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80s Shell Suit is Perfect for Fancy Dress Parties!

April 14, 2019

Looking for inspiration for an 80s fancy dress event?  Then go for an 80s shell suit, a track suit reimagined in bright nylon and worn from TV shows to street corners!


The 80s shell suit fancy dress costume cannot be beat when you want something to stand out it. This height of fashion trend from the 1980s had a brief but enduring moment in the era of style, so wear it for your next 80s fashion event!


Alternatively, look for modern spins on the eighties shell for a way to incorporate this standout look into your current style resume.

Ensemble neon shell suits

Ensemble neon shell suits

80s Shell Suit Backstory

The 80s shell suit evolved from the 70s track suit and was re-imagined as jacket and trousers in brightly coloured, shiny nylon fabrications, highly prized by the break dancing and hip-hop enthusiasts of the eighties era.


For a short while, this height of fashion shell suit was the epitome of cool street style and especially popular with the rebel crowd as a symbol of non-conformity.


The eighties shell also become synonymous with Liverpool street style, paired with bubble perms and a broad Liverpudlian accent, ala David Icke. This fashion stereotype is still associated with Liverpool style today.


By the 1990s, the 80s shell suit was waning in its ubiquitous popularity and had devolved into a niche fashion sense followed only by true believers who felt this once height of fashion on trend look still evoked their style spirit.

Adidas light blue 1980s shell suit

Adidas light blue 1980s shell suit

80s shell suit fancy dress costume

While the eighties shell suit may have already had its fashion moment, it is still a great choice as a feature for fancy dress costume, perfect for your next 1980s themed event!


You can find yourself a wide array of interesting and versatile options on eBay at price points that work for your budget. You can even source yourself an original, authentic 80s shell suit from back in the day, if you don’t want to go with a current take on this trend.


Pair your 80s shell suit with a permed wig, high top sneakers and a boombox to finish the themed fancy dress costume to perfection!


Look for sneakers with multiple angled stripes on the sides or, if you can find them, Reebok or Nike retro sneakers will give you that authentic throwback look.   Wear them in white to complete your outfit.


Pop on a brightly coloured headband, add a heavy chain embellishment and you could be an extra on TV shows like those made popular by Harry Enfield and the retro Scouser style in the 80s and 90s.

Nike Dark blue shell suit

Nike Dark blue shell suit


This height of fashion shell suit from the 1980s and 1990s may be seeing a non-costume-y resurgence as a twist on the athleisure and active wear trends that are so au courant right now.

Purple Contrast Two Piece

Purple Contrast Two Piece


Designers like Gucci and Alessandro Michele are including reinventions of the 1980s shell suit in their Spring and Summer collections.


Michele’s current Spring/Summer collection has a huge throwback look and feel with big shoulder pads, fanny packs and the iconic eighties shell suit all taking their turn down the catwalk.


Look for re-imagined takes on the classic 1980s shell suit in pastel rather than bright colours, elastic cuffs, broad white zippers, logos on the jacket and trousers and extra special touches like crystal flames embellishing the sleeves.


Prada’s spin on the shell suit was done in navy, a very different colouration from the eighties original neon-bright colours and a more modern way to incorporate this throwback classic into your current look.


Valentino showed off their own version of the shell suit, this time in strong primary colours like red, green and, as a nod to true eighties fashion, also in bubble gum pink.

Retro trend

If you want to take the 80s shell suit for a spin in today’s world, the best way to incorporate this retro trend into your current wardrobe is to break up the jacket and trousers and wear them as separate pieces with your modern neutrals.


Look for the re-imagined shell suit in high-quality heavy fabrications and dark washes, which elevates these pieces into timeless classics.


Throw on the 80s shell jacket over a classic white T-shirt tucked half-tucked into your khaki cargos or pale wash skinny jeans, then pair with pristine white sneakers for a look that says street savvy casual-chic style.


Or pair your 80s shell joggers with a fitted blouse fully tucked in, pant hems casually rolled up and the outfit paired with high heeled pumps or timeless yet so trendy white ankle booties for an amplified fashion statement.


Mens Adidas shell suit

Mens Adidas shell suit

Places to source your 80s shell suit

If you are looking for an old-school authentic and vintage 80s shell suit, head on over the vintage section of Blue 17, where a literal treasure trove of colourful and original selections awaits you. You can also check out the global online market places at Etsy, or even on eBay or Amazon, and you will find literally hundreds of options to choose from.


These would be great places to get your shell suit on the cheap, for your unique fancy dress costume, when you don’t want to invest a ton of money in a novelty purchase.


Alternatively, you will also find high-quality timeless classics in good fabrications and versatile colours on Party Delights, if you want to mashup the look with your current style.


eBay and Amazon also offer a huge selection of shell suit options for you to choose from.


If you want to source yourself a modern take on the 80s shell suit from a premier fashion house, head on over to your local consignment or discount store and you are sure to find authentic pieces by Gucci and other top-end designers for a fraction of the original price.


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