80s Men's Clothes

Updated April 17, 2017

The 1980s was a big decade for unusual fashions, and men's style is no exception. New colours (like neon)and hairstyles (like the mohawk) often seemed to exist more to provoke reaction than look good. However, the fashions the 80s created are certainly memorable.


Light and bright pastel colours were popular in men's fashions in the 1980s. Pink, bright blue and coral were all popular colours for men's T-shirts and button-downs. These colours were not traditionally associated with men's fashion, as they were considered to be too feminine.


A popular matching piece of clothing for pastel shirts was the suit jacket. Worn with matching trousers or not, the suit jacket was a popular accessory for men in the 80s. Most notably, it was in fashion to wear a suit jacket with a T-shirt underneath, mixing traditionally formal and informal clothing. This fashion was popularised by the television show "Miami Vice."


Some men in the 80s adopted the punk ascetic of the late 70s and continued expanding it. Mohawks, where the person shaved both sides of their head and left a strip of hair in the middle, were popular. Other 80s punk accessories included studded leather jackets, chains and the use of safety pins in piercings.


Perhaps as a reaction to the inclusion of punk fashion into the mainstream, preppy style was popular among some men in the 1980s. Preppy style emphasised traditionally conservative dress, like polo shirts (with the collar flipped up) and khakis. Another popular preppy look was to tie a sweater around the shoulders.


T-shirts with slogans were also popular in men's fashion in the 1980s. Shirts with slogans like, "Frankie Says Relax," which was a reference to the hit song "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, were popular among many men. This trend may have contributed to the popularity of T-shirts with ironic slogans in later years.


Exercise clothing was popular in the 1980s among some men. Companies like adidas made track suits and sneakers that became very popular among men who liked to work out, or give the appearance that they did so. Many of the exercise suits were in light colours with racing stripes going down the arms and legs of the suits.

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About the Author

Will Dean has worked as a freelance journalist and editor in Philadelphia for three years. He has written on a wide variety of topics, including local news, arts, music, history, food and urban sustainability, for a variety of publications, like the "Philadelphia City Paper" and "GRID" magazine. He is also a college graduate from the College of New Jersey.