The 80s is a decade that is often remembered for its culture defining moments such as the birth of MTV helping to shape pop culture and fashion, Michael Jackson’s Thriller release, the rise of athleisure as Nike became one of the biggest clothing brands with the help of Michael Jordan & the emergence of Hip Hop culture starting to form its identity. Men’s 80s fashion was influenced by these moments & its nostalgia continues to be sought after today.
Putting things into perspective, the term Men’s 80s Fashion has had a steady search increase as indicated below by google trends over the last decade. This data is evidence that though the 80s is over its nostalgia and fashion are still being used today as a reference point influencing our outfit choices and fashion statements.
(Image Via Google Trends)
What did men wear in the 80s?
The 80s can be defined as the decade in which men made fashion statements with the use of colors, patterns, slogan t shirts, hairstyles, and subculture to intentionally break social norms. Men in the 80s did this in many ways with trends such as ripped jeans, biker jackets, Mullet hairstyles, baggy clothing, preppy fashion, and Athleisure.
Our editorial lists all the Men’s 80s fashion styles, trends, and brands in detail.
Here are the Best Men’s 80s Fashion Trends
While athleisure may be popular today it has traces back to the 80s which shaped men’s fashion during this period. With brands such as Nike becoming a household name, signing Michael Jordan and the introduction of the air max 1 Men became accustomed to sportswear ranging from sweatpants, windbreakers, basketball jerseys, hoodies, and sports shorts.
Hip Hop artists during this period began to also incorporate Athleisure into their style.
The natural connection between sportswear and music culture would result in sports merchandise forming a huge part of 80s Fashion.
During 1983 the official licensing of deals with NFL, NBA & MLB allowed for merchandising which saw men supporting their respective hometown teams.
Check out the video below from 80s Casual Classics detailing key classic Fila Vintage wear during this era.
80s Rock Fashion
80s fashion was about making a statement which in turn meant rock culture having massive influence over the masses. Big Hair styles, leather jackets and zips, exaggerated accessories, boots, make up & headbands were prominent during this era.
The impact of 80s rock culture had clearly influenced Michael Jackson, the biggest artist at the time. Prior to the release of Bad Michael Jackson had been known for his happy clean image. In an attempt to change his public perception and look Michael took influence from rock fashion which can be seen on his BAD album cover and all throughout the 80s.
80s Hip Hop Fashion
The 80s being the 2nd decade in Hip Hop culture would be the era in which the culture began to form its identity sonically and stylistically.
80s Hip Hop Fashion began to merge street, sport, and luxury fashion into one. Artists such as LL COOL J, RUN DMC, Eric B. & Rakim set precedence by dressing as the everyday individuals within the low income neighborhoods of the Bronx and throughout New York which consisted of Baseball caps, tracksuits, sportswear, baggy clothes, Air Jordan’s, Bucket hats, Rope chains and Bomber Jackets.
80s Hip Hop Fashion began to steer away from the 70s flamboyant aesthetic and Rockstar look into a more streetwear style that began to see prominence in the 80s.
80s Style Suits
Today an 80s suit is identified by its sharp cuts, wide shoulder pads, baggy fit and pattern. The big bold look was not only reserved for casual outfits, men during this period made it a habit to style formal entire in the same manner.
The American crime drama television series Miami Vice perfectly captures how men styled suits during the 80s.
The main stars Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas set the tone for t-shirts and baggy linen suits. As the saying goes “life imitating art” is clearly the case with Miami Vice, the success of the TV series was clear as the scope of Men’s 80s fashion had clearly influenced the masses.
During the 80s Men’s shirts were categorized into 2 main groups
- Work & Business
- Casual & Loose
For a more formal look men during this period styled banker or pinstripe shirts, while casual shirts were usually loosely fitted, colorful & printed.
These have evolved since then however we can still see influence of the 80s casual shirts today.
While we presented data demonstrating our google search interest towards Men’s 80s fashion, high luxury fashion houses understand this and continue to serve us with quality pieces.
Brands such as Gucci, AMIRI & Louis Vuitton understand the value of nostalgia and retro garments which is why they continuously bring back shirts mimicking the 80s style from printed floral shirts to flat collars.
As sports merchandise began to grow during the early 80s it was only a matter of time that brands outside of sport would begin to replicate similar designs with a twist, SLOGANS!
For the everyday person interested in sport or not slogan t shirts became a way of self-expression. Individuals used their t shirts to communicate their personal hobbies, interests & pop culture moments. The t shirt also became another way to connect with other people who identified with the slogan message.
The only thing that mattered was the message or image being visible!
Though denim was initially crafted as workwear the 70s & 80s saw men begin to incorporate the fabric as part of their everyday lives.
