The 80s era – Photo by Eric Nopanen on Unsplash

30 Best 80s Fashion Trends we would Love to Bring Back


Now, without a shadow of the doubt the 80s were brilliant! I often think I was born in the wrong the era because in all honesty this is one era that never ceases to blow my mind. The music, the culture, the fashion sense in this era was just something else.

I often look at my mom’s pictures that she took in the 80s and I do really wish I was there to experience it. During the 80s is when an explosion of the culture actually happened. This is when technology started taking root for real and of course fashion and art started making sense.

Folks during this era really experimented with creativity and were never afraid to express themselves in any way that deemed fit.

Anyway, let’s have a look at some of the fashion trends belonging in the 80s that should definitely come back.

1. Padded Shoulder Dresses

Padded shoulder dress- Author; photo: Steinar Westin- Wikimedia

If you have no idea what the hell I’m talking about with a padded shoulder dress, then go back in time and check out Princess Diana’s fashion choice.

The shoulder pads were such an influential trend in the 80s fashion that they even started to be adopted by dress designers.

Notable shoulder pads matched vaporous dresses with puffed sleeves to create unique geometric shapes and cuts.

2. Leg warmers

Leg warmers- Author; Jay Bergesen – Wikimedia

I know, I know! I laughed too just picturing folks walking around the streets in legwarmers but think about it. It’s not a dumb idea! Paired with a trendy and sexy mini skater skirt, oversized sweaters, leggings, aerobic outfits and even skinny jeans, you can actually eat that look up! They can be a spicy and chic finishing touch.

3. Powersuits

Photo by Bundo Kim on Unsplash

Again let’s refer to Princess Diana. She was really famous for these power suits. They were really all the rage in the 80s. They were really a popular trend that were created by celebrities and movie stars who would play influential, power-hungry career women.

You remember Grace Jones? Well, her sharply-tailored suits with broad padded shoulders actually inspired the ‘girl power’ and cross-dressing movement of the 1980s. They were also meant to make the statement that women are rising through the power ranks and taking slots in powerful positions.

4. Leather Jackets with Rolled Up Sleeves

Image by Juan Boche from Pixabay

Michael Jackson’s red leather jacket style in the thriller music video is a perfect example. Leather jackets have always been the bang in fashion. Why? Because they have this amazing ability to just make you cool no matter how shabby the rest of your dressing is. Add the leather to it and bam! You’re Tom Cruise in his 84’s Top Gun movie (Okay yea! I’ve really stretched it a bit but I hope you get the picture).

5. Statement Tees & Slogan T-shirts

Photo by Chris Benson on Unsplash

In the 80s these tees were the bomb! Nowadays, corporates like Coca Cola and Pepsi, Adidas and Nike are the ones mostly making use of this after realizing the  power of advertising using tees.

I think though it would be cool for the tees to come back where they like have a cheeky and mischievous line or phrase just to spice a bit of life. My opinion though

6. The 80s Mini-skirts

Photo by Vasi on Unsplash

Come on folks! You knew I would have to include the 80s mini skirts in this list. It is not to say that we do not have miniskirts in this era but the 80s ones were something else. They were really trendy and fashionable and downright cute. I mean, look at pretty woman and all those 80s romcoms that really ‘disturbed’ the market.

They were first seen in the 60s fashion but really picked up in the 80s where they would typically be worn by either leggings, legwarmers and if you’re courageous and confident enough, with neither.

7. Polka Dots Patterns

Image by Victoria Model from Pixabay

Polka dots were the craze in the 80s. Although they are not so popular nowadays, I think they should definitely come back because of how cute and easy to the eye this fashion was. They were first spotted in the 40s and 50s then in the 80s they came back with a bang!

The style was brought back by the French fashion house Emanuel Ungaro on its SS 1985 ready-to-wear collection, fast adopted by royalty, pop stars, and cinema celebrities alike.

Princess Diana loved them, always accompanying the dresses with big PVC belts. Hmm.. I am actually thinking I can borrow a few ideas from this trend.

8. The 80s oversized eyewear

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Sorry for using this example but the most prominent person that comes to mind who would typically spot this look was Jeffrey Dahmer. He was a notorious serial killer who killed 17 known victims between 1978 and 1991 when he was apprehended.

Anyway, the big eyewear in my opinion were kind of trendy and cute. The way they would shape one’s face was absolutely gorgeous. I don’t see them too much nowadays because anyway people are trying as much as possible to avoid eyewear altogether thus why we have contacts, but they should definitely come back.

9. 80s Animal Prints

Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

Animal print have actually started coming back but they were a big craze in the 80s.  Everywhere you went you would definitely spot them. This ranges from jackets to skirts, dresses, shirts, jumpsuits name them.

Keep in mind that animal print is not just limited to cheetah and leopard prints even though they are the most common. From leggings to handbags, skirts, and sunglasses, bold prints of leopard, zebra, tiger, giraffe, and python were the rage, they really graced the 80s fashion sense. They should definitely come back with a vengeance and take over the fashion scene in today’s era.

