Take a Stroll Down Memory Lane with Our Selection of 100 + Nostalgic 80s Outfits

by John Griffith

So far we’ve partied in 1920s style like the Great Gatsby, and marveled at the offbeat trends of the 1990s. Now it’s time to look at another time period, famed for its unusual fashion styles – the 1980s. After all, there is a reason they were known as the decade of decadence! 80s outfits were bigger, brighter and bolder, and while some of them can really make us laugh or cringe today, others have achieved cult status, and can be seen on contemporary celebs and fashionistas.

It’s worth noting that many aspects of our lives today began taking shape in the 1980s. For example, MTV was launched in 1981, giving a voice to young people, and focusing on their interests. In addition, the first commercial mobile phone became available in 1984, and the World Wide Web saw the light of day in 1989 (although it would take several years for it to become mainstream). Walkmans and VCR players, created in the 70s, became accessible to the general public in the 80s, thereby transforming the childhood of an entire generation.

With so many social changes, it is hardly surprising that the fashion of the decade was equally innovative and refreshingly different. Bold shapes and colors dominated the streets, hairstyles were wild and voluminous, and everything was just a little bit, well, extra. In this article, we will explore a few key 80s styles which are still relevant today, before allowing you to enjoy a gallery full of outrageous clothes from the decade of decadence!

The oversized denim jacket and jeans combo – one of many 80s outfits fashionable at the moment

80s outfits, oversized denim jacket, worn over a black t-shirt, and baggy jeans, by drew barrymore, next image shows kylie jenner, in similar attire

Before we get started, check out this amazing 80s outfits lookbook!

80s outfit inspiration from the glam divas and some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry

Although glam rock and metal were still very popular in the early 80s, by the second part of the decade pop reigned supreme. Stars like Michael Jackson and Madonna not only provided excellent music to groove to, but also inspired people to be braver with their fashion choices. On one occasion they two mainstream royalties even went as far as to appear in lavish, coordinated white sequin outfits.

Ladies tried to copy Madonna’s “punk seductress” look en masse, and her signature ultra mini rara skirts, bustiers, crop tops, revealing sheer dresses and chunky cross necklaces became key items in the closets of female fashionistas. Men meanwhile, were busy imitating the King of Pop by buying bright-colored biker jackets, skinny leather trousers and flashy accessories. You may have noticed that some of these trends are seeing a comeback at the moment, as people are coming up with their own reinterpretations of the 80s glam style.

Madonna’s signature 80s style reimagined today

madonna lookalike dressed in ankle jeans, black bustier top, and a pale denim shirt, black patent shoes, and a white hair bow, 80s outfits

Channeling your inner Michael Jackson…

red leather jacket, inspired by michael jackson, worn over a white top, and black leather trousers, 80s outfits, on a young woman

The 80s dress code included lots of gym-inspired atleisure clothes, courtesy of the fitness fanatics

Gyms became hugely popular in the 1980, sparking a widespread interest in fitness culture and apparel. Everyone wanted to better themselves and to look fit, healthy and active. As a result, simple and comfortable sports clothing became a fashion statement and sales of oversized t-shirts and spandex leggings, stretchy bodysuits, and legwarmers skyrocketed. The trend was fueled even more by films like Dirty Dancing and Flashdance, and by the growing popularity of Aerobics. In winter, gym apparel was replaced by the so called ski prep style, characterized by shiny polyester tracksuits and roll neck sweaters. It was the preferred attire for well to do individuals who wanted to showcase their active lifestyle.

In the 80s people wore sports apparel as casual every day clothes, and it was even acceptable to attend events dressed in leggings or slacks. Sound familiar? It seems that fitness clothing is still very much a thing, judging by the popularity of brands like Lululemon.

80s outfits for active ladies

yellow leggings and matching yellow leg warmers, worn with teal high heeled sandals, 80s outfits, by a young woman in a bowling alley

Let’s not forget the 80s roller skating craze

afro hairdo, worn by a black woman, dressed in a shiny, red and white tracksuit top, with matching shorts, 80s outfits, pink roller skates

What were the defining trends of the 80s? Find out in the video bellow:

Retro nostalgia dress code inspired by the luxury brand lovers

Much like today, 80s people were obsessed with big brand names. Preps, for example, opted for apparel manufactured by Lacoste and Esprit. Those partial to fitness clothes, on the other hand, turned to Puma, Nike, Reebok and Adidas. The punk rockers favored Vivienne Westwood, and the fashion conscious and well-off individuals splurged on luxury garments by brands such as Gucci, Jean Paul Gaultier and Polo by Ralph Lauren. Yet, regardless of social status or style preferences, one thing was certain – the logo simply had to be visible. This trend continued up to the 90s and then suffered a decline in the early 2000s, when they were considered too flashy and even tacky. Today they are coming back in style, albeit in a self-ironizing, tongue-in-cheek manner.

