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Mens vintage 80s Fashion

October 19, 2014

Mens vintage 80s Fashion continued the trends for unisex clothing, although in the main, the peacockery of the Sixties and Seventies had almost entirely died out.

The main uniform for leisure was jeans and a t-shirt, though wild colour persisted in althletic wear – particularly the shell suit.

 80’s Fashion for Men

Shell suits were taken up as general casual wear but were designed as warm up items, trousers and jacket to be worn over shorts and t-shirt before you got out on the track.

So they were bright, baggy, and often had entertaining zips down the sides of the leg, meaning you could totally unzip someone’s trousers while passing by in the playground. The colours were astounding and the fabric was “technological” – i.e. crinkly nylon.

Mens vintage 80s Fashion-1980's Shell suit

1980’s Shell suit

Mens vintage 80s Fashion-Hypercolor Tees

Another technological fabric that was highly popular for a while was a colour changing jersey fabric, used for t-shirts.

It was heat sensitive, and supposedly responded to mood, but was more likely to go a bright contrasting colour under your arms, giving an attractively sweaty look.

Mens vintage 80s Fashion-Hypercolor colour change tees

Hypercolor colour change tees

80s T shirts

Generally t shirts were baggy, and highly emblazoned with slogans and logos.

Often they were sports brands, like Ellesse, Fila, Adidas and Puma, but also desirable “designer” brands got into mass market goods as well, so you saw Calvin Klein, Chanel, and Gucci logos on tees too.

Mens vintage 80s Fashion-Ellesse T Shirt

Ellesse T Shirt


T shirts also reflected your taste in films, bands, and culture – you might sport a Ghostbusters tee or one with Bonnie Tyler’s face on it.

This is also the decade when brands started to use free tees for advertising, and political slogans were stamped on them too.

Mens vintage 80s Fashion-Ghostbusters tee

Ghostbusters tee

80s Mens Fashion- the catwalk

On the catwalk, Jean Paul Gaultier put men in skirts, generally unsuccessfully, and Polo Ralph Lauren’s preppy look continued apace.

Mens vintage 80s Fashion-Gaultier man Skirt - SS85

Gaultier man Skirt – SS85


In terms of suits, Armani was king in 80’s Mens fashion, designing wide shouldered two piece suits with large lapels, and a softly nipped in waist reminiscent of 30s silhouettes.

The colours were a little softer than today, but still somber, with charcoal grey, airforce blue, and navy blue being dominant. Anne Klein and Ralph Lauren were also popular designers of the so called Power Suit.

80's fashion for men-Jean Michel Basquiat in Armarni

Jean Michel Basquiat in Armarni


Mens vintage 80s Fashion-Polo Ralph Lauren

Polo Ralph Lauren


The TV series Miami Vice was widely influential in introducing pastel menswear, such as jackets with rolled up sleeves, worn with a t shirt, not a shirt underneath, and sometimes with jeans.

Mens vintage 80s Fashion-Miami Vice

Miami Vice