The '80s look for women

Written by nancy hayden
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The '80s look for women
Clothes, hair and make-up were all over-the-top in the '80s. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

When it came to fashion in the '80s, bigger and brighter were definitely better. From neon clothes to giant shoulder pads and ratted hair, women certainly did not strive to be understated. Many women began focusing on their career, wearing big and bold corporate attire to prove their point. Away from the office, females expressed themselves with outrageous style options.

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Career Clothes

Many women were determined to get ahead in corporate America in the '80s. The power suit came into vogue, and women dressed to impress in the workplace. The standout piece of the power suit was the jacket, which was often boxy and long, with big shoulder pads. Jacket often came to the hips, and women most often wore them with matching knee-length skirts or dress trousers that were roomy but not overly baggy. Power suits came in a variety of colours, from conservative dark shades to bright colours to patterns, such as paisley. Women often wore camisole-type shirts under the jacket.


Women of the '80s loved to dress up for a night on the town. Dresses were frilly, feminine and colourful. Both long and short dresses were in style, with long dresses often extending all the way to the ankle and short dresses usually cut above the knee. Necklines ranged from strapless to high-cut with long sleeves. Dresses with sleeves almost always had big shoulder pads. Casual dresses were made of cotton or comfortable knits, while more formal dresses were usually from silk or taffeta. They were often decorated with tiers or ruffles made of lace or netting placed at the waist or hips.

Casual Clothes

Dressing for everyday attire was still an opportunity to go over the top in the '80s. Women wore oversized sweaters or shirts that fell off the shoulder with leggings or tight, knit stirrup trousers. Miniskirts were all the rage, and women wore them in denim or knit over brightly coloured tights or leggings that ended at the ankle. They also wore skin-tight, acid-washed jeans that were tattered and torn. With miniskirts and jeans, women often wore neon-coloured shirts or lace shirts over another T-shirt.

Hairstyles and Accessories

Hairstyles were just as important as their wardrobe choices in the '80s, and they spent hours achieving their look. Women with long hair got spiral perms to have big curls, and those with short hair wore layers cut above the ears to show off their huge earrings. They made sure to leave enough hair to curl with a curling iron, backcomb and spray high with hairspray. Women wore their fringe as high as possible and sprayed their hair to stand out at the sides. Along with big earrings, women wore huge cross necklaces, tons of bangle bracelets and wide belts worn low on the hips.

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