The 80s Fashion Aesthetic: A Comprehensive Guide

The 80s Fashion Aesthetic: A Comprehensive Guide

The late 1970s in the United States were difficult for many people. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, events including the Civil Rights Movement, the Watergate Scandal, the Vietnam War, and the economic crisis in the United States eroded public trust. The 80s fashion aesthetic was born from a turbulent time.

By the time Jimmy Carter stepped down as president, the lofty hopes of the 1960s had begun to fade. Many Americans in the 1980s adopted a new conservatism in social, economic, and political life, defined by the policies of President Reagan. In addition, materialism and consumerism are often associated with the eighties. Still, the decade also saw a rise in “yuppies,” a boom in blockbuster movies, and MTV, which began the careers of many legendary musicians.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the populist conservative movement known as the New Right experienced extraordinary expansion. With its broad appeal across the political spectrum, it resonated with a diverse group, including evangelical Christians, anti-tax crusaders; advocates of deregulation and smaller markets; proponents of an American military presence abroad; disillusioned white liberals; and supporters of an unrestricted free market.

In some ways, the 1980s’ popular culture, including the 80s fashion aesthetic, mirrored the political conservatism of the time.

The “yuppie,” a baby boomer with a college degree, a well-paying job, and high-end tastes, became a symbol of the decade for many. Young urban professionals across the country were more materialistic and self-centered than their parents and grandparents. However, there were deeper layers to “yuppiedom” than what was first apparent. A generation of young people crystallized in Bright Lights, Big City, and The Big Chill also secretly suffered from self-doubt and anxiety.

The 1980s were the heyday of the big-budget blockbuster at the local cinema. Fans of all ages flocked to see films like Beverly Hills Cop, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and ET: The Extra-Terrestrial at the box office, making hundreds of millions of dollars. The 1980s was also the era or peak of teen movies.  

The “Thriller” video helped sell almost 700,000 albums less than a week after it first aired. People copied the hairstyles and clothes they saw in music videos, thanks to MTV.

As the decade progressed, MTV also became a platform for people who defied the yuppie ideal or were marginalized. Hip-hop musicians such as Public Enemy tapped on the frustration felt by urban African-Americans in their powerful album “It Takes a Nation of… This malaise was also expressed in the music of heavy metal bands like Metallica and Guns N’ Roses. Despite Reagan’s popularity, the 1980s were a time of discontent and controversy in popular culture.

What Was the 80s Fashion Aesthetic?

If you’re interested in the 80s Fashion aesthetic, you must go deep into the era’s sensibilities, and eventually, you get to the core or soul of the great eighties. Nevertheless, it’s always interesting to translate the experience of a generation through Fashion, especially if it involves style of any given age. Previously, we explored the ‘clash’ between Reaganomics, the rise of the ‘yuppie,’ and the proliferation of iconic music, movies, and Fashion because of MTV and the dynamic nature of attitudes in the era, which was a mix of conservatism, discontent and the endless drive for individualism and freedom.

All these things resulted in an exciting and eclectic mix in Fashion.

In the 1980s, colorful patterns, bright colors, and feathery haircuts ruled. Simply mentioning “the appearance of the 80s fashion aesthetic brings up specific images because of how distinctive the era was. Since its inception, the style has had a lasting impact on Fashion and even the design industry.

A few decades can rival the iconic visuals of the 1980s in terms of recallability.

In the 1980s, bright colors, vibrant prints, towering hair kept up by an ocean’s worth of Spray-Net, shoulder pads, and an unapologetic enthusiasm for shopping marked the decade’s image. The 1980s were all about making a statement, which meant going big or going home.

It’s like something out of a sci-fi movie. Clothing styles that favor muted tones, loose fits, and a disregard for brand names have taken over in the late 2010s and early 2020s.

As far as the 80s fashion aesthetic interior design trends go, even Japanese minimalism design is a far cry from the brightly colored pop art adornments of those years ago. TikTok’s and Tumblr’s ‘-core’ aesthetics, on the other hand, have a more minimalist feel.

Despite this, the internet serves as an aggregator of all kinds of trends and subcultures. As if the pandemic wasn’t bad enough, the kids of the original 80s kids who grew up in power suits are now scouring their parents’ wardrobes, hunting for an Adidas vintage piece to revive the quirky 80s style.

What Influenced Fashion in the 1980s?

The phrase ‘large and bright’ perfectly describes the decade’s style in the 1980s. This decade, we had shoulder pads and oversized earrings, acid-wash denim, and crazy fabric designs. In the 1980s, Fashion was about showcasing one’s wealth and promoting materialistic values. Therefore, investing in designer labels and logo-ed sports gear was necessary to look the part.

For the first time, Fashion wasn’t controlled by teenagers but rather by a broader range of people. Baby boomers like Tommy Hilfiger were getting more prosperous and established themselves as fashion influencers in the upper echelons of society.

More style icons were born in the 1980s than in any other decade. Cell phones and the internet weren’t even a thought back in the 1980s. Watching a movie was a treat because there were so few options on TV. Magazines and advertising remained the primary fashion information sources for the public after television. Nevertheless, some celebrities, artists, and clothing lines from the 1980s could significantly impact fashion trends because of their limited visibility.

Medium-heeled pumps, Vans Classic slip-on, Doc Martens, Color-block sneakers, Adidas Campus, Moccasins, Jellies, and Mary-Janes were among the most popular shoes of the 1980s.

