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How to buy 80s clothing to put retro style into your current fashion

August 7, 2018

Wondering where and how to buy 80s clothing to create retro 80s fashion styles into current wardrobes? Look no further for the best tips on where to find and how to buy them!


From fancy dress tips and the popular leg warmer to power dressing ideas and pop star outfits. Find all the tips and techniques you need on how to buy 80s clothing right here

Injecting retro 80s style into your Twenty Ten closet

How to buy 80s clothing - Fashion for spring and summer publicity photo, 1986

Fashion for spring and summer publicity photo, 1986.
Seppo Konstig, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


You may have noticed that 80s clothing is back again and exploding all over the fashion scene. They include shoulder pads, fanny packs and high-waisted acid wash jeans to power dressing and throwback looks taken from the pop star styles of the 80s.    So, have you been wondering where to find and how to buy 80s clothing that is authentically from that decade and how to mash-up those clothes with your Twenty Ten wardrobe to give you a signature style?    Read on for the tips and tricks to finding the best 80s outfits and wearing them today.

How to buy 80s clothing Online – the world is your store!

There are all kinds of online stores and sites where you can find and learn how to buy 80s clothing.   You need to do some comparison shopping, though, to ensure you curate the styles and garments that have a timeless appeal and wear well with your current pieces.   Some places to browse and buy include:


Rusty Zipper

The “Rusty Zipper” store has a beautifully curated collection of high-quality clothes and accessories that you can mix and match with each other and your existing fashion to give you a fresh new take on 80s style.    You can find all the usual offerings from dresses, pants and tops to shoes and jewellery, but you can also find fun and whimsical stuff, like aprons, hats and leg warmer options.   Look for prints, fabrics and styles that mesh with your own personal style so you can easily incorporate your exciting new finds into your existing wardrobe to give you a fresh new look and also pays homage to the 80s.


Etsy is a great place for ideas on how to buy 80s clothing, and to find one-of-a-kind, authentic vintage pieces that no-one else in your network is going to have.    Go big with a coordinated collection of outfits combining hats, clothes, shoes, bags, fancy dress pieces and jewellery, or try the trend with a few carefully selected pieces that catch your eye and speak to you – the options are endless!


For more inspiration on how to buy 80s clothing, look no further than Modcloth for whimsical, current items with an 80s throwback look and style.  These are not vintage clothes, but outfits from dresses to shoes and jewellery that, when put together or worn as separate pieces, give you that retro 80s fashion look.   Their website curates the products for you and shows you how to wear them together, including putting matching or complimentary colours near each other, so you don’t have to do all the work of figuring out what shoes to wear with that dress!


The Asos market place brings together buyers and sellers from all over the world, so you have a vast selection of products to choose from.    Come here to rewind your look back to the 80s from glam wear to casual styles from head to toe.    Find authentic vintage 80s fashion or current takes on the 80s trends, whichever fits your mood of the moment – including the Asos Pop star embellished heels to add to your wardrobe.

Go Treasure Hunting in your Neighbourhood!

How to buy 80s clothing - The Westchester County Thrift Shop

The Westchester County Thrift Shop. Cornell University Library, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons


Another great place to explore ideas on how to buy 80s clothing is to visit your local thrift stores.     The ability to touch and feel the fabrics and textures, put outfits together on the fly and try them on, then take them home to rock at work or play the very next day – nothing tops that!   From an 80s style leg warmer to power dressing ensembles, everything is so reasonably priced that you’ll wonder why you didn’t brop by before!

How to buy 80s clothing – Consignment stores

If you are looking to splurge on something special, visit the high-end consignment stores in your city.  These stores have specialized, high-quality selections aimed at the discerning consumer and focused on particular decades in fashion, so your choices of 80s styles will be extensive and all of the best quality, including haute couture and designer brands that you won’t find anywhere else.


Yes, the clothes and accessories are relatively expensive, but if you find a high-quality piece that works well with the rest of your outfits, you will wear it again and again and enjoy the pleasure of having something no-one else does and standing out from the main-street fashion crowd.     These treasures pay for themselves over time, if you measure your purchase on the cost-per-use value it provides.

The Styles and Trends to Wear Now

There are certain 80s fashion trends that are a must-try when you are looking into how to buy 80s clothing and inject that throwback style into your current look.   These trends are having a moment now and there is no better time to jump on the band wagon and give them a whirl!

