What to wear to an '80s theme party

Updated April 17, 2017

Dressing up in costumes isn't just for kids at Halloween. Theme parties let people of any age enjoy the fun of spending an evening in a crazy wig or unusual outfit. The 1980s, known for big hair and wild fashion, is a popular choice for a theme party. Figuring out what to wear to an '80s theme party can be difficult, but luckily you have many choices.

Celebrity Costumes

Consider dressing as a popular celebrity from the '80s. Spend some time on the Internet looking at '80s-era pictures of famous musicians and other celebrities and pay attention to what they were wearing. You could dress as Michael Jackson, with his signature silver glitter glove and military style jacket, or Cyndi Lauper, with her wild orange hair and colourful punky clothes. Madonna was also a style icon in the '80s. To recreate her "Like a Virgin" look, just buy a wedding dress with a tulle skirt and petticoats from a thrift shop and alter it as needed. If you want a classy costume, you could go as Princess Diana, or if you want something funnier, you could always opt for a Mr. T costume by wearing a bald cap and lots of gold jewellery. If you're going to the '80s theme party as a couple, you could dress as Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker or Mork and Mindy. Two guys could go as Milli Vanilli, Ponch and Jon from CHiPS or Crockett and Tubbs from Miami Vice.

General Costumes

Another idea is to pick a certain type of person from the '80s who you might see walking around your town and recreate his look. For example, you could dress as an '80s New Wave rocker by wearing black clothes, dramatic make-up, and spiky hair or a wild black wig. For an '80s metalhead costume, wear leather or tight stonewashed jeans and a band T-shirt from a popular '80s band such as Motley Crue or Poison. Tease your hair and use lots of hairspray to get that 1980s big-hair look. A prom look is a good idea for a couples costume. The girl should wear a 1980s-style prom dress, preferably in a loud, bright colour with big puffy sleeves. The guy can wear a skinny neon tie and maybe even a headband and some dark sunglasses.

More Fashion Tips

Taking a look back at popular 1980s fashion fads can help you plan your costume. Stretch trousers with large over-size shirts were popular in the '80s and were often worn with jelly shoes and lots of bright plastic jewellery, like big hoop earrings and bangle bracelets. Sweaters or blouses with huge shoulder pads were also popular. As far as blue jeans, in the '80s, they were almost always stonewashed, and the cuffs were rolled up tight at the bottom of the pant leg. Parachute trousers, high-top sneakers and leg warmers were also popular trends. To add a little more authenticity to your outfit, try to find a cool 1980s accessory, such as a portable boombox or an old cell phone. (See References 1 and 2 below.)

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About the Author

Jessica Taylor has been writing professionally since 2007. She has contributed a number of articles online on topics ranging from fashion to technology to travel. She has a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of South Florida.