The 1980s saw the creation of MTV and an unprecedented number of iconic blockbuster movies. Side note: remember Blockbuster? Also a product of this marvelous decade. These films that shaped fashion, beauty, and the overall culture (at least in America), like no decade had before. Flashdance, Pretty in Pink, The Heathers, and basically every Madonna music video of the decade brought new styles to nearly every household in the country; and the one thing they all had in common was that they did everything big and they did everything loud.
Huge, teased hairstyles and bold, eccentric fashion choices are easily the biggest takeaway of the decade, and the number one reason for the jealousy I have for not having lived during this era. Thankfully, '80s vintage shopping isn’t just for the envious among us anymore - you may find your nearest bargain bins starting to run empty because ‘80s trends, from accessories to makeup to clothing, are finally making their way back into mainstream fashion and it’s about time!
1. Pops of Neon
One of the biggest, and most notable trends of the 1980s, was the electric and neon colors adorning everything from headbands and makeup to bodysuits and sneakers. Neon was the original dopamine inducer and it’s just what we need as we start to feel a glimmer of hope for warmer days on the horizon. There’s no denying that bright colors are fun; they’re basically dragging the youthful essence right out of us. Have you ever seen someone looking sad while rocking an electric blue body windbreaker? It’s impossible. Yet for some of us, highlighter yellow from head to toe may lead to dopamine overload, so a more discreet splash on accessories may be just what the doctor ordered. Try just a pop of neon with a pair of electric yellow sunglasses - you’ll definitely want the eye protection because we’re forecasting bright days ahead.
2. Colored Mascara
Bold colors didn’t stop at flashy windbreakers or technicolored bodysuits for the ladies of the ‘80s. Their makeup bags had the full color spectrum and no kit was complete without a brightly colored mascara. Green, red, and yellow lashes adorned the hottest nightclubs, but blue was by far the most popular color of choice. We’ve talked about how frosty tints for eye makeup will be huge this year, but blue mascara is truly iconic of the ‘80s.
This was possibly because blue tints tend to accentuate our eye color and gift us that wide-eyed, alert appearance - again drawing other eyes to our own; it’s a win–win. That and people of this era just loved a good vivid hue (see paragraph previous!) There are so many shades to choose from but if we’re staying on brand, the brighter the better. The beauty scene has been experimenting with bolder makeup styles for a couple of years now, and more brands are making available colors outside the non-traditional blacks, browns, and blondes.
3. Structured Shoulders
Image: La Maison, Valmont NYC. Valeria wearing Grace Sunglasses, Verie.
Structured shoulders in women’s suits were originally designed during WWII for the newly employed businesswomen to emulate the physique of an authoritative man - because for some reason broad shoulders are a sign of importance (That reason being of course the patriarchy, and replicating the physicality of a male body in order to find respect, but that’s for another day.)
Unfortunately, forty years later, women were once again seeking wide stature in order to gain respect in the business world but, they also quickly realized that shoulder pads can be incredibly fashionable and make for some stunning silhouettes. Fondly referred to as “power suits” in the ‘80s, jackets with structured shoulders certainly make a statement; but they can also contribute to an incredibly flattering physique when worn over form fitting jeans or leggings. Like in the ‘80s, we’re also seeing embellished shoulders on dresses, coats, muscle tees, and wherever else you can imagine them. Whether they’re dresses with balloon sleeves, or football padding on power suits, when it comes to shoulders this season, the bigger the better.
Image: Hello! Magazine
When we think about ‘80s bodysuits it’s hard not to think of Jane Fonda’s timeless workout videos or Madonna’s seemingly endless collection of form fittings suits. But the flashy and sometimes scant styles of the ‘80s have made way for a whole new variety and market for bodysuits.
