A decade that threw out the rule book when it came to fashion, the 80’s debuted a look that will never go out of style… Whether it’s Saint Laurent’s shoulder pads, Vetements’ leggings or Off-White’s entire Princess Diana-inspired collection… The style staples from the 80s remain at the very fore front of our wardrobes. So, in case you weren’t around the first time, we’ve rounded up the best sartorial inspiration from the folks who quite literally owned 80s style from clothes to makeup… from Prince to Princess Diana, from the 80s perm to the 80s supermodels.
Originally from Jamaica, Grace Jones moved to New York in the early 60s, took up modelling, then singing and later acting. Aside from her incredible voice and addictive blend of R&B/pop/electronic/disco music, Grace carved out a look for herself that has remained as iconic to this day as it was back in the 80s. Her shaved/angular hair, creative make-up and cloaks, suits, hats and costumes have always felt way ahead of their time. Still do which is quite something.
In the 1980s, the word ‘supermodel’ was brand spanking new and referred mainly to Marie Helvin and Jerry Hall. It seemed like an actual job, rather than a celebrity offspring go-to role and Jerry Hall was the beautiful professional who took pride in maintaining her looks and working photo shoots. The Texan temptress was a truly iconic face in the 80s, with her Vogue covers remaining etched in our memories.
The late princess was probably the most photographed, scrutinized, stalked, judged and hounded woman of the decade, but all that attention didn’t distract her from turning out stunning looks day after day. Her short blonde curls and designer gowns were typical of her style in the 90s, but back in the 80s when she was still a new princess it was her flicked fringe, gentle eye make-up and suits that has us all obsessed.
We don’t know if we’ve ever been able to claim “We’re so rocking Alexis’s look in Dynasty right now” but we acknowledge with respect how Joan Collins embraced the rich American power player with her shoulder pads, glossy lipstick and heels perfectly. Hair always in a bouffant, accessorised to the hilt and clutch bag at the ready to bat off any annoying husbands. The world needs more Joan Collins.
Cyndi Lauper’s anthem Girls Just Wanna Have Fun has been the theme tune for many of us over the past few decades. Awesome big ginger hair helped along with toxic amounts of hairspray and crazy 80s punk/pop clothes were Cyndi’s trademark.
“Robert De Niro’s waiting, talking Italian…” Forgive us we’re having a Bananarama moment. Suddenly we’re back at a school disco circa 1987. Pedal-pushers check, crop top check, wide-brimmed black felt hat check, weird messy bit of fabric tied in hair check. Can of Tango, a quick Benson & Hedges behind the bike sheds and a snog from a 5th Year. you are so Bananarama.
Queen Brat of the infamous 80s ‘Brat Pack’, Mollie was eternally cast as the pretty/popular one in high school movies. And anyone who can apply lipstick with their cleavage deserves a place in fashion history.
Adam Ant, the alter ego of Stuart Goddard, shot to the top of the charts in the early 80s with his New Romantic pop-punk hits including Stand And Deliver and Ant Rap. His unique look was a combination of dandy highwayman, pirate, cross-dresser, punk, military, Native American – the list is endless, but the result was damn sexy. Adam Ant gave us a lifetime of fancy dress party inspiration, and made it OK for men to wear guyliner.
Who could pin down Prince’s contribution to style? Feminine/masculine, the beautiful black curls, beauty spot, feather boas, high-necked ruffled skirt… Prince was the King of them all.
Kim was Britain’s answer to Blondie. Tough gig, but the husky voiced, super sexy lady did us proud and Kids In America/You Keep Me Hanging On were true anthems of the era. A little bit of punk, lots of eyeliner, big hair and penchant for stripy tops. Still want to be her.
Boy George (real name George O’Dowd) WAS the face of British 80s pop music. Lead singer of Culture Club, George was very much a part of the New Romantic movement, and his unique style of dressing has remained a huge influence for the era. Dreadlocks, make-up, boots and big coats were the trademarks that made BG stand out from the rest…
Child star Brooke Shields made the headlines during the 70s in the controversial movie Pretty Baby. It’s simply human nature to be obssesed with our child stars and Brooke was no exception. In the 80s Brooke’s beauty was iconic, but her eyebrows were even more so and we’re still referencing them to this day.
Debbie Harry AKA Blondie
Beautiful blondes have always adorned the bedroom walls of boys and girls but in the 80s there was only one blonde that anyone was talking about. Debby Harry was the lead singer of the punk band that was America’s answer to The Sex Pistols but waaaaaay sexier (and just generally better all round really). Her perfect face was forever framed with 100% peroxide blonde mid-length hair (although she never confirmed whether her hair was naturally blonde). Easily the hippest blonde known to mankind.
Imagine a world where there was no Madonna. We can’t. It’s too boring. Love or hate her nowadays, back in the 1980s Madonna stood for everything that was cool, exciting and super-mega-hot. The Italian-American singer/dancer introduced the first of many trademark looks in the early 80s and soon we were all sporting lacy fingerless gloves, ¾ length black leggings, rara skirts, eyeliner, beauty spots and statement tee’s. And we weren’t just copying her style, we loved the music (awesome), the attitude (bad), the gum, the boyfriends… need we go on?
Can a TV show be a style icon? Hell yeah. Seriously, we know men who still think it’s OK to wear a tee shirt with a white blazer (sleeves rolled up). They look like drug barons now, but back in the 80s this look was ssssmokin’. Want to get your boyfriend rocking a bit of the crime-busting duo Sonny Note Don Johnson, Dakota Johnson’s dad. and Rico? Think pastels, white trousers & jackets, slicked back hair, shoulder pads and sunglasses. In fact we’re almost tempted to give it a whirl ourselves.
When WHAM! hit the dust and George went solo, out came the shades, white tee-shirt, ripped jeans and leathers and a style icon was born.
The fabulous Ms Fonda has worn many hats in her lifetime so far – including political activist, writer and of course actress. But we’re focusing soley on Jane Fonda in The China Syndrome where she plays a steely journalist determined to uncover the truth behind a nuclear power plant. And not just her acting. Boy-o-boy that woman knows how to rock a look in this movie. The shirts with the big collars, the flicky hair, hoopy earrings, power suits.
Pretty, perfectly created Michelle was the go-to girl in the 80s for the major studios. We fell in love with her when she played opposite Al Pacino in the gangster movie Scarface. Ridiculously beautiful, blonde with a killer figure, Pfeiffer was the girl we all wanted to look like (and would happily still look like – have you seen Stardust?). She is one of our all-time favourite movie goddesses.
A style icon from the 80s to 2016 (and forever more). The king of self-invention, Bowie invented trends before anyone could have predicted them and redefined what it meant to be a popular rock star – and what that might look like. A ginger-haired, snaggle-toothed, pale, skinny lad from surburbia? Yes, you can be the new of king of cool.