Tips for dressing up in 80s clothes

Written by lottie goff
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Tips for dressing up in 80s clothes
Punk-rock trends in the 1980s included dark make-up and coloured hair. (punk fashion model image by Randy McKown from

Big jewellery, leg warmers, bright colours and oversized clothes are just some of the popular fashion trends of the 1980s. Whether you want to embrace those trends for a theme party, a costume or because of the resurgence of these trends, a few simple rules will keep you true to the time period and looking like a true 1980s icon.

Choose a Trend

Just like fashion today has many styles, so did fashion in the 1980s. There were preppy girls in floral dresses, headbands and pumps and preppy boys who wore pastel polo shirts, punk rockers who wore tight jeans and band T-shirts and those who embraced the workout gear trend with leggings, legwarmers and loose cut-off shirts layered over tank tops. You will look silly wearing all trends at once, so pick which type of 1980s fashion icon you wish to emulate and stick with that style.

The Bigger, the Better

Remember one rule that's true for all 1980s fashion: Bigger is better. That's true for chunky jewellery, big teased hair, bright bold make-up, large puffy sleeves, as well as oversized skirts and dresses.

Bright Colors

In the 1980s, neutral colours were rarely in peoples' wardrobes. Neon colours made it big, as did bright primary colours that were combined, such as yellow, red and royal blue.


If you want to embrace the 1980s preppy trend, women should consider wearing a short, straight miniskirt. Any colour works, although coloured denim was especially popular, as was acid-washed denim. Pair it with a floral button-down shirt that has shoulder pads. Coloured socks with white high-top sneakers complete the outfit. Men can wear pastel-coloured polo shirts with acid-washed jeans, white tennis shoes and a sweater knotted around their shoulders.


Dressing like a 1980s punk rocker is fun, too. Men can wear ripped jeans, a T-shirt depicting an 80s rock band and a leather jacket. Motorcycle boots will complete the outfit. Women can wear a neon-coloured tank top with tight, acid-washed jeans. Add some lace gloves, spiked jewellery, put on some dark make-up and finish off the look with black biker boots.

Excercise Gear

Whether it was ski gear or aerobics classes, the 1980s saw a lot of exercise gear worn outside of the gym. For this trend, women might choose a pair of high-top sneakers with pastel-coloured leggings, a few layers of leg warmers and some plastic running shorts. Wear a sports bra in a bright colour with a large T-shirt that has the neck and sleeves cut off. Men can wear a bright polo shirt, white short athletic shorts, a headband and wristbands made of terry cloth and tennis shoes.

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