Early 80s Women's Attire

Written by deborah jones
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Early 80s Women's Attire
Ripped or bleached denim was a common fashion theme in the '80s. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

During the 1980s fashion styles merged, with women's attire in the early '80s influenced by pop stars or the stars of film and television shows. Merging fashion styles blurred the line between smart fashion and street fashion, and saw the introduction of such styles as a tailored blazer with bleached and ripped jeans.

Power Dressing

Power dressing was a style of women's clothing intended to convey assertiveness, affluence and success in the business world. The power dressing look was achieved through large shoulder pads in tailored jackets, often coupled with straight skirts and high-heeled court shoes. The TV programs "Dallas" and "Dynasty" influenced this style of dressing in the early '80s, emphasising expensive fabrics coupled with masculine styling.


Legwarmers were a common accessory in the early '80s, a trend encouraged by the 1983 film "Flashdance," which also reflected a wide enthusiasm for aerobics-based or dance exercise classes in which leotards or leggings were normal women's attire. Leggings were also taken outside the dance studio and commonly worn with oversized long T-shirts worn with the neckband pulled down over one shoulder. Other common accessories in the early 1980s included wide headbands that were worn low on the forehead.


Acid washed denim jeans and jackets were regularly worn in the early '80s, with the acid washing completed during manufacture to create a faded, worn look that was often accompanied by rips or tears. Bleaching was also often done by people at home, with white spots or streaks in partially faded denim becoming a fashion statement.


Oversized and brightly coloured costume jewellery completed any fashionable look in the early '80s. Bangles played a big part in women's attire, as women copied Madonna's "Material Girl" look with rows of rubber or gel bangles and large crucifix necklaces. Earring styles were large and dangling, often featuring geometric shapes or studded with rhinestones and beads.

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