The Decade’s Best ’80s Fashion Moments to Relive

If we’ve learnt anything from the life cycle of trends throughout the years, it’s that everything eventually returns to fashion. Designers are obviously drawing notes from the past, from the stark comeback of the early aughts to the ever-present impact of decades like the ’70s. The 1980s, in particular, had a significant influence on modern fashion, with iconic muses such as Grace Jones, Madonna, and Bianca Jagger. And today, many of the 1980s’ defining staples, such as biker shorts, bold-shouldered blazers, and taffeta eveningwear, can be found everywhere. In a post-Phoebe Philo period where neutral palettes and basic silhouettes ruled, ’80s influences in the early 2010s provided the market a fresh feeling of vivid color stories and creative dressing that many would argue had been absent for decades.

Brynn Jones, the proprietor of Aralda Vintage in Los Angeles, where actors like Alexa Demie and Taylor Russell shop for vintage designer discoveries, has long been inspired by the era’s daring. She tells us in an interview that she enjoys “the structured silhouettes, abstract and playful shapes,” as well as “the unapologetic glamour and all of the statement pieces made to command the room.” Jones, like many of us who adore the era, can’t stop gushing about the accessories. “Those hats!” Oh, the earrings! Oh, the brooches! The waist belts! “The gloves!” she exclaims. “Christian Lacroix, Yves Saint Laurent, and Karl Lagerfeld created some of my favorite accessories from that era.” Sunglasses by Alain Mikli, Issey Miyake, and Kenzo are also available.”

For those interested in expanding their ’80s fashion history knowledge into less mainstream territory, Jones suggests looking into Claude Montana’s work. “I think he is underrated as a designer, and his designs embody the chic, powerful, and aspirational ’80s woman.” There’s also ’80s Kenzo, which she feels is “under celebrated.” In addition, we recommend revisiting some of the best style moments from the decade below and shopping our well-curated selection of key pieces to help you re-create the ’80s look.

1980: Leather Dresses

Amanda Lear, a French singer and model, is dressed in an asymmetric leather outfit with fishnet tights. A lovely finishing touch are the futuristic sunglasses with a faint motorsports-inspired edge. Those wishing to recreate the look could look at Rick Owens.

1980: Cowboy Boots

Stylish Studio 54 attendees confirmed that free-flowing dresses and skirts paired with matching cowboy boots are timeless wardrobe combinations. Ganni’s ultra-trendy cowboy boots with a nostalgic vibe are a great place to start.

1980: Punk Embellishments

Punk rock thrived in London, and the go-to accessories were fishnets, chains, and studs. The outfits are classic ’80s, worn with leather separates and casual silhouettes. Simply add industrial-style jewelry from companies like Justine Clenquet, Martine Ali, or Chopova Lowena to bring the look up to date.

1980: Leather Blazers

Beverly Johnson and Italian apparel designer Giorgio di Sant’ Angelo were photographed in stylish ensembles outside of Studio 54. Johnson is dressed in a double-breasted leather blazer and glittering gold trousers.

1980: Lace Dresses

Bianca Jagger arrives to A-list hot spot Studio 54 dressed in a ruffled lace gown. The lace trim around the borders of the ’80s dress allows it to be worn up or down with ease. To achieve the effortlessly stylish style, shop vintage-inspired companies like Ciao Lucia, Mirror Palais, and Charo Ruiz Ibiza. Alternatively, spend on a Valentino runway macramé item.

1981: Disco Tops

Heather Locklear poses in a draped disco top and high-waisted blue jeans for a fashion image shoot. Paco Rabanne’s signature sequin and chain mail pieces have attracted the eye of the younger generation, which makes sense given the growth of the party-girl style.

1981: High-Cut One-Pieces


Chancela Almonsour, Sara Wills, and Shae Huckaby look stunning with bamboo hoop earrings and high-cut one-pieces onstage. This summer, Isa Boulder’s iconic square-neck swimsuit will give you the leggy style popularized in the 1980s while providing a super-sexy alternative to the standard bikini.

1982: Checked Blazers

Brooke Shields demonstrates clever layering in a turtleneck and checked blazer. The model-turned-actress completes the style with a plaid button shirt underneath, tucked into denim, creating a professional ’80s look appropriate for the office and beyond.