An ironic recreation of a 80s outfit, complete with a bold, kitsch print, and a chunky brand name logo

sweater in pale grey, with mickey and minnie mouse print, worn by a blonde woman, in blue jeans, holding a large leather bag, 80s outfits, sunglasses a moschino logo belt

Wrangler is one of many brands seeking to bring back logo t-shirts

laughing young women, dressed in denim, combined with red and white tops, 80s outfits, skinny jeans and denim shorts, long denim overalls

80s outfit ideas are all about comfort where fashion meets nostalgia

One unlikely reason for 80s outfits to be making a comeback is the TV series Stranger Things. Despite dealing with spooky monsters and unsettling events, the show is filled with nostalgia for a “simpler time,” when children still played outside with their bikes, and most of us couldn’t even imagine the wonders of the World Wide Web. The clothes depicted in the show are far from the excess of the glam divas and fitness fanatics. Soft sweaters, baggy jeans, plaid shirts and flannel-lined jackets underline the idea of comfort, thereby strengthening the sense of nostalgia. I can almost hear my parents say “Remember the days when clothes were about being comfortable? Today’s kids are all about fashion fads!”

Unsurprisingly, the show has inspired numerous style tutorials and lookbooks, some of which you can find further down in this article.

Stranger things – making plaid cool again

actors from the series stranger things, dressed in typical 80s outfits, plaid jackets and shirts, denim and corduroy

Natalia Dyer as Nancy in Stranger Things

80s costumes, natalia dryer in the tv show starnger things, dressed in dark, high waisted trousers, and a patterned sweater

One of the many video tutorials, devoted to Stranger Things inspired 80s outfits

Joe Keery as Steve Harrington 

steve harrington played by joe keery, dressed in a greenish-blue sweater, with a wavy quiff hairdo, 80s costumes

Season 2 of the show delved into 80s fashion trends even deeper, introducing characters partial to the punk rock style

tall man with red mohawk hair, dressed in punk clothing, surrounded by young people, dressed in 80s costumes, jeans and plaid shirts

Typical 80s kids clothes

four child actors, from the television series stranger things, dressed in 80s costumes, printed t-shirts and jeans, tracksuit bottoms and corduroy jackets

We’ve got 80s fashion dress up ideas for everyone

And now we invite you to take a look at our selection of outfits from (and inspired by) the 80. We have also included plenty of throwbacks to your favorite shows, artists and celebs. And if you want even more amazing 80s outfits ideas, check out our fashion section. We have plenty of images and facts for the decade of decadence!

We love this timeless button up denim skirt and striped top combo!

three images of a young woman, wearing a button up denim skirt, with different striped tops, over-the-knee socks and black thights, 80s costumes you can wear today

multicolored retro shirt, with rolled sleeves, tucked into a pair of black, leather shorts with a belt, 80s costumes, worn by a slim tan woman

Make up in the 80s was characterized by bold colors and neon tones

teased blonde hair, messy and voluminous, worn by a young woman, with neon colored make up, 80s costumes, electric blue top with shoulder pands

vintage make up ideas, for a 1980s look, seen on four different women, 80s costumes, for parties and special occassions

80s clothes, pale knee-length denim overalls, worn by a young woman, with voluminous blonde curly hair

Typical male 80s streetwear, complete with boombox

teal jacket with yellow and light blue, pink and purple geometric shapes, worn by a man with dark curly hair, a headband and sunglasses, 80s clothes, holding a boombox

crop top in white, and pale distressed jeans, worn with a denim jacket, 80s clothes, by a blonde woman, with red sports shoes, and a novelty bag, shaped like a platic cup

female students dressed in 80s clothes, skinny trousers in blue and yellow, striped and patterned tops in popping colors, retro hairstyles and jewelry

An 80s rocker

bearded man with a mustache, and shoulder length wavy hair, wearing 80s clothes, pale retro jeans, black rock band t-shirt, pale denim jacket with flannel trim, typical 80s fashion

group of friends, dressed in colorful 80s clothes, teal and purple jackets, multicolored printed shirts and tops, shorts and beanie hats

slim blonde woman, dressed like a punk rocker, short spiky hair, 80s clothes, shiny blue rara skirt, sheer black top, lots of jewelry

