Styles of Girl's Clothes in the '80s

Written by nancy hayden
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Styles of Girl's Clothes in the '80s
Polo shirts with upturned collars were part of the '80s preppy style. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Getting dressed in the '80s was rarely a boring affair. From rocker and alternative styles to the preppy or valley-girl look, girls wore bright, feminine and flashy clothes that allowed them to express themselves. Girls had a lot of clothing styles from which to choose for everything from a dance or party to a simple day of school.

Skirts and Dresses

Miniskirts were quite trendy in the '80s, and designers made them to suit nearly any style. For everyday, girls wore miniskirts made of denim or a more clingy, stretchy knit. In cold weather, or if the skirt was a bit too short, girls often wore brightly coloured leggings beneath them. Preppy girls wore miniskirts made of corduroy along with textured tights, and rocker girls wore miniskirts made of leather or tutu-style netting. '80s dresses, whatever casual or dressy, often had big shoulder pads and embellishments such as tiered skirts or large bows.


Jeans were as beloved in the '80s as they had been for decades. For school or casual social outings, girls wore jeans as tight as possible, and they loved stonewashed styles and pricey designer jeans. They also wore denim overalls and white-denim painter's trousers. Girls wore stretchy knit trousers that were quite snug or very baggy, depending on the style. The very baggy trousers, made popular by rapper M.C. Hammer, were known as Hammer trousers and had a baggy, dropped crotch. Girls also wore knit stirrup trousers or spandex leggings.

Shirts and Jackets

Along with wearing tight spandex leggings as trousers, girls often wore oversized shirts. They wore button-down shirts, sweaters and sweatshirts that came down over their hips. To achieve rocker or valley-girl styles, girls often wore these extra-large tops down off one shoulder with a tank top underneath. Shirts made of lace or netting were also a hot look; girls wore neon lace or net half shirts over tank tops, and rocker girls wore them over sports bras, baring their midriffs. Girls also wore denim jackets or long, cotton blazers with thick shoulder pads and upturned collars.


Girls of the '80s used accessories to turn an outfit from one style to another. They made a simple black T-shirt and denim miniskirt into a rocker-style outfit with fingerless lace gloves, large cross earrings and necklaces, and black ankle boots. To make the same look preppy, girls wore headbands to hold their hair back, penny loafers and pearls. Valley girls added thick, colourful plastic belts, slouch socks with tennis shoes, and armfuls of bangle bracelets.

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