1982: Country Club Aesthetic

At the Royal Ascot, Jerry Hall and Marie Helvin wore black and white costumes. The classic country club look was popularized in the 1980s by the likes of Karyn Parson’s character Hilary Banks on the popular television show at the time The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

1983: Skinny Wrap Belts

In the early 1980s, Princess Diana wears a patterned top with puff sleeves and a fitted pencil skirt to a polo match. A slim wrap belt by the era’s style hero ties the look together.

1983: Pattern Clashing

Nobody did bright ’80s glitz like Cyndi Lauper. Her unique aesthetic is peculiar to the era, with its colorful prints, bright red hair, and always-edgy accessories. For a similar style, invest on fashion insiders’ favorite Chopova Lowena skirts.

1983: Bright Hues

As seen on the runways of top-tier designers like Halston, bright colors were a significant component of ’80s fashion. For spring/summer ’84, the brand sent a model down the runway wearing a draped gown with wraps. Today, customers can look to Christopher John Rogers for stunning silk dresses in vibrant colors.

1983: High-Waisted Denim

Pat Cleveland dressed down in a Mickey Mouse T-shirt and high-waisted trousers, with a deep red lip, smooth hairstyle, and cable-knit pullover. The classic outfit combination is simple to recreate with items you already own. Those seeking a more opulent style can’t go wrong with Khaite’s famous denim.

1984: Bustier Tops Worn à la Madonna

Madonna donned her classic white “Boy Toy” ensemble for her “Like a Virgin” performance at the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards. One of the era’s most recognizable styles, it’s simple to recreate with a tulle skirt and bustier top. For a more understated look, wear the corset with jeans and, of course, hefty gold jewelry.

1985: D-Shape Frame Sunglasses

Grace Jones, a Jamaican triple threat and ’80s style icon, wears a belted blazer with a turtleneck and scarf draped over her head. The gold accessories and blacked-out sunglasses with a D-shape frame completed the look nicely.

1986: Chunky Pearls

In a Dynasty promotional photo, Linda Evans, Diahann Carroll, and Joan Collins are dressed in shoulder-pad gowns and fur coats. With richness as the show’s major word, lovers of their style can successfully carry off the look with tight turtleneck dresses and strings of pearls or gold-link chain belts.

1986: Chain-Link Belts

On the Chanel runway in Paris, Inès de la Fressange wore an embellished little black dress. Chain-link belts have seen a revival in recent seasons, demonstrating that the surprise wardrobe piece is here to stay decades later.

1987: Feathers

Opulence and the ’80s go hand in hand, as evidenced by Naomi Campbell going down the YSL runway in a tufted gold cocktail gown. The designer put the attention on the dress by giving Campbell a smooth hairdo and a dramatic red lip while she was adorned with equally spectacular jewelry.

1987: Pouf Details

Fitted frocks with exaggerated proportions are probably one of the first things that come to mind when you think of ’80s fashion for women. Sure enough, here’s a model in a short black dress with pink pouf embellishment at Yves Saint Laurent’s Paris Fashion Week catwalk presentation in 1987.

1988: Oversized Leather Motorcycle Jackets

Cindy Crawford attends an event in New York City wearing an oversized leather motorbike jacket. The supermodel, who is also wearing a short black dress, beachy waves, and a strong red lip, strikes a mix between punk rock and ’80s elegant.

1988: Garter Detail

At the Jean Paul Gaultier spring 1989 fashion show, a model wears a silk bustier and crinoline. One peek at the market indicates that the undergarment trend is still going strong. Choose a corset with coned cups or a lace-up garter-style skirt from Australian label Dion Lee to complete the ensemble.

1986: Slogan T-Shirts

The relaxed attitude of the 1980s contributed to the growth of hilarious graphic shirts. While filming the 1986 video for her song ‘Pada Don’t Preach,’ Madonna wore one that read: Italians Do It Better. Stiles famously wore one that said, “What Are You Looking At Dicknose?” in the 1985 sitcom Teen Wolf.

1989: Skirt Suits

Skirt suits became popular for formal events among the society set, particularly Princess Diana. The style immediately gained appeal outside of that subculture, and was worn by ladies everywhere from the disco to the office.

1980: Harem Pants

Harem pants, which were originally worn for belly dance, gained popularity in the 1980s and became known as MC hammer pants. But, in our opinion, Donna Summer executed them far better.

1984: Polka Dots

While fashion moved away from babydoll gowns in the 1980s, polka dots managed to capture youthful appeal. The print was adored and worn by everyone from Sade to Princess Diana to Madonna, and stood out from the disco trends of the 1970s.