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A Look Back at 80s glam fashion and Reworking the Look for Today

April 29, 2018

From the big hair and big shoulders to the animal prints and gold lame, 80s glam fashion was inspired by punk rock bands, Supermodels and style icons ranging from Madonna to Joan Collins.


Look no further than here for a look back at 80s glam fashion and a look forward on how to rework the 1980s fashion trend for today.

The roots of 80s glam fashion

Music, fashion, television and global celebrities all influenced the 1980s fashion trends and the 80s rocked with the big, bold makeup and loud, bright fashion style adopted by these trend-setters.

80s glam fashion – Music icons

From the world of music, we saw the punk rock influence of David Bowie who embodied 80s glam fashion style with his spiky big hair, androgynous costumes, thick makeup, spandex, washed denim, platform shoes, animal prints and metallic embellishments everywhere. Some of the key 80s rock fashion trends were:


  • Big Hair – big hair was a huge 80s trend across all genres, but none more so than in music.  Rock stars had permed, teased hair, spiked up with plenty of gel and hair spray and with multi-coloured strands and layers thrown in for added impact.


  • Bright Makeup – the 80s rocked with outrageous eye makeup and face paint. From white face paint to all the colours of the rainbow, rock stars put on their masks to take center stage. They also added plenty of glitter to the mix.


  • Animal Prints – another 80s glam fashion trend that crossed all boundaries, and was a key part of punk rock style was the animal print. From zebras and leopards to cheetahs and tigers, the prints were all over the jungle and in all possible colour combinations.


  • Metallics – 80s 80s glam fashion was studded, pinned, draped and spiked with silver, gold, brass and bronze spikes, studs, chains and buttons.     No rocker look was complete without the metal-adorned jacket, boots, cuffs or chains.


At the other end of the music spectrum was Madonna, who set an 80s trend with her naughty yet nice looks of lace and leather corsets, masses of chains and pearls around her neck, finger gloves, big bold red lips, and a big bow in her hair.

Fashion Vintage Icons

Fashion Vintage

When you think of 1980s style and in particular, 80s glam fashion, you cannot ignore the international influence of the global supermodels like Ell MacPherson, Cheryl Tiegs, Kim Alexis, Brooke Shields, Jill Goodacre, Paulina Porizkova and Cindy Crawford. They set the 80s theme with big shoulder pads in their leather jackets worn over their Calvin Klein jeans, or looked glamorous in their skin-tight satin, spandex, leather, lame or silk strap gowns with plunging necklines and narrow long skirts. The hair was as big as it could get, usually layered and worn long and loose.

Other 1980s  Style Icons

A look back at 1980s style would not be complete without re-visiting the 80s glam fashion style trends trail-blazed by Joan Collins, Linda Evans and the other ladies from the TV series “Dynasty”.  Picture silky distended shoulders in double-breasted blazers, worn with wide-brimmed hats embellished with big black bows.

They wore fur coats, velvet dresses, gold and silver chain belts and shiny patent stiletto pumps or sky-high strappy sandals.

A Look Back at 80s glam fashion and Reworking the Look for Today

Lady Diana set her own 80s trend the preppy way with demure frilled blouses worn with midi skirts and loafers. When she wore her party dresses, though, she rocked 80s glam fashion like no-one else: drop-waisted one-shoulder gowns, bright pink strap taffeta gowns, sheer layered gowns, colour-blocked gowns and gowns with lots of embellishment:  ruffles on the shoulders, big bows around the waist, sparkled and sequined – she wore them all with grace and style.

80s Theme Glam for Today

Fashion is cyclical – what goes around, comes around.  You can rock 80s glam fashion trends on the street or at your next 80s fashion party or 80s disco costume party with these iconic looks:


  • Animal prints – wild prints in bold colours were how they wore animal prints in 80s glam fashion. Make it your look today by picking just one item in this print, like a coat or jacket.  Then pair it with casual pieces like skinny dark wash jeans and a hoodie to tone it down and make it street.   Or glam it up for your 80s theme party and go all out with everything animal print, from mini dress to booties and add lots of gold chains to finish the look.


  • One shoulder tops – fitted and padded, these were big in 80s glam fashion. Today’s look is less structured, usually in a knit fabric instead of the silks and satins of yesterday.   Wear over a short-sleeved tee shirt to make it casual or over your favourite pair of jeans for your 80s disco party.


  • Shoulder pads – you saw these everywhere in the 80s – think 80s prom night dance floors full of girls in puffy shoulder dresses and tops.    Wear the trend today in a loose boxy jacket over narrow cropped pants.   Throw a puffer jacket over it all to take it outside or wear a lacy body suit underneath to glam it up.


We hope you’ve been inspired by the trail-blazing 1980s fashion and trends of the 80s glam fashions to rock the look at your next 80s fashion party or rework the look for today.

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