The 1980s were ripe for the picking when it comes to bad fads. From boom boxes to Pee Wee Herman to Valley Girl speak, you’ll find reprehensible pop-culture trends in every nook and cranny of this decade. But it’s undeniable that most of the really outrageous fads of the 1980s came from fashion and clothing designers. Here’s the top ten worst 1980s fashion looks on record.
- Shoulder Pads: Unfortunately, in the 1980s it was considered attractive for women to look like football players. No matter the age, females sported jackets, sweaters, and even T-shirts (yes, T-shirts) with sewn-in shoulder pads broadening their frames. Was a designer so short-sighted as to not include shoulder pads in their blouses – no problem! A whole sub-industry sprouted up for shoulder pads that could be easily Velcroed inside unfashionable wears. Some theorists point to the fact that the 80s were a decade when women were beginning to really assert themselves in the workplace as an excuse for this God-awful trend.
- Fingerless Gloves: One of the more mysterious trends of the 1980s, fingerless gloves were all the rage even among music legends like Billy Idol and Madonna. While Idol preferred his made of leather, Madonna liked to rock the all-lace varietals. The style caught on with the punk crowd and has even been revitalized, albeit in wool knit versions, by the hipsters of late.
- Acid Washed Jeans: You were nobody in the 1980s if you didn’t own a pair of acid washed jeans. And hopefully you didn’t embarrass yourself by wearing them without tight rolling the bottom of the legs, unless, of course, you chose a taper-cut pair. Acid washing extended to every denim product made in the 1980s – jackets, skirts, vests, etc. Pair them all together, and you were sure to be the coolest kid in school. The look is created by washing denim in a chemical that took all the dye out of the top layer of the fabric, but left the lower layers dark, creating a splotchy, spotted effect.
- Jelly Sandals: A wardrobe staple of the 1980s, jelly sandals were popular among every man, woman, and child, and the brighter the color, the better. Many contemporary fashion designers have resurrected these horrid things, albeit in a slicker format. You have to hand it to one thoughtful blogger, who recently made the astute assessment that Crocs are like the jellies of our time – unexplainable plastic footwear that may feel comfortable, but are uglier than a pair of nurse’s sneakers.
- Parachute Pants: The earliest version of these nylon pants were more form-fitting and accented by zippers and various pull-ties. But over time, they morphed into the style MC Hammer made popular, which were eventually termed “Hammer Pants.” People rocking this style looked as if they had fitted an actual parachute to their person, fastening it like you might an oversized diaper. Both styles were mostly popular among breakdancers, hip-hop performers, and Michael Jackson enthusiasts, and they had a good run among the masses. While nylon is still a popular fabric for some garments, thankfully both versions of the parachute pants we know from the 80s have remained dead and gone.
- Crimped and Permed Hair: In the 80s, straight hair was for the birds. It was all about crimping and perming. Hair was big and bold, even for some guys. Just think back to those old Poison or Whitesnake music videos. The how-to for hairstyling was pretty simple: tease it to the ceiling and then lacquer it down with as much hairspray as could be mustered without suffocation. And if you had to pull it off your face, a side ponytail was pretty much your only option, lest you wanted to risk social rejection.
- Leotards: Like many other 80s fashion items, leotards have made something of a comeback in recent times, but it’s anyone’s guess as to why. While traditionally invented as a garment for exercise, back in the 80s work out gear of all kinds were acceptable worn as regular run-of-the-mill Monday outfits, meaning the leotard was free to double as a shirt paired with jeans (stonewashed, of course), a skirt, or on its own with some requisite legwarmers – why not?! Most recently, the world’s very own queen of the 80s, Madonna, rocked a purple Dolce and Gabbana leotard for her 2006 Grammy’s performance.
- Oversized Hair Bows: Again, the world has Madonna to thank for this trend made popular in her video for “Lucky Star”. But regardless of who started it, big, floppy, oversized hair bows were all the rage in the 80s. They usually came attached to a headband or barrette for easy insertion into those big, 80s dos!
- Colorful Makeup: Who wore blue and yellow eye shadow, hot pink blusher, purple mascara, and bright red lipstick all at the same time? The ladies of the 80s, of course! While this wild striping of colors has made something of a comeback on fashion runways in recent years, it’s highly unlikely you’ll spot a contemporary person who dares to rock colored mascara. The makeup trend of the 1980s could be likened to war paint – it just shouldn’t be done by anyone, unless the person is culturally obligated to by some ancient tribal law.
- Plastic Sunglasses: Sunglasses were not meant to be neutral in the 80s. Take these brightly colored plastic glasses that resemble Venetian blinds, for example. Also, who can forget the Robot glasses made popular by the movie “16 Candles,” which are simply a thin strip of plastic that wraps around the front of the face like a headband.
So the 80’s may or may not have had some questionable fashion statements. But hey, we still love the 80’s and you should too! Show some love to the decade responsible for some of the most unfortunate hair decisions to date!
If you’re trying to stay up to date on modern trends, you should think about designing your own custom shirt at Customized Girl. You’ll be able to add your own text, art, and images, which means you can embrace whatever trends you want, no matter how old, new, or obscure. Also, be sure to check out our custom sweatshirts and custom tank tops!