Still in Style: ’80s Fashion Fads You Can Wear Today
For years, fashion survivors of the ’80s stayed quiet about the excesses of the decade—or apologized outright for them. The trends were all about bigger, shinier, brighter, and tighter, and movies like The Wedding Singer mercilessly mocked parachute pants and moussed mullets. But now, those looks aren’t considered entirely clownish; in fact, designers have elevated them to couture. That’s right, with a few adjustments, there are plenty of ’80s fashion fads you can wear today.
The stretchy wonder material dates back to the ’50s, but was mainly used for undergarments and swimwear. In the 1980s, spandex was officially promoted to must-have shorts material to be worn with off-the-shoulder sweatshirts. Spandex shorts earned respectability as supportive gear for serious athletes, but now they’ve elbowed their way onto fashion runways. Design houses like Chanel and Fendi are all for the look when worn with toned-down colors and unexpectedly tailored pieces like blazers and button-up shirts.
If you were proud of your waist in the ’80s, you announced it with wide cinching belts, multiple low-slung belts, spiked punkish belts, or something that wrapped around twice with grommets. For better or worse, the entire outfit revolved around the belt. Today, belts have returned to the spotlight with more sophistication. New interpretations include layered chain belts, conspicuous designer logos buckles, and wide obis over jackets.
Millennials made fun of the high-waisted jeans that tapered at the ankle and left plenty of room for junky trunks. Low-rise skinny jeans smugly took their place, but the party’s over for them. Now, the look is wider legs—or old, upcycled mom jeans from the thrift store. Warning: Try to steer clear of elastic and pleats. Don’t worry about looking bulky; the high waists are perfect for tastefully showing off taut tummies under crop tops.
The voluminous hair accessories can trigger traumatic flashbacks accompanied by Debbie Gibson songs. But things turned around in 2019, when Jason Momoa attended the Oscars with a dusty pink velvet scrunchie on his wrist to match his Fendi suit. Now, today’s supermodels are oblivious to the rapid rise and fall in popularity of the scrunchie. If you’re game to try an ’80s fashion fad, you can wear scrunchies that are softer and more romantic, with materials like chiffon and organza. You can buy them from Versace, Burberry, and Valentino.