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Women's Fashion in the 80s: 14 Trend-Defining Styles

CEO Tinh Phung
The fashion of the 80s was anything but ordinary. From larger-than-life movie stars to music icons, women's fashion in that era was all about making bold, daring choices that turned heads. Attempting to capture all...

The fashion of the 80s was anything but ordinary. From larger-than-life movie stars to music icons, women's fashion in that era was all about making bold, daring choices that turned heads. Attempting to capture all the iconic trends from a decade bursting with sartorial creativity is no easy task. However, I have selected the top 14 women's fashion styles that truly defined the 80s decade.

1. 80s Workout Fashion

80s Workout Fashion for Women 80s Workout Fashion for Women - The VOU

The 80s saw a growing emphasis on health and fitness, with movie icons like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and fitness goddess Jane Fonda leading the way. Being in shape became more than just a goal—it became a status symbol. And stylish workout outfits were a crucial part of one's image.

Some of the most iconic 80s workout clothes included spandex suits, leggings, tennis armbands, colorful workout gloves, leotards, shell suits, and mini shorts like those worn by John Travolta in "Perfect" (1985). Neon headbands, scrunchies, muscle tank tops, Zubaz pants, and velour tracksuits with Reebok sneakers were also widely popular.

2. The Preppy Fashion

80s Preppy Fashion for Women 80s Preppy Fashion for Women - The VOU

The 80s saw the rise of the "Preppy Fashion" trend, characterized by the sophisticated and refined style of the upper-class academia from prestigious Ivy League schools. This look exuded classic, relaxed, scholarly vibes, and included a carefully curated wardrobe of must-have items.

Essential pieces of 80s preppy fashion included polo shirts with popped collars, tennis sweaters, Ivy League cardigans, turtlenecks, traditional navy blue blazers, seersucker jackets, and chino trousers. Shorts, repp stripe neckties, classic boat shoes or penny loafers, and timeless Ray-Ban sunglasses were also popular choices.

3. 80s Neon Trend

80s Neon Fashion for Women 80s Neon Fashion for Women - The VOU

The 80s neon trend perfectly reflected the era's bright, adventurous spirit. Music artists like Madonna, Jane Fonda, Michael Jackson, and others made neon colors a dominant force in fashion. From fluorescent green and yellow to neon pink and blue, these bold and bright colors made a statement everywhere they went.

Top fashion brands like Esprit Clothing, United Colors Of Benetton, Reebok, and Nike capitalized on the trend, marketing neon skiwear, workout clothes, headbands, jelly bracelets, makeup, leggings, leg warmers, and even glasses. The 80s was all about standing out and embracing the vibrant colors of the time.

4. 80s Rockers

80s Rock Fashion for Women 80s Rock Fashion for Women - The VOU

The popularity of rock bands like Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Guns n’ Roses, and Kiss led to a surge in rock fashion in the 80s. Fans sought to emulate their favorite rock stars' style, resulting in a distinctive rocker look.

Embodying the 80s rocker style meant donning biker-style leather jackets with metallic studs, pockets, and patches, or denim jackets. Pairing these jackets with skinny leather pants, ripped jeans, and black, white, or gray t-shirts completed the edgy look. High leather combat boots, biker gloves, bandanas, studded bracelets, and eye-catching silver rings captured the essence of 80s rock fashion.

5. 80s Hip-Hop Fashion

80s Hip Hop Fashion for Women 80s Hip Hop Fashion for Women - The VOU

80s hip-hop fashion was a form of self-expression that went beyond clothing—it was a reflection of the music itself. Influenced by rap legends like Run DMC, MC Hammer, and LL Cool J, the 80s iconic hip-hop styles still resonate today.

Combining streetwear, activewear, and luxury fashion, the 80s hip-hop fashion encompassed elements like Air Jordans, bucket hats, tracksuits, and more. Key pieces included leather jackets, light wash jeans, Kangol bucket hats, big gold chains, boomer jackets, windbreaker jackets, boots, and Gucci's Dapper Dan style. Adidas tracksuits, Jordan sneakers, snapback caps, and Cazal sunglasses were also popular choices.

6. 80s Punk Fashion

80s Punk Fashion for Women 80s Punk Fashion for Women - The VOU

The 80s punk fashion broke away from preppy styles and embraced a rebellious energy. Black leather jackets, ripped skinny jeans, and band t-shirts were essential elements of punk clothing. Completing the look were black leather belts, trousers, kilts, safety pins, buttons, buckles, and skinhead or mohawk hairstyles.

