The ’80s

The 80s Fashion History and Trends.

These are the years of the race for success. We start talking about Look. On the fashion catwalks the Top-Models triumph, a figure “invented” by Gianni Versace. In this decade the woman acquires greater independence, a goal that is expressed in different ways: from the carefree style of Madonna of “Like a virgin”, to the certainly more standardised style of the career woman who dresses in a suit, a kind of uniform that someone called “the burqa of the western woman”.

The Brand as a Status Symbol

These are also the years in which the “Signature” becomes Status Symbol. The stylists-entrepreneurs who use the first promotional strategies are born, especially the Italian ones that impose themselves as gurus of taste. A whirlwind of neon and soft colours, voulant and shoulder pads.
The fashion photographer is the protagonist of this period. Fashion shows become presentations that require new professionals such as set designers and directors who study the choreography of the models’ movements.


80s Fashion History and Trends - Madonna

Madonna, “Like a Virgin” Album, 1984

80s Fashion History and Trends

I appear, therefore I am

A decade of extravagant excesses, caused by a greater need for freedom and narcissistic gratifications. The clothes become more striking, the colours of fabrics, accessories and make-up more vivid.
Society transforms and social relationships are mediated by images.

In the Cinema Industry appear the first special effects and computer graphics invade the world of communication while personal computers are becoming more and more widespread.

Blade Runner is the cult movie of the early 80s: for the first time science fiction shows us a dirty world, where it always rains, populated by people and androids indistinguishable from each other.


Exaggerate and overturn

Punk gives birth to the New Wave in its nihilistic and resigned version, where the anger of the Sex Pistols leaves room for guttural voices, cold, electronic sounds and the aesthetics is dismal, sad and melancholy.

The romantic goth moves forward in a Victorian, romantic, baroque style, with lots of laces and corsets. The skirts are wide and long to the ground, there is ample space for lace.

Adam Ant New Romantic Buccaneers

Adam & the Ants

80s Fashion History and Trends

Is it music that influences fashion or is fashion influencing musicians?

Music, cinema and fashion will never be abandoned: they have always been mutually influenced, now the link becomes commercial.

The star makes the image of the brand and the brand makes the image of the star.

Short velvet jackets, ruffled shirts and pirate striped trousers for the New Romantic Buccaneers whose icon is Adam Ant.

Wide-shouldered jackets and pants with pleats, classic shirt and tie is the glamorous Dandy style of Roxy Music.


Madonna dictates the rules of a new trend: ruffled skirts in lace or tulle, short and wide with multiple layers, often combined with leggings up to the knee. Pierced tights, miniskirts, perforated sweaters; plenty of jewelry, lace, hair bands and exaggerated make-up. Corsets, garters and other undergarments turned into real garments to show. Fingerless gloves.

All women had permanent, the “lion hairstyle” held in place by hair bands.

Robert Smith of the Cure gives his New Wave style rules: black jeans, comic T-shirts and Nike Air Force One white, rigorously buttoned shirts up to the neck and a mala sandalwood necklace.
The symbol of the skull becomes a trend in this period, printed on t-shirts or dresses.

Dress for Success

A woman who wears a suit with maxi shoulders and knee-length skirts, elegant but always excessive in details and shapes.

This female figure can be combined with the Yuppie male phenomenon, acronym for Young Urban Professional.

Rampant and ambitious, the yuppie often worked in finance, attended chic circles and wore Italian dresses, especially Armani and Versace. Their motto? Dress for Success. The dress is still the status symbol of a social class.

80s Trends
Hedonism Trend

Hedonism and cult of the body

The counter-trend was the hedonism, the cult of the body, self-care is everything.

In the eighties fashion was not so much an expression of ideals and ideologies, but rather an instrument of personal affirmation in work and in life.
Extremely sporty and casual looks, leg warmers, sneakers, tracksuits, sweatshirts and hair bands. The leg warmer could be worn over the heel shoe. The costume jewellery is exaggeratedly large and colourful.
The blazer worn on a solid colour T-shirt, the white shirt was paired with high-waisted mom jeans, straight leg that tightens on the ankle and with a very light wash.
Even the leather jacket becomes a representation of self personality: for him in a natural leather version studded with patches; for her in the form of a tight and sexy black leather jacket, very refined as long as combined with a white shirt, but only for those who choose a type of bon ton clothing.
For those who love the typical excesses of those years, the leather jacket becomes “mirrored”, with metallic colours.

The blazer symbol of the 80s

Oversized jackets with large shoulder pads are the garment par excellence of the 80s. It is also worn with high-waisted jeans strictly Levi’s 501. The vest is played down by sports combinations. Hair gel, fluorescent colours and the pouch as an essential accessory.
Fuseaux and white t-shirts with designs of all kinds, of extra large sizes that had to fall soft and on the leggings.
Urban Style is born with the Hip-Hop Fashion, made of sneakers and oversized and unisex dresses, Swatch watch, transparent plastic Jelly shoes. The body is wrapped in stretch fabrics: fluorescent colours, polka-dot, striped, lamé, or short above the knee.

Around the 90s

While the 80s turn out at the end, the clothing changes, assuming a romantic and rural style: long dresses with small floral patterns and lace inserts but worn with rustic Texan boots or Doc Marten boots. The cult bomber jacket is a green jacket with an orange interior. The hip hop style will overflow in the 90s.

80s Fashion History and Trends - Boots

60s Fashion Origin

by TDP | Trends

70s Fashion and Style

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