’80s Clothes: 'Fits For Any Party

  Much like any decade of innovative fashion, the 1980s is responsible for many of the most popular clothing pieces, hairstyles, makeup styles, trends, fabrics, and colors that still dominate runways, department stores, and city sidewalks today.

image for article ’80s Clothes: 'Fits For Any Party

Much like any decade of innovative fashion, the 1980s is responsible for many of the most popular clothing pieces, hairstyles, makeup styles, trends, fabrics, and colors that still dominate runways, department stores, and city sidewalks today. The appeal of the ’80s at the moment is what it did to mold fabrics and colors that dominate spring and summer runways, Instagram trends, makeup trends, and even jewelry trends.

However, what makes the way that ’80s fashion permeates modern fashion more unique and foundationally impactful than the resurgence of trends from ’90s fashion and ’70s fashion is how it creates an organic cult following, regardless of whether you were even born in the ’80s. This is largely because fashion from the ’80s feels like a true escape in a way that no other decade, besides the ’70s, can accomplish. 

The neon colors, spandex, and form-fitting silhouettes feel like a radical way to lean into the most extroverted parts of yourself and style that can’t be ignored. 

‘80s: The TRUE Decade of Freedom and Fun

‘80s pop culture has remained a favorite through the years, which may be why we always return to its familiar charms. From John Hughes teen movies and dance films like Footloose to horror franchises and Heathers, ‘80s films had a style all their own. Pop stars like Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Bruce Springsteen all left their mark on the ‘80s MTV-centric youth culture as well, while high fashion models like Iman and Christy Turlington brought supermodels into the zeitgeist.

Authenticity and encouragement to embrace every part of yourself ran rampant in the ’80s. This is why in modern iterations of ’80s fashion, we see fewer modernizations of ’80s looks and more direct adaptations of popular ’80s fashion pieces. 

Take the resurgence of high-waisted jeans that swept the internet in the late 2010s Little to nothing changed about how these jeans were produced or styled when they made a comeback. American Apparel built an entire brand around using the same material, colors, and styles of other popular ’80s clothing styles like spandex bike shorts, crop tops, and even leg warmers.

Minimalism, neutral colors, and monochromatic outfits made popular by the sleek minimalism of the ’90s are currently in full style and swing, yet so are the bright neon-colored fitness sets that are direct sartorial descendants of the aerobic fitness outfits that dominated households and workout videos alike in the ’80s. 

Here is how to try some ’80s looks for yourself:  

Our Picks 

The 80s were a cultural renaissance with a style all its own. We’ve assembled some of our favorite looks from the decade, from colorful patterned windbreakers to Madonna-inspired designer denim. If none of these looks speak to your inner “Valley Girl,” send us an email at concierge@shopthrilling.com, and we’ll work with our partner boutiques and offline inventory to find the perfect ‘fit for cutting loose and kicking off your Sunday shoes.

The Punk 

Much of the ’80s was defined by neon colors and patterns, but it also ushered in and made space for punk culture. Opt for a tougher ’80s look with the perfect leather jacket, ripped jeans, and leather boots.

The Princess

Whether you prefer Pretty in Pink or The Breakfast Club, the dynamic duo of John Hughes and Molly Ringwald made the 80’s a wonderful decade to have teenage angst. Channel your inner Samantha Baker with a floral, ruffled party dress complete with a drop waist and corset bodice, or sulk your way through Saturday detention in a pair of belted, high-waisted brown trousers, a light pink sweater, and some stylish vintage loafers

The Madonna

Madonna’s fame transcends era, decade, or genre, but there’s no denying her impact on pop culture in the 1980s. This was the decade of “Like a Prayer” and “Into the Groove,” of layering and lace. Channel your inner “Material Girl'' with a white and black lace corseted party dress and a white double-breasted lace blazer to match. You can also modernize your homage to the Queen of Pop with a pair of genuine Leslie Hamel-designed Levis 501s, a lacy, ivory bustier bodysuit, and a pair of vintage statement earrings.

The Athlete

Athleisure has made it possible to take your “Buns of Steel” look out of the gym and into the grocery store for a comfortable day-to-day outfit that still makes a statement. Add nods to the aerobicizing fitness influencers of the ’80s with a color block windbreaker guaranteed to stop traffic. Up the 80’s vibes with an unmistakable splatter paint pattern, or go low-key with an oversized blue jacket from Champion. Wear it with a matching neon exercise set for the full effect.

The Heather

Anyone in the mood for a round of croquet? While Winona Ryder was better known for her chic goth sensibilities, Heathers memorialized the plaid skirts and shoulder pads that made the 80’s great. Grab a knee-length, pleated plaid skirt, a collared button-down, and a double-breasted power blazer with the biggest shoulder pads you can find. 

The Scream Queen

The ’80s were a bad time to be a babysitter. Horror franchises were running rampant, from Friday the 13th to Nightmare on Elm Street. Channel your inner scream queen with a pair of sensible khaki pants and a knit sweater vest for layering. Don’t forget to grab a cropped jersey for your boyfriend while you’re at it. 

The Power Suit

From Christy Turlington to Sarah Jessica Parker, the power pantsuit had its heyday in 1980s street style. Try a matching, oversized red plaid suit for a unique take on androgynous menswear, and layer with as many fake pearl necklaces and bracelets as possible for a true 80’s homage.

The Canadian Tuxedo

Denim-on-denim has been a staple throughout the years, but the 1980s put its own twist on the trend with triple-denim styles. Grab a pair of vintage mom jeans, a denim button-down, and an oversized denim jacket to channel your inner Iman—popped collar not optional. 

The Royal Flush

Princess Diana’s fashion was ahead of its time, but it was also firmly rooted in 80s trends. Copy her iconic revenge LBD for an upscale night on the town with black tights and a pearl choker, or give your casual look the royal treatment with a sheep sweater fit for a queen. Of course, we can’t forget Diana’s dazzling array of statement hats, from berets to bowler hats to straw beach hats.

Get Into the Groove

The ’80s were a time of excess, but you can still shop small while making a big impact. Thrilling’s online vintage and secondhand marketplace brings over 300 stores directly to you, supporting small local businesses that keep communities going. 95 percent of our partner stores are owned by women and/or BIPOC, so we can uplift diverse voices and maintain these independent businesses that are the cultural backbone of our communities. 

Thrilling reduces our carbon footprint by selling and shipping our items directly from our partner boutiques, and vintage shopping is already the most environmentally friendly way to revamp your wardrobe. Cut down on waste while you ramp up the fun with Thrilling’s vast collection of vintage 80’s looks. 


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