Are shoulder pads making a comeback?! (We hope not!)

collection of outfits, inspired by 80s clothes, one shoulder tops and dresses, some featuring sequins, and a shoulder pad

And here are some 80s costume ideas:

80s costume ideas, with make up, neon blue and purple eye shadow, big fake lashes, shiny purple lipstick, large pink earring, and a blue headband

denim shirt in pale blue, tied above the waist, and worn over a black top, combined with a tutu skirt, in neon pink, purple and blue, 80s costume ideas

collage of famous women from the 1980s, madonna and princess diana, cyndi lauper and others, 80s costume ideas, for retro parties

Only kids from the 80s remember Jem and the Holograms!

jem and the hollograms, a cartoon from the 80s, colorful illustration featuring the main characters, 80s costume ideas, inspired by childhood favorites

Brooke Shields – an 80s style icon

knitted blue jumper, worn by young brooke shields, with long and wavy, brunette hair, and subtle make up, 80s costume ideas, for low-key 80s looks

If you are looking for a 80s-inspired Halloween costume, why not consider one of the characters from Jim Henson’s cult classic Labyrinth?

jennifer connelly and david bowie, as sarah and the goblin king, 80s costume ideas, inspired by the film labyrinth
You can easily recreate Sarah’s outfit!

sarah's character outfit, from the film labyrinth, 80s costume ideas, frilly pale cream blouse, dark blue skinny jeans, beige vest and brown suede shoes

sitting young jennifer connelly, dressed in jeans, a wide pale cream shirt, and a patterned vest, 80s costume ideas, inspired by childhood films

Labyrinth-inspired costumes for kids

80s halloween costumes for kids, two small girls hugging, the older dressed as sarah from the film labyrinth, and the younger dressed like toby from the same film, typical 80s fashion

80s fashion trends, young jenniffer connelly, in the film labyrinth, dressed with an oversized shirt, and a patterned vest

Gorgeous outfit with subtle hints of 80s glamour

acid wash jeans with rolled bottoms, and a pale cream shirt, worn by a black woman, with a voluminous afro, in high heels and holding a large clutch bag, 80s fashion trends

tall young blonde woman, dressed in a vintage patterned t-shirt, and pale denim shorts, 80s fashion trends, navy blue and mustard yellow baseball jacket

Remember the Breakfast Club?

cast of the breakfast club, dressed in plaid shirts and jeans, denim and baseball jackets, long skirts and trainers, 80s costumes men and women

Edward Scissorhands – another cult classic from the 80s

80s costumes men, johnny depp in the film edward scissorhands, black leather costume, with metal elements, and messy black wig, winnona ryder with long ginger hair

Did you use to watch Full House?

family photo of the characters from full house, 80s sitcom tv series, leather jacket and hawaiian shirt, pale grey trousers and sweater, 80s costumes men

How about Alf?

alf actors posing together, dressed in vinatge clothes, 80s fashion trends, knitted sweater and vest, smart suit and dungerees, typical 80s fashion

oversized denim jacket, worn over a white crop top, and dark skinny jeans, 80s fashion trends, on a young blonde woman

Big hair, don’t care – glam metal in the 80s 

punk glam rock band, performing on a stage, 80s fashion trends, teased vouminous and messy hair, leather trousers and jackets, jeans with applique details

Jem‘s outfits were always on point!

illustration of four characters, from the 80s cartoon jem and the hollograms, 80s fashion trends, shiny clothes and mini skirts, in popping colors

hair and make u,p 80s fashion trends, in an illustration for the 80s cartoon jem and the hollograms

Black fashion in the 80s

80's dress up ideas, inspired by vintage black celebrities, janet jackson and tina turner, and others, over-the-knee black leather boots, oversized blazers and short skirts, denim jackets and maxi skirts

The gorgeous Whitney Houston

pastel pink tank top, worn by smiling young whitney houston, with long and voluminous, brunette curly hair

flared tulle skirt, in black and white, with red trim, worn with a black, off-the-shoulder jumper, by a young whitney houston, with curly long hair, 80's dress up ideas

Punk’s not dead – 80s outfits for wild souls

syudded black leather, and distressed denim outfits, worn by young madonna, and three female punk rockers, with spiky red and blue hair, 80s halloween costumes, simple 80s outfit

icons from the 80s, cyndi lauper and whitney houston, madonna and brooke shields, dressed in vintage clothing, 80s halloween costumes, inspired by stars

how to create the perfect 80s make up, for your 80s halloween costumes, smokey eye and red lipstick, bold pink blush, with brown eye shadow, with glossy pink lipstick, strong blue eye shadow

