As promised, I am continuing my post with the Classic 80s Fashion Part 2. We talked a lot in the last post about what some main fashions were from the 80s. I wanted to expand on that and touch base on some specific looks that rocked the 80s and some amazing classic fashion statements that this era gave us.
I can’t go through a post about 80s fashion without talking about things like hair, overall stylish looks, accessories and more. Let’s continue down the 80s runway to see some more hits.
It is no surprise that sweaters are on this list. There were some very distinctive sweater styles and designs that hit the fashion runway in the 80s.
The itchy scratchy wool sweater was one of the staples of 80s fashions. If you didn’t own one, you were in the small majority. Most people had at least 1 wool sweater in their closet. Even if you had to wear an extra shirt underneath just to stop the itching, you would do it just because you wanted to wear the sweater.
They were worn by a much younger generation in the 80s than typically had worn wool sweaters in the past. For what ever reason, we felt like we needed the extra warmth of the wool, plus let’s be honest like everything in the 80s it was about the look.
Cardigan sweaters were a huge hit by the early eighties. Worn by girls, boys, men, and women. It just didn’t matter. Usually we would purchase the sweater a size bigger, even longer in some cases. The long cardigan was super popular with a pair of tight stirrup pants. That look was a mainstay throughout this decade.
The best thing about the cardigans, was there was a ton of different patterns, styles and designs to choose from. That meant that you could really express yourself with the cardigan you chose. Just such a funny staple of fashion in the 80s.
When we talk about epic sweater designs from the 80s, we can’t forget to mention the “Ski Sweater”.
Whether you were a skier or not, that didn’t matter, the ski sweater was a piece of clothes in your 80s closet.
The typical ski sweater usually had the top of the sweater in a bit of an apron design in multi color while the rest of the sweater was normally all one color.
Usually, they were worn quite big and that would lead to an almost pleated look at the top of the sweater. Again though, that was just part of the look. I was lucky enough to have my grandma make me my very own ski sweater. Her making it was just that extra special touch, that made that sweater one of my favourites for years.
The cable knit sweater was to date one of my favourite pieces of clothing to come out of the 80s. I still love them today. This was an item that smashed its way into the decade when it first made its appearance.
Wearing a cable knit sweater was so popular, that all the big fashion designers like Ralph Lauren Polo, Lacoste, and L.L. Bean just to name a few jumped in. These sweaters were obviously not cheap so if you wanted to stand out with a high-quality item to add to your closet, this was it.
Almost like the little black dress, your cable knit sweater was worn often. They were soft and cuddly, so it was easy to understand why they became so popular. If you are out shopping, you will still see the cable knit around today, just a testament to their staying power in fashion history.
For me it was Ralph Lauren Polo all the time. I couldn’t get enough of it. I remember paying a few hundred dollars for my favourite red cable knit sweater. I swear that all 3 of us kids in my family wore and loved that sweater at some point and time. Just an absolutely beautiful sweater. There is just something about a knit sweater that makes you feel amazing.
Other popular sweaters
Sweaters in the 80s definitely had an impact on fashion. From the start of the decade, right to the end.
Here are some other big hits to land in that era.
- pullover vests
- V-neck sweater
- puffy vests
- the Cosby sweater
A jacket in the 80s often was the one piece of clothing that you would wear that would send out the fashion message you were trying to portray. The first glance at your coat was supposed to instantly show off your personality. That whole idea of your first impression of someone was huge.
Let’s look at some of the most iconic jacket styles that rocked the 80s look.
The Leather Jacket was a huge hit in the 80s. I think people really loved it, simply because it was so versatile. It could be worn on a night out, or to school to be one of the cool kids with a pair of jeans.
With the different styles and designs it could be worn long like a pea coat, or in bomber style like in the iconic 80s flight jacket. Or as everyone will remember, the Tom Cruise jacket from Top Gun. Made of leather, and with a distressed look, this was a style that literally exploded in the jacket market. The funny thing about that jacket was that it was brown, not black.
Every celebrity who was anyone, was wearing a different style of leather jacket in a different color. How can we forget Michael Jackson’s red leather jacket from the “Beat It” video? The one with all the zippers. Yes, that jacket was really leather.
Wearing a pair of jeans was a big trend in the 80s, but the jean trend didn’t stop there. NOPE! It trended farther up to become a “jean jacket”.
Jean in generally was popular, so this success led to the popularity of wearing a jean jacket. It wasn’t even frowned upon to wear jean pants and a jean jacket for the full-on jean look. YIKES! That was a lot of jean at one time.
You could buy a jean jacket in different colors of jean and usually with a button front along with 2 front chest pockets. The more worn and distressed the jacket was, the better.
The jean jacket really hasn’t disappeared at all since it first became so popular. You can see celebrities and regular folks still dawning the jean jacket look.
Some other extremely popular jackets were the ski jacket, wind breakers, zipper jackets, camo, or army jackets. All of these jackets made an appearance at varying times in the decade.
Once we had all the clothes we wanted to wear figured out, we then went on to how we could accessorize our look. There were some odd and funny things that we would put on, carry, or simply use as a way to jazz up our style.
