How to Make '80s Clothing

Written by jodi lyn
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How to Make '80s Clothing
You can give your regular jeans an acid-washed look at home. (jeans... image by Saskia Massink from

The 1980s were a time of neon colours, layered socks, jelly shoes and acid-washed jeans. It's no wonder that many people like to bring back '80s fashion when prepping for a costume or Halloween party. You can make '80s clothing out of items you might have at home or you can easily--and cheaply--find items for this purpose at the store.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Oversized sweatshirt
  • Brightly coloured socks
  • Leggings
  • Acid-washed jeans
  • Bleach (optional)
  • Neon accessories

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  1. 1

    Consider what to wear on top first, to start your '80s outfit. One of the easiest items to make is an off-the-shoulder, oversized sweatshirt. This look was made popular in the movie "Flashdance." Buy a sweatshirt in your preferred colour (grey is best, but any bright or neon colour will work). Make the head hole larger by cutting off the collar of the sweatshirt with scissors along with a bit of extra fabric. Make the sleeves shorter and looser by cutting off the cuffs as well. Wear a brightly coloured sports bra or tank top underneath and layer the sweatshirt over it. Make sure one bare shoulder shows. Another easy, and simple, idea is to do a type of "preppy" look simply by tying a sweater around your shoulders. This was another popular style in the '80s (for both men and women).

  2. 2

    Consider a pair of opaque tights, leggings or stirrup trousers. Add some flair with some brightly coloured scrunch socks (layer them for a better '80s effect), or cut off the foot part of a sock to create "instant" leg warmers. If you want more clothing, throw on a short jean skirt over a pair of leggings.

  3. 3

    Wear a pair of acid-washed jeans. Acid-washed jeans are probably easy to find in thrift stores; however, if you want to make a pair yourself, the process is simple but takes patience and observation. Fill a clean mop bucket with bleach. Put your jeans in the bucket for a short time, just until the bleach absorbs. Take them out and wring the extra bleach out of them. Scrub the jeans with rocks until the bleach has been rubbed down into the jeans. This should give your jeans the stonewashed look that was popular in the '80s. After you've satisfactorily stonewashed your jeans, put them in the wash with other white items you're OK with bleaching. Dry as normal.

  4. 4

    Don an old pair of white Keds or search for a pair of jelly shoes. High-tops were also popular--either in all white or brightly coloured styles. Look at some of the newer fashion-wear shoes by athletic companies. Many are bringing back the brightly coloured styles of the '80s.

  5. 5

    Pick jewellery that is large, with bold colours. Consider a pair of large, brightly coloured hoops (the thicker the better) and a large beaded necklace in a fun colour.

Tips and warnings

  • Review the fashion of '80s style icon Madonna; following some of the singer's cues might give you more ideas.

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