Iconic Items From the 80s

Written by james roland
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Iconic Items From the 80s
Big hair was a big deal for men and women in the 80s, particularly if they were in rock bands. (Dick Luria/Photodisc/Getty Images)

The 1980s, the era of early MTV and Ronald Reagan, ushered in some unforgettable fashion trends, as well as items that are firmly a part of 80s culture. Women's hair went short, à la Molly Ringwald, and big, à la Linda Evans. Guys grew their hair big and long and fashion trends included acid-washed jeans, leg warmers and the quirky accessories associated with Cyndi Lauper and a young Madonna. People still listened to cassette tapes and vinyl records as compact discs slowly entered the scene in the late 1980s, and young people especially occupied themselves with the iconic 80s toy, the Rubik's Cube.

Big Hair

Big hair could be found on women -- just check out classic 80s TV shows like Dynasty -- as well as guys, particularly those in heavy metal bands. In fact, "hair metal" became its own musical genre featuring bands such as Motley Crue, Cinderella, Winger, Poison and Warrant. But 80s hair also featured the asymmetrical styles associated with bands such as Flock of Seagulls and Human League. Don't forget that MTV premiered in 1981 and primarily focused on new wave British bands, so their look became the look of young Americans trying to be hip.

Vans Shoes

If there was ever a pair of shoes that summed up a decade, the black-and-white checkerboard Vans sneakers were as 80s a piece of footwear as has ever been worn. The shoes were mostly identified with the Southern California skateboard culture of the early 80s, but got a huge boost when Sean Penn wore them in the 1982 hit film, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." Vans were also featured on the cover of the film's smash soundtrack album. Soon, kids across the U.S. were wearing Vans, whether they could skateboard or not.

Levi's 501s

Levi's had been making denim jeans for more than a century when the company's 501 jeans became one of the biggest selling and most popular articles of clothing in the 80s. The 501 button-fly jeans had been on the market for many years, but in 1981, Levi's introduced 501s for women with a provocative TV ad campaign featuring a mysterious man named "Travis" and women calling out, "Travis, you're a year too late," leaving viewers to try to figure out the story behind the characters in the commercial. At the 1984 Summer Olympics, Levi's launched its 501 Blues ad campaign, featuring blues music and hip, urban young people wearing Levi's jeans, and later real-life blues and rock artists were featured in the ads.

Sony Walkman

Before iPods and other MP3 players, there was the Sony Walkman. It came in a variety of models, but the classic Walkman was a simple, small cassette tape player with a set of headphones. It could not hold the thousands of songs that MP3 players can, but it could hold your favourite cassette or maybe a mixed tape you or a friend had made of all the songs that fit your particular mood. The big step forward was the 1983 introduction of the WM-20 Walkman, which was essentially the size of a cassette. Earlier models also had radios, but the tape players were the bigger hits. Later in the 80s, when compact discs were introduced, Sony kept up with its Discman, a small CD player with headphones.

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