Radical Vintage Windbreakers From The ‘80s

  Are you looking for a fun jacket to add to your closet? That outer layer has the potential to take a basic look to the next level.

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Are you looking for a fun jacket to add to your closet? That outer layer has the potential to take a basic look to the next level. Who doesn’t enjoy a statement piece, after all? This is why we love retro windbreakers. They are sporty, cool, and functional, as well as flattering for all genders and ages. 

Lucky for you, we’re here to take you through some awesome vintage finds that make for a great addition to any wardrobe. Whether you’re looking for a spunky mix of color or just a silky solid, you can throw a windbreaker over jeans and a t-shirt to instantly spice up your outfit. Plus, zip it up, and it’ll keep you warm too.

A Quick History Lesson

It’s no secret that the windbreaker has recently come storming back into style, as models like Kendall Jenner have been spotted in the look, but the lightweight jackets actually date all the way back to the 1980s.

During that time period, sportswear became the norm as Jane Fonda’s exercise videos surged in popularity and parachute fabric (also known as nylon) became a staple in fashion. Thus, the sporty windbreaker emerged and has stood the test of time.

While many modern pieces of clothing often try to mimic styles of the past, bringing old trends back onto the fashion scene, the only way you can guarantee ownership of an authentic, retro item is by shopping vintage.

Additionally, there is really just an unmatched nostalgia that comes with owning a part of the past that has its own unique story.

Finding Your Favorite Windbreaker

When it comes to picking the jacket that’s best for you, we suggest that you check in with yourself to explore what exactly you’re looking for.

Do you want a versatile choice that will match a lot of different colors and outfits? Or do you want a statement piece? Are you someone who likes eye-catching colors and details, or would you rather fly under the radar?

If functionality is especially important to you, you’ll also want to pay attention to whether or not a purchase has the thickness and warmth you’re looking for.

To help you think through all of your preferences, we’ve gone ahead and highlighted some of our favorite vintage windbreakers below, breaking them into the following categories:

  • Solid Colors
  • Logos
  • Beaded Windbreakers
  • Color Block Designs

Let’s go into depth so that you can find your best inspiration to start styling.

Solid Colors

There is a huge benefit to owning a simple, solid-colored jacket, which is that you don’t risk clashing if you want to wear a patterned item or possibly a graphic t-shirt underneath it. If you’re looking to stay true to the bright, often neon colors of the ‘80s, we recommend stocking up on vibrant, primary colors.

For example, this ‘80s red windbreaker is a fun, bold pop of color. The loud, cherry red makes this piece the center of attention to any outfit and would pair well with denim or sweatpants and base pieces that include hints of the red itself or other complimentary colors.

You may also go with a bright yellow option for a similar feel. A yellow windbreaker may even double as a classic-looking raincoat. Again, you’ll probably want to stick with neutral tones or complementary colors and patterns in your base layer.

If this is something you struggle with, you might consider reading up on color theory; it’s not as intimidating as it may seem, and it will come in handy when we discuss color blocking later in this post.

To hit all three of the primary colors, we also love this blue reversible windbreaker. In a way, a reversible item is like two styles for the price of one. Plus, this particular piece includes a fun contrast, as the body of the garment is different from its collar.


Alongside sportswear and parachute fabric, wearing logos on your clothing was a trend that took off during the 1980s. Often used as a status symbol, clothing that spotlights a logo can be a great way to give a nod toward your favorite brand.

If this sounds like this is the right choice for you, we recommend something like this blue Lacoste windbreaker. This is another great solid color option, and the darker navy is a little more subdued than the bright colors we looked at in our previous section.

We also love this Champion windbreaker for its lighter, preppier shades and its sharp, triangular design.

However, if you prefer something that sports a larger, attention-getting logo (or if you’re a car fanatic), this General Motors windbreaker includes big text as opposed to only a small symbol.

Beaded Windbreakers

If logos are not really your thing, but you still like a bit of detail, then simple, beaded designs are the perfect way to make a piece sparkle.

If you really want your metallic beading to pop off the fabric, choose a jacket with a darker base color like black or navy. For example, the gold beaded design on this olive green silk windbreaker really stands out in contrast to the jacket’s muted green tone. This kind of detail makes for a less sporty and more glamorous look, if that fits your style.

If you like the previous option but you want even more prominent beading, you might look for a design that extends across the whole chest, like the one on this gold beaded black windbreaker. Similar to the last piece we looked at, the gold beads really pop off of their black backdrop.

For a softer, less edgy choice, we recommend going with a color like white, in which the metallic beads blend a bit more and create a more subtle shine.

Color Block Designs

What is color blocking?

Color blocking is defined as the use of bold and bright blocks of color in fashion, and it is a technique featured in countless windbreaker jackets. Out of all the items we’ve looked at so far, color-blocked windbreakers are our favorite, given that they are really stand-alone, statement pieces that can define an entire look with their fun, multicolored layout.

A great example of this is our gray with red color block jacket, as the lighter gray really is a stark contrast to the deeper, bright red, causing the colors to compliment each other and please the eye.

For something that is less neutral than gray and more truly multi-colored, you may go with a teal, navy, and yellow combination. Sticking to the same theme of primary colors, blue also pairs really nicely with red, a color union seen in a lot of retro clothing.

Ready For Anything

We hope that, at the very least, by taking you through some special, vintage finds, we’ve shown you that there’s a diverse array of retro clothing out there. Ideally, we’ve inspired you to get searching and to pick your best vintage piece out of the crowd.

Whether you like a firetruck red or mish-mash of colors, ‘80s windbreakers really are an effortlessly comfortable and fun addition to your closet.


History of Fashion 1980s - 1990s | Catwalk Yourself 

Learn the Basics of Color Theory to Know What Looks Good | Lifehacker 

'80s fashion: Trends from the 'more is more” style decade that keep coming back | CNN 

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