What Type of Clothes Did Men Wear in the 1980s?

Written by sampson quain
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The 1980s in the United States was the decade of President Reagan, corporate titans such as Donald Trump and Ivan Boesky, the AIDS epidemic, the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, the golden age of action movies, and the rise of music videos, heavy metal rock, and hip-hop. These disparate cultural forces helped to shape male fashion trends, dictating what men wore.

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Heavy metal music culture of the 1980s made wearing tight leather trousers acceptable for men. Spurred by lead singers who pranced around stage in leather outfits, rabid male fans adopted this style, perhaps hoping to attract the same kind of female attention garnered by their rock heroes. Men also wore stonewashed jeans with large tears, usually in the knees or thighs, parachute trousers favoured by rappers such as MC Hammer and form-fitting spandex. On the more conservative side, khakis were worn by a segment of the male population wanting a more studious, refined appearance.


Due in large part to the popularity of "Miami Vice" in the mid-1980s, men wore white blazers, or bright, pastel jackets to reflect a new era of cool. On the opposite end of the spectrum, leather bomber jackets were favoured by men to evoke a rugged, masculine look, and black and blue jean jackets were also popular, often matched with stonewashed jeans as an ensemble.


Depending on the venue, men's shirts in the 1980s had a variety of styles. For a night out, men would often wear a casual, white T-shirt with a blazer or jacket. In very casual situations such as house parties or when hanging out with friends, some men preferred the tie-dye shirt, which was often brightly coloured with swirling patterns that had been popular during the 1960s and made a big comeback in the 1980s. For more formal events, the banded-collar shirt, which had no wings and resembled a priest's collar, was a popular choice. Another popular style was the conservative, clean-cut, preppy look, which consisted of polo shirts made by such companies as Izod and Ralph Lauren. Polo shirts were often worn with the collars turned up, with an argyle sweater that was sometimes wrapped around the waist for a more casual look.


Accessories were a big part of men's fashion in the 1980s, none bigger than aviator glasses made by Vuarnet, one of the more popular eyewear manufacturers of the decade. The glasses had tinted shades, and were often hung around men's necks with thin straps. Skinny black ties worn with blazers and suits were also a popular accessory item.

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