How Did They Dress in the 80s?

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  • Introduction

    How Did They Dress in the 80s?

    In the early 21st century, some elements of 1980s fashion have become popular again, often worn with the intention of being ironic, or poking fun at the 80s style. However, some 80s fashion will probably never come back into popularity. Clothing and hairstyles were often associated with a particular stereotypical 80s group.

    How Did They Dress in the 80s? (Jupiterimages/ Images)

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    80s Accessories

    The 80s fashion may be most well-known for its flamboyant accessories. A recent revival of 80s style has focused largely on the accessories. These include legwarmers, wristbands, fingerless gloves, bright/neon coloured sunglasses and large chunky jewellery.

    80s Accessories (Christopher Robbins/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

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    Puffy Clothing

    People in the 80s preferred clothing that was wide or big in some way, hence the popularity of shoulder pads. The puffy style, typically worn by men, tried to capture the look of a pirate or Victorian courtier. The effect was supposed to be luxurious and decadent. TV's "Seinfeld" spoofed the "puffy shirt" in a popular episode where Jerry inadvertently agrees to wear a ridiculous garment on a television appearance.

    Puffy Clothing (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

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    Big Hair

    The hairstyles of the 1980s were varied and anything but subtle. Across the board, styles were big. The mohawk became popular among the punk set, a style where the sides of the head are shaved, leaving one centre patch of hair that is then spiked up. Rock groups like Poison and Motley Crue became known as "hair bands" because they wore their hair long, using tons of hairspray to provide maximum volume. Hairspray was applied to create puffy fringe for men and women. Hair was also "feathered," a style involving lots of layering. The mullet hairstyle was achieved by shaving or cutting short the front and sides of the hair, leaving it long in the back. The character of Uncle Jesse in the early episodes of "Full House" is an excellent example.

    Big Hair (Ethan Miller/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

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    The Yuppie Look

    The yuppie, or young urban professional, was a stock fashion character of the 80s with a distinctive dress style. "Power suits" became popular for professional men and women, usually featuring large shoulder pads and a single bright colour. The television show "Miami Vice" is an excellent pop culture reference for this look. Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher popularised the power suit for women, either with trousers or a medium-length skirt.

    The Yuppie Look (Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images)

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    80s Hip-Hop Trends

    Groups like Run DMC wore tracksuits and large gaudy jewellery (the precursor to "bling"). As the genre became mainstream in the late 80s and early 90s, pop artists like M.C. Hammer dressed in bright puffy clothes (including parachute trousers). Female hip-hop artists like Salt-N-Pepa wore a lot of spandex and mesh, often in bright neon colours.

    80s Hip-Hop Trends (Frank Micelotta/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

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    '80s Punk Trends

    Acid-washed jeans were a must among the rock and roll/punk groups, but the more hardcore punks wore tight back jeans, often held together with safety pins, inspired by band like The Sex Pistols and The Ramones. Billy Idol's bleached hair and leather ensembles were also considered fashionable. Punks wore their hair big and dyed unnatural colours like pink and green.

    '80s Punk Trends (Jason Merritt/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

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