1980s Fashion Trends: Best and Worst ’80s Trends and Designers

by Parmie

1980s Fashion Trends

1980s fashion trends included neon, shoulder pads, & other crazy fads. Designers like Ralph Lauren came into vogue & everyone defined themselves with clothes.

The 1980s fashion decade is well known for having some unforgettable style moments. A time known as the good, the bad and the ugly!

1980s Fashion Trends

Popular trends included:

  • MC Hammer pants; tight at the ankle and loose towards the top, now more famously known as the harem pant.
  • Leg warmers; thick leg warmers were worn when in the dance studio and out.
  • Stretchy stirrup pant leggings; ill fitting and unflattering.
  • Oversized sweaters; worn over leggings, nipped at the waist with skinny belts and with miniskirts.
  • Shoulder pads; made popular in the late ’80s, they stayed around for the early 90s too.
  • Mini skirts; went shorter and shorter. From denim to spandex, the colors were varied and often worn with brightly colored tights.
  • Fingerless gloves; made popular by Madonna and most commonly seen in lace and leather.
  • Neon colors; in block color and print, small and big and everything in between.

1980s Fashion Designers

The ’80s fashion scene saw many designers rise to the top, amongst the famed were the following:

  • Ralph Lauren; it was during the ’80s that Ralph Lauren opened his NY flagship store, after receiving worldwide publicity through his costume design in the movie The Great Gatsby. During the ’80s his polo shirts were must have items for the preppy set.
  • Calvin Klein; in the ’80s signature jeans by Calvin Klein took over a generation. More than 200,000 pairs of jeans were sold in the first week of sales. The famous suggestive campaigns for Calvin Klein featuring the young Brook Shields with the line “Nothing comes between me and my Calvins” took the design house to cult status. In the same decade CK underwear changed the world of under garments forever with its sexy campaigns. $70 million was made in a single year.
  • Christian Lacroix; during the 1980s Lacroix was awarded the first De d’Or for Most Influential Foreign Designer in the World.
  • Donna Karan; the ’80s saw power dressing for women become popular and Donna Karan was amongst the designers making it possible. Best known for creating separates that women could mix and match easily she was awarded the Coty Hall of Fame in the early ’80s.
  • Gianni Versace; the ’80s was the era when Versace became internationally known. He created collections technically crafted and designed to show off the female figure. Versace also designed costumes for operas by Richard Strauss and collaborated with world famous photographers to showcase his talents.
  • Bruce Oldfield; becoming famous for dressing a Princess is how Oldfield turned his name into legendary status. He designed color coordinated outfits for the Princess of Wales and later went onto design for actress Joan Collins. In the late ’80s he became known for designing wedding dresses for international celebrities.

1990s Fashion Trends

So from loud colors, baggy clothing, power suits, and preppy styles the 90s turned anti-fashion. Fashion went simple and fuss went out.

The older generation of women still held onto the suits of the ’80s, with shirts becoming more softer and less stiff as in previous seasons.

The younger generation fought against the restriction of the power suits from the late ’80s and went grunge. Plaid shirts worn over white tees, sneakers and blue jeans became popular.

1990s was a split decade for generational fashion.

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