This was often time reinforced in subcultures such as Grunge Music. The lovers of the genre wore denim jeans as apart of a uniform look whilst also benefitting from its practicality.
Denim jeans were becoming a way of life during this period and it was becoming evident by men choosing to sport them as casualwear.
The jeans mostly worn during this period were straight washed jeans, ripped jeans or acid washed jeans.
80s Men’s Hair
Hate it or love it the Mullet hairstyle ruled the 80s & while it may receive hate & criticism today it was the uniform look amongst men in the 80s.
Often described as “Business Up Front, Party In The Back” for hair being short at the front and side while being long at the back.
The style was introduced to many by David Bowie in the 70s & the tradition kept alive throughout the 80s by stars such as Rob Lowe, George Clooney, Charlie Sheen & Billy Ray Cyrus amongst others.
GQ’s editorial team covered The Evolution (And Return) Of the Mullet
80s Preppy Fashion
While young men in the 80s could be sectioned into subcultures for the way they dressed from punk, rock, grunge to hip hop, preppy fashion filled the void for those individuals who did not identify with these subcultures and instead dressed in accordance with their wealth and status.
To quote Jeremy Hackett British fashion designer & founder of Hackett
“Preppy is a style that was originally adopted by privately educated students from High Income families – the upper-middle-class American – and worn at Ivy League universities that symbolized old money,”
When we think of preppy fashion, we automatically think of Carlton Banks and his most notorious looks from sweaters that men wore over their shoulders, polo shirts, slacks, and boat shoes.
To stay updated on everything happening in men’s style/lifestyle , street culture & music follow@heartafacton Instagram
What was popular in the 80s fashion men? ›
80s men's fashion was dominated by bold and bright styles. Denim, leather, and polo shirts turned out to be classics and have remained wardrobe staples for men to date. The 80s fashion scene saw the birth of athleisure and sportswear – which happens to be the hottest trend in 2023.What should a man wear to an 80s party? ›
- Tapered-leg pants (or you can roll up the cuffs)
- Matching shell suits.
- Acid-wash denim.
- Big shoulders.
- Sportswear brand logos.
- Graphic T-shirts ('80s bands or logos)
80s Casual Wear For Men
Casual wear for men in the 80s is pretty much everything you see in the hallways of Ferris Bueller's Day Off: cuffed jeans or khakis, cardigans, plain t-shirts, denim or bomber jackets and loafers. Sweaters and leather jackets were also popular for men's outerwear…
Style Notes: Jane Fonda started it in the 1970s, but by the time the 1980s arrived, spandex leggings, leotards and legwarmers were commonplace, and everyone was a fitness fanatic (for a time, at least). For a more 2022 feel, style with jeans. Wear with a shirt, oversized blazer and mules.What were 3 popular fashion trends from the 1980s? ›
Just think about it: the '80s brought us fishnets and legwarmers, served up electric colorways and the naked dress, made a case for leggings-as-pants, and inserted shoulder pads into any blazer and blouse that designers would allow.What can I wear to an 80s themed party? ›
Things You Should Know
Thrift for 80s fashion staples like acid-washed jeans, jumpsuits, and denim jackets. Channel the spirit of the 80s with a teased hairstyle, sweatband, and heavy, bright makeup. Add some 80s-inspired accessories to your outfit such as fingerless gloves, big earrings, and layered necklaces.
Madonna. From wearing underwear as outerwear to her trademark lacy gloves, crucifix chains and love of Boy London jeans - Madonna was an undisputed fashion icon. Most 80s clothing worth wearing was worn by this absolute icon.What were the hottest fashions in the 80s? ›
80s fashion was big on accessories. The trendiest items included scrunchies, leg warmers, fingerless gloves, plastic bangles, large funky earrings in neon shades, mesh accents, fanny packs and pearl necklaces.What was popular in 80s? ›
There was an acid wash jeans movement, parachute pants, puffy windbreaker suits (that weren't just for skiing), giant scrunchies, fingerless lace gloves and neon headbands (OK, neon everything).Were Converse worn in the 80s? ›
Today, only the most ardent sneakerheads or basketball fans will know what the Converse Weapon is and what it represented, while in the '80s it was one of the most popular basketball models.