The 1980s meant wearing corduroy, striped linen suits, suspenders, khaki pants, turtlenecks, polo shirts, and Oxford shirts for males. Add these to the list as well: leotards, punk leather goods, statement shoulder business suits, acid-wash jeans, Lycra, spandex, ripped denim, and leg warmers. All these things comprised the most popular women’s fashion trends of the era.

Accessories were prominent in the 1980s. Scrunchies, leg warmers, fingerless gloves, plastic bangles, giant wacky earrings in neon colors, mesh embellishments, fanny packs, and pearl necklaces were some of the most popular trends.

A Throwback to the Beautiful Eighties – Far Fetched Jewelry

The eighties brought many elements from the previous decades into modernity, including people’s eclectic tastes in jewelry. Far Fetched Imports stood as one of the few dynamics yet ethical jewelry brands in the eighties. Richard Wolf brought the creative genius of authentic artisans from Taxco, Mexico, into the United States market, and Far Fetched jewelry remains robust today. Read more about Far Fetched Imports history here.

How Do You Dress with the 80s Fashion Aesthetic ?

Who can forget the leg warmers, shoulder pads, acid-wash denim, and neon outfits of the 1980s? We’ve got your back if you’re a fan of 80s Fashion and want to relive the era.

Try a pair of parachutes.

Parachute trousers were composed of the same material as parachutes and were known for their snug, glossy, and long-lasting fit. Guys in the 1980s flocked to these multicolored, zipper-encrusted pants, which came in a plethora of styles. Unfortunately, because they’ve fallen out of favor recently, they’ll have to be found at niche retailers or on eBay.

Pull out the patterned knits.

“Ugly sweaters” with vivid geometric motifs and patterns were popular among men who preferred a more laid-back look. For best results, wear the sweater with a high-waisted pair of light denim trousers and a pair of bright white sneakers.

Consider a more formal look.

Peppier attire was fashionable in the 1980s among the well-educated, sophisticated, and college-bound crowd. Acid-washed shirts were replaced with more tailored apparel such as button-down shirts and penny loafers. Pop the collar of your shirt and drape a pastel-colored sweater casually over your shoulders for an authentic 1980s style.

It’s time to grow out your hair and get some volume.

There was a time in the 1980s when colossal hair reigned supreme. Just ask your hairdresser for an 80s-style perm, or if you want to go all the way, use a lot of hairsprays and blow-dry your hair!

Big earrings can make you look sexy.

Massive earrings were a must-have in the 80s fashion aesthetic for both men and women, and the bigger the earring, the better it looked. Be on the lookout for anything with feathers, large crosses, or hoops that go all the way around your neck.

Wear anything with shoulder pads if you can find it.

In the 1980s, it was nearly hard to buy a jacket, shirt, or dress without shoulder pads — and even if you did, you probably added them yourself, perhaps by layering several sets at a time! Make a statement in your office clothing or evening wear with a square-shouldered look thanks to shoulder pads. It’s even better if you can locate something with a hint of denim!

Look for some oversized tops.

In the 1980s, oversized tops were all the rage. Get creative with your outfits by pairing an oversized sweater with leggings and leggings or by wearing an oversized T-shirt over leggings with an over-the-knee belt. Tops that are ‘too big’ are likewise easy to get hold of.

Shop in the men’s area or buy a shirt that’s a few sizes too big. An enormous denim jacket instantly transforms any ensemble into something straight from the 1980s. Consider constructing your 80s belt if you can’t locate one you like.

Put on a pair of stirrup pants.

The stirrup pant fad was one of the worst of the 1980s. With an elastic “stirrup” attached to the underside of the foot, these pants were pulled down and created a triangle-shaped leg. But if you’re serious about 80s fashion aesthetic, these are your best bet! Aren’t stirrup pants for you? Denim with a pinched-in waist and a bodysuit and belt are great ways to wear denim.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with mini-anythings.

In the 1980s, the miniskirt became a fashion staple, and it hasn’t gone away since. Legwarmers and an off-the-shoulder t-shirt tucked into denim, PVC, or skintight cotton skirt are all you need to channel authentic 80s style.

Wear a pair of jellies.

In the 1980s, jelly shoes were a must-have. It’s hard to go to the 1980s without a pair of jelly shoes. These PVC shoes came in all shapes and colors, including glitter-infused versions. In recent years, they’ve made a resurgence, so you won’t have any trouble locating a pair of them.

Put on a pair of acid-washed denim.

In the 1980s, acid-washed jeans were a must-have for men and women. However, for a fraction of the price of a store-bought pair of bleach-bleached jeans, you can make your own. In addition, you gain bonus points if your jeans are high-waisted and slim!

Try out fingerless gloves.

In the 1980s, fingerless gloves became famous, thanks mainly to Madonna’s eccentric, punk-rock style. Lace and leather are two common choices, but you can go with anything. Cut the fingers off standard gloves for perfect 80s grunge, and you won’t even have to search the store for fingerless gloves.

Leg warmers can be fun to experiment with.

Leg warmers in vibrant colors are a staple of the 1980s and the cast of Fame. Legwarmers look great with retro training gear from the 1980s or with your favorite heels and miniskirt!

Makeup in bright colors is a great way to stand out.

When it came to makeup, few women in the 1980s opted for “the natural look.” Heavy pink blusher and brilliant blue and green eye shadow were typically applied all over the face, even to the eyebrows. Combine with blue mascara and eyeliner, and you’re ready to go! You’ll look like you walked out of the 1980s with a frosty pink lip gloss or a blue/red lipstick.

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