Fashion In The 1980s Essay Format

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Fashion and Accessories of the 1980's

Globalization, Diversification and the Popularization of Fashion
Fashion was rapidly changing in the 1980s and more diverse than ever before. Due to increased globalization of the world and pop culture trends in fashion spread faster than ever and were more widespread. Changes in technology and the expansion of cable television and networks like MTV meant that TV, Movie and Music celebrities' fashion was more accessible to fans and viewers and an increased obsession with celebrities brought fashion into the forefront of pop culture. The fashions and styles during the decade represented more distinct groups than ever before. In the past there would usually be one or two predominant styles at a time, whereas in the 1980s, several separate and distinct groups of trends were all sharing the popularity at one time.






The portrayal of different fashionable groups in movies like The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo's Fire showcased the variety of trends available at the time and it is hard to say whether these movies took their cues from the general public fashion-wise or if the public tried to imitate the fashion from the movies. A general synopsis of fashion and clothing/style trends of the decade include big teased hair or spiral perms for women, mullets or more clean-cut styles for men, baggy and oversized tops, leggings, high-waisted jeans, ripped and acid-washed denim, tight exercise clothing for everyday (leg warmers and spandex), headbands, shoulder pads, boxy silhouettes, large bold prints, and colorful pastels and brights.

Expansion of Wealth, Yuppies and Media Influence
One major change in society during the 1980's was the expansion of the middle class and the creation of a large group of upwardly mobile young professionals known as "Yuppies". This group of society suddenly had more disposable income than ever and was known for their focus on wealth and conspicuous consumption. Fashion was a way for these young business people to display their wealth and therefore became a very important part of their lives. Another trend related to this was the increase of women in the workforce and the effect it had on women's fashion and workplace clothing. Yuppies were known to be focused on the brand of the clothing more so than any other detail.
They were also largely influenced by TV shows, MTV, and movies much like the rest of the population. The media influence on fashion of the time was immeasurable. Music videos showcased fashion in a way that had not been seen before and the media started to focus on a new batch of young and interesting celebrities, making the gossip more interesting than ever. As news began to report on celebrity gossip, more and more of the wealthy young stars' daily fashion was featured and personal styles became more and more defined. Young people could then easily head over to the nearest mall and find stylish new clothes to imitate the trends they saw their favorite artists and movie stars wearing in their latest music video, movie, or public appearance. This was also one of the first times that fashion models became celebrities and celebrities became fashion models. Popular stars like Michael J. Fox became brand spokespeople for designers like Calvin Klein. Fashion started to become an integral part of the definition of celebrity and it has become an even more important factor since then.
Shopping Malls, Brands, and Fashion Designers
Yuppies weren't the only people with disposable income during the eighties. The middle class expanded and the population, in general, was feeling more wealthy. More disposable income and more personal time meant that people were becoming more obsessed with consumerism and shopping. Shopping centers (malls) moved into the suburbs from the cities along with a lot of the population and a lot of the money. Shops would also employ teenagers who would then spend their income, that they earned working for the mall, at the mall. Malls became an important part of youth culture and as their families moved out of cities and into suburbs they lost things like museums and parks. Malls became somewhere to go and something to do with friends, making it the new social hub of the 1980s. Teens and young adults could model their looks after celebrities and could find all that they needed, fashion-wise, in one place.

This new set of consumers started to become brand loyal more so than any other generation and wearing certain popular brands became a way to make a statement about the type of person they were. Popular brands during the decade included: Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Nike, ADIDAS, Banana Republic, The Gap, Izod, Lacoste, Members Only, and Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans. Another thing to impact fashion at the time was the fact that a lot of high-end designers decided to move down-market and became their own brands, brining high fashion to the masses. Some of the high-fashion designers that were successful during the 1980s include: Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Azzedine Alaia, John Galliano, Moschino, Giorgio Armani, Dolce and Gabbana, Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier. Musical Tastes' Influence on Fashion
Thanks to the creation of MTV, some fashion trends were directly related to music. New Wave bands, Hair Metal bands, Rap groups and rappers, and Pop stars would often have a variety of styles associated with their music that fans would attempt to mimic. New Wave style included androgynous looking hair and make-up, women in menswear, short hair or asymmetrical cuts, futuristic make-up, square lines, color-blocking and layers. Some artists that exemplified the New Wave look at the time were Cyndi Lauper, Annie Lennox, Boy George, Blondie and Madonna. Hip-Hop style included track suits, sportswear brands like ADIDAS and Nike, Kangol hats, and gold chains and rings. Some artists that were representative of this style were Run-DMC, LL Cool J, and Salt-n-Pepa. Hair metal style included ripped jeans and shirts, tight spandex jump suits, acid wash denim, band T-shirts, big hair for men and women, mullets, make-up for men and women, and leather. Some examples were Poison, Van Halen, Lita Ford and Twisted Sister.


