About the 1980s


The 80s saw many changes in fashion styles and the influence of television programmes inspired some quite dramatic clothing. The USA series of Dallas and Dynasty gave rise to excessive shoulder shapes, the use of the shoulder pad was in every young woman's wardrobe and a fuller dress shape with dropped waists and large skirts proliferated. The balloon skirt made a short reappearance on the catwalks and in a few high street shops. Denim jackets were everywhere and in new colours and shapes as the 'baggy' look emerged.

Pop music once more played a part in directing fashion styles; pop groups and stars such as Bananarama, Madness, Boy George and Brian Ferry influenced a new young generation with slick suits, cross dressing styles and the fashion item of the moment became the t-shirt. The t-shirt was used for slogans for political purposes as well as jokey and witty statements. Jackets were fashionable for girls and trousers became baggy and narrow at the ankle. The new Romantic Movement pulled together a mix of clothing styles that were eclectic and unusual, often fusing wide trousers with layers of t-shirts and waistcoats, in bright prints and decorated with ribbons and tassels.

New American designers set the trend for 'logo' clothing; Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren were very popular with youngsters who found they had more disposable income to spend on clothing and accessories, even underwear had the brand name visible on the outside of the garment. Television played large part in directing fashion trends, the TV series 'Miami Vice' saw replica pale coloured suits, rolled up sleeves and open necked shirts become fashion for both sexes. Linen became a fabric available in high street fashion, and to prevent creasing was blended with synthetic fibres.

This was the era of the Disco dance and fitness craze; the leotard industry was booming, with tight fitting all in one garments much in demand for dance classes, worn with matching legwarmers and headbands in the Jane Fonda workout video style. The film 'Flashdance' film contributed to this fashion and every young girl aspired to the look.


The pop star 'Madonna' began the 'street urchin' look and her outrageous clothing resulted in skirts being worn over leggings, bras being worn over tops and a disregard for fashion convention never before seen. Music continued to dominate and drive the fashion scene; Hip Hop had just arrived from the USA and a street style emerged that focussed on the trainer as a high fashion item. Logo was important and Nike and Reebok were the brand leaders. Sweatshirts came back into fashion but with a looser look, often ripped and raw edged. Jeans became baggier and a slouchy look predominated amongst followers.

The young had jobs, money, aspirations and a freedom undreamt of in the fifties and this was reflected in the boom in the clothing industry and proliferation of high street clothing shops with names such as River Island, Monsoon, Red or Dead, Top Shop, and Dorothy Perkins.