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1980s vintage clothing

October 17, 2015

If something’s expensive, then it should look expensive! This is the motto of designer 1980s vintage clothing. Versace, Lacroix and Escada ruled the day with lots of gold, lots of bright colours, lots of beaded and jewelled fabric, and lots of slashed-to-the-thigh gowns.


Vintage clothing in the 1980s

The 80s were when power suited business women strode to the fore in shoulder pads and primary colours; when Madonna was a Material Girl, when the cast of Dynasty showed us that American oil riches equalled high glamour, and Princess Diana showed us that a shy young woman could become the centre of a new national fairytale.

TV inspiration for 1980s vintage clothing

Females in Dynasty and Dallas showed us that in America, everyone had slinky dresses, big shoulder pads, and massive makeup. American men all dressed a la Miami Vice, in crumpled linen jackets with rolled up sleeves and sharply creased trousers. Nino Cerrutti was the costume designer for the show.


Even the newly elected US President, former movie star Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy, oozed glamour, wearing designer clothing for all occasions, which probably included going over to Ivana Trump’s house for dinner. Ivana Trump did not let her comedy name and comedy spouse, Donald Trump, prevent her from become one of New York’s super-rich, and aggressively conspicuous consumption was her forte – from her breasts to her hair, it was the bigger the better.


She was regularly pictured in magazines entertaining her guests in dining rooms full of gold plates and purple leopard print carpets whilst she wore matching purple leopard print gowns and diamond earrings that rivalled her dining room’s chandeliers, and none of it in an ironic way.

Excess in the 80s

Every yuppy (young urban professional) who had made their money speculating on the stock market or in the media aspired to rake in the dollars and spew them out again in public displays of wealth and opulence.


Personally, the TV star who best epitomises 1980s vintage clothing for me is the entirely English Timmy Mallet, who fronted several children’s TV shows of the decade. He only wore the brightest clothes in the most clashing combinations, and he was so crazy that his trademark was to wear two caps, one on top of the other, and two pairs of glasses, ditto. His madcap style was echoed in his TV personality, and his smash hit song for the group he formed called Bombalurina, a cover version of “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” still gets stuck my head every time I write about swim wear.

Royal inspiration for 1980s vintage clothing

Princess Diana was married in 1980 in a massive white dress, and it was said that the Royal event made marriage, which had dropped out of fashion for those louche 70s people, popular once more.

More fun 1980s vintage clothing

Boy George At Ronnie Scotts

Boy George At Ronnie Scotts


Prince performs onstage in ireland

Prince performs onstage in ireland

David Bowie and Mick Jagger had worn dresses in the 70s, and Marc Bolan flaunted his feather boa and eyeliner, while Gary Glitter stomped around in sparkly platform boots. This trend towards male femininity was unabated in the 80s, with Prince and Boy George inheriting the glittery crown with aplomb.

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