What Females Wore in the 1980s

Written by erin moonyeen haley
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  • Introduction

    What Females Wore in the 1980s

    Cindi Lauper's lyric, "Girls just want to have fun!" is one of the many popular anthems for the women of the 1980s. Fashion trends reflected this motto. Clothing tended to be flashy and over-the-top. Think shoulder pads, teased hairdos and Reebok high-top sneakers. Like other decades, female pop culture icons influenced what girls of the era wore.

    Cindi Lauper's motto "Girls just want to have fun!" was reflected in the 1980s over-the-top fashions. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

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    According to Like Totally 80s, singer Madonna's look was one of the most copied. To mimic her style, girls would wear black tank tops or corsets, paired with unbuttoned, leather jackets and either fishnet stockings or tight stretch trousers that reached mid-calf. Molly Ringwald's outfits in such movies as Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink also went mainstream. As Fashion Rat states, her characters often rocked the slouched look, where she wore two shirts. The top shirt would slide off one shoulder to show off the bottom shirt. Another slouched look was to cut the collar off of a sweatshirt and let it hang diagonally. Acid-wash jeans rolled at the ankles were also popular. Business and formal outfits took a cue from such shows as "Dynasty," where woman wore large shoulder pads. This was nicknamed the Power Look.

    Fishnet stockings were often part of Madonna's ensemble. (Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

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    Leather ankle boots were popular, especially when worn with skirts. According to Fashion Era, Doc Marten's -- originally a laced-up boot used by podiatrists -- became popular among those wanting to look like rebels. Another footwear trend were Reebok high-tops that were characterised by two straps of Velcro above the laces. Girls often wore them with stirrup trousers. A casual shoe was the jelly shoe. Thanks to Princess Diana, low-heeled pumps were worn for proper occasions.

    Ankle boots were popular 1980s footwear. (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

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    Molly Ringwald's Sweet Sixteen ensembles also influenced accessories. Her character in that film popularised the straw fedora. Courtesy of Olivia Newton-John and her Physical video, dance attire, such as legwarmers and leggings doubled as streetwear. Tights in a rainbow selection of colours were also common. Costume jewellery became standard. Women often accessorised an outfit with big, gold hoops, dozens of bangle bracelets in various colours, jelly bracelets and oversized chain necklaces with large crucifix pendants similar to the one Madonna wore in her Like a Virgin video.

    Legwarmers became part of streetwear during the 80s. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

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    Madonna's ubiquitous influence also extended to hair. Her signature style was a loose, wavy perm with tiger strips of bleached blond hair and brown hair. Chunks were typically pulled up into bows. Other popular looks included asymmetrical cuts and teased hair and fringe that created an overwhelmingly full look. Side ponytails were also common and were usually held in place with thick scrunchies.

    A popular 1980s hairdo was the side ponytail. (Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

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    When it came to 1980s make-up, girls did not go for the natural look. Eyes were lined with dark liner and painted with such vibrant colours as bright blue, chartreuse, purple and canary yellow. Blushes were dark pink hues and were heavily layered on the cheekbones. Lipsticks came in such colours as orange-red. Metallic was also a common cosmetic colour for eyes and cheeks.

    1980s eyeshadow was bright and layered. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

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    Since athletic physiques were prized during the 1980s, swimwear was designed to flaunt a girl's figure. Bikinis with high-cut sides were popular, as they showed the legs. Bandeau tops were also in vogue. Swimsuits with racer-back cuts were all the rage, as they showed toned backs and muscled arms. During some summers, one-pieces were more popular than bikinis, as designers got innovative and cut out the sides of the suit to creatively show off the hips and stomach.

    Bikinis of the decade had high-cut legs to show toned physiques. (Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

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