Makeup & Jewelry of the '80s

Written by ann jones
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Makeup & Jewelry of the '80s
Smoky eyeshadow and pencilled brows were fashionable in the '80s. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

The 1980s were a time of colour and drama in clothing, make-up and accessories. From giant shoulder pads to heavy blush to 10 Swatch watches on each arm, young people in the '80s had a bold and distinctive style. Your eye shadow competed with your hairspray for which could be more heavily applied, and you weren't wearing jewellery if you weren't wearing 50 rubber bracelets.

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Make-up Styles

Heavy application was the word of the day when it came to cosmetics. Dark eyeshadow and obvious blush were feathered into the skin. Peach and dark pink were popular blush colours. The influence of New Wave musicians inspired outrageous asymmetrical haircuts and bright stripes of eyeshadow. Coloured mascara in shades of bright blue, pink and yellow appeared on drugstore shelves, and clear mascara enjoyed a brief vogue. Lip gloss, either clear or applied over dark lipstick, was seen frequently.

'80s Makeup Inspirations

Music videos came into existence in the '80s, and the MTV generation emulated their favourite musicians' styles in clothing, hair and make-up. Grace Jones, with her harsh futuristic look and Bonnie Tyler, whose big hair and heavy make-up inspired girls in malls everywhere, were at opposite ends of the spectrum. Robert Palmer's backup dancers sported slicked-back hair, pale make-up and shiny red lipstick. Men wore make-up too, with early Goth musician Robert Smith of The Cure mimicking the look of his counterpart Siouxsie Sioux.

Madonna and Cyndi Lauper

Two of the biggest influences on young women's fashion in the '80s were musicians Madonna and Cyndi Lauper. Madonna sported pencilled eyebrows and a beauty mark, while Cyndi bleached her hair, dyed it different bright colours like yellow and fire engine red and wore flamingo-striped eyeshadow. Both wore lots of bracelets and big earrings, with Madonna's signature black rubber bracelets especially prominent and piled on in layers. Madonna wore lots of long dangling necklaces, most often vintage beads, dog tags, crucifixes and other religious symbols like the Star of David. Both accessorised with plastic Swatch watches.

Other Jewelry Styles

Some aspects of '60s fashion enjoyed a resurgence in the '80s, and there were lots of '60s clothes in thrift stores. Peace symbols dangled from ear lobes and strings of beads. Vintage costume jewellery was plentiful, and Molly Ringwald made thrift stores cool in Pretty in Pink. Ringwald often wore cameos and other vintage broaches. Flavour Flav wore a giant clock around his neck. New Wavers buttoned their shirts all the way up to their necks and pinned geometric pins in front of the top button. Large, flat earrings mounted on straight earring backs obscured the lobes completely.

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