Since fashion always accompanies political, social and cultural changes, fashion in the 1980s was the expression of the break with conventions and the response of a rebellious society in the emergence of urban cultures.
Diversity and color flooded the streets in a convulsive decade where posh people, rockers and punks shared space with shoulder pads, leggings, leather and tulle miniskirts.
- What we were listening to then: The 30 best songs of the 80s.
Fashion in the 80s: How were we?
No decade has shown so much daring in the 80s, and although all times have brought changes in clothing, the eighties break with convention marks a before and after in fashion.
The liberation of society was expressed in diversity and extravagance in clothing. The streets became a mosaic of urban styles and cultures, while boys and, above all, girls broke away from muted tones and narrow garments to establish the two great trends: large and very colorful garments .
In the 80s, fashion brought with it frizzy hair for girls (with various tints) and toupees for men, shoulder pads for them, with huge jackets the more strident the better, sports suits and jeans for them, the miniskirt, leather boots and colored stockings . The accessories, the better the more striking.
On the other hand, the eighties were iconic years where the big stars set the trend. Madonna was a muse for a whole generation, but also Olivia Newton John, David Bowie, John Travolta and Michael Jackson. Series like Fame or movies like Dirty Dancing and Grease also had a great influence.
Since rebellion was the reason for fashion in the 80s as an expression of a society that demanded more freedom, it also had as one of the main elements the hybridization between men and women . The girls masculinized their style, while they dared with makeup and braces.
Fashion in the 80s in women
The woman who has sold the most records in history, Madonna, was also a muse in the 80s, the decade where her popularity exploded. She marked a style based on the strange mix between nonchalance and detail.
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1. The famous curly hair of the 80s
Bonnie Tyler and Olivia Newton John were also a reference for women’s fashion in the 80s , especially for their hairstyles. At that time, the frizz style became fashionable, large curls for which they used large amounts of hairspray.
Although it was primarily a hairstyle for girls, the famous frizz of the 80s was also successful among many boys and, above all, in rock groups. Bon Jovi, Guns N’Roses and Europe made this extravagant eighties hairstyle fashionable.
2. The shoulder pads
Undoubtedly, one of the great contributions to fashion in the 80s was the shoulder pads, and it was a distinctive feature for women’s fashion. Experts define the fashion of that decade with the term power dressing, where size was something very important and it was about standing out based on exuberance .
The masculinization of women’s fashion found in the jacket and jackets an ideal garment, which they adorned with shoulder pads to give it volume and power .
In fact, the shoulder pads had a political connotation. In full fervor of feminism and the fight of women for their equality, and also with the massive incorporation of women to work, XL jackets and shoulder pads wanted to give more prominence to the figure of women among men .
3. Colorful makeup
The important thing was to stand out, to show individual rebellion through the image, and stridency was the general tone . Makeup became a fundamental part for them, although the boys also began to mark their eyes and cheekbones.
The pastel colors were banished as a convention of the past and gave way to striking shades of green, red and blue with great volume on the lashes. Carmine lips were all the rage in the 80s
. Madonna, a benchmark for fashionable women in the 80s. | Image from: Youtube.
4. The Huntress
The oversize jackets, that is, in a big way, brought the female figure closer to that of the rough male worker, putting the war of the sexes at red hot. Over the years it became a mark of class and distinction for middle class girls .
Fashion in the 80s also saw the birth of Denim, and the Texan jacket became the most popular . She used to be combined, for example, with a plaid shirt tied at the waist.
shirts The shirts also had to come loaded with colors and motifs, with wide measurements and accommodated in an informal way, so it was common for both men and women to wear their sleeves rolled up. A trend begins that will continue strongly in the nineties: the combination of printed shirts under an open checkered shirt.
Also over the years, the fashion of t-shirts with messages and logos will be consolidated, especially with references to musical groups .
In the hybridization of genres, fashion brought jeans for women, the Texan pants that left the classic flared pants and corduroy pants of the 70s in oblivion. In the 80s, skinny fashion was worn, with tight pants that stylized the legs .
Jeans and leather were the most used fabrics for women when it came to wearing pants, when they did not wear leggings and skirts. At that time too, and again Madonna was to blame, jeans cut through the thigh area , the classic shorts , became fashionable .
7. The tulle skirt
Since it became famous after its appearance in Vogue magazine, the miniskirt has not stopped growing in popularity , and although it was still used, in the 80s it had a strong competitor: the tulle skirt.
In fact, it is a very old piece that had its stellar moments long before, but after the first decades of the 20th century it had fallen into disuse. The fashion of the 80s recovers it with very original combinations:with leather jackets and punk boots , for example.
