80s Fashion Trends: Neon, Spandex and More


Remember when fashion was all about excess? The 1980s were defined by bold style choices that pushed boundaries. You rocked out to synth-pop in your neon spandex and teased hair. The 80s were loud, proud, and over the top. From power suits with massive shoulder pads to the rise of athletic wear as everyday clothing, the 80s shaped how we dress today.

The era of Reagan, yuppies, and “Dynasty” gave us trends that were flashy, fun, and a little ridiculous. But that’s what made 80s fashion so memorable. In a time of economic prosperity and technological wonder, fashion reflected the playful, outrageous spirit of the age. The 80s live on today in ironic t-shirts, neon prints, and the occasional teased updo spotting. So get out your leg warmers, snap on some jelly bracelets, and travel back in time to explore the wildest fashion fads of the 1980s.

The Rise of Bold, Bright Colors in 80s Fashion

The 80s were all about excess, and fashion was no exception. Bold, bright colors exploded onto the scene, with neon hues leading the charge.

Neon colors like neon pink, electric blue, and acid yellow made a profound impact on 80s culture and style. Clothing, shoes, and accessories in retina-searing shades of green, orange, and red were suddenly everywhere. Neon colors were symbolic of 80s vibrancy and over-the-top exuberance.

Leg warmers, off-the-shoulder tops, and miniskirts came in neon colors like neon green, yellow, or blue. Parachute pants, jumpsuits, and Members Only jackets also got the neon treatment. Shoelaces, hair ties, sunglasses, and jewelry were all available in neon, allowing people to express themselves in eye-catching hues from head to toe.

The 1980s was a decade of bright and bold colors, and neon colors were a big part of this trend, from neon green to electric blue. Neon colors made a statement and captured the flashy, decadent spirit of 1980s fashion. While neon colors started as an underground trend, they exploded into the mainstream and came to define the loud, outrageous styles of the 80s.

From workout gear to prom dresses, neon colors were everywhere in the 80s. They gave the decade a distinct visual identity that still makes us nostalgic for the big, bright, bold fashions of the 80s today. Neon colors represented uninhibited fun and became iconic symbols of 80s pop culture.

Neon and Spandex Dominate 80s Style

The 80s were all about excess, and fashion was no exception. Two of the decade’s most memorable trends were neon colors and spandex – sometimes together! Neon spandex biker shorts, leggings, and leotards were popular, especially in bright shades of pink, green and yellow. People would wear these figure-hugging pieces with oversized tops or t-shirts, proudly showing off their athletic physiques.

Neon clothing was customizable and came in tanks, tees, sweatshirts, and jackets. You could find neon tops with ironic or clever sayings in cursive text, or get creative with neon fabric markers and stencils to make your own designs. Some people even had their names or nicknames emblazoned across the back of their neon jackets in huge bubbly letters.

Spandex also dominated 80s fashion in the form of aerobics gear and workout wear. Bright spandex leotards, leggings, and sweatbands were must-haves for any exercise enthusiast. Spandex allowed for maximum movement and its clingy nature accentuated the human form. No 80s exercise video was complete without a cast of spandex-clad instructors leading viewers in energetic cardio routines.

The 80s saw self-expression through fashion in a big way. Neon colors and stretchy spandex fabrics gave people a chance to showcase their unique style and physique for all the world to see. While these bold trends faded in the 90s, their influence on fitness fashion and the acceptance of more figure-hugging athletic clothing remains today. The 80s spirit of fun, flashiness and fearlessness still inspires modern street style and festival fashion.

Big Hair and Bold Makeup Looks of the 1980s

The ‘80s were all about excess, and that extended to hair and makeup. Big, bold styles were the norm, and natural or subtle just wasn’t in the vocabulary.

Big Hair

The bigger the hair, the better in the ‘80s. Crimped, permed, teased, and sprayed within an inch of its life, ‘80s hair was a sight to behold. Many women had “mall bangs”, combed forward and high up on the forehead, while the back and sides were teased and sprayed. The curly perm was also popular, giving normal hair a wildly wavy, poodle-esque texture.

Bold Makeup

Neon colors were all the rage, and that included eyeshadow, lipstick, and blush. Bright blue and green eyeshadow was a signature look of the era, often in frosted or shimmery finishes. Fuschia, bright red, and orange were popular lipstick shades. And you couldn’t go out without a heavy dose of pink or red blush, often with shimmer.