10. Leotards & Bodysuits

Image by Victoria Model from Pixabay

What comes to mind with Leotards and bodysuits are the typical 80s music movies and aerobics videos that would grace most tv shows. They were really popular and even men would gracefully eat them up.

What happened to make them really popular is that during the 80s era, Jane Fonda took advantage of  the craze and obsession women had with dance and exercise for fitness. To actually look good in these leotards and bodysuits, you gotta have a certain body type. Most fitness videos would actually sport women  with bright colours bodysuits and definitely other women followed suit.

Furthermore, with the help of music divas like Cher, the promotion and selling of sportswear apparel in bold colors became an 80s thing.

11. Double Denim Craze

Photo by Maude Frédérique Lavoie on Unsplash

To be honest, I love (extremely) this fashion sense. Although you don’t see it too much nowadays, in the 80s this was actually the thing and it should definitely come back! So what does double denim mean? It is simply spotting a pair of denim jean trousers and matching it with a denim jacket. It’s super cute actually.

Whitney Houston always managed to look so beautiful and trendy whenever she had this look. Remember Johnny Depp in his 80s movies? He was notorious for this look; going to show that it wasn’t limited to just one gender. Anyone could rock it.

12. Thick Socks With High-Top Trainers

Photo by Devin Avery on Unsplash

Now, ladies and gentlemen, this was a look! Ask your mom or your rich aunty. This was the thing! What makes it uniquely and imperfectly perfect is how women would colour clash these wears and still manage to look extremely good. Although I have noted it is slowly creeping back in the today’s fashion sense, it is not yet there.

Anyway, the trend should come back. The colourful styles you can see in the streets can be pretty amazing.

13. Sheer Tights

Photo by Joshua Rondeau on Unsplash

I would say sheer tights have definitely started coming back. They are perfect for deluding you into thinking all’s well and your legs aren’t too exposed when spotting a miniskirt.

Initially, they had neutral colours so as to be able to achieve a more natural look. For instance brown during the day and black in the evening. They are perfect if you just wanna do a bit of tease if wearing skimpy and revealing clothes.

14. Track suits

Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

If you take a look at the 80s RnBs music videos, you will catch a glimpse of the famous track suits most artists would be spotted in while accessorizing it with shiny bling  while matching this with gold or silver teeth grills. Get the picture now?

If you are a 90s kid, I’m pretty sure your mom would always dress you in track suits. I love how matchy matchy they would be and the fact that it can literally go with any kind of shoes.

Track suits should definitely come back. With baggy track pants, a crop top and an open matching jacket with chunky sneakers, you would be good to go.

15. Naked Dress

Cher rocking one of her naked dresses- Author; Raph_PH – Wikimedia

Okay! Naked dresses ain’t for everyone. It takes guts and confidence to be able to pull this off. Think of Cher! She made an amazing job always pulling this look off. As much it is slowly coming back, you will only see it on rare occasions like red carpets and MET Galas.

What if it was an everyday thing? It would be pretty cool, right? I mean, being able to be comfortable enough and self confident to wear it and go about your business without a care in the world. What a liberal life we would all be living. Anyway, for a society that is very conservative, this can easily pose a problem. What do you think though? Should naked dresses come back?

16. Corset Belts

Image by Victoria Model from Pixabay

These kind of belts do an amazing job of defining your waist whether or not you believe you have one. Especially for women who have a bit of a tummy, I know our self esteem is usually affected when we try to rock a body con dress but end up looking ridiculous (well, most times that notion is in our head).

Anyway, a corset belt paired with a shirt dress or a baggy and skater dress/skirt would look amazing. If you’re pretty uncomfortable with your waist area, trust me this look won’t disappoint! To get more ideas, check out Cyndi Lauper’s fashion trends. Even with a baggy tee, you would look amazing!

17. Chunky Jewelry

Photo by Samanta Sokolova on Unsplash

I honestly love chunky jewelry. Whether it is a neck piece or an ear piece. You will always spot me in one. I love how the chunky neck jewelry especially, accentuate your beauty and glam.

This fashion sense was very common in the 80s especially with Joan Collins. The trick is to ensure you don’t overdo it and ensuring that whatever piece you choose, will for sure stand out. That is the goal anyway.

18. Checked Outwear

Photo by Dagny Reese on Unsplash

I remember seeing in one of my mom’s pictures, her rocking a reddish checked skirt paired with a white blouse and a corset belt. One word for that look. Phenomenal! She looked so amazing to be honest. This was a very common 80s look and it should be coming back with a bang! With checked outfits, you don’t have to worry too much how to accessorize it and making it stand out. Why? Because it is already standing out.

