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How to Live In the 1980s-Unconventional Living In the Decade of Optimism, Boldness and Excellence

Philosophical writer and YouTube creator covering the topics of simplicity, homemaking, and the romantic vintage lifestyle.

The 1980s logo, text

The 1980s logo, text

Living Life Loving the 1980s

There have been groups of unconventional people throughout time who have deliberately chosen to live in a different time era. The 1950s, 1930s, Victorian and pioneer eras have had groups of people brake off from modern society in exchange for a radically extreme lifestyle.

Who is to say it is not time to live the 1980s?

Here we will explore ways to immerse yourself into a 1980s bubble, making you a complete freak of society, but who cares? You will learn:

  • How to select the exact year your time reference point is from
  • Deco for your home
  • Fashion and wardrobing
  • How to implement 1980s technology and entertainment into your lifestyle
  • Lingo

You may choose to make your entire living space 80s, you may transform only one room of your house, creating a time portal room, or incorporate only a few elements of the 1980s lifestyle.

Be warned as this is a radical life experiment which must be used with caution. It would be wise to stay reasonably current with the news and cultural knowledge so that you do no alienate your self from family, friends, and potential employers.

Late 1980s Hit-With Lita Ford and Ozzy-If I Close My Eyes Forever

1980s Hair and Fashion

Early 1980s Fashion

Taking a closer look at the 1980s decade you will observe that life was divided into three time periods. The signature look and feel of most decades is usually somewhere in the mid or late end. Just as the colors of the rainbow blend into one another, so do trends cross-fade into each decade. The very early 1980s are still under the influence of the 1970s, which is why you will see heavily feathered hair. Shorter hair styles were modeled by Princess Diana and Sheen Easton. Michael Jackson's zippered red Beat-It shirts were popular with fashion risk takers, and romantic ruffled shirts influenced by the New Wave / New Romantics ( a rebellion against the 1970s punk) were worn by Duran Duran, Adam Ant and Human League. It was in the first part of the decade that men wore the most stage makeup.

Mid 1980s Fashion

By the mid 1980s Jon Bon Jovi's, Living on a Prayer mullet was in vogue. Madonna had greatly influenced society to wear lace gloves, giant hair bows, and ruffled skirts over leggings cropped at the knee. Zippered parachute pants worn by street dancers became mainstream. Nancy Wilson of Heart was the classic 1980s female rocker: big long blond teased hair, sparkly sequence shoulder padded jackets, and a hot pink Jem and The Holograms makeup palette.

Late 1980s-to 1992

Groups and rockers such as Lita Ford, Def Leppard, Winger, and Whitesnake wore big rockin metal hair, however in the beginning of the 1990s, extravagant fashions were gradually fading into ripped jeans, tamed long hair, and the country rock look. Little did they know that by 1993 the army buzzed look would start to come in and they would get "the boot".

Lucky for you, enough time has passed since the 1980s that you may be able to pull off a whole ensemble without being completely ridiculed. In the 1990s when dirty dishwater colors were considered cool and honest, no one wanted to appear stuck in the 1980s glory days.

"MIDI Man" -Digital art piece inspired by the 1980s.

"MIDI Man" -Digital art piece inspired by the 1980s.

1980s Deco-How to Decorate Your Room or Home

By the mid 1980s anything that had 1970s green was considered horrifically outdated.

For that 1980s deco look, go for long interconnected couch pieces, tall carpet, bean-bag chairs and ultra wide vase style lamps. You may look to Ebay for classic land-line phones.

The article 10 ways you probably decorated in the 1980s, explains that classic homes were often decorated with soft pastels, mauve and floral prints. However rockers or wild creative types might decorate with in a bold Punky Brewter style, having electric colors.

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"Popular designs by Memphis Milano inspired bright looks and bold geometric patterns. Rooms with neon colors and abstract art were the norm in the 1980s, such as in this Houston condominium from our September 1980 issue."