Meg Ryan in the late 80s, sporting a black biker jacket over a maxi dress, with white socks and patent leather shoes

meg ryan dressed in a black maxi skirt, with a black leather biker jacket, and tennis socks, with black patent shoes, 80's dress up ideas, man in wide, shiny black trousers, and a red polo shirt, hugging her

striped oversized blazer, worn with a knee-length, frilly black skirt or dress, with white socks, and patent black leather shoes, 80's dress up ideas, on courtney cox

off-white roll neck jumper, worn with a dark, navy blue checkered shirt, and a white and dark grey patterned coat, 80's dress up ideas, inspired by a young brooke shields

The magnificent Cindy Crawford 

shiny black vinyl and leather jacket, worn over a black mini dress, by a young cindy crawford, 80's dress up ideas, messy wavy brunette hair, and red lipstick

spandex working out clothes, red and pink leggings, yellow and blue legwarmers, bodysuits and headbands, 80s halloween costumes, inspired by cher and other celebrities

modern designer outfits, inspired by 80s fashion, striped midi skirts and dresses, cropped tops and trousers in popping colors

Haute couture inspired by 80s icons

boy george, madonna and michael jackson-inspired high fashion, featuring sheer black dresses with lace, a multicolored suit, and a red jacket, worn with a silver glove, and a black fedora hat, simple 80s outfit

couture for men, inspired by 80s outfits guys, red and black patterned suit, michael jackson style, oversized trousers and sweaters, plaid trousers and a beige coat

vintage clothing you can wear today, and 80's dress up ideas, acid wash high waisted jeans, with a striped top, and an acid wash denim mini skirt, with a white shirt, and a dark denim jacket, worn by two young women

No 80s outfits article is complete without ugly sweaters!

ugly multicolored sweaters, with asymmetrical patterns, striped and pompoms, worn by a young woman, with retro sunglasses, and a man, with his back to the camera, 80s outfits guys and gals

No words are necessary – these pictures speak for themselves.

sweater in black, yellow and blue, with a picture of a banana, and the word banana in yellow, 80s outfits guys, worn by a laughing man, with glasses, holding a pineapple

tunic sweater in black, decorated with an image of an electric guitar, and the word guitar, 80's dress up ideas, worn by a woman with short, curly blonde hair, making a funny face

80s outfits guys, pale grey and pink knitted sweater, with white details, and an inscription reading, i'm a luxury, worn by a man, with dark wavy medium length hair, dressed in pale pink trousers, and holding a white dummy parrot

view from the back of a man, with medium length black wavy hair, holding a parrot doll on his shoulder, and dressed in a grey, pink and white sweater, with an inscription saying, few can afford, 80s outfits guys

large patterned cardigan in black, turquoise and violet, worn over black opaque thights, 80s halloween costumes ideas, woman with black hair

Sequins are back!

shimmering metallic sequin, midi and maxi dresses, inspired by the 80s, worn by four contemporary women

baggy high waisted mom jeans, and a pale yellow crop top, with button details, surrounded by various vintage accessories, worn converse sneakers, checkered socks and glasses, ipod and pills, simple 80s outfit

felt hat in brown, cropped pale grey top, baggy blue jeans, round sunglasses and brown sandals, orange backpack and a leather pouch, and other items

Animal prints are another hugely popular 80s trend

iron maiden t-shirt in black, worn with a leopard print mini skirt, 80s style outfit, on a young woman

patterned sweater in grey and green, worn over a white shirt, with grey thights and denim shorts, by a young woman, with brown t-bar shoes

top models from the 80s, dressed in vintage outfits, backless blue dress, denim skirt with hot pink leggings, shiny white black and gold outfit, and a peplum leather skirt

Young Johnny Depp

1980s photo of johnny depp, sitting down and wearing a khaki t-shirt, retro jeans and distressed lace up shoes, with white tennis socks, 80s costumes men, quiff hairstyle and an earring

An oversized denim jacket worn by Sarah Jessica Parker…

messy and curly long hair, on young sarah jessica parker, wearing a black, short jump suit, 80's fashion pictures, with a wide, dark grey belt, and an oversized denim jacket, dress code nostalgia

… and Miley Cyrus

applique details and patches, on an oversized denim jacket, worn by miley cyrus

maxi black vinyl trench coat, beige oversized two-piece suit, teal blazer with purple shorts, and an animal-print jacket, worn over black leggings, four different 80s inspired outfits

