'80s Fashion Is Back—These Were the Most Iconic Looks at the Time

When it comes to '80s fashion, we have a (surprising) amount to be thankful for. While the decade hasn't influenced our wardrobes for a long time, in recent months, we've come to the realization that all the most current trends today are courtesy of the '80s. And if you're sitting there with a raised eyebrow, it's worth noting that at the end of last year, the trend had seen an 87% increase on Pinterest.

Now, if you're not too familiar with the nuances of this era, there are a few standout looks we're sure you'll recognize: big shoulders, white jeans, underwear as outerwear and oversize jewelry. It was the decade of the power dresser but also of punks. It gave us Madonna, Tina Turner, and Cher, plus numerous other superstars whose sense of style influences many in 2023.


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Don't believe us? From the fact that Princess Diana's archive is inspiring some of the world's most influential designers to the more basic resurgence in women wearing blazers with jeans again, we've found 25 A-list images that prove these '80s fashion looks are as current now as they were then. Keep scrolling to click through our gallery of iconic '80s outfits.

1. Bodysuits


(Image credit: Julian Wasser/Getty Images)

Style Notes: This is classic '80s Madonna, but the underwear/bodysuit look is bang on the money for now. You can forgo the pearls; just wear yours with some high-waisted jeans for a night out.

2. Naked Dress


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: As if we needed any more proof that Cher is the ultimate style queen, here was the star doing the naked dress before everyone was doing it at the Met Gala (and every other award show going).

3. Turtlenecks


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: Brooke Shields was America's number one sweetheart back in the '80s, and here she proves exactly why with those girl-next-door looks. Layering that checked jacket over a shirt and a turtleneck is exactly the kind of street style we saw during last fashion week.

4. See-Through Layers


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: The Jenner/Kardashian clan has already got this look down—and there are sheer dresses all over the spring runways. But the originator of this style? Another Kim. Kim Basinger.

5. Structured Shoulders


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: Okay, so the term "structured shoulders" is just another way for us to say "shoulder pads" and attempt to not freak you out, but we've seen a real trend toward this look. Shout-out to Courteney Cox for wearing this on the red carpet pre–Monica Gellar days.

6. Corset Belts


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: Avid readers of this site will know that we've already tried out this corset-type look. And while Kim Kardashian West has been a major factor as to why it's gotten popular again, we can't deny that Cyndi Lauper may have started the trend. Also: those zebra shoes.

7. Chunky Jewelry


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: Joan Collins is so incredible in this snap. Is there anything we don't love about it? Answer: No. The jacket, the simple black top, the red lippie… However, it's the gobstopper necklace our magpie eyes focus on. Joan knows the power incredible jewelry has in pulling together an outfit.

8. Checked Outerwear


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: There were so many incredible outfits we could have included from Princess Diana, but we settled on this "country casual" one. The heritage check on her jacket and matching skirt are classic attire. Not only has this Harrington-style jacket made a comeback in hipster circles, but we're also seeing plaid coats everywhere. Coincidence? We think not.

9. Showing Off Your Socks


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: Want to know the real way to update your outfit to be 2023-ready? Just add socks à la Meg Ryan. Yes. Really.

10. Tailoring


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: Grace Jones will never be anything less than fierce, but this incredible look has been seared into our minds. Who wouldn't want to look so focused in a razor-sharp piece of tailoring? (Purple makeup optional, of course.)

11. Miniskirts


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: When Kylie Minogue went through her bad-girl stage, she wore a lot of high-shine minidresses like this. Get inspired by investing in 2023's version with a great miniskirt (they're selling out everywhere right now).

12. High-Waisted Jeans


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: We have some serious love for high-waisted jeans. Tina Turner pulls this look off with aplomb, and we have to agree: Bauble earrings and a white vest are great accessories.

13. Baggy Cropped Trousers


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: Well, how else do you expect to show off your socks? Thanks to Demi Moore for inspiring us all those years ago. 

14. Tights


(Image credit: Rex)

Style Notes: Debbie Harry has brought us many a trend. But during the '80s, we got to see her in chic little black dresses, which she accessorized a flash of low denier at most times. And in case you didn't know, that kind of hosiery is news again.

15. Bold Buttons


(Image credit: Rex)

Style Notes: We've seen this trend start to appear on trousers, from old-school joggers to jeans with shiny gold buttons, as well as on the classic Balmain blazers that remain forever popular. Jerry Hall's gold buttons down her nautical blazer and accessorized with gold bracelets made for the ultimate '80s power look. 

16. Off-the-Shoulder Silhouettes


(Image credit: Rex)

Style Notes: True, Goldie Hawn didn't invent the off-the-shoulder style, but she knew how to do it right

17. Leggings


(Image credit: Rex)

Style Notes: Joan Jett will never be anything less than cool. Her punk-inspired ensembles often involved oversize jackets and skintight trousers. While leggings have definitely come on a bit since then, take inspo from this look and pair your leggings with a leather jacket this weekend.

18. Shoulder Pads


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: Things tended to be pretty oversize during the '80s, and no other item was as exaggerated than the blazer. This is totally Balenciaga, no? 

19. Sequins


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: When aren't sequins a great idea? As seen on Diana Ross, this look is making us wish the festive season was already here. 

20. Tassels


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: Yes, the '70s might have been the era for bodysuits, but with the '80s came extra bits like tassels. 

21. Vinyl jackets


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: The vinyl coat trend has been everywhere on fashion girls. But it was in the '80s when one of the original supermodels, Cindy Crawford, made it look iconic. 

22. Graphic Tees


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: Model Pat Cleveland knew how to make a graphic tee look chic. It's still one of our favorite outfits for the weekend.

23. Oversize Sunglasses


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: Susan Sarandon is just one of the reasons we love Alessandro Michele's oversize Gucci sunglasses.

24. Oversize Denim Jacket


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: Before Sex and the City, SJP was already someone who liked to push the fashion boundaries. 

25. Geek-Chic Glasses


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: Geek-chic glasses might be commonplace now, but it was during the '80s that they really took off. While we might all be into metal frames right now, we predict that colored frames, as seen here on Jane Fonda, will be making a comeback. 

26. Gloves


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Daryl Hannah's got all the accessories a decent '80s look should have, but you'll notice time and again that gloves (especially with layered jewelry) are key for this decade.

27. Skirt Suits


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sarah Ferguson and Diana, Princess of Wales, were both particularly keen on skirt suits for their more formal events in the '80s. The look translated quickly into offices and parties, especially in this ultra-matchy form.

28. Aerobic Gear


(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Jane Fonda started it in the 1970s, but by the time the 1980s arrived, Spandex leggings, leotards, and legwarmers were commonplace.

29. Harem Pants


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Call them MC Hammer pants or harem pants, but never forget that drop-crotch trousers (the more draped, the better) were a key look in the '80s. Here's Donna Summer doing them justice.

30. Polka Dots


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Polka dots are back again, but one of the most current-looking ways they were worn in the '80s was thanks to singer Sade and this cool shirt.

Next up: All of the '90s Fashion Trends That Have (and Haven't) Made a Comeback

Opening Image: Getty Images

This post was originally published at an earlier date on Who What Wear UK.

Elinor Block