Did men wear tight jeans in the 80s? ›
Tight jeans were also worn by members of the casual subculture from the late 80s until the mid 90s, including Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting.What boots were popular in the 80s? ›
Big, beefy boots, Doc Martens were the footwear du jour of angsty teenagers. Usually fans of the Cure, these boots became infamous in the proto-emo scene.What bags were popular in the 80s? ›
A number of bags were popular in the 1980s, including belt bags made of a variety of materials. Some designer handbags carried by celebrities of the era include the Hermès Birkin, Louis Vuitton Bucket Bag, the Chanel Gold Chain Classic Flap and various Prada nylon bags.What design style was popular in the 80s? ›
Tropical & 80s Deco
Often incorporating the same pastels and tropical motifs, 80s Deco was also a popular design trend, often consisting of bright neon colors, drop shadows, clean sans-serif fonts and pronounced angles and curves. And both of these trends are popping up left, right and centre in 2020.
The 1980s was possibly the boldest decade in modern fashion history, a magical era of over-the-top silhouettes, teased perms and saturated colors. They were the years of puffed shoulders and power suits, flashy skirts and spandex leggings, velour, leg warmers and voluminous parachute pants.How to do 80s hair? ›
Applying an 80s Style
Pull your hair up onto the top or side of your head – the higher, the better! Brush the sides only, leaving as much volume and/or bangs on top as possible. You can add extra teasing and hair product to the front once you've secured your ponytail. Create a side-swept look.
Neon. The '80s were well known for colorful clothing, and nothing is more colorful than neon. Back in the day, the most popular hues were similar to highlighters—bright yellow, orange, green, and pink. Stylish people would wear matching track suits or tops and bottoms in coordinating neon colors.What were the 1980s known for? ›
The "eighties" are also well known for their extreme fashions, such as "big hair", New Wave, punk rock, funk, or preppies. Rap music first started to get big in the 80s, and often went with breakdancing in what is now called the "old school" days.What are some 80's themes? ›
Some titles you might include are:
- Super Mario Bros 3.
- Robotron 2084.
- Kung-fu Master.
Renée Simonsen, the “Face of the '80s,” Talks about Fashion Then and Now, and Turning 50 | Vogue.
What kind of shirts were popular in the 80s? ›
During the '80s T-shirts were worn with everything from jeans to suits. The most popular styles were crew-neck T-shirts, many of which featured slogans, logos, or bold placement prints. Other popular designs included crop tops and baseball T-shirts.Who is the biggest male fashion icon? ›
- Clint Eastwood. ...
- John F. ...
- Marcello Mastroianni. ...
- Michael Caine. ...
- Yves Saint Laurent. ...
- Duke of Windsor. ...
- James Dean. ...
- Alain Delon. Alain Delon showed the rest of the world exactly what French tailoring could do for a man back in the 50s and 60s.
80s jeans were high waisted, tapered, and pegged at the ankle. Overalls and acid-washed jeans came back full force, and new colored denim hit the stores en masse. More memorable still was the 80s leggings — leggings and tights in neon, animal prints or full-leather were a popular counterculture accessory.Were baggy clothes popular in the 80s? ›
Wide-leg jeans, colloquially called baggy pants, are a style of clothing that were popular from the early 1980s to the early 2010s.What sneakers were worn in the 80's? ›
- Asics Gel-Lyte (1987) StockX.
- LA Gear Flame aka SharkFin (1983) LA GEAR. ...
- Converse Cons Wave (1989) eBay. ...
- Wilson Hangtime (1988) eBay. ...
- Puma RS-Computer (1986) StockX. ...
- Adidas ZX 8000 (1988) StockX. ...
- Reebok Classic (1987) Reebok. ...
- New Balance 990 (1982) New Balance. ...
- 80s Diadora Sneakers. Save. gettyimages. ...
- Adidas Continental 80. Save. gettyimages. ...
- Reebok Club C 85. Save. gettyimages. ...
- '80s Adidas High-Top Sneakers. Save. ...
- '80s Balloon Sneakers. Save. ...
- '80s Kangaroo Sneakers. Save. ...
- Adidas Superstar Sneakers. Save. ...
- '80s White Sneakers. Save.
- New Balance 990 (1982)
- Nike Air Max 1 (1987)
- Nike Air Huarache (1991)
- Adidas Stan Smith (1963)
- Nike Air Force 1 (1982)
- Vans Half Cab (1992)
- Reebok Ex-O-Fit (1983)
- Nike Air Jordan 11 (1996)
- Whitney Houston. ...
- Bruce Springsteen. ...
- Phil Collins. ...
- Lionel Richie. ...
- Michael Jackson. ...
- Billy Joel. ...
- Madonna. ...
- Janet Jackson.
Thanks to professional athletes, Run-D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys, the Adidas tracksuit came into style in the '80s.
Now the decade of the 1980s is rearing its head once more. Adidas is one of the stars of the comeback. Retro fashion is hip.