They were originally created for the gymnastic world, so you know they will withstand any kicks, flips, or whatever else you could possibly throw at them, and they’re also incredibly fashionable. Similar to a one-piece bathing suit, the material and structures offer a silhouette that perfectly hugs your curves, while the bottoms tuck nicely into whatever you pair them with. Wear it as a base layer, a form fitting shirt, or if you’ve dreamt of being cast in a reboot of Eric Prydz's classic “Call On Me” music video, you can slide into your flashiest bodysuit and get your sweat on.
Image: The Fashion Spot
5. Oversized Eyewear
A simple eyewear change is definitely one of the quickest ways to totally alter your appearance and no pair does it better than oversized glasses. Whether for vision correction, UV protection, fashion statement, or all of the above, more people are choosing oversized lenses than we’ve seen in decades. Only a few years back (the later part of 2017 and summer of 2018, to be exact) we saw the sweeping return of the tiny-frame sunglasses on celebrities and fashion week runways worldwide; most likely a trend catalyzed by their strong appearance in Balenciaga’s Spring 2017 Menswear collection.
The style, which you couldn’t argue as practical for guarding your retinas from the sun even a little bit but still undeniably cute, is reminiscent of the ‘90s (think The Matrix vibes). Not to mention the style is an echo of a further back ‘90s - the 1890s, where the trend grew popular as a fashion statement into the twentieth century. First called 'scenery spectacles', used to better view scenery through in bright light, they were available in what we could now call ‘80s-inspired colors of emerald green and turquoise (Vice). So not quite full circle, but we’re getting there.
We’re not exactly surprised that big lenses are sprinting back to us - they’re just so fabulous; think Grace Kelly, think once again Madonna, think any movie star regardless of decade. Not only do big lenses simply make a bigger impact in terms of fashion, they also offer a wider viewing window for the vision impaired among us (not to mention a wider sun shield on the sunglasses variety). But it wouldn’t be a true ‘80s revival without making big even bigger. Bright colors, funky frames, and outrageous chains are just a few of the ways this retro staple is showing up in the 21st century.
6. Leg Warmers
Everyone in the ‘80s knew no workout ensemble was complete without a great pair of leg warmers, but they transcended all fashion boundaries from workout garb to jeans, skirts, and dresses. While traditionally worn specifically to cover the lower leg, we’re already seeing the new age variety coming in differing lengths, including thigh-highs being worn under boots (thanks once again for the style inspiration, TikTok). While typically more a cold weather fashion, a great pair of leg warmers can be a life saver for chilly evenings without totally ruining your aesthetic with excessive bundling.
7. Bold Lips
Recent makeup trends have been about blending, contouring, and making a concerted effort not to stand out, and that could not be any less ‘80s. Bright blush and colorful eyeshadows marked the decade but looks were anchored around a dependable bold lip. It wasn’t uncommon to see neon lips in lieu of subtle nudes, and we’re starting to see that trend come storming back. The great thing about a bold lip is that it’s easy to apply, and it’s such a statement piece that there’s hardly a need for anything else in your makeup bag. Since you’ll already be wearing neon body suits and sunglasses it should be a simple task to choose a matching neon lip to nail the monochromatic appeal.
Bold reds, solid blacks, and other staple colors are also still on trend if neon and electric shades aren’t in the cards; just make sure whatever you choose stands out.
8. Sheer Layers
Whether it was sheer leggings, decorative black lace accessories, or basically any outfit Cher wore during the decade, women in the ‘80s loved a see-through garment and we’re seeing this trend continue. Specifically, mountains of tule on the red carpet, sheer dresses, and fully lace shirts worn as complete outerwear. I guess this was the one time the sentiment “less is more” held any weight in the ‘80s and it’s not hard to see why.
With sheer materials there’s very little chance of being swallowed up by your outfit as your natural beauty is on full display. Lace dresses and gloves were likely first shoved into the limelight by Madonna’s epochal “Like a Virgin” music video, and the Queen of Pop’s influence over culture continues today. Lace was all over the runways of Vivienne Westwood, Ermanno Scervino, and countless other fashion shows this spring season.
Image: Yahoo News New Zealand