Journey Back to the 80s: A Guide to Achieving an Iconic Look

February 7, 2024

Step into a time machine and travel back to the vibrant era of the 1980s, where fashion was bold, colors were electric, and styles were larger than life. Discover the secrets to recreating the iconic 80s look, from embracing vibrant colors and layering oversized silhouettes to accessorizing with statement pieces and rocking iconic hairstyles.

Get ready to turn heads and make a statement wherever you go.

The 80s were a decade of experimentation and self-expression, where fashion pushed boundaries and made a lasting impact on popular culture. From the streets to the silver screen, the 80s style continues to inspire and influence contemporary fashion trends. Let’s delve into the key elements that define the 80s aesthetic and explore how you can incorporate them into your modern wardrobe.

Defining the 80s Look

The 1980s was a period of boldness, vibrancy, and innovation in fashion. It left an indelible mark on popular culture and continues to influence contemporary trends. This era was characterized by a unique blend of styles, ranging from bright colors and geometric patterns to oversized silhouettes and statement accessories.

Iconic Elements of 80s Fashion

The 80s fashion aesthetic was defined by several iconic elements that captured the spirit of the time. These included:

  • Bold Colors and Geometric Patterns: The 80s was known for its vibrant color palette and eye-catching geometric patterns. Neon hues, such as hot pink, electric blue, and lime green, were particularly popular, often paired with bold geometric designs. These colors and patterns were used in clothing, accessories, and even makeup.
  • Oversized Silhouettes: The 80s fashion silhouette was often oversized and exaggerated. Baggy sweatshirts, loose-fitting jeans, and oversized blazers were common. This trend was a departure from the tighter, more fitted styles of the previous decade.
  • Statement Accessories: Accessories played a significant role in completing the 80s look. Oversized sunglasses, chunky jewelry, and colorful scarves were popular choices. Accessories were often bold and attention-grabbing, adding a touch of personality to any outfit.
  • Athletic Wear: The 80s saw a surge in popularity of athletic wear, thanks in part to the rise of aerobics and fitness culture. Leggings, spandex, and brightly colored sneakers became everyday fashion items, even outside the gym.
  • Hair and Makeup: The 80s was also known for its distinctive hairstyles and makeup trends. Big, voluminous hair, often styled with perms or crimping irons, was a signature look. Makeup was bold and dramatic, with bright eyeshadows, heavy blush, and dark lips.

Embracing Bold Colors and Patterns

The 1980s were characterized by an explosion of vibrant colors and bold patterns that challenged traditional notions of fashion. This trend was influenced by various factors, including the rise of MTV, the popularity of music videos, and the growing acceptance of individuality and self-expression.

As a result, fashion became a means to make a statement, and bold colors and patterns became a symbol of the era.

One of the most defining features of 80s fashion was the use of neon colors. These bright and flashy hues, such as hot pink, electric blue, and lime green, were often paired together to create a striking and eye-catching effect.

Neon colors were particularly popular for sportswear and activewear, as well as for clubbing and other social events.

Popular Color Combinations and Patterns

In addition to neon colors, the 80s also saw the rise of bold patterns, such as geometric shapes, stripes, and polka dots. These patterns were often used in combination with solid colors to create a layered and textured look. Some of the most popular color combinations of the era included:

  • Neon pink and black
  • Electric blue and white
  • Lime green and yellow
  • Purple and turquoise
  • Red and orange

These color combinations were often used in clothing, accessories, and even makeup. They were a reflection of the optimism and energy of the 1980s, and they helped to create a sense of excitement and vibrancy.

Celebrities and Fashion Icons

Many celebrities and fashion icons of the 1980s embraced bold colors and patterns. Some of the most notable examples include:

  • Madonna: Known for her eclectic and provocative style, Madonna often wore bold colors and patterns, such as neon pink and black, in her music videos and public appearances.
  • Michael Jackson: The King of Pop was known for his iconic red and black leather jacket, as well as his sequined suits and other flashy outfits.
  • Prince: Prince was known for his flamboyant and androgynous style, which often included bold colors and patterns, such as purple and turquoise.
  • Cyndi Lauper: Lauper was known for her quirky and colorful style, which often included mismatched patterns and bright colors.

These celebrities helped to popularize bold colors and patterns in the 1980s, and their influence can still be seen in fashion today.

Layering and Oversized Silhouettes

how to achieve an 80s look

The 80s fashion scene was marked by a bold approach to layering and oversized silhouettes. This trend involved combining different pieces of clothing to create visually striking and dramatic outfits.

One popular layering technique was to wear a fitted top or blouse underneath a loose and flowy jacket or cardigan. This created a contrast between the tight and loose elements of the outfit, adding depth and dimension.

Oversized Blazers

Oversized blazers were a staple in 80s fashion. They were often worn with fitted jeans or leggings, creating a balanced and structured look. The blazers were typically boxy and had broad shoulders, adding a touch of androgyny to the outfit.

Puffy Jackets

Puffy jackets were another popular layering piece in the 80s. They were often made of bright and colorful materials, adding a pop of color to any outfit. Puffy jackets were typically worn over sweaters or shirts, creating a warm and cozy look.

Accessories and Statement Pieces

how to achieve an 80s look

In the 1980s, accessories played a pivotal role in completing an iconic look. They were not mere embellishments but integral elements that defined personal style and individuality.From chunky jewelry to oversized sunglasses and leg warmers, accessories in the 80s were bold, eye-catching, and unapologetically statement-making.

