10 Fashion Trends From The '80s I Loved (And Hated)

by Denise Geelhart
Originally Published: 

Born in the early ’70s, I spent my most formative years in the 1980s. While they were also my tortured teen years, the ’80s were great! I loved the cheesy movies and the music. In August 1981, I was glued to the television as MTV premiered. Back then, all they did was play music videos. I couldn’t get enough.

In part because of MTV, we got to experience every trend going on in the world just by watching our favorite videos. From the side ponytail to jelly shoes to parachute pants, they were all on television 24/7 for our enjoyment.

There are a lot of the fashion trends from the ’80s that would not work today, but there are also a few I’d love to see come back. Here are the ones—the very bad and the exceptional—that stand out:

1. Yes to Long Hair for Men

While I love my husband’s short hair, it seems like all men either wear their hair short or shaved off anymore. Whatever happened to the long locks on men like Jon Bon Jovi, Slash and Andre Comeau from MTV’s first season of The Real World (yes, that was the ’90s, but his hair was fabulous).

2. No to Rat Tails and Mullets

I rocked the mullet once upon a time. Of course, it wasn’t called a mullet when I got it–it was the “bi-level” cut mimicking the look of Olivia Newton-John in her “Physical” video. However, that look came and died quickly. Today, if I see anyone with a mullet, much less a rat tail, I get the urge to pull out scissors and cut them off.

3. Yes to Pegged Pants

As a teenager, I would wake up for school and get dressed. Before I’d leave the house, I would make sure I did the special roll on the cuffs of my jeans to make them look cool. Then suddenly, without warning, people stopped pegging their pant legs. I’ve missed it ever since.

4. No to Tracksuits

Why were these ever a thing? I didn’t like them in the ’80s, and still don’t like them now. They became especially popular with moms. I prefer yoga pants—thank you very much.

5. Yes to Bomber Jackets

You always looked cool wearing a bomber jacket. I never had one, but I wanted one. I still do.

6. No to Shoulder Pads

Shoulder pads were invented to make women look more masculine in suits. Suddenly, they were in every piece of clothing you bought, from shirts to jackets. I was okay with this trend for about a year before I started cutting the pads out of my clothes. Recently, I noticed this trend is coming back. Please, just say no!

7. Yes to Spiral Perms

Before college, I had waves in my hair, but not much curl. I got perms every so often to help me control my wave. At the end of the ’80s, the most popular (and expensive) perm to get was the spiral perm. I still think the spiral perm curls looked great, and I’d love to see this trend come back. I’m getting tired of only seeing straight hair.

8. No to Side Ponytails

The only time a side ponytail is good is when it’s on a child younger than 10—heck, maybe younger than 8. They look especially silly on adults, something I proved when my 4-year-old insisted I wear one.

9. Yes to Penny Loafers

I lived in penny loafers! They are a classic shoe that should never go out of style.

10. No to Puffy Shirts

Oh boy. Puffy, lacy and frilly shirts were the rage…on men! They looked great on rock stars, but not great on anyone else. Then women wore bows on their tops. I’m glad this trend is gone, and I hope it never comes back.

These are just a handful of trends from the ’80s I can’t forget. What trends did you hate? What trends do you wish would come back?

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