Some other staples of ‘80s makeup included:

  • Thick, overdrawn eyebrows.
  • Heavy black or blue eyeliner, especially on the lower lids.
  • Long, voluminous fake eyelashes.
  • Shimmery or frosty makeup products with lots of glitter.
  • Beauty marks, usually a circular sticker, as an accessory.

Pop icons like Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Joan Jett embraced this over-the-top ‘80s style and made it mainstream. While the neon colors and massive hair are long gone, ‘80s fashion and beauty is seeing a resurgence today with elements like bright eyeshadow, bold lips, and big, voluminous hairstyles making their way down runways and red carpets. The ‘80s are back, but this time with a bit more restraint!

’80s Accessories: Jelly Shoes, Leg Warmers and More

The 1980s were all about excess, and that extended to accessories as well. Some of the most iconic ’80s accessories were jelly shoes, leg warmers, and neon everything.

Jelly Shoes

Jelly shoes, also known as jellies, were molded plastic sandals that came in bright colors and fun patterns. They were cheap, comfortable, and perfect for splashing in puddles. Every little girl in the ’80s had a pair of jellies in her closet.

Leg Warmers

Leg warmers were knit tubes that fit snugly over your calves to keep your legs warm. They were popularized by ’80s aerobics culture and dance movies like Flashdance. Leg warmers came in a variety of colors, from black and gray to neon pink and yellow. The most stylish leg warmers were neon, ribbed, and scrunched up. Leg warmers were versatile enough to be worn for exercise or a night out, making them an essential ’80s fashion accessory.

Neon Everything

The 1980s were all about being loud and bold. Neon colors were hugely popular for accessories, clothing, and more. Neon leggings, hair ties, shoelaces, and jewelry were bright flashes of color that made a big statement. The brighter and wilder the patterns, the better. Neon colors were a perfect representation of the fun, flashy, and over-the-top 1980s fashion scene.

Other popular ’80s accessories included scrunchies, friendship bracelets, slap bracelets, and patterned belts. The ’80s was a decade of wild self-expression, and the accessories people chose were a representation of their colorful individuality and style.

Influential 80s Fashion Designers That Shaped the Era

The 1980s saw an explosion of influential fashion designers that shaped the era. Many were responsible for neon colors, shoulder pads, and outlandish styles that the 80s are known for.

Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood was at the forefront of 80s fashion and punk style. She made corsets, tartan fabrics, and controversially wore underwear as outerwear. Her influence on 80s style was immeasurable.

Jean Paul Gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier designed dramatic and avant-garde clothing, often incorporating corsets, stripes, and elements of bondage fashion. His designs were frequently seen on pop stars like Madonna.

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio Armani created stylish and sophisticated power suits that became popular in 80s fashion, especially among successful career women. His designs featured neutral colors, natural fabrics, and an emphasis on clean, tailored lines.

Calvin Klein

Calvin Klein embodied the casual yet sexy essence of 80s fashion. Klein was known for tight designer jeans, underwear ads featuring provocative models, and simple but stylish clothing in natural, muted colors. His minimalist and sensual designs came to define an era.

Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel

Karl Lagerfeld revamped the iconic Chanel brand, transforming it into a symbol of 80s opulence and glamor. His collections for Chanel featured over-the-top fabrics, sequins, ruffles, padded shoulders, and the interlocking “C” logo that became synonymous with status and wealth.

These innovative designers were instrumental in establishing many of the fashion trends that still endure today. Their influence shaped 80s pop culture and defined an unforgettable era of self-expression through style. The bold and outrageous fashions they pioneered live on, continuing to inspire new generations.


So there you have it, some of the crazy, loud, and fun fashion trends of the 80s that are making a major comeback today. Whether you love the neon colors, crazy prints, or bold accessories, the 80s had a style for everyone. Next time you’re getting dressed, why not channel your inner 80s pop star or prom queen and add some spandex, sequins or shoulder pads into your outfit.

The 80s were all about taking fashion risks and not taking yourself too seriously. Even if the trends seem over the top now, they represented an era of experimentation and escapism in fashion that we can still learn from today. The 80s may be long gone but these iconic trends will live on forever!

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