Top 10 80s Fashion Trends

As far as fashion goes, no decade is quite as no-no-notorious as the 80s. After all, in what other decade could you get away with wearing skin-tight pants one day and baggy “MC Hammer” pants the next? During what other time period could you wear leg warmers, a sweater and a miniskirt all at the same time (and in electric neon colors)? Take a walk down memory lane. Here are the top 10 80s fashion fads we used to love.

In all of these fads, color was the order of the day. The drab khakis, white and black of the 90s do not apply. Big color and color mixed in unusual ways (say, bright yellow with red) were considered totally tubular – to the max.

Top Ten 80s Fashion Trends

Let us here from you.  Do you agree with our top 10?  Did we miss your favorite 80s fashion trend?  Leave a comment below, or tell us on Facebook or Twitter.

Shoulder Pads

Shoulder pads may very well be the most decade-defining of the top 10 80s fashion fads.  Maybe it had something to do with woman’s lib and the assertion of power that women were beginning to have in the work place?  Check out the gals in the photos below, don’t those big, strong shoulders tell you that these are not women to mess with?  Whatever the reason, we wore shoulder pads often and we did so with pride. The second picture below is a beautiful example of shoulder pads in action. Between her totally bitchin’ feathered hair and the awesome over-sized jacket with shoulder pads to the heavens, this 80s babe had it going on.

80s Shoulder Pads

Mini Skirts

The shorter the better … women and girls loved miniskirts. Denim was the most popular, but miniskirts were made in a number of other materials including knit and leather. These were often paired with leggings. This particular look has made a big comeback recently. My favorite look in the mid-80s was to pair one of my many mini-skirts with my high-top Reeboks and a pair of matching scrunch socks.  Now, that’s a rad 80s look.  The only people not wearing miniskirts in the 80s were men (ok, well some did) and elderly women.

80s Mini Skirts

Leg Warmers

Another of one of the top 10 80s fashion fads that didn’t make a lot of sense was that of leg warmers. Maybe we all had really cold legs because of the miniskirts we wore or maybe we just thought they looked cute. Whatever our reasoning was at the time, at least one or two pairs of leg warmers could be found in every girl’s dresser.

80s Leg Warmers

Huge Earrings

You know how cute Christmas ornaments look on a tree? During the 80s we thought the same would apply to our ears. Huge earrings from various costume jewelry collections were all the rage and if your earrings didn’t touch your shoulder, they weren’t big enough.

Huge 80s Earrings

Fingerless Gloves

Fingerless gloves were another odd 80s fashion fad, and it seems to be coming back into style. From romance enthusiasts to punk-rock fans, fingerless gloves were popular with quite a variety of 80s genres. The fingerless gloves are forever interconnected with Madonna’s look in the mid-80s in her boy toy phase. Click here to learn more about the Madonna look.

80s Fingerless Gloves

Parachute Pants

Oh yes . . . and then there were parachute pants. They started off skin tight and ended up baggier than a potato sack. Parachute pants may very well be the one piece of clothing that sums up the ridiculousness of the top 10 80s fashion fads.  But, at the time, they felt so cool.  They were the perfect thing to wear to the skating rink, and they were worn equally by guys and girls.

80s Parachute Pants

Members Only Jackets

Who didn’t want a Members Only jacket in the 80s? If you didn’t have one, you were instantly labeled a dork, and you could forget about getting in with the “in” crowd. Members Only jackets were all the rage, and imitations were completely unacceptable. Clark Griswold himself, sported one throughout National Lampoon’s Vacation.  Take Clark’s lead and push the sleeves up to just below the elbow–now you’re talking 80s cool.

80s Members Only Jackets


A one-size-fits-all clothing store featuring knit skirts, shirts, belts and leggings in coordinating colors. The clothes were sold in UNITS boutiques located in malls throughout the United States. You could buy six different pieces of UNITS clothing and create an entire wardrobe from them. It goes without saying that UNITS did not make it out of the 80s.

80s UNITS clothing

Stretch-Stirrup Pants

The stirrup pants version of this particular fad had to be the worst. Presumably the idea of fashion and being in fashion is to look as good as possible. These pants made NO ONE look good. They created a triangle-leg effect that made even the thinnest person look big. While many of these 1980s fashions are making their way back on the scene and into our stores, the stretch pants/stirrup pants trend needs to stay tucked safely back in the 80s.


Oversized Tops

Last, but not least, we have the 80s fashion fad of oversized tops. Big sweaters, sweatshirts and t-shirts were totally hot and wearing them over a miniskirt or a pair of leggings made them even hotter. These tops were most often belted with big and gaudy, low slung belts with the top bloused over the belt.

80s Oversized Tops

Author: Pia Sooney

Just a little obsessed with all things 80s, Pia still has her Swatch, her cassette tape collection, and her Converse Chucks. When not making friendship pins or listening to Depeche Mode, she runs a web design business.

Share This Post On


  1. Fluorescent laces, swatches, jelly shoes/bracelets.

    Post a Reply
  2. My school is having a week where they call it “spirt week” One day is camo day we call wear camo. Purple and gold day we all wear purple and gold. You get the point. Any suggestions for 80’s day that will work that I might all ready have? So I don’t have to go out and buy something.

    Post a Reply
  3. This really helped me a lot on my report on fashion
    Thanks a lot:)

    Post a Reply
  4. this info is very useful to me maybe make some changes to your website

    Post a Reply
  5. As a teenager in the 80’s, I remember the mini-skirt.

    Post a Reply
  6. God, I miss shoulder pads! Now that I’m 65 and shaped like a pear, I look slouchy and shoulderless. And I still can’t get used to wearing heels without pantyhose… living in the past ; ) Those were the days!!

    Post a Reply
  7. Thank you for helping me so much, I’m doing a blog on how fashion has changed over time, and you website was really helpful

    Post a Reply
  8. I grew up in the 80’s and totally remember all those fads. I had converse in camo a Velcro wallet in camo as well, but living in Los Angeles. I never really liked the colors, but I just wanted to fit in.

    My Grandmother wore dresses with the huge power suit shoulder pads back then along with those pastel colors. Good times back then.

    Post a Reply
  9. thank you this helped me on my report on fashion

    Post a Reply
  10. This is a Really Nice Information for 80s theme party. Really Helpfull.

    Post a Reply
  11. The big 80’s shoulder pads were inspired by the shoulder pads of the 1940’s. Fashion used to move at a slower pace and the 1940’s were coming back into style in some aspects of the 80’s.
    Also jeans were elevated to high fashion instead of being work wear like they had been previously. Gloria Vanderbilt, Jordache, and Sassoon were ‘hot’ brands of designer jeans back then. Women wore their designer jeans with pumps! Pumps were more of an office shoe. And this is how Calvin Klein made a big name for himself with designer jeans.

    Post a Reply


  1. The Eagle Eye : #throwingitback - […] The skinny jeans, miniskirts and Ray-Bans that we’re wearing today, came from the 80s. […]
  2. The ’30 for 30′ on Randy Moss: What we learned - The Washington Post - […] I guess they were to football players in the 1990s what they were to women in the 1980s. […]
  3. Family Photograph, 1980’s | meganaliciablog - […] […]

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *