What did teens wear in the '80s?


Quick Answer

Teen fashion during the '80s was characterized by experimentation and color, with accessories returning to vogue. The '80s also saw a surge in heavy metal and punk fashions as teens reacted to the conservatism and materialism of the decade. Conservative teenagers began dressing in a style that would later be dubbed "preppy," and athletic shoes became a high-priced luxury item, especially Adidas and Nike sneakers.

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Full Answer

Common '80s fashion items included legwarmers, Members Only jackets, acid-wash jeans and shoulder pads. Madonna ushered in a trend of wearing lingerie as outerwear, while the movie "Flashdance" made the off-the-shoulder shirt an iconic staple of an '80s wardrobe. Teenagers in particular favored teased-out hair, loud makeup and large accessories such as sunglasses, hoop earrings and bangles.

Hardcore punk teenagers of the '80s rejected the flamboyant style of the '70s, adopting a minimalist look that often consisted of nothing but t-shirts, jeans and short hair. The "hair metal" fashion of the late '80s differentiated itself from the emerging punk rock scene by embracing aspects of '70s glam rock, including patterned spandex, bright colors, leather and heavy make-up for women and men as well.

On the other end of the spectrum were the preppy teenagers who dressed in polo shirts with popped collars, blazers, argyle sweaters, loafers and khaki pants or Bermuda shorts. Preppy teenage girls kept jewelry and makeup to a minimum, contrasting with the dominant flamboyant aesthetic of the time.

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