More Eighties Fashion Pages -- 1980's Dresses -- 1980's Kids Clothes

1980's Clothing Price List

1980's Price List

Cordoruy Ladies Blazer $39.00 Pennsylvania 1981
Lee Denim Jeans $14.99 Ohio 1985
ladies sweater $10.99 New Jersey 1986
Men's Dress Socks $1.50 Ohio 1985
Men's Leather Belts $9.99 Illinois 1984
Men's Cashmere Overcoat $189 New Jersey 1986
Men's ski jacket down $39.99 New Jersey 1986
Men's suit $199 New Jersey 1986
Men's Leather Dress Shoes $21.00 Ohio 1985
Men's Leather Shoes $39.99 Illinois 1984
Nike Air Force Basketball Shoes $54.90 New York 1988
Tailored Style Silk Blouse $15.99 Illinois 1984
Ski suit, 2 piece $39.99 New Jersey 1986
Timberline Men's Boots $69.99 New Jersey 1986
Women's wool skirt $14.99 New Jersey 1986





The 1980s birthed more fashion icons than any other decade.

Along with 1970s fashion, 1980s fashion was one of the most experimental periods in style history thanks to enduring style icons from Princess Diana to Madonna, Joan Collins to Boy George.

Clothes were used to define personalities and make big statements. Shoulders were padded right up to your ears, courtesy of Lady Diana and the cast of Dynasty. Meanwhile Boy George and the Blitz club crew were giving peacock punk a whirl. No doubt about it, it was a crazy era for all things à la mode – the later 1990s fashion was significantly calmer by comparison. Let’s take a look back.

Madonna’s 1980s fashion

Our beloved Madge burst onto the pop scene in 1983, working haute scrunchies, leathers and tutus like we’d never seen before. We fell in love (naturally) and the queen of pop reigned on for the rest of the decade, breaking style boundaries with her incredible physique and conical bras.

Princess Diana’s 1980s fashion

It would be silly of us to even try to sum up Princess Diana’s impact on fashion and culture in one short paragraph, but if we had to, we would say this: she was the trendsetter of a generation, a champion of the power shoulder and that super eighties wedding dress, which literally went down as one of the biggest in history.

Michael Jackson’s 1980s fashion 

This jacket is exactly what 1980s fashion was all about. The power jacket became a Michael Jackson style signature and one of the most copied cuts of the decade. This iconic piece went on to sell for $1.8million at auction in 2011, described by its new owner as ‘the greatest piece of rock memorabilia ever’. Enough said.

Boy George and the peacock punks 1980s fashion 

The leader of London’s peacock punks, Boy George saw 1980s fashion as art. With his gang of ‘Blitz kids’ including Leigh Bowery and Stephen Jones, he turned the club scene into a colourful catwalk, dressing up as though their lives depended on it and partying so hard that it made headlines. The only styling rule for this lot? Anything goes.

Joan Collins 1980s fashion

Ahhh Joan Collins. The queen of 80s TV show Dynasty inspired thousands of big hair ‘dos and heavy make-up statements throughout the decade. Her character, the soap’s villain Alexis Colby, had a wardrobe of puff shoulder dresses and trophy jackets that was so bad, it was so so good.

Katharine Hamnett’s 1980s fashion

If 1980s fashion was all about making style statements, then no one did it more literally than designer Katharine Hamnett. The inventor of the slogan tee, she used her design powers for good, conveying oh so subtle political messages and encouraging people to use their voices.

Jane Fonda’s 1980s fashion 

We couldn’t do an ode to 1980s fashion without mentioning the original queen of keep fit, Jane Fonda. First making waves in the style stakes and shaping 1960s fashion for her role in Barbarella, the award-winning actress was the first major star to do an exercise video. She made leg-warmers and Lycra as important to the decade as the power shoulders were.

Bananaram’s 1980s fashion

The hair bows, the pedal pushers, the slogan tees! This 1986 snap of Bananarama, aka Sara Dallin, Siobhan Fahey and Keren Woodward, was everything our school disco dreams were made of.

Molly Ringwald and the Brat Pack 1980s fashion

From The Breakfast Club to Pretty In Pink, the Brat Pack dominated the decade’s teen movies, with one idol always stealing the show as the prettiest, most popular girl in school. Oh come on, don’t pretend you didn’t want to be her.

Adam Ant’s 1980s fashion

New Romantic style and guyliner are two of our very favourite things to come out of the 1980s fashion scene. Adam Ant mixed punk, military, dandy and pirate references in fantastic effects – just look at that trophy jacket.

The 1980s supermodels

Lauren Hutton! Janice Dickinson! Iman! The 1980s heralded the first wave of truly super supermodels, as demand for the very best models increased tenfold and contract fees began to spiral towards the giant figures stars can command today. Chanel signed their first ‘exclusive’ booking, Debbie Parsons, in 1981 and everyone from Brooke Shields to Elle ‘The Body’ Macpherson started to endorse household products. Meanwhile Iman (1987) is officially our new season jewellery icon.

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