In the same way, stockings were nothing new, but they did acquire more striking tones and more groundbreaking embroideries: what about fishnet stockings! Not only that, as a more youthful and refreshing version appeared the leggings, which offered many more possibilities of prints, polka dots or stripes.
In the 1980s, athleisure fashion spread, which made athletic clothing cool. And this is how the musical Fame and Jane Fonda made the leotard fashionable , then endowed with more class in Cindy Lauper and Madonna. In those years, the leotard was a liberating garment that was combined with large bows on the head and huge belts.
9. The heaters
An exclusive piece of fashion in the 80s were the heaters, reintroduced by Madonna among the general public. It became a sign of youth and dynamism among city girls, and they were worn in all colors, tight from the ankle to the knee and combined with trainers or heels.
10. Heels and platforms
Sneakers were a very popular footwear back then, but when it came to abandoning casual fashion and standing out, nothing better than striking shoes with good heels. The height reinforced the figure of the superwoman of the 80s .
In the lower middle class, as a sign of modernity and transgression, platforms became fashionable, those boots with large soles that triumphed in a decade where big meant more power. This was one of those garments that was also successful among men, for whom it acquired much more glamour .
Fashion in the 80s in men
Some of the distinctive features of the time were the impact of the rock look as a form of social protest, or the transgression of gender roles as an expression of freedom. In Spain, for example, the Madrid movement was quite a sensation.
1. The tupe
The impact of rock on young men’s fashionIt had its great exponent in the tupe, a delicate hairstyle that required a lot of patience and kilos of hairspray.
The tupe had its splendor in the 50s, sponsored above all by Elvis Presley, and was also very popularized by actors such as James Dean. Already at the end of the seventies, John Travolta recovered the toupee, which entered with force in the eighties thanks to the revival of rockabilly fashion and the rise of psychobilly (a mixture of punk and rock).
Although it is a very old element, that layer of hair that men let grow next to their ears almost completely disappeared in the early years of the 20th century: men, at that time, attached great importance to a complete shave .
Starting with the rise of rock in the 1950s and 1970s, it gradually returned to success. With the disappearance of the beard in fashion in the 80s, the boys began to grow long sideburns, which gave an image of rebellious and bad boy . The complete look was a quiff, long sideburns and a scarf tied around the neck.
3. The mustache
The great hallmark of men was undoubtedly the mustache, an image that broke with the long beards popularized by the hippie movement in the seventies. The fashion trend in the 80s was a greater care of aesthetics on the part of men (yes, something like the beginnings of the metrosexuals), and the mustache was a sign of distinction.
Freddie Mercury, Prince or Tom SelleckThey were some of the exponents of this new fashion, which at the end of the decade gradually gave way to the beard, very popular again throughout the nineties and to this day.
Without a doubt, leather was the star of fashion in the 80s , ranging from jackets with metallic pieces to tight pants and even vests that were combined with printed shirts or plaid pants. It was used for everything, it was a joker.
It was also a unisex garment, although for girls it had a more transversal character while for boys it was typical of rockers and punks from the underworld.
5. Geometric prints
In the line of extravagance and the desire to attract attention, the prints had no limits. Geometric figures such as rhombuses and squares were the most typical in all kinds of prints that ranged from animal print, with tiger or leopard motifs, to brands and slogans.
6. Colorful jackets
Turquoise, fuchsia, electric blue or dazzling red, anything went and the rarer the better. In the upper classes, plaid jackets were the big sensation of the moment, but in the barrios, the boys liked to attract attention by wearing a big yellow or bright pink jacket, for example . At that time, sportswear
also began to triumph as something sexy, and mafioso dress was also introduced as a fashion.
7. Plaid shirt
It used to be tied at the waist with a white or black shirt and a denim or leather jacket, but it could also be fitted to the body with a shirt underneath. The plaid shirt, which had always been associated with physical work and a rather country look, now took on exclusive tones among city boys .
8. Tank top
Among men, a refined style tending to the feminization of clothing became fashionable, incorporating, in muscular men, tank tops that exposed the arms and marked the pectorals. They used to be shirts of a single color, as striking as possible, and eventually incorporated a jacket on top.
That if, with the combination that was wanted, there was something inevitable: he dressed inside his pants .
Tight pants It was a general trend to wear pants as tight as possible, marking the package and stylizing the figure, also in line with the feminization of the male figure. It was also a radical break with the fashion of the 60s and 70s , where bell-bottoms triumphed among the rebellious youth.
The alternative to skinny jeans or leather pants for men was the sweatpants, which were alwaysAccompanied by striking colored prints .
Footwear there was something for all tastes and colors in daring men’s fashion, but a sign of distinction and elegance were moccasins. Combined with a printed jacket and jeans, they gave the feeling of style among the city boys. Another shoe that broke it in the 80s was the white sneakers, always combined with jeans .
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