19. Baggy Cropped Trousers

Cropped baggy pants- Author; Michael Coghlan – Wikimedia

Although I on and off see this look in today’s scene, it still hasn’t been embraced so much. I love these trousers, because if you are insecure about your bum and tummy, you can easily hide them and still manage to look trendy. Also because of it being cropped, you can easily wear it with either strapped heels or boots and look super amazing. Pair this with a bralette and girl! You will eat this look up! Period!

20. Bold Buttons

Photo by Ratih Mandalawangi on Unsplash

This look is slowly creeping into the fashion scene of today so at least it is not an 80s look that has completely been  forgotten. What I love about the look is that it always manages to make a bold statement. Gold bold buttons on Balmian blazers especially, would truly look great, classy and sophisticated  especially if paired with pantsuits or a miniskirt.

21. Tassels

Tina Turner rocking a dress with tassels in the 70s- Author; uncredited photographer- Wikimedia

When thinking of tassels, just think of the trendy and stylish Tina Turner. Tassels are pretty stylish especially if you are the kind to go over the top with your fashion sense. They were really popular in the 80s and I believe it’s high time they blow up today’s fashion market.

22. Vinyl Jackets

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Cindy Crawford honestly ate this look up! Vinyl jackets were pretty popular and when Cindy rocked one in one of her popular photoshoots, every girl wanted that look.

I know , I know! They are super uncomfortable especially when the weather is hot and you’re busy sweating everywhere. Extremely uncomfortable! But hey! You can’t deny the fact that they are very sexy when paired with the right attire. I haven’t seen this look so much and I do not know why. It should be making a lot of noise right about now!

23. Baggy, Oversize Denim Jackets

Image by Martin Kwame from Pixabay

I know what you’re thinking. This attire is only for the chosen few. Believe me I have had that thought every time I try to rock my very baggy denim jacket. It’s a lie from the devil though! Baggy Denim Jackets can make anyone look good. Just depends on how you pair it. That’s all.

With a heavy trend of believing sex sells thus always wearing clothes that reveal your curves, baggy clothes, in fact baggy anything may not have a place in today’s fashion world. Baggy denim jackets however can look very trendy. Just imagine it! A bralette or fitting crop top, miniskirt and thigh high leather boots then finishing the look with this jacket. Amazing right?!

24. Skirt Suits

Woman in a skirt suit- Author; Daniela_oliiver-637925- Wikimedia

Skirt suits are not so common nowadays. If you want to be labeled backward, dare rock this look. I don’t understand it though. Skirt suits are pretty stylish and not just for official businesses. It all depends on the colour and accessories. Bright coloured ones and ones that accentuate your curves (regardless of your size)  will never let you down.

25. Harem Pants

Woman in harem pants-Photo by Kyson Dana on Unsplash

Donna Summers would always eat this look up! What I love about these pants is how comfortable and trendy at the same time they look. There is a time they had started coming back but after the craze, the trend died down. It should definitely come back. It kinda gives a princess Jazmine vibe. Sexy and innocent at the same time.

26. Gloves

black dress with long evening gloves- Author; Tobias ToMar Maier- Wikimedia

Remember Julia Roberts and how she rocked that red dress then paired it with white gloves in pretty woman? Remember how magnificent she looked? Now, that look should be one gracing red carpets and dinner dates left, right and centre. There’s something about gloves especially silk ones that make any dress (beautiful or not) just look classy and sophisticated. 

27. Tailoring clothes for women

Image by Werner Heiber from Pixabay

For sure tailored clothes for men is a common look to spot. But for women? Not so much. In the 80s, it was pretty common especially after Grace Jones showed women how fierce and sharp they can look if only they had the guts to rock it.

28. Turtlenecks

Turtleneck with a suit- Photo by Trust “Tru” Katsande on Unsplash

The beauty of turtlenecks is that they can go with anything for both women and men. Although they haven’t really taken root in today’s fashion scene, I think they should be coming back with a bang.

For women who are especially modest and conservative, you can never go wrong with turtlenecks. For men who would like to spice up their suits with something else other than the typical dress shirts, then you have a perfect alternative for that!

29. Patchwork

patched quilt- Image by Julia_S from Pixabay

Ask any African, and any clothing with patchwork just screams a very high level of poverty. This is due to the fact that, because guys who were really poor couldn’t afford new clothing, they would recycle the ones they had by simply patching it up using material from another piece of clothing that is beyond redemption. In Kenya we call it ‘Kiraka.’

When you think outside the box however, you will be able to see the aesthetic value of this look. In the 80s, patchwork made recycling, repurposing and reusing kind of look appear so cool, trendy and also stylish. I know if it was to come back Africans would mercilessly diss it but hey! I’m thinking for people who always want to stand out, this can be a very cool look.

30. Stirrup pants

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

In the early 2000s, this look had started trending and then just as sudden as it had been revived, it died a natural death. In the 80s it was pretty common to spot this look and so I think it should definitely come back! The way your pants just remain in place the whole day gotta be the most convenient attire man created. Please come back!