CALL US NOW: 0207-700-2354
FREE UK shipping on orders £40+ (excl. sale items)

Seven retro shell suit jacket classics that will take your breath away

March 11, 2018

No one thought these seven retro shell suit jacket classics would survive this long when they first hit the fashion scene in the eighties and nineties – but they did, and are ever-popular today!


Considered an 80s and 90s leisurewear, these seven retro shell suit jacket classics were a staple that could be found in almost every wardrobe around the world. It’s no wonder that, over the years, they have been revived, re-energized and re-invented into a timeless classic.

Countdown to seven retro shell suit jacket classics

US_Army_Cavalry_Sergeant_1866_(Bis) By O.H. Willard's Galleries, Oliver H. Willard (American, active 1850s–70s, died 1875), 1206 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


First introduced as a military garment back in the 19th century, the shell suit jacket is a top that flows just down to hip level. While none of the seven retro shell suit jacket classics discussed here are “battle ready”, they do have a shared history with British troops that wore shell jackets when participating in colonial campaigns prior to the 1870s, when the practice was discontinued.


Today it’s not uncommon to see the shell jacket donned by punks, metalheads, greasers and bikers alike. But many of the seven retro shell suit jacket classics featured in this post were also worn by celebrities and fashionistas through the 80s, 90s and even today.


These seven retro shell suit jacket classics have had significant impact on the fashion scene when they first made their debut. And because of their timeless charm and appeal to fashion lovers of all ages, they are still relevant today:

1) The Michael Jackson Look:

The first one of our seven retro shell suit jacket classics was immortalized by none other than MJ himself. Worn in numerous music videos and on concert stages, the MJ shell suit jacket look propelled this timeless piece of functional clothing into fashion history.


The King of Pop preferred his retro shell jacket just a tad bit lose for him – as it was intended. His look often saw the jacket’s elasticated wrists ride half-way up his hands – almost to elbow level.


All of the seven retro shell suit jacket classics highlighted here can be worn as stand-alone pieces, or in combination with other fashion items – like jeans or shell suit trousers. That’s how MJ preferred to wear his – ensuring his signature white socks were clearly visible at the bottom of the shell pants.

2) The David Icke Look:

If anyone has any recollections of the 1990s, the David Icke shell suit jacket look will hardly be news to them. This footballer turned sports broadcaster and conspiracy theorist was well known for his shell suit look. The second of our seven retro shell suit jacket classics revolves around that classic Icke look.


It’s true, that fashion knows no boundaries. So, even though Icke was somewhat of a “controversial” figure, his now famous “Turquoise period” propelled the turquoise shell jacket and trouser into fashion history. And if you do believe that colours do have an influence on one’s personality – like Icke did – then this selection from our list of seven retro shell suit jacket classics might be the one for you!


Ali G,By User Sj on en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ali G, By User Sj on en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

3) The Ali G Rebranded Look:

Shell wear, either worn just as a shell top jacket or combined with shell trousers, have become mainstream wear. Everyone from sports icons to rappers and even politicians (think Jeremy Corbyn!) are wearing them. Next on our list of seven retro shell suit jacket classics is a look revived by Ali G.


To pull off the authentic Ali G rapper look, you’ll need to make sure that your shell suit jacket matches perfectly with the rest of your costume. Shop around for an adult male yellow shell jacket and trouser suit, preferably made from PVC. The matching elasticated waist trousers, hooded jacket and hat are a must to complete this unique look.

Yeo Man – Ali g in da house!!!

Retro shell suit jacket - Elton John -

Elton John – Tracksuit


4) Retro shell suit jacket – The Elton John Look:

This next shell look from our list of seven retro shell suit jacket classics doesn’t need any introduction. Even though it was popularised by none other than Rocket Man, Sir Elton John, it represents a rather down to earth look!


While you don’t really need to go high-end, as Sir Elton usually does with his wear, you can easily pull off that classic Elton John look with a retro shell suit jacket from Adidas or another contemporary designer/manufacturer. Just don’t forget the accessories – large shell-rimmed glasses and baseball cap to go!


Seven retro shell suit jacket classics that will take your breath away

Review: Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse, Manchester Apollo – Dave Lafferty – Manchester Evening News

5) Retro shell suit jacket – The Harry Enfield Look:

This classical look, based on timeless comical 90s Liverpudlian characters made famous by Harry Enfield, makes the cut on our list of seven retro shell suit jacket classics because of its “light hearted” approach to shell fashion.


