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80s Fads


A list of fads from the 80s

A little while back I heard somewhere or another that the 80s were back. Well, not exactly back, but it does seem that the 80s are finally far enough back that they are retro cool to the younger generation. There are lots of fads I'd rather not see come back from the 80s, but some of 80s style was fun and upbeat. I started thinking about the fads of the 80s, and this list grew out of it. I'll keep adding to it if I think of more.

Because fashion is regional, I should let you know I spent the majority 80s in California.

80s Dance Fads

1. The Cabbage Patch - Cabbage Patch done by a guy who was there.

2. The Roger Rabbit - Rodger Rabbit tutorial on Youtube

3. The Robot

4. The Moonwalk

5. The Zombie - See the original version in Michael Jackson's Thriller video

6. The Running Man - Running Man on Youtube

7. Walk Like an Egyptian - Bangles video. Vintage video with regular people dancing.

8. Dancing or walking down the street with a boom box on your shoulder. photo

9. Heavy metal head banging.

80s Hair Fads

1. Mall Bangs - Spray them straight up with aqua-net.

2. Layered Perm - What happens when you perm feathered hair.

3. New Wave bangs over one eye

4. Rocker Hair Band Hair

5. Mohawk

6. A Flock of Seagulls

7. Spikes

8. Shaved head except bangs.

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9. Mullet

10. Big Hair-multiple styles

11. Banana Clips - for the 80s female version of the faux hawk.

12. Butterfly Hair Clips

13. Crimped hair

14. Side ponytail.

15. Woven ribbon barrettes (worn mostly by young girls. The tail ribbons could be a foot long.)

16. Jheri curl.

17. Comb in the back pocket or your jeans. Either plastic with a handle, or switchblade. Goes with very early 80s feathered hair.

18. Vietnamese American new wave original photos People looked like this where I was too, but it wasn't just Vietnamese kids.

19 .Speaking of Vietnam. I seem to remember recently arrived girls from Southeast Asia wearing pink foam hair curlers as hair clips.

20. Afro Pik worn stuck in an afro hairdo. Looks like this one's back.I'd forgotten about this one. I usually associate it with the 70s, but I remember several people doing this in the early 80s.

80s Kid Fads

For the grade school set.

1. Cabbage Patch Dolls.

2. Strawberry Shortcake Characters. This character was printed on clothes, lunch boxes and everything else, and was very popular with grade school girls in the early 80s.

3. Transformers toys

4. He-Man

5. Care Bears

6. My Little Pony

7. Garbage Pail Kids

8. Slime

9. Girls socks with lace on top.

10. Velcro sneakers with zipper pockets. Kangaroos still in business

11. Sticker collecting and trading.

12. Teddy Ruxpin (Adults were more into this than the kids.)

13. Rainbows and unicorns, especially as Rainbow Bright.

80s Make up Fads

1. Hollow cheek blush. - Use a dark streak of blush under your cheek bone angled from the ear to the chin. Use two colors dark below light.

2. Sparkle Pink Lipstick - The original had fish scales in it.

3. Three color eye shadow. - Often the right and left side of the lid were different colors. A light shade like pink used up to the eye brows.

4. Eye Liner on guys - Think young Richard Grieco, or Boy George

5. Blue Eye liner and mascara, especially on blue eyed women.

jelly bracelets

80s Jewlery Fads

1. Jelly Bracelets

2. Multiple ear piercings on girls

3. One ear piercings on boys. (gay left, straight right)

4. Ear cuffs

5. Big hoop ear rings

6. Painted and colored plastic geometric shape jewelry.

7. Dog collars as jewelry

8. Handcuffs hung between the front two belt loops. Kind of a punk look.

9. Friendship bracelets home made from embroidery thread.

10. Madonna style big cross necklaces.

11. Wearing 30 bracelets at once.

12. Swatch watches - (Plastic watches often worn two or three to a wrist. You could add a plastic scratch guard over the lens.) picture

13.Button covers

14. Flavor Flav clock necklaces.

15. Tiny gold rings that you wear on pierced finger nails, often with glued on rhinestones.

80s Women's Fashion


1. Off the shoulder sweat shirts Flashdance style.

2. Leg warmers

3. Leotards - Sometimes belted. Cut very high in the leg. Thong leotards worn over leggings.

4. Special shoes for each sport.

5. Ankle socks with pompoms on the heel to keep them from slipping into your shoes.


1. Tennis shoes with skirts and nylons on the way to work. Pumps in the office.

2. Shoulder pads in everything.

3. Blouses with a bow at the neck.

4. Square neck scarves.

5. Squiggle metal lapel pins.

6. Not a fad, but no pants allowed in most offices.


1. Stirrup Pants with big sweaters or shirts. (This came in at the same time as neon colors)

2. V-front big belts to wear over the big shirts. Often the buckle buckled at a right angle to form the V. Finally found a picture here. There were lots of large interesting fashion belts, but most have not survived because the more outlandish ones were made of a cardboard like material and broke after about a year.

3. Crinoline on the outside. This was the classic Madonna and Cyndi Lauper thrift store look. I don't remember seeing it on the street very much at all.

