The Major Fashion Trends of the 80s

Fashion trends are constantly changing, so the pieces of clothing or accessories that were popular in the 1970s were already out of the trend by the 1980s. There are still some similarities in the fashion trends of the 70s and 80s, as colorful clothes were still quite popular. However, the colorful outfits in the 80s were created through clothing and accessories that weren’t known or widely worn in the 70s. To know more about these clothing pieces and accessories, here is a list of the major fashion trends of the 1980s.

Leg Warmers

red leg warmers

Leg warmers are accessories that are primarily used to keep the lower legs warm in cold temperatures. These accessories are often compared to long socks, but the differences are that leg warmers are usually thicker and they don’t cover the feet. Leg warmers are commonly paired with long socks to provide the best insulation and protection for the lower legs and feet.

Before leg warmers became a fashion trend, they were first used as dancewear for ballerinas so that they could keep their legs warm to prevent cramping while also protecting their legs from wounds and muscle injuries. Traditional leg warmers were knitted from pure sheep wool, but there are a lot of pairs today that are made from cotton and synthetic fibers.

Leg warmers eventually became trendy in the 1980s when two dancers named David Lee and Trisha Kate opened a dancewear shop in the East Village, New York. The shop would be credited for popularizing fashionable leg warmers. If you want to buy the best pairs of leg warmers for your friends or family members, you can read our Nostalgic 80s Gift Ideas.


colorful scrunchie

Scrunchies are elastic hair ties that are covered by fabric that would often have different colors and patterns. These scrunchies are used to tie medium to long hair into a ponytail or bun, but unlike regular hair ties, scrunchies add a little bit of color and flair to your hair.

The scrunchie is believed to have been invented in the 1960s, although a patent for the accessory was only created in 1987 by Rommy Hunt Revson, an American nightclub singer who invented the scrunchie in order to have a gentler version of metal ties for her hair. To create the scrunchie, she bought a sewing machine for $50 and developed a working prototype of the accessory in just a few weeks. She then named the product after her pet toy poodle, Scunci. The name Scunci was eventually modified to “scrunchie” to reflect how the fabric of the accessory is bunched up.

Acid Wash Jeans

layers of denim pants

Acid wash jeans are a type of jeans that has a lighter color than the regular ones since it has been dipped or soaked in an acidic solution to achieve a lighter look. In addition to making the jeans look lighter, acid washing also enables the jeans to become softer and more flexible than regular jeans, which would be very stiff during the first few wears.

Acid wash jeans were developed after stone washing jeans (which use stones instead of acid to lighten the color of denim) became very popular in the 1960s and were adapted by the thriving surfing culture in the United States during that time. By the 1980s, acid wash jeans became more common as the process of soaking jeans in an acidic solution was easier and faster than stone washing in terms of giving jeans a worn appearance.

Spandex Shorts

Spandex shorts were a piece of clothing that became popular in the 1980s as spandex, a thin, flexible, and durable synthetic fiber, became more accessible and affordable for casual wear. Spandex is a material that was invented in 1958 by a chemist named Joseph Shivers, who developed the formula for the material while working for the chemical company DuPont.

By the mid-1970s, DuPont would market their spandex clothing line called Lycra towards people that are participating in the aerobic fitness movement, wherein many men and women perform various exercise routines while wearing flexible spandex tops and bottoms. In the 1980s, spandex shorts became one of the trendiest pieces of clothing for casual wear.

Jelly Shoes

red jelly shoes

Jelly shoes are a type of shoes that are made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a plastic that can be soft and flexible depending on its formulation. The jelly shoes that became popular in the 1980s were typically infused with glitter, and these shoes were created by a French company of the same name that was founded in 1980 in Paris.

Before the 1980s, shoes that were injected with PVC were already sold in stores after World War II. However, many people don’t appreciate PVC shoes since they don’t look appealing and aren’t considered fashionable because of their cheap price. But because of how affordable they were, PVC shoes were worn by fishermen since they are durable and waterproof.

In 1980, Frenchman Nicolas Guillon and Brazilian Tony Alano had an idea to turn the cheap and durable PVC shoes worn by fishermen into fashionable shoes. Then, they began selling their own version of PVC shoes (which featured a diverse color palette) in Parisian fashion boutiques, and it was in these boutiques that many fashion enthusiasts discovered the colorful PVC shoes. Because of the success of their PVC shoes, Guillon and Alano were able to create their fashion company Jelly Shoes.

Besides footwear, plastic has also become trendy in the realm of furniture during the 80s, as chairs and tables made of acrylic (another type of plastic) were best-sellers. To know more, check out our Nostalgic 80s Home Décor Ideas.

And those are just some of the biggest fashion trends of the 1980s. Although most of the items we have mentioned above are not trendy anymore in today’s era, some of them are still pretty useful for casual wear because of their affordability and durability.