and quickly became adorned on everything from jackets to mini skirts.

The trend has recently enjoyed a revival, so grab a sequin dress and pop on a pair of heeled boots for a fashion statement that's both eye-catching and unique.

Where to shop the trend:

Flounce London sequin mini dress with shoulder pads in black and silver
Flounce London sequin mini dress with shoulder pads in black and silver

ASOS


5. Leggings

Leggings were a huge part of the 80s fashion scene. The aerobics trend saw everyone start to wear coloured footless tights or disco pants (a trend that has continued thanks to American Apparel).

If neon colours aren't really your thing, you can look to Madonna and Olivia Newton-John for some fashion inspiration. Whether it's Olivia's iconic black disco pants from Grease or Madonna's early printed punky styles, there are plenty of ways that you can take the legging trend and fit it in with your current wardrobe.

Where to shop the trend:


6. Neon colours

The 80s was all about big, bold fashion, which makes it hardly surprising that the in-colours of the time were also maximal in every way. Though fashion has become a lot more minimalistic since the 80s era, it seems that neon is the trend that just won't die. Every few years, the style sees a major resurgence. In fact, it's back again right now.

If you're not keen on mixing and matching an array of out-there colours, stick to pairing a brightly coloured top with black pants or a skirt to rock the trend without going overboard.

Where to shop the trend:

Missguided crop top with flared sleeves in neon orange
Missguided crop top with flared sleeves in neon orange

ASOS


7. Tracksuits

Whilst matching tracksuit sets are often attributed to 90s fashion, they actually came into style in the 80s. Heavily inspired by the hip-hop crews of the time, everyone from Run DMC to The Beastie Boys had a tracksuit set.

With athleisure being one of the hottest trends of the moment, stand out from the crowd by ditching the Gucci track pants and stepping out in this old school style instead. Not only will you make a fashion statement, you'll be super comfortable whilst you're doing it.

Where to shop the trend:

Burgundy Stripe Shell Tracksuit Top
Burgundy Stripe Shell Tracksuit Top

PrettyLittleThing

Crooked Tongues tracksuit in bright colour block
Crooked Tongues tracksuit in bright colour block

ASOS


8. Leotards

When the aerobics trend took over, fashion took a turn in the direction of spandex leotards and brightly coloured legwarmers. Not for the faint-hearted, the trend is one we won't likely be seeing back in exercise classes any time soon.

However, modern fashion has taken the leotard and made it more wearable. Now available in a huge array of colours and styles, you can wear them with a pair of jeans or a cute skirt and skip the hassle of tops that bunch up or constantly need to be tucked back in.

Where to shop the trend:


9. Leg warmers

Similar to today, athletic wear was a huge influence on the fashion of the 80s. In fact, leg warmers are one of the most iconic fashion trends the decade had to offer. Whilst there may not be a whole lot of function to them, they will keep your legs nice and toasty come winter time.

Where to shop the trend:


10. Off-the-shoulder styles

The off-the-shoulder style started with sweatshirts during the dance wear craze and was soon replicated in other apparel like dresses and long sleeve tops. The eye-catching style is trending again now and you can often spot it on runways and magazine covers.

For a casual but sexy daytime look, pair an off-the-shoulder top with a pair of jeans. For a statement evening-wear choice, keep to a single shoulder dress and watch heads turn.

Where to shop the trend:


11. Headbands

The 1980s was all about big hair and headbands were used to accentuate this trend. Not only did they help to puff up the crazy curly hairstyles, they were a fashion statement of their own with features like huge bows.

Whilst they aren't as big as they once were, headbands are definitely still a trendy accessory. Grab a bunch in a range of styles and say goodbye to bad hair days for good.

Where to shop the trend:


12. Double denim

Double denim is another trend often credited to the 90s, but it was the 70s and 80s that made it happen. The ultimate "cool" look, the denim trend was all about oversized jackets, tight jeans and acid wash.

Whilst wearing double denim today is a horrifying concept to many, the trend has actually come back into fashion. Try pairing a denim mini with a denim jacket and a pair of sneakers for comfortable, streetwear vibes. Just be sure to match the denim shades.

Where to shop the trend:


13. Fingerless gloves

Fingerless gloves started to become popular around the mid 80s. Worn by a wide variety of pop and rock stars, such as Madonna, the trend was thrust into the spotlight and quickly became a must-have fashion accessory.

Whether you're into punk rock vibes or are just looking for a stand-out 80s costume, a pair of fingerless gloves will help you make a statement.

Where to shop the trend:

Elbow Gloves Black Lace Fingerless
Elbow Gloves Black Lace Fingerless

Costumes.com.au


14. Leather jackets

With the start of the punk rock phase, leather jackets launched into extreme popularity during the 1980s. Often paired with ripped jeans or an all-black ensemble, the style absolutely oozed cool vibes.

The ultimate wardrobe staple, leather jackets remain one of the most stylish fashion pieces you can own today. The trend is likely to be timeless, meaning that it's definitely worth investing in a good quality one that will last you for years to come.

Where to shop the trend:

Black ultimate boxy faux leather biker jacket
Black ultimate boxy faux leather biker jacket

Missguided


15. Combat boots

Taking off in the early 80s, combat boots were an iconic part of punk rock fashion. Associated with disobedient and individualistic nature, combat boots were part of the attire punk rockers used to set themselves apart from the status quo.

Still on-trend today, combat boots give any outfit an edgy vibe. Give the comfortable kicks a go and pair them with a little black dress and a leather jacket for a truly kick-arse aesthetic.

Where to shop the trend:

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