1980s Fashion: 11 Trends That Stood The Test of Time (and How To Wear Them Now)

Meghan Blalock
1980s Fashion: 11 Trends That Stood The Test of Time (and How To Wear Them Now)
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Ah, the ’80s. There’s perhaps no era in fashion as equally well-loved and reviled as the period from 1980 to 1989; it was a time filled with shiny leggings, high-cut spandex, and (of course) lots and lots of neon. Indeed, there’s a lot to love—and a lot to cringe at—when it comes to 1980s fashion.

MORE: Fall Trend Report

But, whether you’re a fan of the decade’s styles or not, one thing is for certain: the ’80s are back in a big way. It’s no secret that neon is super-trendy right now, and there are other trends making a big comeback: leggings, slouchy sweaters, loud prints, and more.

MORE: How To Wear Neon Yellow

Click through the gallery above to see 11 ’80s fashion trends that stood the test of time, and find out how you can once again revel in the glorious fashions the decade had to offer while remaining in-touch with the year 2013.

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Shoulder Pads

In the 80s, it was hard to find a jacket, blouse, or really any sort of top that didn't have built-in shoulder pads; and if you did manage to hunt one down, you inserted the shoulder toppers on your own. Thankfully, the big, boxy silhouette went out of style and never really came back; but a subtler version of the trend is quite stylish. Try a blazer with slight shoulder padding over a dress or pantsuit for work.

Stylestalker Blazer, $198; at Shopbop

The Loud, Slouchy Sweater

One of the most recognizable trends of the 80s, the oversized sweater (often worn off the shoulder, of course) is still very much in style. Try it over a pair of leggings with a chic hobo bag or, if you really want to 80s it up, with a miniskirt and plenty of large baubles.

Street Art Slouchy Sweater, $110; at ASOS


Another one of the decade's most easily
identifiable trends, neon is also the one that has seen the strongest
comeback. From the runways of London and New York to every major mass
retailer, the penchant for adding a pop of color to an outfit is back.
The key with neon: don't overdo. Stick with one piece to emphasize the punch.

Kenzo Neon Sweater, $255; at Stylebop

Members Only Jackets

The Members Only jacket was the accessory to have in the 80s. And the brand is still very much alive and kicking, with their just-released collection of Fall pieces that include floral patterns and vegan leather fabrics.

Floral Nylon Classic Bomber, $98; at Members Only

The Candy Necklace

Back in the 80s, people wore necklaces made of actual hard candies on a string, and would chew the snacks off bite by bite. A more contemporary and stylish take on the trend is a pastel cord necklace that only mimics the appearance of candy. At least it looks good enough to eat.

Candy Cord Necklace, $18; at Nasty Gal

Giant Earrings

When it comes to unapologetic baubles, the 80s still reign supreme. Popular jewels of the day included everything from candy necklaces, slap bracelets, and big cross earrings a lá Madonna. And, of course, the bright chandelier earrring.

Holly Fulton Geometric Drop Earrings, $290; at Farfetch

Parachute Pants

The parachute pant of the 2013-era is the drop-crotch pant. Seen on everyone from Justin Bieber to Ciara, these stylishly slouchy drawers can be worn street-style, with sneakers and a T-shirt, or dressed up with a pair of sexy stilettos and a slinky blouse.

Low Crotch Trousers, $170; at Y-3

The Miniskirt

The skin-tight, incredibly short miniskirt came to prominence during the 80s, and never really went out of style. There is, however, definite right and wrong ways to rock this trend. Make sure the skirt fits properly by sitting down while you're wearing it; it shouldn't rise above a few inches above your mid-thigh. Try wearing it with a more loose-fitting top and chunky boots to keep from being overly revealing.

Embroidered Miniskirt, $80; at Zara

Fingerless Gloves

From leather to lace, fingerless gloves were all the rage back in the day. They're still around, and just as varied, from preppy brown ones meant for a day at the stables to studded leather ones meant for intimidating. We prefer somewhere in between: a quilted leather with a sweater cuff.

Quilted Leather Gloves, $190; at Sass & Bide

Shiny Leggings

Shiny leggings, alongside various other workout-inspired wear, really took off during the 80s, but have seen a huge resurgence in recent years. Try to avoid metallic leggings in bright or light colors, like silver and gold, instead sticking to black, white, and other neutrals that just have a bit of extra gleam.

The Legging, $98; at Levi's

The Patterned Silk Button-Down

A craze kicked off by Italian fashion house Versace, the wildly patterned silk button-down was popular in hip-hop culture, on the runways, and amongst various lovers of fashion. This is a trend that hasn't fully made a comeback, much to our chagrin. Try a vintage silk blouse with a sleek pair of skinny jeans or short black leather shorts.

Versace Collection Silk Shirt, $398; at YOOX

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