4. Keds with no socks.

5. Reebok Classics

6. Jelly Shoes

7. T-Shirt Clips

8. Terri cloth rompers. Usually a swimsuit cover up in the early 80s. Shorts attached to a tube top.

9. Men's boxer shorts as shorts. Don't forget to sew up the fly.

10. Girls lace top socks with heels

11. Esprit Cloth Bags - Popular as a teen girl book bag especially.

12. Dove shorts

13. Socks that matched your t-shirt. Sold together. Late 80s.

14. Black cotton Mary Jane Chinese shoes. - More for girls than women but popular.

15. Leotards as shirts.

16. Belted jump suits.

Special Occasion

1. Prairie dresses. (This was early 80s late 70s. Usually made by Gunne Sax.) Cotton with lots of lace and ribbons.

2. Giant puffy sleeves.

3. V front torso princess dresses.

4. Elbow length spandex gloves.

5. Fingerless Lace Gloves

80s Men's Fashion


1. Suspenders as seen in the movie Wall Street.

2. Short shorts for jogging and the gym.

3. Sweater tied around the shoulders

4. Pink, lots of pink. Think Miami Vice.

5. Alligator polo shirts - Lacoste is still in business. Don't forget to turn up the collar.

6. Loafers with no socks.


1. Muscle shirts with no arms

2. Flowered Bermuda shorts.(mostly worn by skaters)

3. Spuds Mackenzie t-shirts. Especially popular with those not old enough to drink.

4. Michael Jackson Red Beat It jackets with lots of zippers

5. Bandannas - tied on anywhere. (I remember this particularly with break dancers who didn't want to lose their Karate kid headbands while dancing.)

6. Parachute Pants

7. Member's Only Jackets

8. Piano keyboard ties.

9. New wave skinny ties

10. Fingerless black leather gloves, or Michael Jackson's one glittery glove look.

11. Painter's hats, especially French legion style.

12. Saggy pants started in the 80s. I first remember seeing it in an ESPRIT clothing add for flashy boxers you were supposed to show above your pants around 1986. Young women had been wearing men's boxers as shorts, but the fad was starting to fade, and I suspect Esprit had an overstock they wanted to sell to men.

13. Hypercolor t-shirts that change color with temperature

14. Frankie Say Relax shirts.

80s Game Fads

1. Rubik's Cube

2. Trivial Pursuit

3. Pictionary

4. Atari

5. Pac Man

6. Space Invaders

80s Unisex Fashion

1. Suit jackets with rolled sleeves

2. Pegged Pants

3. Brand name labels prominently displayed. (Guess jeans with the triangle on the back pocket, T-shirts with ESPRIT or Gucci printed on the front)

4. Tuck in your shirt. (This isn't really a fad, but it's the thing that sticks out most in old group photos as compared to today. Everyone wore a belt and tucked in their shirt.)

5. Pleated front pants with high tight ankles.

6. Acid wash denim came out in 1987. It was a mass produced version of the earlier fad to spill bleach all over your jeans.

7. Hard Rock Cafe T-Shirts

8. Pleated front Jeans.

9. Pocket t-shirts.

10. Jackets with home made art on the back. Jean jackets were popular for this. Often the art referenced the wearer's favorite band. I remember someone with wings done entirely with safety pins. Really cool.

11. Double skinny studded belts worn below ,the belt loops.

Speech and Slang Fads

1. Vally girl talk. It started with Frank Zappa's daughter And ended with Bill and Ted.

2. Where's the beef? - From this commercial.

3. Ending sentences with, "not".

4. Yo. Painting out all by the YO on the tailgate of a Toyota truck.

Reader Feedback

sybil watson on May 26, 2014:

What a fun page! Am I the only one who really misses those stirrup pants?

Pondripples (author) on September 10, 2012:

@anonymous: Has it been that long? We had 50s theme days in the 80s.

anonymous on September 09, 2012:

My homecoming theme is 80 Gotta love that woot

Miha Gasper from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU on July 18, 2012:

The most popular radio station in Slovenia plays mostly music from 80s!

WhimsicalWatters on February 26, 2012:

You forgot Jem and The Holograms. That show was truly outrageous. ;)

armidabooks on February 01, 2012:

the worse part is that the 80's are back! : )

anonymous on January 05, 2012:


ckj513 on November 04, 2011:

yo! like, bodacious blog, ya know?

Staceysk on September 04, 2011:

I don't care if it does come back into fashion...I am NEVER doing the big over hairsprayed bangs thing again!

Close2Art LM on August 22, 2011:

I love the 80's and your lens, :) RWJR

LouiseKirkpatrick from Lincolnshire, United Kingdom on August 12, 2011:

Oh dear....I think I may still be an 80s fashion victim! An absolutely brilliant list - blessed by this Squid Angel as part of the "Back To School Bus Trip"!

bames24 lm on August 11, 2011:

I used to be a fan of those lace gloves... :)

carlajo73 on December 30, 2010:

Great lens! I am lensrolling to mine: My Life as a Child in the 80s,

cory_wilson on November 08, 2010:

Man, 80's hair. big poofs... can I forget them ever. What was I thinking back then??? Nice micro niche article pondripples.

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