In the late 1980s, big hair, puffed sleeves, padded shoulders, and baggy parachute pants were in fashion. However, the big bell-bottoms of the ‘70s were out. Tight-legged, acid-washed jeans reflected the new casual style. In the corporate workplace, men and women took charge of their wardrobe and pursued “dressing for success.”
In the late ‘80s, exaggerated hairstyles weren’t only for rockers. Both men and women could wear big hair or tight perms. Even short hair was styled high and full with generous applications of mousse, hairspray or gel. Big hair and teased or curled bangs were noticeable throughout America’s schools and malls. A hairstyle that included bright stripes of color in blue, green or pink was another fashion trend.
Padded and Puffy
Shoulder pads are one of the most memorable trends from the ‘80s. TV shows of the time, such as “Dynasty,” featured women’s suits and dresses that reflected the broad-shouldered and powerful but glamorous look. According to Fashion Era, “The concept of executive dressing for women at work was firmly established by 1987 . . .” However, puffy sleeves were also in style, and pictures of prom dresses taken in the late ‘80s reveal balloon-like, lace-trimmed sleeves on gowns.
Acid washing denim gave the material a faded or splotchy look, and this fad was popular in the late ‘80s. Jeans, jackets, skirts and purses were available in acid-washed — also called stonewashed — denim. Rather than flared legs, jeans were tapered, and women’s jeans might feature zippers on the sides or backs of the ankles. Rolling the bottom of the jeans so they were tight against the ankle was another late ‘80s fad, as well as wearing jeans with rips or holes in them.
Parachute pants were more often seen on men than women in the 1980s. In the early ‘80s, parachute pants featured tapered legs and were made of shiny material. However, in his music videos, recording artist MC Hammer wore baggy parachute pants, leading to their popularity in the late 1980’s. Some people continue to wear the faddish pants, but Hammer remains linked to this trouser style.
References and ResourcesThe People History: 1980s Fashion - The "Dress for Success" Decade
Fashion-Era: Power Dressing 1980s Fashion History
Like Totally 80s: Puffed Sleeves; Julie Anderson