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Retro '80s Fashion Trends

When you think back to the '80s you will no doubt look back on many things with fond memories and in some ways yearn back to those simpler times. Nothing really defined the '80s as much as the fashion. Some was really good, some - not so much. Here now is a look at some trends you may have forgotten about but likely were into back in the day.

Big Hair

When I say big, I mean large. Perm, fluff, spray - repeat. Not sure who to thank for this look but most videos from the '80s by female artists were well represented by massive hair. This was a particularly dangerous look if you were a smoker.

Rubber Bracelets

If you owned a rubber gasket company in the '80s you suddenly had a new demographic besides mechanics and plumbers. Suddenly teenagers everywhere were wearing little black rubber rings as bracelets (thanks Madonna!) and were asking for funky colors besides black (cue the neon again). The more you wore the cooler you looked (and the longer it took you to get ready in the morning).

Shoulder Pads

Not sure who was responsible for the linebacker look, but back in the 80s, both woman and men's jackets and suits would have padded shoulders whether subtle or extreme. Perfect for when a sudden game of pick up football erupts at a party.


Thanks to Miami Vice, neon came back in a big way in the 80s and our eyes have never been the same since. Neon was everywhere, not only in actual lighting but the colors of our clothing which is never a good thing. To make things worse, neon colors were mixed with some of the other trends on this list adding to the ugliness in many (who am I kidding?) all cases.

Huge T-shirt with Clips

For some reason, t-shirts came in only two sizes in the 80s. Extra large, and Freakin' Huge. To tame these beasts, girls would clip them up on one side with a huge plastic clip (probably neon!) to try and normalize the look.

Choose Life / Frankie Says / Don't Worry Be Happy.....

When you're wearing a T-shirt that can cover you and all your friends at once, the best thing you can do to distract a person's eye from realizing how strange that looked was to slap a phrase in huge, bold, black letters. Hit songs of the day by Wham, Frankie Goes to Holly Wood and Bobby McFerrin gave inspiration for the phrases.

Stone and Acid Wash Jeans

There was a time when Levis jeans became lame in the eyes of teenagers. Hard to believe but the in thing was stone wash and acid wash jeans where you basically took a good pair of jeans and splashed bleach onto them and then rolled them in a dryer with rocks to age them. The effect was a patchy mixture of dark and light colour and if you were really hip, they'd be ripped and held together with safety pins to give you that punk, Billy Idol wannabe look. Also - they had to be skin tight. If you could breathe, you were wearing them wrong.

Spandex & Leg Warmers

With the success of the "Twenty Minute Workout" and Olivia Newton-John's "Let's Get Physical" video, people everywhere wore spandex, sweatbands and leg warmers whether they worked out or not. In some cases it was a very good look if you were blessed with the right proportions - in most cases though spandex is not a good thing.........not a good thing at all. Unless you're going for the stuffed sausage look, stay away from the spandex.

Off the Shoulder Look

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Jennifer Biels and the producers of Flashdance for giving us the sleeves-off-the-shoulder look and for making welding a sexy career option for teenage girls back in the 80s. Speaking for all males that were going through puberty at the time - thank you.......thank you very much.


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