Women's Fashion in the 80s: Top 14 Decade-Defining Trends Damned Destiny Platform Boots

7. 80s Pop Fashion

80s Pop Fashion for Women 80s Pop Fashion for Women - The VOU

The 80s was a pop culture phenomenon, and its fashion trends were unforgettable. Superstars like Madonna, Molly Ringwald, and Cyndi Lauper influenced teenage girls with their glittery outfits, big earrings, and colorful accessories. Men like Michael Jackson and David Bowie made sequined clothing and makeup acceptable in mainstream fashion.

8. 80s Goth Fashion

80s Goth Fashion for Women 80s Goth Fashion for Women - The VOU

The early 80s saw the birth of the goth fashion movement, characterized by dark attire and towering backcombed hair. The goth style embraced overcoats, skinny jeans, mini skirts, fishnet stockings, and other elements that reflected a rebellious and unique outlook. Icons such as Siouxsie Sioux, Strawberry Switchblade, The Cure, and Nick Cave influenced the goth fashion of the 80s.

9. 80s Black Fashion

Black Women's 80s Fashion Black Women's 80s Fashion - The VOU

The 1980s black fashion, also known as African-American style, was led by prominent celebrities of the time. Artists like Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson set trends, such as wearing overalls with one strap fastened, showcasing a carefree and unique look. Black men's fashion embraced leather jackets, acid-washed denim, gold chains, bamboo earrings, floppy hats, and Adidas sneakers. Rappers including Kid, Prince, LL Cool J, Run-DMC, and MC Hammer were style icons of the era.

10. 80s Beach Fashion

80s Beach Fashion for Women 80s Beach Fashion for Women - The VOU

When it came to beach fashion, the 80s was all about bold choices. Denim shorts, cropped tops, wide-brim hats, Rah-Rah skirts, huarache shoes, Ray-Ban Wayfarers, scrunchies, and spandex high-cut swimsuits in neon colors were all the rage.

11. Women's Skater Fashion

80s Skater Fashion for Women 80s Skater Fashion for Women - The VOU

The 80s skateboarding culture embodied a countercultural spirit, and its fashion choices reflected this rebelliousness. Skaters were more concerned with freedom of expression through their sport, but their fashion choices were still distinctive. Classic sneakers like Chuck Taylors and Vans, graphic tees, sleeveless tops, baggy pants, and carefree hairstyles defined skater fashion in the 80s.

12. 80s Mom Fashion

80s Mom Fashion for Women 80s Mom Fashion for Women - The VOU

High-waisted jeans or "mom" jeans paired with blouses or sweaters tucked in were popular among mothers in the 80s. Power-dressing suits with big shoulders, sequined outfits, ruffled dresses, off-the-shoulder tops, oversized earrings, spandex gym outfits, Lycra tights, and leg warmers in bright neon colors were also fashionable choices for fitness-driven moms.

13. Sloane Ranger Fashion

80s Sloane Ranger Fashion for Women Women's 80s Sloane Ranger - The VOU

The Sloane Ranger fashion of the 80s originated in London's exclusive Chelsea neighborhood and was associated with young, upper-class women. This style blended classic and traditional elements with a casual approach to dressing. Tweed jackets, pearls, polo shirts, contrast trim teddy jackets, tweed skirts, and beaded chokers were key elements of this preppy-meets-casual style.

14. Women's Office Fashion

80s Office Fashion for Women 80s Office Fashion for Women - The VOU

Power dressing was a defining feature of office fashion in the 80s. Sharp, tailored suits with large shoulder pads created an authoritative look. The "Working Girl" style, featuring pencil skirts and high heels paired with blazers, was another iconic office look. Silk blouses, pump shoes, oversized eyewear, and pearl accessories completed the powerful office ensemble.

In conclusion, women's fashion in the 80s was a beautiful blend of freedom and expression. Power dressing with masculine cuts and oversized shoulders dominated the scene, while styles like rocker chic, neon, and goth brought edginess and individuality. Chunky jewelry, oversized sunglasses, scrunchies, leg warmers, fishnet tights, studs, and chains completed the look. With the right inspiration and attitude, anyone can become an 80s fashion icon. So go ahead, mix and match patterns, colors, and accessories, and rock the iconic styles of the 80s!

Which one of these women's 80s fashion looks is your favorite and why? Let us know in the comments below. And if we missed any 80s fashion styles for women, feel free to share your suggestions. We always appreciate your feedback to help us improve and update our articles. Don't forget to share your 80s fashion looks on social media. We can't wait to see your outfits!

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