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80s fashion fancy dress ideas that everyone remembers and loves

September 17, 2018

While the 80s was a time of fashion filled with bright colours and outrageous outfits, it was also one where 80s fashion fancy dress ideas challenged and captivated us all.


When it comes to throwing an 80s fashion fancy dress party, you just can’t have fun without that material girls look. But there much more to girls going wild and wanting to have fun. Here is a great range of 80s party dresses and costumes that’ll spice up your 80s themed soiree – guaranteed!

Fancy Dresses - Two student performers in costume. 1950

Fancy Dresses – Two student performers in costume.

Bringing 80s costume parties to life

If ever there was a time where the art of “escapism” was perfected to its fullest, it was in the eighties. 80s fancy dress costumes of various types were the ideal get-away event. All you needed to do back then, was to pick a theme and invite the craziest of your friends – and you were sure to get the thrill of your life. It was that simple!


Whether it was someone dressed in a Top Gun bomber jacket, or one of your girlfriends putting on a pouty wild child look – complete with neon hair and multi-coloured leg warmers – the 80s fashion fancy dress was the one place you could be whomever you wanted…even if it was for just one evening.


It’s no wonder then, that many a fancy dress costume from that era has found fame beyond the eighties. Here are a selection of 80s costumes that you can quickly, easily and cost-effectively recreate in order to make your next eighties themed party a smashing (or spooky!) hit:

80s fashion fancy dress ideas that everyone remembers and loves



  • 80s fashion fancy dress – 80s fashion fancy dress – Beetlejuice Mania

Remember the 1988 Tim Burton fantasy/horror comic movie featuring eighties icons Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin? Well, the next time you attend an 80s fashion fancy dress event, why not make yourself up as Barbara Maitland, and have your friend become Adam Maitland?


To blend into your 80s fancy dress party and pull off the Barbara Maitland look, you’ll need to find a floral-print prairie dress. These are rather easy to come by if you visit your local vintage clothing store. Finding the right size costume might be a challenge though –  but you can always DIY with a few hems and tucks, once you find something that fits the general description.


Elements for Adam Maitland’s costumes include a suite with white and black stripes, or any dingy dark suit will do. Mix that up with a white/black checked shirt, and any selection of 80s khakis to go. You’re almost done. Put on a wig with bushy greenish-tinted hair, and blacken out your eyes with mascara or non-itchy hair dye. Now, just apply some white cream to give you that pale “dead” look – and you’re all ready for your 80s fashion fancy dress party as Adam Maitland’s. Simple, isn’t it?


  • 80s fashion fancy dress – Sassy and Punky

One of the most lovable (and adorable!) 80s fashion fancy dress ideas is to relive the Penelope (Punky) Brewster look from the hit 1984 NBC series. If you are looking for a wild child getup for your kid, Punky Penny is just the right costume. Who wouldn’t love those brightly coloured bandanas, tops that mismatched her trousers, and sneakers that didn’t fit in at all!


Your child’s 80s fancy dress costumes could also could include some of these features too: Tights (each leg should be differently coloured) worn under a denim skirt. Suspenders. Mismatched joggers or sneakers….and of course, don’t forget the pigtails and rolled-up cuffs of her jeans!

570px-Go-Go girl dancing

Go-Go girl dancing


  • Going On The Go with 80s fashion fancy dress Costume Party

If there’s one 80s fashion fancy dress getup that simple and easy to do, it’s the Go-Go Girl look. Not entirely the 80s equivalent of “material girls”, this 80s iconic band was all about Girl Power at its best. Vocals, Guitaring, Keyboard, Drums…they did it all. And if you go back and do a review of a top selection of 80s music, you’ll find a Go-Go hit lurking there!


There are indeed a great range of ways in which you could probably pull this look off. But when it comes to 80s fancy dress costumes – simplicity is the best. So, to get up and go, just rummage through any 80s costume store, and pick a costume that fits you. Then, dawn on a pair of sunglasses, put on a big wig, and some massive jewellery pieces.


To finish off your Go-Go look, you could wear leggings in bright colours, and slip on a pair of stiletto heels. Now you’re all set to go and rock your 80s themed costume party all night long! And oh…it wouldn’t hurt to twirl a pair of drumsticks about!

Awarded top gun

Awarded top gun


  • Turn Things Around

Remember those good old days of the 70s, when women loved their pants all loose and baggy, and their tops tight around the bust? Well, if you’re about to go for an 80s fashion fancy dress event, then you’d better turn things around. Your selection of an 80s costume must include anything with a loose top and tight pants!


And just like the material girls of the 80s, you’ll even do well to think about bright colours and ultra-short skirts worn over multi-coloured leggings. And to really turn things around at your 80s themed party, perhaps turn your underwear into outerwear and shock everyone around you.


Think neon fishnets that show your undergarments, with plenty of colourful beaded-necklaces around your neck. Or simply go with a female top gun costume, with fish net stockings and a pair of military-green pumps with 6-inch heels. Any of these looks will really spice up your 80s fashion fancy dress party, and make you the centre of attraction all night – guaranteed!

Fishnet stockings

Fishnet stockings

Finding the right 80s fashion fancy dress costume

Of course, no one is saying that these are the only 80s themed costume ideas for you to consider. In fact, you could google the term “eighties costumes” or “80s fancy dress” and a world of possibilities will come forth for you to mull over. However, to make your costume stand out:


  • Make sure your eighties fancy dress costume is planned ahead of time and coordinated with your host. You don’t want to be just another (one of 10!) people in a Top Gun outfit – or do you?


  • If you want to stand out from the crowd, be sure to include plenty of flash and bang in your outfits. Ideas for “outstanding” costumes include ones that piggy-back on the eighties era’s love for outrageous wigs and bright colours. Don’t forget to include those elements into your own 80s costume.


  • Don’t overthink your 80s themed party To really pull it off, all you need is a bit of imagination – and a quick trip down the 80s era clothing aisle at your local thrift store. Even if you don’t find the right size costume – don’t sweat it. A size too large or small won’t matter with all the fun and excitement going on.


The important thing about hosting or attending an 80s fashion fancy dress party is that you should learn to have fun. It doesn’t have to be the perfect outfit. And as long as you get a thrill putting it all together – you’re already the winner!