Here is a quick way to create a 1980s time portal room:

  • Buy a classic 1980s movie poster of your choice and place in a black frame.
  • Have a classic TV or computer system that you bought from Ebay.
  • Set out a classic boom box or stereo system with record player.
  • Get a bing bag chair.
  • Remove all other modern day objects. This is your time portal room. Did you ever see the movie Somewhere In Time? All of the objects must look like there from the time era you wish to travel to, otherwise you will get sucked back into the awful present day! Of course the present day for the setting of Somewhere In Time was the 1980s, so he didn't have it so bad, did he?

MIDI Technology Enabled New Kinds of Music and Inventions to Be Created

1980s Technology

The ball is in your court. You can take a que from other passionate people who choose to live the 1950s. Some families use an old fashioned television and only view old movies. Translate this into living a 1980s lifestyle and you can use your imagination. Perhaps you would like to equip your home with a Commodore 64, Atari St (includes MIDI ports for musicians) and a classic Atari gaming system, with cartridges. Or perhaps emulators are you cup of tea?

What about smart phone's, iPad's, email, social media etc?

It is at your discretion to decide how much modern technology to implement. If you are a time era purist, as some people who chose to live in the 1950s, pioneer, or Victorian Era are, then this may not be for you, however it is advisable to stay current with today's technology so that you can connect with peers and integrate nicely into society. Hiding your gadgets out of site should be a simple solution.

1980s Cartoon-Jem and the Holograms intro

1980s Art

Bold colors of electric purple-pink (fuchsia), glowing edges, airbrushed effects

Fantasy art posters were readily available, some popular subjects included:

  • Unicorns standing on reflective black glass
  • Harlequins
  • Wizards

1980s Cartoons



The Smurfs


Beverly Hills Teens

Rainbow Bright

My Little Pony

1980s Slang-Lingo

1980's slang is not something that you have to embrace in order to experience the decade. Just pick a few words / or phrases and incorporate them authentically into your every day vocabulary. Many people who were teens in the 1980's are still trying the get the word like removed from their vocabulary, as it is an unnecessary word, however they take joy in unapologetically saying rad.

Here is a sample dialog of what might go on between two arguing teen sisters in the mid to late 1980's.

"Don't have a cow, but I borrowed your banana clip to pull my hair back. Doesn't it look rad?" I have got to get out of these grody sweat pants though." (-Teen girl #1)

"Take a chill pill and give me back my clip! (-Teen girl #2)

Fine! I'm gonna look lame (Teen girl #1 throws the banana clip on the floor). Your the one that needs to chill. (-Teen girl #1)

MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) Dramatically Changed the Way Music Was Recorded

1980s Music and Production Style

Toward the end of the decade, the big studio rock production style was popular. Powerful epic drums, lead guitar, and keyboard fills were all apart of the completed song. Intro's, bridges and ending, which included parts played by skillful studio musicians, were all included in a polished mix. It was a time in history where there were many jobs for roadies, mixers, producers, engineers, session players, and studio executives.

1980s Films

Popular 1980's films which have stood the test of time include:

  • Willow
  • Tron
  • Back to The Future
  • Return of the Jedi
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Superman

Create Your Time Bubble

Whether you are new to the 1980's or are revisiting the past you can have fun creating or exploring your 1980's time bubble with fashion, technology, music, films, cartoons and lingo.

Rock on!

© 2013 Rain San Martin


Ruiari Barton on September 08, 2020:

As an 18 year old, i really want to do this.


Rain San Martin (author) from Fort Wayne on October 25, 2016:

Thanks for the heads up.

szuletik on October 25, 2016:

It's "bean bag", not "bing bag". Because supposedly these were filled with beans at one time. No fun to get a hole in one of these. ;)

Rain San Martin (author) from Fort Wayne on June 27, 2014:

Solaras, I remember seeing some of the Keith Haring graffiti on MTV in the late 1980's. I'm happy you enjoyed the Hub.

Barbara Fitzgerald from Georgia on June 25, 2014:

Thumbs up and funny! When I think of the 80's I think of Keith Haring and the other graffiti artists of that era, as well as the Talking Heads movies Stop Making Sense and True Stories.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

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