Fashion 20 fashion trends from the ’80s that should never come back

Fashion 20 fashion trends from the ’80s that should never come back


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The TV series “Miami Vice” perfectly depicted the style of the ’80s.
NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The ’80s saw no shortage of influential style moments, with trendsetters like Madonna and Princess Diana at the forefront of pop culture. But like every decade, it also had some looks that may be better-off left in the past. Huge shoulder pads, head-to-toe sequinned outfits, and neon Spandex workout ensembles are some of the decade’s worst fashion trends.Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories. Fashion in the 1980s was big, bold, and bright. No pattern pairing was too loud, and no curly perm hairstyle too puffy. But the adage “Everything old is new again” holds true, as a slew of styles that were all the rage in the 1980s have re-entered pop culture in recent years, like mom jeans and fanny packs. Even scrunchies, which were on-trend in the ’80s, are back in style — they’re found in just about every women’s clothing store’s accessory aisle, and according to data from Google Trends, interest in the search term “scrunchies” has substantially increased just from 2018 to 2019.Read more: 19 vintage photos that show what street style has looked like over the years In an interview with Insider, Sarah Byrd, a New York University and Fashion Institute of Technology fashion historian and lecturer, explained how it’s not the first time fashion trends of a specific decade have made a comeback. “Within the last 300 years of fashion, you can see really clearly where certain decades line up with each other,” Byrd said. “In the ’80s, there was a moment where people revisited fashion of the ’40s.” The ’80s saw no shortage of influential style moments — but like every decade, it also had some looks that may be better-off left in the past, including huge shoulder pads, head-to-toe sequinned outfits, and neon Spandex workout ensembles. Here are 20 fashion trends from the ’80s that should never come back.

In the ’80s, it was all about Spandex workout-wear — but looking back, the shiny fabric is a tacky reminder of the decade.

Christie Brinkley works out in a pink spandex unitard and leg warmers in 1982.
Bettmann / Contributor

The legwarmers were an added bonus and a common garment worn throughout the 1980s. We also do not wish for those to come back.

Knee-high socks and short-shorts made for a once-popular sporty uniform.

Models in Egypt in 1983.

Bonus points for matching the knee-high socks with the rest of the ensemble.

Punchy graphic prints were part of a popular design movement of the ’80s, but now, the look is just distracting.

Madonna performing in 1985.
Mario Suriani/AP

For women, blazers with dramatic shoulder pads were popular.

Actress Melanie Griffith on the set of “Working Girl” in 1988.
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Melanie Griffith starred in the popular ’80s film “Working Girl,” which featured prime examples of blazers and power suits with shoulder pads. The idea of women’s power dressing became popular in the ’80s as a way to express feelings of independence and power in the workplace. Fashion historian Sarah Byrd explained that by wearing pieces that were once traditionally reserved for working men, the trend may have been a reflection of some greater societal changes. “With fashion, it’s completely embedded with all things happening in culture,” Byrd said. “[Fashion is] not in isolation, and it’s not necessarily a reaction or reflection to what’s going on, but you do see some social movements reflected in fashion, like with power dressing.”

Some styles popular in the ’80s were reminiscent of the ’40s, like wide-rimmed hats and dresses that belted at the waist.

Model wearing a cartwheel hat, circa 1980.

Byrd said that some styles popular in the 1980s — including dresses that had high necklines and cinched or belted waists, along with big cartwheel-style hats — symbolized a brief ’40s-revival.

The 1980s saw 50 shades of pastels when it came to collared shirts and blazers.

Don Johnson as Detective James ‘Sonny’ Crockett, Philip Michael Thomas as Detective Ricardo ‘Rico’ Tubbs in “Miami Vice.”
NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The trend was often seen in the TV series “Miami Vice,” which ran from 1984 through 1990.

Blazers with shimmery fabric and animal print were everywhere.

Olivia Brown as Detective Trudy Joplin, Saundra Santiago as Detective Gina Navarro Calabrese in “Miami Vice.”
NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The coordinating sparkly earrings are an added touch to this already-busy look.

There was no limit in terms of what colors and patterns to combine.

Rick Springfield at the 1982 Grammy Awards.

Here, Rick Springfield made a statement in a red checkered jacket at the 1982 Grammy Awards. As if that wasn’t loud enough, he paired it with a bright blue shirt with a black collar and pink tie.

Pleated, poofy sleeves were commonplace.

Joan Collins in 1983.
Mark Avery/AP

Actress Joan Collins sported many puffy-sleeved looks on “Dynasty,” the soap opera that entertained viewers throughout the ’80s.

… And the more voluminous the silhouette, the better.

Diana Ross poses during the Grammy Awards show in 1985.

Motown star and “Supremes” lead Diana Ross was also an influential style icon of the ’80s.

Wearing head-to-toe nylon in neon colors was stylish at the time.

A nylon onesie..
Lionel Cironneau/AP

Windbreakers with splashy designs and colors were considered fashion-forward.

A quintessential ’80s look.

This hypnotizing jacket design is definitely up there with the Spandex workout suit in terms of tackiness.

So were punk rock-inspired beauty trends, like matching hair color and eyeshadow.

Cyndi Lauper.
AP Photo

Musician Cyndi Lauper always had spunky ’80s fashion.

Clunky jewelry in geometric shapes was ultra-stylish at the time.

Models in West Germany in 1987.
Udo Weitz/AP

Acid-wash and stonewashed denim was also everywhere.

Acid-wash jeans.
Getty/Ian Gavan

A story from The “Today” Show points out how the trend of wearing acid-wash and distressed jeans was bewildering to parents and adults of an older generation. “Parents who’d grown up in the Depression, when clothing was worn until it literally wore out, were baffled by this trend,” wrote Gael Fashingbauer Cooper in the article.

Mixing prints and fabrics — like these floral, lace, and sequin combinations — was all the rage, but may be considered too loud now.

Ivana Trump and Cornelia Guest in 1988.
Adam Scull/ /MediaPunch /IPX

While bold prints are still popular, they are rarely mixed with other bold prints.

Color-blocking with neon fabrics was also a popular style of the decade.

A model at a show for Ungaro for the 1984/1985 season, July 1984, in Paris.
William Stevens/AP

For some reason, shiny, synthetic fabrics were an on-trend option.

A model wearing a synthetic leather dress, photographed in Paris in 1981.

Nobody should be caught dead in this ensemble.

People loved all things oversized.

Nicca Ray and Brooke Shields in 1987.
Richard Drew/AP

Completely covering oneself in multicolored sequins was also apparently a good idea back then.

Tippi Hedren and Melanie Griffith at the Golden Globes in 1987.



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