Fashion of the decade – the 1980s

Fashion of the decade – the 1980s

Eighties fashion saw the logo and slogan t-shirts continue to feature prominently with double denim becoming even more popular and leather jackets continuing to be a statement of cool. But with business booming and cash flowing opulence was the order of the day.

Big, bold shirts

Men’s shirts became more flouncy with big sleeves and now they were tucked in with the belt becoming a key accessory. Denim shirts were a hit and were worn with denim pants. And we saw the dawn of distressed denim; faded pants, rips, tears, acid wash, etc and of course turn-ups. In addition to denim shirts, there was also a penchant for silk Hawaiian style shirts with huge with bold colors and bright flowery designs. Whatever the style of shirt, the two top buttons would be left undone. And the hairier the chest, the more would be exposed.

Power suits were dominant

Big was in, in a big way and this extended to suits too. The wolves were out in Wall Street and powerful men needed a powerful look. Wide padded shoulders, bold pinstripes, and suspenders were essential. Out of work the suits remained wide but were available in more colors and were often paired with a plain t-shirt. Shades and rolled up sleeves completed the look. For a more casual look, the t-shirt and jacket could be replaced with a polo shirt. And, of course, hair was big and wavy.

But urban fashion had its own look

With the city slickers ramping up the suit to show their dominance, urban fashion was going in the opposite direction. Tracksuits and activewear were no longer reserved for the sports field. The branded gear was all the rage and it was in the eighties that the iconic all-Adidas look was born. Hi-top sneakers and baseball boots became fashionable too as your choice of casual footwear became as important as your clothes. Bomber jackets were popular too, and almost everyone was wearing a baseball cap.

Heavy metal fashion

As society became increasingly diverse so did fashion. The antithesis of the power look was heavy metal fashion. Long hair, studded belts, and leather jackets took the biker look of the previous decade to a new level. Often worn with denim pants, t-shirts showing their favorite bands logo or album cover, and combat boots, the black leather jackets often sported tassels and patch badges. And there was no summer alternative. If you chose heavy metal fashion you were in it 365 days a year.

And its softer cousin – glam metal

Glam metal featured a similar look to that of heavy metal but with a hint of the glitz and glamour of pop music. It was a softer look and as the decade went on moved towards jeans with vests, bandanas and, increasingly tattoos.

As the decade drew to a close the fashion for everything being bigger and louder than everything else began to fade with suits, shirts, and jeans becoming slimmer fit and bright colors being toned down. Double denim was now long gone and although baggy clothes were popular with skater boys and girls, the distressed denim look was the look that took mainstream fashion into the nineties.

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