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What goes around comes around, including retro 80s fashion

August 23, 2018

Retro 80s fashion is back, reworked, refreshed and combined with current styles to deliver a modern spin on a throwback look. Today’s fashionistas can rock 80s fashion and be totally current while doing so.

Retro 80s fashion for the twenty tens. How to combine throwback styles with today’s trends for a contemporary, modern take on 80s fashion.



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Retro 80s fashion flashback

Remember the 80s? The decade that exploded with neon colours, multi-generational music icons like Michael Jackson and Madonna, must-see movies like “Back to the Future” and “E.T.”, cult TV shows like “Full House” and “MacGyver” that are being revived today to mass appeal and the fashion – high waisted mom jeans, out-to-there shoulder pads everywhere, from skimpy one-shoulder tops to power suits, animal print everything and evening wear that took its inspiration from “Dallas” style form-fitting sequins, spandex, lycra and velvet.


It was a time of so many different fashion trends and fashion styles, with influencers ranging from the global supermodels of the day – Naomi, Cheryl, Cindy, Evangelista – to the conservatively preppy Sloan Ranger looks popularized by Lady Diana, to the extremely popular and widely copied fashion trends set by Madonna, Cindi Lauper, Bananarama, Prince, Boy George and Michael Jackson. There was no lack of inspiration in the 80s!


Look no further for a hit of retro 80s fashion that you can make your own today! 80s fashion for the Twenty Tens takes the key trends of yesterday and updates them in subtle and modern ways to keep you looking fresh with an ironic look back over your shoulder to 80s glam.


Retro 80s fashion - Bananarama


High Waisted Jeans

Picture Gigi and Bella Hadid strutting their stuff down the sidewalks of Paris and New York, rocking acid wash denim jeans with high waists in either an exaggerated flare or in tapered “mom jean” styles with the pegged hem look so popular in 80s fashion.


Modernize this look by pairing your retro 80s fashion jeans with cropped tight athleisure tops in a breathable lycra mix, showing off your toned abs. Finish the style with uber-cool sneakers or high-tops a la Converse for the tapered leg jean, or high-heeled white ankle boots for the flared jean.

Don’t forget to add reflective sunnies and a fanny pack for a true retro 80s look.


Fanny Packs

Called “Belt Bags” or “Waist Bags” today, the fanny pack is back in a big way! Rock a modern take on this retro 80s fashion look by wearing the small bag off to the side of your waist or even slung around your neck. They come in modern fabrications, colours, textures and styles today, no longer the solid tone brightly coloured plastic fabrics of the past. Picture a Gucci belt bag in the house’s iconic colours and patterns, worn over the classic, timeless combo of a white T-shirt tucked into dark wash skinny jeans. Or take an extremely popular Bendel bag in pale denim blue for a spin over your floral summer dress, cinched around your waist to highlight your curves and finish the look with coordinated dark denim keds.


As contemporary fashion trends go, there’s the classic black waist bag, worn dressed down over a denim mini skirt or dressed up over a white button-down and cropped skinny black pants, small enough to be discreet yet large enough to carry your essentials of modern living.


So many choices and so many ways to rock the retro 80s fanny pack today!



Leather Fanny Pack


Shoulder Pads

In the 80s, shoulder pads were ubiquitous, both in men’s and women’s fashion. You saw them in tops, dresses, jumpsuits, jackets, and pretty much anything that had a sleeve. Today, they are used more selectively, and are much smaller in size. Picture Balmain-style silky tops with structured shoulders, tucked into high waisted tops. Or tailored tuxedo-style suit jackets worn with skinny pants, shirt optional, gracing the red carpet with sharp pointy shoulders drawing the eye to tiny waists.


You also see the reinvention of shoulder pads in large, oversized slouchy fall and winter coats, part of the cocoon trend.

Finally, add some pizzazz to your one-shoulder top with single shoulder pads emphasizing the full-length sleeve and contrasting with a full skirt or pant as counterpoint.

Retro 80s fashion – Animal Print

Animal print was an extremely popular component of the 80s fashion trend. You’d see it on dresses, blouses, shirts, skirts, shoes and bags. You can bring back this retro 80s fashion look for a modern yet timeless style by injecting the print selectively with accessories – high-heeled or kitten-heeled pumps and structured bags being a favourite – and pairing them with red, black, white or grey outfits, where the print acts as a neutral. Alternatively, go bold with an animal print dress, blouse or pants but keep it classic by staying with the natural hues from nature – think leopard prints, zebra stripes or cheetah colours.

If going with innovative hues, stick with lighter shades – pastel or pale combinations – to keep the look current and not costume-like.

Retro 80s fashion – Power Dressing

Closely linked with the big shoulder pads and bright colours of the 80s, power dressing was an 80s fashion trend that was epitomized by powerful people like Maggie Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and the like. They wore their suits with exaggerated shoulders, double-breasted jackets and pleated pants or pencil skirts.


Today’s power dressing is a variation on the retro 80s fashion that is available to everyone, not just power brokers.   Pair tailored blazers with laid-back jeans and sneakers or layered over soft, floaty dresses for a juxtaposition of texture, style and look.    Combine high waisted tailored pants in menswear fabric with feminine, girly tops tucked in.   Choose tailored jumpsuits or structured sheath dresses to radiate the power dressing look for today’s consumption.


570px- Retro 80s fashion - John Travolta and Princess Diana

John Travolta and Princess Diana

Retro 80s fashion – Evening Wear Glam

When re-working retro 80s fashion, one great place to look for inspiration is evening wear, then bring the look forward with current fabrications and cuts.


Supermodels and TV stars from the great soaps like “Dallas” and “Dynasty” led the evening wear glam look, with their long, slinky dresses in bold primary colours like red, indigo, green and the classic black or white, worn strapless, one-shouldered or with exaggerated shoulders and long sleeves.  Materials for these fashion trends from the 80s were embellished with sequins, or were constructed out of spandex, leather, lycra or velvet, with plenty of sheen and shimmer. Feathers or ruffles were used to up the glam factor and make “look at me” statements of style.


Pull those extremely popular looks into your evening wear today by picking up on the glimmer and gleaming effect but using current fabrics for their wrinkle-free and curve-flattering qualities. Sequins are a timeless look, as are silk and satin effects, done in modern ways. Strapless or spaghetti straps make the style current yet classic. Dress the look down with a casually-draped moto jacket in black leather and you are evening wear glam all the way!


INSPIRATION Links:[i] [ii] [iii]






Bella Hadid as Black Widow
Animal print High Heeled Shoes