What Did Men Wear in the 80s?

In the 1980s, men’s fashion was quite different from decades before. During the 70s disco era, styles were heavily influenced by androgynous pop stars, hip hop culture, hair-metal bands, and action movie stars.¬†

Men’s fashion trends in the 80s also reflected what stars wore on TV shows during the decade. There were no limits to many of the styles. Men often wore clothing they deemed appropriate for leisure activities, such as a night out at a nightclub, while dressed for work.

Cool and Casual Styles

There were plenty of 80s influences in this area, even though men did not wear exactly the same casual wear as men in movies or on television. There was a cool and casual look that dominated the 80s. Men followed the style of Don Johnson and Phillip Michael Thomas from Miami Vice in the 80s. There were many men who wore:

  • T-shirts under designer jackets (which may have shoulder pads)
  • White, pastel, or bright suits
  • Shoes without socks, such as loafers or boat shoes
  • It was common for men to wear open jackets and pushed-up sleeves.

To work, it was also common to wear a shirt without a tie. Magnum, P.I.’s Hawaiian shirts were worn both at work and on weekends.

Blockbuster films of the 1980s also contributed to 80s fashion, as did the TV screen. Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop, Sylvester Stallone in Cobra, and Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator wore leather and sports-themed jackets in the 80s.

Clothing Inspired from the Music Scene

A number of the biggest musical influences of the decade were also reflected in men’s clothing.

  • Michael Jackson was the biggest icon of all time. During the 1980s, much of the clothing was influenced by his style. From leather studded jackets to slouchy and oversized tops, men wore clothes inspired by Michael’s style. Who can forget the sparkly glove on one hand look? Besides studded leather jackets, leather bomber jackets were also popular.
  • Hair bands were the complete opposite of Michael Jackson’s look. The look of bands such as Poison or Metallica was often mimicked by men. T-shirts were worn by them. With massively teased hair and studded boots on their feet, they usually wear leather/spandex pants and torn jeans.
  • For men who also admired male fashion icons of the 80s, the hugely popular androgynous look was seen on pop stars like Boy George, Prince, and Annie Lennox. In this fashion style, men wore women’s blouses, high-heeled boots, large hoop earrings, and makeup on their faces.
  • Hip hop looks: The 1980s saw the rise of a new music style that would greatly influence urban fashion. The new music was hip hop, which popularized designer sneakers, Kangol caps, thick gold rope chains, three/four finger rings, and parachute pants.
  • Parachute pants, also called Hammer pants, were popularized by rapper MC Hammer. There was a lot of extra fabric in the area between the crotch area of the pants, which made them very big and roomy.

Conservative Styles

The ‘preppy’ look was adored by men of all ages and walks of life. Ivy League Dress originated in the 1950s, made a resurgence in the late 1970s, and remained popular in the 1980s. Among the items were:

  • Oxford shirts with buttons
  • Turned-up collars on polo shirts
  • An argyle sweater is often tied loosely around the neck
  • Vests made of sweaters
  • Jeans with peg legs
  • Khakis with cuffs
  • Bright white sneakers or penny loafers

Brand-Name Clothing

A popular trend in the 1980s was pastel clothing often featuring brand logos. Among the most prominent brands were:

  • Sportswear and dressy casual fashions were available at Izod
  • Sweatshirts, jeans, and hoodies were popularized by Gap
  • In the 80s, they were one of the most popular denim brands
  • A brand known for its colorful polo shirts and jackets is Polo Ralph Lauren
  • Colorful sweaters and knits were largely regarded as Benetton’s trademarks
  • For both men and women, Champion sweatshirts were popular weekend wear over turtlenecks

More 80s Clothing and Accessory Items

Other popular clothing items included:

  • Colorful Converse All-Stars sneakers in high-top and low-top styles
  • Members-only jackets — lightweight jackets with a zipped neckline and a waistband that stopped at the waist
  • Rock band, pop star, and movie button jackets
  • During the day and at night, sunglasses are worn
  • Jeans that have been acid washed or stonewashed
  • Suits for running
  • Keys, tools, identification, and credit cards can be stored in fanny packs
  • One earring

Memorable Styles

During the 1980s, men wore styles that expressed their individuality and creativity, and 80s teen fashions mirrored this as well. Styles in the 80s varied from group to group, whether they were their own or modeled after someone famous. 

In the 80s, fashion was unlike any other decade, and some of the influences can still be seen on men today.

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