That “king of the terrace” look is ideal when preparing for a fancy dress party. The shell jacket should ideally be paired with yellow and purple elasticated trousers. And finally, add a Scouser curly wig with accompanying moustache – and you’re all done

6) Retro shell suit jacket – 80s Throwback Shell Look:

If you are one of those nostalgic types, then the next item on our list of seven retro shell suit jacket classics will definitely make you feel right at home. To pull off this 80s throwback shell look, you need to find a shell jacket that’s just a tad bit larger than your usual size.


The 80s was a time of fashion “excesses” – so a one-size-too-large shell suit, along with an accompanying pair of trousers should easily help pull off that throwback look. Make sure your shell jacket features lots of pink and green neon colours, and bottom out that look with a pair of throwback sneakers or joggers – preferably with hints of neon too!

7) Retro shell suit jacket – The Skater Girl Look:

The last on our list of seven retro shell suit jacket classics is one that may look “scandalous” at first; but if you’re up to livening things up just a bit, this look may be what you should aim for.


Ideal for a fancy dress party, or for any retro-themed get-together, the Skater Girl look comes with a neon shell jacket – preferably blue or pink, paired with a contrasting – think yellow or red – pair of shell shorts. A cotton Boob tube worn underneath the shell jacket makes your skater girl look complete.


The eighties desire to merge fashion, sports and comfort together gave birth to the shell suit. Today, these elements have been combined together and have given rise to a brand new fashion trend called “athleisure wear”. All of the seven retro shell suit jacket classics discussed here have made fashion history in one form or another – whether traditionally or under somewhat controversial circumstances. However, they have all stood the test of time, and are ever popular even today.


In order to ensure that we give you the most personalised browsing experience here, you may be requested to accept cookies from our site. Please note that by voluntarily proceeding further, we assume that you consent to receiving and accepting cookies from this site.


We guarantee that cookies on all Blue17 vintage websites are safe and harmless, and do not collect any financial or confidential information. Your consent to receive all cookies is required to enable us to tailor our content based on your specific preference, and with no other malicious intent.

currency conversion

By default, all content is represented in English and transactions will be in GBP (£GBP). However, you can switch currency and language by clicking the globe icon above. Clicking on the globe icon will enable language and currency translations. This will enable you to receive a more personalised, and individually customised browsing experience on our website.


Please note however that globe icon currency translations act only as a rough guide, and could vary from the original English language content/pricing. Because of hourly/daily exchange rate fluctuations, the currency translations act as a guide only. You are encouraged to seek further confirmation of actual rates of exchange/currency translations from your independent sources such as your Bank, Financial institutions or licensed currency exchanges.

Other rates/taxes

While we provide standard product prices here on our website, additional rates/taxes such as Royal Mail shipping charges may also apply.
Blue17 uses cookies to ensure that only relevant content is offered to its customers and visitors to this site. This ensures that we continue to give you the best experience possible, without unduly violating your privacy or browsing preferences.


By willingly agreeing to continue we assume that you have read and understood all of the terms and conditions laid out in this Disclaimer section. Your express willingness to continue also indicates that you understand that without your express consent to receive all cookies, content viewed by you could vary, leaving you with a less than ideal experience on our website.


Shop Shell Suits



Michael Jackson wearing 80s shell suit, Image from Pinterest user, BB

David Icke, Image fromTwitter user, MemoryAssistant

shellsuit-purple From

Image from user at tumblr, screaminxxoutfits


Vintage shell suit tops

80s Shell Suit Tops Video

Clothing style comeback: Resurgence of 80s shell suit tops

Five Vintage Shell Suit Styles That Took The World By Surprise!

Find 1980s shell suit tops, and where to buy neon fitted suits

80s Shell Suit is Perfect for Fancy Dress Parties!

The versatile 90s shell suit – a must for every wardrobe

David Icke adopts and epitomizes the 1980s shell suit

Pulling the shell suit 90s style look – Casual and work wear

Shell suit 80s style to rock your next 80s costume party!

The versatile and always-fashionable shell suit jacket

Shell suit tracksuit history and how to rock the look today

The best places to find and buy your shell suit for sale

Wear a vintage shell suit and show your fashion-forward savvy

History, sourcing and styling womens shell suit fashions

Rock a pink shell suit at your next fancy dress party!

Gold shell suit ideas that light-up any fancy dress costume party

Rock a vintage Nike shell suit for a party or everyday wear

Mens shell suit and the ways and means to rock this look