What Did People Wear in the 80s?


Quick Answer

Some notable clothing trends from the 1980s in the United States include tight spandex and aerobics gear worn in everyday settings, the emergence of designer jeans, and the Madonna "street urchin" look. Specific cultural movements also arose with their own dress styles, such as punk, new wave, hip-hop and preppy.

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Among women, jelly bracelets and jelly shoes were popular for a time. A combination of an aerobics craze and the movie "Flashdance" also popularized the wear of aerobics gear, such as tracksuits, leotards, sweatpants and tights outside of the gym. Professional dress resembling that worn by men also became more common for women as they increasingly entered the workforce. Madonna popularized a look that included fishnet gloves, big crucifixes, lace ribbons and headbands. Shoulder pads also became a status symbol.

Men's fashion was strongly influenced by popular television shows such as "Miami Vice," which featured characters wearing colorful shirts under more subdued suit jackets and Hawaiian shirts. Michael Jackson also had an influence on fashion with his leather pants, jackets and sunglasses.

Hip-hop culture introduced parachute pants, which were commonly worn by artist MC Hammer. Air Jordan shoes were also introduced in the mid-80s and immediately became popular. Rock and heavy metal helped to popularize denim and leather jackets, and intentionally ripped jeans. The punk culture helped to popularize Doc Marten shoes, skinny jeans and pin shirts.

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