The 1980s in Fashion

The 1980s were a time of eclectic styles, with bold and unconventional influences ranging from music and pop culture to high fashion and streetwear.

The career-oriented and materialistic decade saw a growing presence of women in corporate settings and became synonymous with power dressing, characterized by sharply tailored suits, padded shoulders and bold silhouettes. Women displayed a strong and confident style in the workplace, often opting for blazers with shoulder pads and wide belts, combined with slim skirts that became increasingly shorter as the decade progressed. Another hallmark of the 1980s, the decade of the yuppie phenomenon, is the emergence of designer brands and the prominent exposure of their logos. As for colors, the 1980s saw an interesting shift from the dominance of non-colors in the early years of the decade to bright solid colors in the later years.

Evening wear for women in the 1980s was characterized by opulence and glamour. The power dressing trend spread to evening occasions, and structured blazers with padded shoulders, often worn over cocktail dresses or skirts, were a common choice for evening events. Glittery sequins, metallic fabrics and bold colors were popular with evening dresses and added a sense of glamour. Off-the-shoulder or asymmetrical necklines, very short or high-low hemlines, and ruffles and ruching were popular evening fashion styles. Since the 1980s were all about making a statement, accessories, including eye-catching jewelry and ornate evening bags, were no exception.

The early 1980s saw the emergence of the New Romantic movement, which featured flamboyant and theatrical clothing, including ruffled shirts, velvet jackets, and frilly dresses in silk taffeta, brocade, floral jacquard, tulle, and lace. Punk style continued to influence fashion, with ripped jeans, bold leather jackets, heavy makeup, and dyed hair, and the juxtaposition with elements of neo-romanticism created an unexpected new look.

The music scene had a huge impact on fashion in the 1980s. MTV was founded in 1981, and icons like Madonna influenced fashion choices with their distinctive style. Television series like Dallas and Dynasty also set fashion standards.

The fitness craze of the 1980s, which was all about toned, athletic bodies, led to a surge in sportswear and workout fashion. Neon-colored spandex leggings, leotards and headbands became emblematic of the aerobics trend, and daring swimwear set sexy accents.

In terms of beauty, the decade was characterized by voluminous hairstyles, including perms, mullets and teased hair. Makeup was heavy and featured colorful lipstick and eye shadow, as well as bold eyebrows and heavily contoured cheeks.

The 1980s saw the rise of Italian fashion design with Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace and Franco Moschino, the pioneering Japanese avant-garde with Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo's Comme des Garçons, and the young French designers Claude Montana, Azzedine Alaïa, Thierry Mugler and Jean-Paul Gaultier, all of whom contributed to the scene with their distinctive artistic vision.

Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Stephanie Seymour, and Claudia Schiffer took their first steps in the modeling business in the second half of the decade and would soon rise to supermodel stardom.