The 1980s were such a simpler time. Reagan was in the White House, the Internet was relegated to underground military bunkers, and computers were the size of your living room.
Fashion was also at its most bold.
In an age of excess, style reflected the zeitgeist perfectly. The 1980s left a fashion aftershock and parents were left cleaning up stuck-on bathroom hairspray for decades. It was worth it for big bold curly hair, side ponies, man ponies, you name it—they needed extra hold aerosol hair spray. Second to the dues, attire was bright, flashy, and especially tight. Richard Simmons is proof of this—and no one has successfully expunged the memory of him vigorously “Sweating to the Oldies.”
From your mother’s neon jazzercising clothes, to your little sister’s bright jelly shoes, dressing up in the ‘80s brought a wide range of styles. Some fell victim to parachute pants, or the old clock around the neck, but a few items have stood the test of time and even more are making their comeback in 2017. Scrolling through a typical hipster’s Instagram photos is like taking a joy ride back to the ‘80s, complete with slogan tees, fanny packs, washed jean jackets, and the man bun (which thankfully has replaced the man pony).
So what good came from the 1980’s fashion trends? While we may never revive some of the classic ‘80s hair, like perms, mullets, or the rat tail, anyone who’s been to an ‘80s themed party or ‘80s night at the dance club, knows the decade of wild fashion and dance music still has a stronghold in our culture and in our hearts. Plus, we always love the chance to wear a nice pair of high-waisted genuine snakeskin pants. We ranked the most memorable style choices that helped define the decade.
Before they were instant indicators of tourists, they were practical and stylish. Where else would you keep spare change to use the payphone? Since most of them were made from synthetic fabrics like nylon and ripstop, they were also appropriately trendy. Maybe that’s why American Apparel made money hand over fist when they re-introduced them to the general public.
Every other person remembers these hilarious tees. In the ’80s they were ubiquitous, as the graphic tee rose in prominence. Whether they were like Stiles’ memorable “What Are You Looking At Dicknose?” tee in 1985’s Teen Wolf, or more politically-charged like Katherine Hamnett’s 1983 campaign, they became more and more of a fashion staple.
When it comes to the male ponytail, the two guys to look towards are Steven Seagal and Eric Roberts. Seagal maintained a dedication to the hairstyle for his whole career, while Eric Roberts rocked the coiff in the martial arts film Best of The Best. No other guy has managed to look badass in it ever since.
Prep was huge in the ’80s, but where it absolutely reigned was on the slopes. Before snowboarding rose in popularity, every prep bro searched for snow bunnies at the ski lodge. Bright colored ski suits and chunky sweaters were commonplace, as were ski goggles and neon-colored gear. Whether it was tackling the slopes in Aspen or Tahoe, you couldn’t avoid running into well-to-do folks ready to face winter in the most garish garb.
Before Jordache came along, the only jeansmakers were brands like Levi’s, Wrangler, and Lee. Jordache paved the way for later designer jeans brands like Calvin Klein, and pioneered racy ads to differentiate its products from its workwear-themed competitors. The resulting demand successfully made Jordache jeans a covetable fashion item. Another thing that made Jordache great? Designers like Tommy Hilfiger cut their teeth working for the brand.
A hip-hop staple, you can thank dudes like Big Daddy Kane for introducing these to hip-hop’s sartorial vernacular. Radio Raheem’s “LOVE” and “HATE” rings in Do The Right Thing embedded these accessories into our mindsets forever, and they remain a style staple of hip-hop’s golden era.