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A look back at five of the greatest 80s fashion trends

July 4, 2018

From high waisted fashion to parachute pants, and everything else in between, we’ll look back at the decade and review five of the greatest 80s fashion trends.


Nothing says eighties like the shoulder pad and the washed jean. Fashion icons from that decade, including Princess Diana and Brooke Shields popularised five of the greatest 80s fashion trends

Collage of photos of musicians from the 1970s/80s

Collage of photos of musicians from the 1970s/80s.
TimDuncan, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Five of the greatest 80s fashion trends – Eighties look back

Thanks to the celebrity status of personalities like Princess Diana, Madonna and Brooke Shields, the eighties produced some of the most memorable fashion trends. Looking back over what’s known affectionately as “the decade of decadence”, some five of the greatest 80s fashion trends became synonymous with the iconic figures who defined them.


Take the shoulder pad look, for example. Any one with a keen sense of eighties fashion will instantaneously link the wide shouldered look with Britain’s very own Princess Diana. Of course, across the Atlantic the shoulder pad was being popularised by other larger-than-life personalities, like TV show Dynasty’s Joan Collins.

  • Five of the greatest 80s fashion trends – High waisted fashion


High waisted pants and jeans are near the top of our list of five of the greatest 80s fashion trends. That’s because they are have history going back to the Zoot Suit of the 1940s. But today, celebrities like Britain’s Pixie Lott, and Selena Gomez, Kim Kardashian and Lady Gaga have all embraced high waisted fashion with great enthusiasm.


  • Parachute pants

Way before parachute pants become an icon of 80s fashion trends in the west, they were in-trend wear in many parts of Asia, Africa and even in parts of Europe.  It was MC Hammer, the celebrated rapper who revived parachute pants (then known as “Hammer Pants”) and created a buzz for them anew.


Today, the Harem look is on our list of five of the greatest 80s fashion, albeit in its more contemporary parachute pants reincarnation, is making a strong comeback. Anyone watching the celeb scene would surely have seen icons like Heidi Klum, Justin Bieber Rhianna and Jay Lo trooping around in parachute pants.


  • The Shoulder pad

When featuring five of the greatest 80s fashion trends, we can’t omit the iconic shoulder pad. A staple in the wardrobe of Princess Diana, the shoulder pad was an 80s look that gave power to women at all levels.


Popular stars like Brooke Shields and Joan Collins then went on to cement the place of the shoulder pad into the annals of 80s fashion history. But recently TOWIE star Gemma Collins brought renewed interest to this eighties fashion icon.

American fashion model Renée Gunter modeling haute couture in Paris in 1981 wearing Thierry Mugler

American fashion model Renée Gunter modeling haute couture in Paris in 1981 wearing Thierry Mugler, By Renée Gunter CC BY 3.0 httpcreativecommons.orglicensesby3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

  • The Power suit

Back in the 80s, Britain’s own Maggie Thatcher burst onto the world stage wearing her power suit. That was an occasion that said to the world, about women: We’ve arrived! More recently, U.S presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wore her version of the power suit at the Democratic National Convention.


Today, young professionals are embracing the power suit in drives, and making it their own. Tailored trousers and crisp executive blazers are all part of the contemporary power suit ensemble for the modern working lady!

80s jacket and jeans

80s jacket and jeans

  • Five of the greatest 80s fashion trends – The washed jean look

The washed jean was created into an 80s fashion phenomenon out of the desire to make new clothes look slightly used! And while Levi Strauss & Co lay claim to inventing the technique in the 1950s, stone washing to create the washed jean look is supposed to have been perfected in the 1980s by Japanese clothing manufacturer EDWIN.


To whomever goes the credit for creating the washed jean – one thing is undisputed: It inspired a slew of 80s fashion trends that live on even today!


Fast forward to today, and this item from our list of five of the greatest 80s fashion is still ever popular. The washed jean from Off White’s collection made quite a stir recently. And then, retailers like ASOS saw an uptick in the sale of washed blues. All of this points to the fact that the humble washed jean more than deserves a place as an entry on five of the greatest 80s fashion pieces.

Resurgence of 80s fashion trends

And guess what? Many of the 80s fashion trends that set the fashion world ablaze back then, are making a fiery comeback, including five of the greatest 80s fashion pieces! Take the indomitable shoulder pad, for example. The recent revival of the popular eighties TV show Dynasty, with a younger, more vibrant cast, have put the shoulder pad back en vogue!


And as a fashionista, surely you can’t have overlooked how popular the washed jean look has become once more? But today’s washed fashion has a twist to it. Back when it was first introduced, largely due to limitation of fabric and production technologies, the washed jean was mostly available in darker colours. But Not anymore!


Everywhere you look today, in shopping malls and pubs, and in street corners and on trains and buses – you’ll see a fusion of contemporary and 80s fashion trends that create today’s washed jean look. They are brighter coloured and more rugged. You can even find high waisted fashion for your favourite washed jean from some manufacturers.

This resurgence is all about reinventing and reviving 80s fashion trends to make them more fashionable and in-style for today!

Five of the greatest 80s fashion trends – Disclaimers

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