They added a layer of personality and flair to any outfit, transforming it into a true expression of self.

Chunky Jewelry

Chunky jewelry was a hallmark of the 80s fashion scene. Oversized earrings, necklaces, and bracelets made of gold, silver, or colorful plastic were all the rage. The bigger and bolder, the better. These pieces were often adorned with intricate designs, geometric shapes, or semi-precious stones, adding a touch of opulence and glamour to any ensemble.

Oversized Sunglasses

Oversized sunglasses were another defining accessory of the 80s. These sunglasses were not just for protecting the eyes from the sun; they were a fashion statement in their own right. The bigger the frames, the better, and they often came in vibrant colors or with mirrored lenses.

Oversized sunglasses added an air of mystery and intrigue to any outfit, making them a favorite among celebrities and fashion icons alike.

Leg Warmers

Leg warmers were a unique and eye-catching accessory that became synonymous with the 80s fashion scene. These colorful, knitted pieces were worn over tights or leggings, adding a touch of warmth and style to any outfit. Leg warmers were often coordinated with other accessories, such as chunky jewelry or oversized sunglasses, to create a cohesive and stylish look.

Footwear and Hairstyles

The 1980s witnessed a bold and distinctive fashion landscape, and footwear and hairstyles played a crucial role in shaping the era’s iconic look. From statement sneakers to towering high heels, and from voluminous perms to rebellious mullets, these elements exuded a unique charm that continues to influence fashion today.


The 1980s saw a surge in popularity of various footwear styles, each reflecting the era’s exuberant and experimental spirit. Sneakers, particularly those with chunky soles and vibrant colors, became a staple for both casual and athletic wear. High heels, often adorned with embellishments and metallic accents, were a symbol of power and glamour, often paired with oversized blazers or bodycon dresses.

Boots, both ankle-length and knee-high, were popular for their versatility, transitioning effortlessly from day to night.

  • Sneakers: Chunky soles, vibrant colors, and bold designs characterized the popular sneaker styles of the 1980s. Brands like Nike, Adidas, and Reebok gained immense popularity during this era, and their sneakers became synonymous with both athleticism and fashion.
  • High Heels: High heels were a symbol of power and glamour in the 1980s. Often featuring metallic accents, embellishments, and pointed toes, these heels were paired with various outfits, from tailored suits to evening gowns.
  • Boots: Ankle-length and knee-high boots were popular footwear choices in the 1980s. Made from various materials such as leather, suede, and vinyl, these boots added an edgy touch to both casual and formal attire.


The 1980s witnessed a diverse range of hairstyles, each reflecting the era’s bold and experimental approach to fashion. Big hair, achieved through teasing and volumizing techniques, was a defining feature of the decade. Perms, with their tight curls and often vibrant colors, were also widely popular, adding a touch of glamour to any look.

Mullets, characterized by short hair in the front and long hair in the back, became a symbol of rebellion and individuality.

  • Big Hair: Teasing and volumizing techniques were used to create voluminous and dramatic hairstyles, often accentuated with hairspray and accessories. This larger-than-life look was a staple of the 1980s fashion scene.
  • Perms: Perms, with their tight curls and often vibrant colors, were a popular choice for both men and women in the 1980s. This hairstyle added texture and volume to the hair, creating a glamorous and eye-catching look.
  • Mullets: Mullets, characterized by short hair in the front and long hair in the back, became a symbol of rebellion and individuality in the 1980s. This hairstyle was often associated with rock stars and other countercultural figures.

Incorporating 80s Elements into a Modern Wardrobe

The 1980s fashion resurgence in contemporary wardrobes offers a blend of nostalgia and modern aesthetics. This fusion of styles allows fashion enthusiasts to infuse their outfits with iconic 80s elements while maintaining a contemporary edge.

Mixing and matching 80s-inspired pieces with modern clothing items is key to achieving a cohesive and stylish look. Bold colors, oversized silhouettes, and statement accessories can be seamlessly integrated into a modern wardrobe.

Balancing Proportions

When incorporating 80s elements, consider the proportions of your outfit. Oversized blazers or shoulder pads can be paired with slim-fit jeans or leggings to create a balanced silhouette.

Mixing Patterns and Textures

The 80s were known for bold patterns and textures. Mixing and matching different prints and fabrics can add visual interest to your outfit. However, ensure the patterns complement each other to avoid overwhelming the overall look.

Accessorizing with Statement Pieces

Statement accessories are a defining characteristic of 80s fashion. Chunky jewelry, oversized sunglasses, and bold earrings can instantly transform a simple outfit into a striking ensemble.

Experimenting with Footwear

80s footwear options included platform shoes, chunky sneakers, and ankle boots. These styles can add height and a touch of retro charm to any outfit.

Modernizing Hairstyles

The 80s hairstyles like big, voluminous curls, crimped hair, and mullets can be modernized with a touch of contemporary styling. Incorporate these hairstyles into your look for a hint of 80s flair.


As you embark on your journey to achieve an 80s look, remember that fashion is a form of self-expression. Embrace the bold, vibrant, and playful spirit of the 80s while adapting it to your personal style. Mix and match different elements, experiment with colors and patterns, and don’t be afraid to make a statement.

The 80s were all about individuality and standing out from the crowd, so have fun and let your creativity shine through.

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