One of the most recognizable things about things like jewelry in the 80s, was the size. The bigger and gaudier the earrings or bracelets, the better. There was no such thing as too big or too many.
Wearing a large colorful watch, like the “Swatch Watch” was a great way to experiment with fun designs and different color. Swatch was awesome for making the most unique and playful watches of all time. They are still around today and are just a fun as ever.
Some other highlight accessory items that kids wore back then were:
- Ray ban sunglasses
- the Fanny Pack
- tights underneath a skirt, dress and even under shorts
- slouchy socks
- oversize glasses, whether prescription or just as fashion glasses
- wearing gloves, long or short
- lots of bracelets piled one on top of the other
- the hair scrunchies
- leg warmers
- head bands
- hoop earrings
- ripped tights
When it came to accessories, there was nothing that was off limits. You could try something that you had never seen anybody else wear that way and make it your own. Individuality through fashion add ons played a huge part in the vibe of fashion in the 80s.
The hair of the 80s, is probably the most famous thing to come out of this era. People are still mortified by some of them the disturbing hair styles that came out of that era.
For me, the reaction is the complete opposite. I loved the hair of the 80s. Hair back then had an anything goes type attitude. That meant that you could do anything you wanted with your hair and nobody was really outraged at the haircut adventure you tried.
For a Tomboy like me that meant I could have short hair and not worry about what that said about me. Sort of like the era gave me permission to wear my hair however I wanted. To this day, I still think the 80s hair styles left a mark on haircuts. Especially men’s haircuts, to me they are currently in a stage of almost being 80s. Cool for sure!
Mullets aka “hockey hair”
Everybody if you ask, knows what a mullet haircut is. Yes, we do! Sadly, you can thank the 80s for that style. Guys AND GALS everywhere were growing the back of their hair out, just so they could partake in this hairstyle. The shaved sides, the longer hair on top and of course the back hair length being long. WOW! Just so wrong in every way. YIKES, just a real miss in my opinion.
As horrible as the mullet was, you do still see the odd person who is styling the mullet. Wasn’t good 40 years ago, it certainly isn’t good now.
Frost and tip kit anyone? We all remember the grocery store kit that you could buy. Yes, it had the rubber cap you put on your head along with the sharp pokey thing you used to hook to pull the hair through. Once you had pulled all the hair through, you would mix up the color products and brush it on all the hair on the cap. Wait like 20 minutes rinse and BOOM you had your streaks or frost and tip as it was called.
There was no faster way to completely change your hair look that with the frost and tip kit and it wasn’t even that expensive. Depending on how long you left the color on before rinsing it was the tell-tale sign of the final color of your streaks. Sharp looking. Now of course many folks actually went to the hairdresser for their streaks, but the process was pretty much the same, you just paid more. Plus they may have know what they were doing. LOL!
The PERM!!!! I swear that almost everybody I knew when I was a kid, had tried a perm at some point. Gosh people were rushing to the hairdresser to get their perm in droves. The worst part of the perm was that no matter whether you had long hair all over, or just long on the top, somehow the perm became the answer.
Everyone would go into the perm thinking that they were coming out with nice big curls and it was going to look awesome. The end result of course was more like a tight tight curl that wouldn’t get loose for 4-6 months, if at all.
No perm ever turned out the way you had envisioned it. Still people kept getting them with the hope that this time it would be different. Sadly, it was never. I guess it wasn’t so bad if you had shorter hair, because at least you could cut it out much faster than if you had long hair.
When you are looking for what haircuts and style were popular in the 80s, you generally just need to watch a 80s movie, and the HAIR would be there. Some most memorable styles, not so much a cut was just the reality of really big hair. For the BIG HAIR style, that usually meant a lot of backcombing and a jug of hairspray when styling.
This style was certainly popular with the ladies, but in reality, men in rock bands also ran with this style. There was band after band….Jon Bon Jovi just as an example that wore their hair like this. HAHA! The bigger the hair the better. For guys, I just didn’t get it. Yes, it was awful for the ladies, but guys with long hair-sprayed hair was simply wrong.
A few other styles and cuts that were popular were: the box top haircut, the wet look, the side pony, pulling your hair back and using a banana clip to hold it back and the love of an undercut. All of these were immensely popular.
80s runway roundup
Growing up in the 80s was a wonderful, fun, and expressive time to grow up. I like to think that the style from that era helped me better understand how I could express myself even today.
When it comes to styles from different decades yes, we all look back in horror at some styles and looks that we wore. But at the same time what if we look at it like, wow us 80s kids sure were adventurous with their fashion. Some things were hits, and some were not.
It’s nice to think of the idea that fashion although always changing, doesn’t always stay gone forever. Sometimes it comes back, just in a bit of a different way.
A trip down the retro fashion runway has taken over 4000 words in 2 parts, and I still didn’t get to all the classic 80s fashion. There is a ton of ground to cover and honestly it is just so much fun to go back over all the styles, it just makes me smile.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my last 2 posts. If you didn’t get a chance to catch Part 1, here is the link to check out. Get the full 80s fashion experience.
I would love to hear any thoughts or comments that you may have. Just drop me a line below.