The fashion trends of the eighties portrayed the freedom of expression which nominally characterized this decade. From the "Valley Girl/GoGos" look to the ripped sweatshirts initiated in the movie "Flashdance," clothes got brighter, gaudier, and just plain uglier in comparison to those of the sixties and seventies.
Through creative experimentation, music video, motion picture and television icons redefined style. Male rock groups like Bon Jovi and Poison challenged the established gender roles with skin-tight leather pants, make-up, and long teased hairstyles. Consequently, as the men became more feminine, women's fashions became more masculine. Annie Lennox, lead singer of the Eurythmics, sported an extremely short hairstyle while Madonna set the precedence for the "cheap, homeless" look with her layers of trashy, lacy, mis-matched outfits.
No social class was spared from the onslaught of eighties fashion faux pas. In the business world, the "yuppie" look quickly emerged. Small, skinny ties, especially black and leather, or knit ties were all the rage, while gaudy Rolex watches, Gucci loafers, suspenders and Argyle vests made lasting impressions.
With all of the adults sporting the latest fashion trends, it's no wonder the children of the eighties began their own sequence of fashion statements. Young girls sported neon colors, friendship pins, and silk vests while the boys wanted parachute pants, mesh muscle shirts and a Michael Jackson glove. And both sexes indulged in what was possibly the most memorable fashion disaster of the decade: pegged pants. Pegging involved pinching jeans by the ankle and rolling them to achieve a highly attractive tapered leg look. The rolls were so tight, they almost cut off circulation to the feet, and most definitely left lasting indentations on every child's ankle.
No one likes to see pictures of themselves from the eighties, but we were all in it together. Whether a Generation X'er or a Baby Boomer, we were all affected by the fashion transformations of the decade of greed. In case you have hidden, or possibly burned, all of your personal photos from the eighties, the following fashion trends may bring back some humorous memories of the once popular, yet extremely embarrassing fads from the eighties.
- Banana clips - those bear trap-like contraptions that caught a girl's hair up in a wild, yet carefully constructed mop running the length of her head. A perfect model for this style would have been Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles.
- Mesh hair ties - girls tied a piece of black or white mesh in their hair to give them the "Madonna" look.
- The headband - wide and butch for guys or slim and corded for girls. John Travolta sported a headband in "Staying Alive," while Deena Freeman almost always had one on in the television sitcom "Too Close For Comfort."
- Crimping - basically, placing hair in a miniature waffle iron so it could look like it had been braided for a week.
- Big hair - poofing and teasing the hair, especially the bangs, with anything that would hold it in place during high winds. This saw the emergence of Bold Hold and Rave super hold hairspray, gel, and mousse.
- Rat-tails - long strips of hair on the back of the neck.
- Hair Art - mohawks, parallel or horizontal lines shaved into hair on the side of the head.
- Bleached Blond Streaks - obtained by using the product Sun In
- Pony tails - usually worn off-center on the side of the head.
- Artistically torn workout top, allowing bare shoulders to show through. A perfect example would be Molly Ringwald in the 1984 movie "Sixteen Candles."
- Slogan T-shirts with your favorite sports team, New Wave band, Spuds Mackenzie, Fido Dido or college. Also, name brand t-shirts like Ron Jon Surf Shop, Ocean Pacific, Panama Jack, Body Glove, Pacific Coast Highway, Vaurnet, IOU, or Banana Republic.
- The Miami Vice Look - a simple, pastel jacket with narrow lapels worn over a solid-colored t-shirt.
- Jackets - there were two varieties:
- The jean jacket with millions of buttons pinned on them.
- The Michael Jackson "Thriller" jacket which was a garish, candy-apple red leather jacket.
- Blouses - had to have buttons, feathers, and/or rhinestones tracing a path up one side and down one sleeve.
- Izod shirts - in every color of the rainbow, these shirts were to be worn with the collars turned up and, for maximum preppie impact, hang a sweater over your shoulders.
Below The Belt
*No matter what you chose to wear, it probably clashed and was just plain outrageous with pinstripes, polks dots, and covered with various patterns such as paislies or geometric shapes...
- Parachute pants - the loudest piece of clothing in your closet because people could hear you coming a mile away with the pant legs rubbing together and the zippers clanking.
- Sweatpants - either tucked into tube socks or pulled up to your knees for a sort of "bermuda" sweatpant look.
- Jeans - must have been made by Bonjour, Sasson, Chic, Calvin Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt, or Guess and had to either be ripped, have zippers all over them or at the bottom, and definitely must be stone washed or pinstriped.
- Miniskirts - preferrably black leather or striped and must be very short.
- Spandex pants - worn alone or with shorts over them, these came in a wide variety of colors. The pink and lavender with silver iridescence were particularly popular.
- Shorts - either plaid bermuda or wildly colorful surfer shorts called jams.
- Leg warmers - enough said.
- Stirrup pants - worn as either comfort clothing or a dress-up outfit, these were very colorful and sometimes ribbed.
- Dr. Dexter or "Dex"/decks - preferably worn without socks these shoes came in dark brown, tan white, navy, or maroon.
- Pricey sneakers - Reeboks, Vans & Airwalks (for the skaters), PUMA, British Knight, Converse, L.A. Gear, and Adidas. The tennis shoes were either high-tops and clunked around because they were never tied or they were velcro.
- Penny loafers - you MUST have the pennies in them.
- Jellies - a sort of plastic sandal.
- Lots of makeup - blue eye shadow, blood-red lipstick, roll-on lip gloss, and thick mascara in black, purple, blue or green.
- Sunglasses - Either Ray Bans, sleek sunglasses like the ones worn by Tom Cruise in the 1983 movie "Risky Business," or Oakleys.
- Pierced Ears - multiple pierces for girls and double pierces for guys. However, guys could opt for a single earring in the left ear if they were straight and in the right ear if they were gay. Also, for the upper ear, silver ear cuffs were worn. Girls usually opted for multiple stud earrings or huge hoop earrings.
- SWATCHES - a brand name watch with rubber Swatch guards.
- Bracelets - usually plastic and worn hundreds at a time or white, braided sailor bracelets.
- Bandanas - not around your head but tied around your ankle or knee.
- Freezy Freakies - winter gloves that showed a design when they got cold.
- Belts - usually wide and long and worn around extra-long sweaters or shirts.
- Purses - either name brand Jordache purses, Sportsacs, or clear platic purses.
- Laura Ashley
- Bugle Boy
- Ralph Lauren
- Members Only
- Z. Cavaricci