The 1980s saw an explosion of fashion trends, especially for young people. For those who don’t remember the 1980s, an enormous range of styles from the time can be seen in the iconic teen movies of the decade, especially the films of director John Hughes. Retrospective television shows like VH1’s “I Love the ’80s” both lampoon and pay homage to the decade’s trends; in the 2000s, elements of 1980s fashion were brought back by clothing lines such as American Apparel.

Stirrup Pants

Stirrup pants hit the peak of their popularity in the mid-1980s as a trendy item of women’s clothing. They’re a knit fabric pant that tapers in towards the ankles where the pants have an elastic strap or band of the pant material which fits under the foot’s arch. Stirrup pants were often worn with baggy sweaters or sweatshirts, or belted long shirts with the belt set low on the hips.

Members Only Jackets

Members Only jackets first appeared in 1981 and were most popular early in the decade. The Members Only brand included a variety of different jackets and other clothes, but the jacket most associated with the iconic 1980s fashion trend is the cotton-polyester jacket with a zipper front and snaps at the neck. The jacket has a nylon inner lining, an elasticized waist and sleeve cuffs. Like most 1980s styles, Members Only jackets were available in a wide array of colors.


The preppy look was an attempt to co-opt the fashion and attitude—and the social status—of the white, East Coast old-money upper class, also known as white Anglo-Saxon Protestants or WASPs. The name preppy comes from the “preparatory” schools that students from wealthy families attended instead of public high school. For men, think topsiders or penny loafers for shoes, slacks, a pastel polo shirt with the collar popped, and a sweater slung over the shoulders with the arms tied around the neck. For women the style was also predictably conservative, favoring dresses, tennis shoes and knee-high socks.

The preppy trend was fueled by Lisa Birnbach’s 1980 book “The Official Preppy Handbook,” ostensibly a guide to the WASP lifestyle. The book was meant as satire, but was taken seriously as a guide to fashion and life by status-conscious young people across the country.


Jumpsuits were popular in the 1970s, but made a comeback and became a staple of 1980s women’s fashion as seen in the 1983 movie “Valley Girl.” Loose-fitting and baggy, jumpsuits had a playful, effortless vibe. Although they could seem shapeless and plain, jumpsuits could also get a fashionable twist from bright colors, belts, and additions like unusual zippers.