21 Iconic 1980s Fashion Trends and Outfit Ideas

The 1980s fashion generated more style icons than any preceding decade, with eye-straining leotards, power suits, Punk and Preppy clothing combinations, dramatic earrings, and acid-washed denim.

There were no fashion limits in the 1980s: huge sunglasses with power suit coats, miniskirts with fitness sneakers, thick socks, and thick belts.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane and see the 21 most famous clothing patterns of the 1980s fashion decade.

1. Business Woman Power Suit

In the 1980s, the power suit or ‘power clothing’ for women was all the rage.

Celebrities and movie stars playing powerful, power-hungry career women started the trend.

Grace Jones’ finely fitted clothes with big padded shoulders inspired the 1980s ‘female power’ and cross-dressing movement, which influenced musicians such as Annie Lennox, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Solange, and Lorde.

In addition, as a sign of women’s advancement, Britain was led by Margaret Thatcher, the country’s first female Prime Minister.

2. Dresses With Oversized Shoulder Pads

Shoulder pads were such a popular fashion trend in the 1980s that dress designers incorporated them.

To produce unusual geometric shapes and cuts, notable shoulder pads were paired with vaporous gowns with puffed sleeves.

3. Fitness Mania 80s Leg Warmers

The fashion trends of the 1980s were influenced by the era’ stars and celebrities, who promoted fitness and aerobic workouts on television.

Legwarmers became a fashion statement thanks to Olivia Newton-John and Jane Fonda’s performances (particularly in Flashdance).

Legwarmers were worn as a final touch to athletic ensembles, gym leggings, large sweaters, and even slim jeans for ladies.

4. Leather Jackets with Rolled Up Sleeves

Leather jackets were popular in the 1980s, and were worn by celebrities such as Bon Jovi, Madonna, Cher, Tom Cruise (Top Gun), and Morten Harket.

However, the most popular leather jacket styles in the 1980s had big, padded shoulders and were worn with the sleeves rolled up, as seen in Michael Jackson’s Thriller look.

Other famous 80s leather jacket types included the double rider and cafe-racer jackets, all of which could be customized to your desire.

5. 80s Preppy Dressing Style Revival

The 1980s were also a decade when designers focused on producing comfortable preppy looks.

Polo, Lacoste, Tommy Hilfiger, and Calvin Klein all released pastel-colored striped coats, trousers, and shirts in college-style.

Preppy-style shirts (as shown on ‘Light Academia’) were worn as formal button-downs with chinos or sophisticated casual polo shirts in the 1980s.

6. Power Slogan T-shirts

Another 80s fashion-defining moment is statement tees, sometimes known as slogan t-shirts, which are nicely portrayed by Katharine Hamnett’s creations.

The designer’s anti-nuclear-missile T-shirt, which he wore while meeting then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1984, has become a part of 80s fashion history.

Pepsi, Nike, Adidas, and Guess all followed the trend of slogans printed on t-shirts after recognizing the promotional effectiveness of printed logos on T-shirts.

7. Mini Skirts with Thick Belts

The 1980s were the decade of tiny skirts, skater skirts, and denim and spandex Rah-rahs (see Kylie Minogue’s high-shine minidresses).

Mini skirts were originally featured in 1960s fashion, along with go-go boots.

However, the mini-skirt and thick waist belt trend peaked in the mid-80s, sometimes paired with legwarmers and/or leggings or supplemented with Madonna-style layers of net and lace.

8. Polka Dot Dresses

The trend of polka dot dresses, skirts, and tops revived with a vengeance in the 1980s, after being popular in the 1940s and the early part of the 1950s.

The pattern was revived by the French design label Emanuel Ungaro for its SS 1985 ready-to-wear collection, and it was quickly adopted by royalty, pop stars, and movie stars equally.

Princess Diana wore polka dot skirts with huge PVC belts, as did the Strawberry Switchblade pop duo, and Claudia Cardinale wore them with her signature tie neck gowns.

9. Clothes Printed With Animal Patterns

Wearing real animal skin was popular even in the 1980s.

However, celebrities continued to wear over-the-top animal patterns on every imaginable clothing and style.

Bold prints of leopard, zebra, tiger, giraffe, and python were popular on everything from leggings to handbags, skirts, and sunglasses.

10. 80s Oversized Eyewear

The most popular sunglasses of the 1980s had large frames and colored or mirror lenses.

Rayban’s large Wayfarers and Aviators were among the most popular sunglasses frames in the 1980s.

However, depending on your social group, you may notice Gucci, Cartier, and Vuarnet in enormous frames.

11. Clothes Cut In Asymmetric Patterns

The best illustration of clothing with a different side is Thierry Mugler’s spring 1983 ready-to-wear show.

Molly Ringwald, a well-known 1980s Hollywood actress, finest epitomized the asymmetry look.

Asymmetrical style and design include a one-shoulder bodice, slanted hemlines, or necklines, which are frequently found in Japanese streetwear today.

12. 80s Fitness Leotards and Bodysuits

After the influence of drugs and the freedom of “flower power” fashion of the 1970s faded off, the 1980s began as a self-conscious decade.

Jane Fonda capitalized on women’s passion with dance and exercise by creating fitness videos with a large assortment of vividly colored bodysuits.

Promoting and selling sporting clothes in bright colors became a trend in the 1980s thanks to pop divas like Cher.

What we now refer to as athleisure began as leotards and bodysuits, a functional type of fashion.

13. 80s Double Denim Trend

The double denim craze of the 1980s is the best illustration of celebrity power molding, and it continues to impact current fashion trends.

Top celebrities of the time were featured in Levi’s 501 jeans promotion, including Nick Kamen, who had a top 5 hit single in 1986, written and produced by Madonna and Stephen Bray.

The fad of wearing double denim jackets with high-waisted jeans lasted until the end of the 1980s, thanks to the influence of Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Ben E. King, and Percy Sledge on Levi’s sales and vinyl recordings.