What shoes were popular in 1984? ›
It was a big time for sneakers, among them Nike Air Jordans, Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars and Reebok Freestyles. Women wore the Reebok Hightop Aerobic style with miniskirts, stirrup pants (an interesting trend at the time) and regular jeans.What jeans were popular in the 80s men? ›
80s Men's Pants and Jeans
Levi's, Lee, and Wrangler were popular brands with men while Jordache, Guess, and Calvin Klein were preferred by trendy younger guys. Jeans had a moderate waist (down from the higher waisted '70s pant) with either a classic straight leg or a tapered leg for the cooler set.
Eventually cropped jerseys became available which carried over to several 1980s broadcasts. Men also started to wear crop tops regardless of sport. Acceptance for men wearing no shirt could be seen to eliminate the need for a crop top. Various crop tops have been worn by rappers as well as American football athletes.Should older men wear skinny jeans? ›
Answer: yes! While teenage trends may be in the rearview mirror, it's full throttle ahead for the slimmest silhouette of all: the skinny jean. As you age, the confidence you've gained in honing in on your favorite fits and styles is the perfect catalyst to try something new.What kind of shoes did men wear in the 80's? ›
- Rise of the Reebok. While they're still part of the shoe game today, Reeboks have seen quite the decline since their 80s-prime time. ...
- Converse All-Star & Vans Classics. ...
- Doc Martens. ...
- Jellies. ...
- Huaraches & Sperrys. ...
- Air Jordans & Adidas.
Men's suits in the '80s were cut full, with wide shoulders accentuated with shoulder pads. For older men or men who worked in the most conservative workplaces, 3-piece suits (jacket, pants, and vest) were still widely worn. A slightly more “relaxed” or younger look was the 2-piece suit, just a jacket and slacks.Were men's crop tops popular in the 80s? ›
While crop tops have grown to have a feminine connotation, historically, crop tops were born in the '80s in a place considered to be the very symbol of masculinity: the locker rooms of American football matches.What was attractive in the 80s? ›
Beauty consisted around the fitness and nutrition craze in the 80s, encouraging athletically toned bodies, bodysuits, and tracksuit bottoms. Supermodel and bodybuilding became a sensation, along with leg warmers and big hair.What kind of pants were popular in the 80s? ›
The 1980s were a wicked cool time for various pants styles. Parachute pants, harem pants, stirrup pants, metallic jogger pants, and tapestry pants are just a few of the distinct and iconic 80s pants styles. Dress slacks found a unique new place in casual fashion, and the new paper bag waist went on just about anything.What jeans were popular in the 80s? ›
Jeans: Jordache made tight jeans with skinny legs popular, but women also wore 'mom jeans' with a high waist and loose fit around the legs. Whether your jeans were skinny fit or baggy, during the 80's stone-washed and edgy rock-style acid washed denim fabric was the norm.
What did guys wear in 1983? ›
1983 featured a flashback to the 1940s with menswear influences like strong shoulder pads and oversized coats. The overall look of the year is accentuated by the power belt that minimizes the waist and emphasizes the hips. In summary, volume fashion was a hit.How did men dress in 1984? ›
Popular clothing in the early 1980s worn by men included tracksuits, v-neck sweaters, polyester and velour polo-neck shirts, sports jerseys, straight-leg jeans, jeans rolled to show off their slouch socks, polyester button-ups, cowboy boots, beanies, and hoodies.What clothing was popular in 1986? ›
Fashion in 1986
The big coat covered long flaring skirts, skinny knee-bearing skirts, pants, bulky sweaters, shirts, blouses and even jackets. The search was on for fresh looks.
Eventually cropped jerseys became available which carried over to several 1980s broadcasts. Men also started to wear crop tops regardless of sport. Acceptance for men wearing no shirt could be seen to eliminate the need for a crop top. Various crop tops have been worn by rappers as well as American football athletes.What was most popular in the 80s? ›
The 1980s saw the emergence of electronic dance music and new wave, also known as Modern Rock. As disco fell out of fashion in the decade's early years, genres such as post-disco, Italo disco, Euro disco, and dance-pop became more popular. Rock music continued to enjoy a wide audience.What was the big thing in the 80s? ›
The 1980s, often remembered for its materialism and consumerism, also saw the rise of the "yuppie," an explosion of blockbuster movies and the emergence of cable networks like MTV, which introduced the music video and launched the careers of many iconic artists, and the emergence of the AIDS crisis, which would go on ...What was unique about 80s fashion? ›
The 1980s was possibly the boldest decade in modern fashion history, a magical era of over-the-top silhouettes, teased perms and saturated colors. They were the years of puffed shoulders and power suits, flashy skirts and spandex leggings, velour, leg warmers and voluminous parachute pants.