When it comes to ’80s fashion, we have a (surprising) amount to be thankful for. While the decade previously hadn’t influenced our wardrobes for a long time, in recent years, we’ve come to the realisation that all the most current trends today are courtesy of the ’80s. Now, if you’re not too familiar with the nuances of this era, there are a few standout looks we’re sure you’ll recognise: big shoulders, white jeans, underwear as outerwear and oversize jewellery. It was the decade of the power dresser but also of punks. It gave us Madonna, Sade, Tina Turner and Cher, plus numerous other superstars whose sense of style influences many right now.
Don’t believe us? From the fact that Princess Diana’s archive is inspiring some of the world’s most influential designers to the more basic resurgence in women wearing blazers with jeans again, we’ve found 36 A-list images that prove these ’80s fashion looks are as current now as they were then. Keep scrolling to click through our gallery of iconic ’80s outfits.
Style Notes: This is classic ’80s Madonna, but the underwear/bodysuit look is bang on the money for now. You can forgo the pearls—just wear yours with some high-waisted jeans for a night out.
Style Notes: As if we needed any more proof that Cher is the ultimate style queen, here was the star doing the naked dress before everyone was doing it at the Met Gala (and every other award show going).
Style Notes: Brooke Shields was America’s number one sweetheart back in the ’80s, and here she proves exactly why.
Style Notes: The Jenner/Kardashian clan already has this look down. But the originator of this style? Another Kim. Kim Basinger.
Style Notes: Okay, so the term “structured shoulders” is just another way for us to say “shoulder pads” and attempt to not freak you out, but we’ve seen a real trend toward this look. Shout-out to Courteney Cox for wearing this on the red carpet pre–Monica Gellar days.
Style Notes: Avid readers of this site will know that we’ve already tried out this corset-type look. And while Kim Kardashian West has been a major factor as to why it’s gotten popular again, we can’t deny that Cyndi Lauper may have started the trend. Also: those zebra shoes.
Style Notes: Joan Collins is so incredible in this snap. Is there anything we don’t love about it? Answer: No. The jacket, the simple black top, the red lippie… However, it’s the gobstopper necklace our magpie eyes focus on. Joan knows the power incredible jewellery has in pulling together an outfit.
Style Notes: There were so many incredible outfits we could have included from Princess Diana, but we settled on this “country-casual” one. The heritage check on her jacket and matching skirt are classic attire. Not only has this Harrington-style jacket made a comeback in hipster circles, but we’re also seeing plaid coats everywhere. Coincidence? We think not.
Style Notes: Want to know the real way to update your outfit to be 2020-ready? Just add socks à la Meg Ryan. Yes, really.
Style Notes: Grace Jones will never be anything less than fierce, but this incredible look has been seared onto our minds. Who wouldn’t want to look so focused in a razor-sharp piece of tailoring? (Purple makeup optional, of course.)
Style Notes: Kylie Minogue wore a lot of high-shine minidresses like this. Get inspired by investing in 2020’s version with a great miniskirt. (They’re selling out everywhere right now.)
Style Notes: We have some serious love for high-waisted jeans. Tina Turner pulls this look off with aplomb, and we have to agree: Bauble earrings and a white vest are great accessories.
Style Notes: Well, how else do you expect to show off your socks? Thanks to Demi Moore for inspiring us all those years ago.
Style Notes: Debbie Harry has brought us many a trend. But during the ’80s, we got to see her in chic little black dresses, which she accessorised a flash of low denier at most times. And in case you didn’t know, that kind of hosiery is news again.
Style Notes: We’ve seen this trend start to appear on trousers, from old-school joggers to jeans with shiny gold buttons, as well as on the classic Balmain blazers that remain forever popular. Jerry Hall’s gold buttons down her nautical blazer and accessorised with gold bracelets made for the ultimate ’80s power look.
Style Notes: True, Goldie Hawn didn’t invent the off-the-shoulder style, but she knew how to do it right.
Style Notes: Joan Jett will never be anything less than cool. Her punk-inspired ensembles often involved oversize jackets and skintight trousers. While leggings have definitely come on a bit since then, take inspo from this look and pair your leggings (or black skinny jeans) with a leather jacket this weekend.
Style Notes: Things tended to be pretty oversize during the ’80s, and no other item was as exaggerated as the blazer. This is totally Balenciaga, no?
Style Notes: When aren’t sequins a great idea? As seen on Diana Ross, this look is making us wish the festive season were already here.
Style Notes: Yes, the ’70s might have been the era for bodysuits, but with the ’80s came extra bits like tassels.
Style Notes: The vinyl coat trend has been everywhere in 2020 (and will continue the rest of the year). But it was in the ’80s when one of the original supermodels, Cindy Crawford, made it look iconic.
Style Notes: Model Pat Cleveland knew how to make a graphic tee look chic. It’s still one of our favourite outfits for the weekend.
Style Notes: Susan Sarandon is just one of the reasons we love Alessandro Michele’s oversize Gucci sunglasses.
Style Notes: Before Sex and the City, SJP was already pushing the fashion boundaries.
Style Notes: Geek-chic glasses might be commonplace now, but it was during the ’80s that they really took off. While we might all be into metal frames right now, we predict that coloured frames, as seen here on Jane Fonda, will be making a comeback.
Style Notes: Daryl Hannah’s got all the accessories a decent ’80s look should have, but you’ll notice time and again that gloves (especially with layered jewellery) are key for this decade.
Style Notes: Sarah Ferguson and Diana, Princess of Wales, were both particularly keen on skirt suits for their more formal events in the ’80s. The look translated quickly into offices and parties, especially in this ultra-matchy form. One of the biggest trends for autumn/winter 2020.
Style Notes: Jane Fonda started it in the 1970s, but by the time the 1980s arrived, spandex leggings, leotards and legwarmers were commonplace and everyone was a fitness fanatic (for a time, at least).
Style Notes: Call them MC Hammer pants or harem pants, but never forget that drop-crotch trousers (the more draped, the better) were a key look in the ’80s. Here’s Donna Summer doing them justice.
Style Notes: Polka dots are back again, but one of the most current-looking ways they were worn in the ’80s was thanks to singer Sade and this cool shirt.
Style Notes: Princess Diana’s balloon-sleeved monochromatic blouse is too good to leave out and feels so current.
Style Notes: Beige really took off in the summer of 2018 (and continues still), but you need only look to Debbie Harry, who wore the trend three decades ago.
Style Notes: The oversize look was everywhere in the ’80s and wasn’t just limited to jackets. In 2020, this is a trend that is going strong.
Style Notes: A trend that has made a surprising comeback, Laura Ashley–inspired dresses are everywhere right now. Yes, that’s Gwyneth Paltrow!
Style Notes: The most timeless of jackets. Even in the ’80s, it looked incredible.
Style Notes: Green was very popular during the ’80s, but no one wore it better than HRH.
This story was published at an earlier time and has since been updated.
Next up, the biggest spring/summer 2021 fashion trends to know.
Opening Image: Getty