When looking back, the 80’s fashion trends were clearly influenced by celebrity. From royal figures to rising dancers, the explosion of music videos contributed to the clothing and accessories women across the country chose to wear.
On the conservative side of things is Princess Diana. As Lady Spencer she caught the attention of people around the globe. In these early years of her place in the spotlight, her hair and demure clothing were copied by fairy tale-loving women everywhere.
While not quite royalty, Joan Collins commanded the big screen, along with her big shoulder pads. Her character on nighttime soap opera Dynasty was a powerful businesswoman who ran her personal life with the same authority. Women craving the same status copied the bold styles en masse. In the early years of the decade, fitness was a big topic of conversation. The first exercise videos were being released and women copied these styles away from the gym as well. The most popular items to make it from the fitness room to the mainstream were legwarmers. For years, women wore legwarmers to coordinate with their clothing even if they had no intention of exercise.
Additionally, the material used for exercise gear began being used for casual wear leggings. Women everywhere were wearing tight spandex pants as a major fashion statement. Young women in the 80’s often emulated the pop stars on television at the time. Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and others helped to set the trends for these girls. This included large, chunky pieces of jewelry along with multi-layered gummy bracelets.
The bigger a pair of earrings, the better. Women loved to wear huge attention-grabbing earrings that could handle the competition of big 80’s hair. The skirts were short, returning to the mini status that became popular in the 60’s. Denim and spandex were the most used materials for these tiny fashion statements.
To go with the large pieces of jewelry and tiny skirt, many women chose to use bright neon color shirts. Glowing green, yellow and pink fabrics were often used in contrast with black to create striking fashion statements. Of course, not all women wanted to wear miniskirts all of the time. Often, a comfortable pair of jeans could be worked into a powerful fashion statement. Somewhere between punk and grunge, the 80’s fashion jeans had just the right amount of holes and rips to make the right statement.
One accessory that everyone had to have during the decade was a pair of Ray-Bays. The Wayfarers were made popular thanks to pop culture and they became a mark for whether or not a person was “cool” according to the fashion criteria of the decade.
Many other trends came and went over the course of the decade. From the popularity of lace accessories to flamboyant blouses, there were plenty of large fashion statements made. As MTV brought music stars into homes and VHS transformed big screen stars to the little screen, fashion became more deeply ingrained in the fabric of society. Women in the 80’s followed these fashion trends more closely than their predecessors, and the results were some fun and wild clothing statements.