It is easy to see in the shape, cut and style of these examples of 80s dresses just what makes 80s fashion unique. The draping, the shoulder pads, the extra layer of ruffles, the bright patterns (polka dots and loud florals) all typify the look that is so uniquely associated with the 1980s. The extravagance that marks the decade of greed is well interpreted in its dresses. From power dressing and casual wear for day to cocktail and prom dresses for night, these 80s dresses have it all. They are big, bold and bodacious.
Distinct Features of 80s Dresses:
- Ruffles (often inverted – see example in sea foam delight at the bottom)
- Polka Dots
- Shoulder Pads
- Drape-y fabric
- Rouching at shoulders
- Big buttons, bows or other accessories
- Bright colors
- Floral (see Laura Ashley section below)
A picture is worth more than anything we could do with words so we have scoured the web for great examples of 80s dresses. We hope you enjoy this gallery of 80s dresses as much as we enjoyed finding them.
Laura Ashley Phenomenon
Of special note is the Laura Ashley floral-print sack dress that added 35 pounds to anyone who wore them. And for that privilege, people paid well over $120.00 (that’s in 1980s dollars) – yikes! A veritable fortune for 3 yards of floral cotton with some gathering around the waist.
These dresses were very preppy and were often paired with a pair Keds and white socks – now that’s a good look. We found several examples of these dresses (selling now on ebay for a mere $10.00). We do not have a vintage photo from the 80s of one a Laura Ashley dress in action but would love one (hint, hint – email it to us if you have one).
More samples can be seen below – let the flowers be your guide.
Other Online Resources for 80s Fashion
There are a lot of great sites out there selling vintage 80s dresses that can be a great resource when researching 80s fashions. Try this one: www.sydneysvintageclothing.com. Another great place to check is ebay by searching for “80s vintage.” If you are an 80s fashionista or just need a great, authentic ensem for an upcoming 80s party, nothing beats the real thing.
Another great resource: Vintage Party Dresses – an informative site about vintage party dresses.