80s Fashion For Women – Complete Guide


80s Fashion For Women – Complete Guide

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Last Updated on June 17, 2022 by inckredible

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Although the previous decades were marked by the arrival of new trends, it seems that the 80’s achieved a success that was unprecedented. Women felt more light-hearted than ever; they expressed themselves with an image of richness and success through a piece of shiny costume jewelry. Music and cinema were also part of this. 

Madonna, Diana Ross, Olivia Newton-John, Bianca Jagger, Brooke Shields, Princess Diana and Cindy Lauper were the icons of the 80’s aesthetic; the world was seen from another perspective, more free and shiny, the color entered people’s lives.

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Neon colors and extra-large accessories were two of the most important basics of the era in order to have an incredible look. The volumes made their way, not only in garments but also in hairstyles; they were “savages” with a lot of volume, colors and accessories. Trends started with denim garments that began to be fully ripped and with many plates and patches.

Furthermore, you had to mix different fabrics in the same outfit to be fashionable. There was not just one and only style; you could try everything you wanted. This decade was full of expression through the clothes.

Punk fashion appeared as an anti-hippie movement; however, this urban tribe was born as an anti-fashion movement that quickly became popular among teenagers who wanted to raise their voices against the system and defend their ideas and rights. Their garments were visually aggressive with skinny jeans, leather jackets, platform shoes, lots of tartans, patches, piercings and colorful and extravagant hairstyles like the ‘mohawks’ and the ‘liberty spikes.’ 

The British designer Vivienne Westwood was a reference of this era and the creator of two iconic pieces: the ‘drainpipe pants, ultra-tight jeans opposite to the flared trousers and the ‘bondage pants, made with tartan and leather patches. 

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As Jill Condra said in her book “The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Clothing Through World History”: “Punks rejected the aesthetically pleasing and usually took ordinary clothes to wear in shocking ways. The clothes were chosen and manipulated to send different messages.”

But not only were punks popular in this era, but these were also some clothes women couldn’t let out of their closets.

Best 80s Fashion Trends For Women:


High-waisted and the tighter, the better they were, which function was to highlight women’s silhouette. Ripped and with accessories such as patches and plates. Jeans industries made them with more laundry processes like the ‘stone wash,’ which was invented in China. It consists of hitting the jeans with stones to cause a worn effect.

Another popular style was the baggy jeans; they could be ripped and with patches. Jeans were the ‘basics’ of this decade, and almost everybody had them; due to the versatility of this piece, you could combine them with everything.

Shoulder pads

These were a ‘must have’ in almost every women’s closet. Either in shirts or jackets, the shoulder pads made shoulders look bigger and an inverted triangle silhouette, with wide shoulders and a narrow waist. Women started to try the masculine jacket to create unisex looks with a mini skirt and tights; if they were the same color was even better!

In every fabric, with tulle, leather, from vaporous to form-fitting to the body, the most colorful skirt, the most fashionable women looked, the idea was to be the most eye-catching they could be. Neon colors were the favorites.

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Tights and leggings

Tights should be the most as eye-catching as possible, whether with prints, extravagant designs or colorful with knitted or striped leggings. 80’s women were very sassy and fearless. Leggins and fishnet tights combined with lace and tulle would be the primary source of inspiration for lots of people, especially women and teens.

Loose-fitting clothes

Women used to wear an extra size they needed, combined with leggings, mini skirts, or jerseys were the perfect formula for their daily outfits.


Another 80s ‘must have’ in any color, print or style you could combine with sneakers, high heels or even flats. The trousers’ bottom was generally wrinkled at the ankle taking inspiration from the movie ‘Flashdance .’The streets were full of sneakers, the new high heels.

In the U.S, branded sportswear became famous thanks to Hip-Hop. Reebok creates the ‘Freestyle’ and the first athletic sneaker for female feet.

Parachute pants

At first, they were not too baggy but then excessively baggy, and they were made with nylon and with a lot of colorful prints. These pants were also known as ‘Hammer’ due to the characteristic style of the rapper MC Hammer.

‘The aerobics fever’

The fitness trend of the 70’s continued until the early 80’s, and sports accessories were very popular during this era due to the ‘aerobics fever.’ Women used to wear leg warmers, wide belts, elastic headbands, and sneakers.

Printed shirts and blouses

Very colorful, cowboy styles were for both men and women, with wide and rolled up sleeves.

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For a glamorous night, women loved to wear sequin dresses. But not only for a party, but you could also wear sequins on any clothes like skirts or jackets.

One-shoulder clothes

If women wanted to catch the attention, they could wear a one-shoulder top or dress, and they would look glamorous and trendy. Showing their necks and a bit of skin made them look sexy and sassy at the same time.

Fingerless gloves

These ones were another popular 80’s trend for men and women, from the most romantic to punk rock fans used to wear them. Madonna was a big fan of this trend.


The accessories were XXL and colorful. Also, scarves, headbands and bows were the essentials for hair, extravagant bracelets of different sizes. The more, the better they were. Sunglasses had to be extra-large and the frames colorful or the classic black.

Belts were also important, and women wore them on the waist to mark the silhouette and helped to emphasize the volumes with wide and big blouses.


80s fashion was an amazing era for women to express themselves. To be free and try new things, colors and makeup. Even though this decade was very extravagant, nowadays, it’s an inspiration for the new trends we see on the runway and the streets. The vintage era marked a new beginning in fashion. And today we’re reviving these iconic clothes wearing the old ones from our parents, giving them a new life through some practices such as recycling and upcycling and giving them a new life with a bit of our personal style and making them new and unique clothes.

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Erika R.
Erika R.
Erika Rumipulla is a fashion designer from Ecuador. Fashion has always been present in her life since she was a child, due to her father has worked in the textile industry for several years. She has always loved fashion, but it was not until 2021 when she discovered her passion for writing, at first on her Instagram account writing about sustainability and then in 2022, she started to write about trends on Twitter. Fashion and dog’s lover, she is always looking for trends and learning about sustainable fashion to teach others how to be a responsible consumer.

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