Rock Star Outfits of the '80s

Written by nancy hayden
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Rockers in the '80s rarely performed in something as simple as T-shirts and jeans. The age of video made a musician's image paramount, and bands seemed to be vying to outdo each other with their outrageous fashion choices. The lines of gender were blurred with rocker styles; women wore black leather, and men wore make-up and feather boas.

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Leggings and Boots

Eighties leggings make modern-day skinny jeans look positively baggy by comparison. Women from every walk of life and men who were rockers wore leggings made of Spandex and stretchy satin. They were often brightly coloured neon or patterned in stripes or animal prints. Rock star men and women alike wore leggings with oversized T-shirts, while rock men often wore them with billowy, open-necked peasant shirts. To complete the look, rockers often wore giant studded belts over the shirts and Peter Pan-style bootees or high-top tennis shoes.

Ripped Clothing

Rock stars wore a lot of ripped and torn clothing in the '80s. From rocker women like Pat Benatar to men like David Lee Roth, the styles were similar. They wore sweatshirts or T-shirts with the necks cut out so much that they hung loosely off one shoulder. The women wore tank tops or brightly coloured camisoles underneath. Rockers also wore torn and ripped trousers. Jeans were torn on the thighs, exposing skin, and rocker women often wore ripped-up tights or torn fishnet stockings with miniskirts and boots.


Leather has long been associated with rock and roll, and the '80s were no exception. It was not just black leather, though. Musicians like Michael Jackson or Mike Reno from Loverboy wore full suits of bright red leather. Women like Madonna mixed black leather jackets with "girly" fabrics like lace gloves and frilly, tutu-like skirts. Satin was a trendy fabric among both male and female rockers, used for trousers, shirts and jackets. Denim was huge as well; rock star men wore denim jackets or vests, often with no shirt underneath.


When it came to rockers and their accessories in the '80s, more was more. Men and women alike wore fingerless gloves and bracelets, necklaces and belts made of black leather and silver spikes. Men wore silver chains hanging from their pockets or the shoulders of their jackets, similar to the kind of chain used to connect a wallet to a belt loop. Women wore headbands to hold back their hair, and both men and women rockers wore bandannas tied around their foreheads, around their necks like kerchiefs, and around their wrists and thighs.

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