80s fancy dress Costumes

80s fancy dress Costumes.By Alan Light (CostumesUploaded by SunOfErat) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

How to buy 80s clothing – Fancy Dress

Those 80s trends don’t have to be re-fashioned for today’s work or play – go all out retro in 80s fancy dress for your next Halloween party or your next costume party!    It is easy and fun to find and learn how to buy 80s clothing at your local costume store or even your local thrift store.   All you need to do is look for the key trends of the 80s and make sure you pick clothes and accessories that display those trends.

How to buy 80s clothing – Punk rock and pop star style

Think punk rock and pop star style with plaid shirts worn open over slogan T-shirts, tucked into acid-wash jeans, pegged up over black Doc Martins, with plenty of metal hardware around your neck and wrists.

Off-the-shoulder tops, Tutu skirts and Leggings

Or go the other extreme with off-the-shoulder tops knotted at the waist, worn over tutu skirts, which are then worn over lycra cropped leggings.   Add lace gloves and a big floppy scarf tied in a bow in your teased, curly hair and you are rocking the early Madonna look!


Other fancy dress options are the Michael Jackson look for both boys and girls – leather jacket with plenty of hardware and big shoulder pads, worn over skinny black cropped pants, white socks and black loafers and don’t forget the single white sequined glove and the gelled hair.


Still more trends to rock are the Jane Fonda and Olivia Newton-John jazzercize looks of spandex or lycra body suits in solid, bold and bright colours, paired with equally bright head bands wrapped around your forehead, topped off with snazzy, jazzy leg warmers in contrasting colours over ballet flats, no actual sweating required!

Leg warmer styles for today

Leg and Ankle Warmers, Nishiki Market, Kyoto, Japan.

Leg and Ankle Warmers, Nishiki Market, Kyoto, Japan. Jay Bergesen, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


The key to bringing the Jane Fonda-style leg warmer trend out of the 80s and into today is to make or buy them in neutral-coloured, winter-warm fabrics like fair isle knits, lacy white or cream knits or striped autumnal coloured knits.   Then wear them up to your knees under your high brown or black leather winter boots under a short dress or skirt, or wear them over your skinny leggings or jeans under big, cozy sweaters and over your ankle boots.    They also look cool worn with minis and Mary Janes.    They add warmth, texture and style to your cool weather outfits so rock them like its 1980!

How to buy 80s clothing – Pop star trends

The 80s were the decade of global music icons like Michael Jackson, Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, or rock bands like U2, Metallica or Aerosmith – all of them set their own fashion trends and here is how to buy 80s clothing that pays tribute to many a pop star:


  • Go for the peacock punk look of rock stars like Boy George and Price, and buy neon makeup, flamboyant hair colours, heavy metal accessories and lots of black leather.


How to buy 80s clothing - 80s Fashion Tracksuit

80s Fashion Tracksuit. See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


  • Rock the cool and casual hip hop style of Fresh Prince, Run-D.M.C. and LL Cool J by throwing together parachute pants, an oversized signature jacket and high-top sneakers.


  • Madonna had many different pop star looks you can try: leather jackets, mini tutu skirts, scrunchies and big floppy bows in her hair, masses of chains and pearls around her neck, bright red lips and big hair in a mass of curls.   She went from one extreme to the other:  virginal ruffled and laced white tops to black leather corset tops, white cropped tees under big jean jackets to neon-coloured tee shirts with the sleeves rolled up and one shoulder bare.   Madonna’s vibe also included cropped tops made of black fishnet, worn over black bras or on top of white T-shirts, depending on her mood.     Whichever look you pick to rock, don’t forget to add layers of pearls and chains, a black choker around your throat and a big colourful bow in your hair.


  • You can also go totally disco ala Kool & The Gang and rock fluorescent bright, flashy and sexy 80s tops in lycra or spandex, worn with skin-tight mini-skirts in animal print patterns.

How to buy 80s clothing – Power Dressing

Power dressing in the 80s was all about the shoulders – on suits, dresses, blazers, jackets and tops – the bigger and more exaggerated, the better!    Rock the look today by going with a modern take on the power suit:  sharp, pointed but still subtle shoulders, nipped-in waist, shirt optional, skinny cropped pants over stilettos.


It’s fun to know how to buy 80s clothing. You can adopt power dressing even by raiding your older relative’s closets or visiting your thrift stores and picking out pant suits in bright colours, preferably double-breasted. And don’t forget to look for big shoulder pads!

Shop all 80s clothing