Children's clothes of the '80s

Updated April 17, 2017

Children's fashions in the 1980s were modelled after scaled-down versions of the outrageous fashions made popular by adults of the times. Bright colours, large accessories and big hair were popular in the 1980s and these fashions were reflected in the television programming and magazines available to children of the era. Pop stars like Madonna and Michael Jackson were popular, and many children wanted to dress like their favourite musicians.


Children of the 1980s wore overalls made by companies such as Oshkosh B'Gosh and Levi Strauss & Co. The overalls were made from cotton, denim or corduroy materials and came in a variety of different bright colours. Known for their durability during play, overall-style trousers and shorts were worn by both girls and boys, and jumper overalls were made for girls.

Jelly Shoes

Jelly shoes were popular in the 1980s. These shoes, worn by women of all ages, were made from PVC plastic and came in a wide variety of colours and glitter accents. In the 1980s, a pair of jelly shoes cost on average 60p to £1.30. Jelly shoes were the creation of a small manufacturing company called Grendene, located in Brazil. In March of 1981, a banker named Preston Haag made a deal with the company to import the shoes to the United States. In February of 1983, the New York City department store Bloomingdale's learnt of the shoes and ordered 2,400 pairs in nine styles. Jelly shoes made a comeback in 2003 and again in 2010. Various designers such as Sketchers, Burberry, Urban Outfitters and the Disney Store have created their own lines of jelly shoes in different styles and colours.

Ankle Socks

Ankle socks were worn by girls in the 1980s. Made of thin materials, the socks were decorated with single or multiple lace ruffles at the top of the socks. Some socks were entirely made of lace with a ruffled top that was seen when the sock was folded down at the ankle. These socks were most commonly worn with party dresses and dress shoes, and became popular with older women as well as they could be worn easily with a pair of high heels.


Character, logo and band T-shirts were popular with boys in the 1980s. T-shirt designs included images of popular cartoons, movies, video games and rock bands from the 1980s. Super-hero-themed T-shirts were popular as well as shirts decorated with funny sayings.

Stirrup Pants

Stirrup trousers, worn by girls in the 1980s, were made from knit materials and tapered down the legs towards the ankle, where a stirrup was attached at each side. The stirrup fit under the foot between its ball and heel, securing the trousers tightly to the wearer's legs. These trousers were available in a variety of colours and were generally worn with tunic-length or belted shirts and scrunchie socks with a pair of ankle boots or flat shoes.

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About the Author

Kelly Masi, born and raised in upstate N.Y., has been writing professionally since 2009. She has been writing for various instructional websites since November 2010 and has also written for the website CafeMom. She received her associate degree in early childhood education from Fulton Montgomery Community College.