What to wear to an 80s themed Halloween Party:

hot pink leg-warmers, worn over leather-like black leggings, and an off-the-shoulder black top, with a colorful print, 80s halloween costumes, large orange earrigns, and a pink hair bow

accessories and clothes for a retro party, in neon colors, 80s halloween costumes, pink off-the-shoulder top, with black tiger print, denim shorts and a teal tank top, leg-warmers and sneakers, fingerless leather gloves, and many others

collage showing seven women, dressed in outfits, inspired by the 80s, bright neon colors, oversized garments and playful patterns, large jewelry pieces

Another pinch of nostalgia

entire cast of the sitcom full house, dressed in vintage outfits, oversized colorful clothes, vests and bold patterns, 80s costumes men and women, bob saget and the olsen twins

caleb mclaughlin and gaten matarazzo and finn wolfhard, dressed in retro clothes, for the series stranger things, 80s costumes men and kids, dress code nostalgia

Celebs rocking 80s outfits

famous women wearing outfits, inspired by the 80s, working out spandex clothes, baggy jeans and oversized blazers, mini dres with opaque tights

ripped jeans and a vintage, star wars t-shirt, a flannel shirt and black doc martens, 80s outfits guys or girls, camera and other items

purple and yellow, teal and red outfits, inspired by the 80s, baggy shiny trousers, oversized suits and jackets, worn by four different women

Neon colors and high waisted jeans

high waisted jeans, worn with a floral crop top, in pink and red, and yellow, by a smiling brunette girl, with long wavy hair

female high school students, dressed in vintage clothes, baggy jeans and mini skirts in neon colors, 80's fashion pictures, cropped tops and retro sneakers

roller skates in pale lavender, worn by a young woman, sitting at a diner table, in coral pink sorts, and black long sleeved top, with colorful print, 80's fashion pictures, drinking a coke

Another outfit inspired by Michael Jackson

greyscale image of a young woman, sitting on a stool, dressed in an outfit, inspired by michael jackson in the 80s, cropped dark trousers, white shirt and tie, jacket with applique details

mustard yellow jacket, over denim shorts, and a multicolored patterned shirt, black and white t-shirt, and khaki shorts, and a blue jacket with light blue shorts, 80s costumes men, on three guys

two young women, sitting next to each other, dressed in denim outfits, heavily inspired by the 1980s

Prada apparel, inspired by colorful 80s outfits

slim tall women, with roller skates, dressed in shorts and t-shirts, in black and white, and multicolored patterns

rara skirt in blue, worn with a black crop top, and a pale grey cardigan, by a young winnona ryder, 80's fashion pictures, smiling with hands on her hips, dress code nostalgia

floral midi dress, in pale colors, worn with a studded black leather belt, and chain details, by cyndi lauper, tights with spray paint motifs, zebra print high heels

Young Demi Moore with cool red Converse sneakers

long black hair, worn by demi moore, dressed in black baggy trousers, and a patterned top, 80's fashion pictures, with colorful socks, and red converse sneakers

red-haired actress, with short curly hair, and two young men, dressed in vintage clothes, and sporting retro hairstyles, 80s costumes men, oversized jacket and multicolored patterned shirt, lots of accessories

purple off-the-shoulder dress, with a wide purple leather belt, 80's fashion pictures, worn by goldie hawn, with blonde wavy hair and bangs

Super easy Halloween costume, inspired by the movie Flashdance

flashdance inspired halloween outfit, 3/4 black leggings, plain grey sweater, and red leather stilettos

bodysuit in black, worn with a pale grey, off-the-shoulder cropped top, featuring a pink flashdance logo, headband and black leg warmers, and high heels

Sadie Sink as Max, rocking the 80s skater style in Stranger Things

six images of sadie sink, in her role of mad max, in stranger things, dressed in 80s sports apparel or streetwear, jeans and tracksuit jackets

slender young women, dressed in white shirts, and patterned shorts, skating with vintage roller skates, while hugging

80's fashion pictures, young woman with long, wavy brunette hair, dressed in sidtressed high waisted jeans, a white t-shirt, and a black leather jacket

fish-patterned short sleeved shirt, in yellow and orange, balck and grey, dark grey distressed skinny jeans with a belt, kahki backpack and black leather, lace up shoes, other items and accessories

John Griffith

John Griffith is a young, passionate journalist. Writing has been John’s hobby ever since he was a boy. He has worked in some of the UK’s most successful news portals over the course of his professional career but found his forever home at Archzine.