Skip to main contentSkip to footer

20 decade-defining 80s fashion moments

These retro looks will go down in fashion history 

Cindy Crawford wearing a black vinyl jacket
Orin Carlin
Orin CarlinContent Writer
Share this:

The 1980s are not necessarily best remembered for being a particularly fashionable eraDynasty cliff-hangers, trifles and the golden age of Top of the Pops spring to mind instead perhaps, but style? Less so.

Hang on – that's not entirely fair. Contrary to popular belief the decade was not completely devoid of fashionable moments (if you firmly block perms and shell suits out of your mind, that is), in fact, there were some incredibly stylish women back then who rocked some major outfits that we're still very much into today.

Hello! Fashion shares the 80s fashion looks that we still love today:

1. The Madonna headband 

Madonna wearing a headband with red lips and layered necklaces © Getty
Madonna at a 1985 Pro-Peace rally in Los Angeles

Constant reinvention is Madonna's superpower. Throughout the course of her remarkable career, the Queen of Pop has harnessed the power of clothes and makeup to give her look a new edge. When she took the music scene by storm in the 1980s, she favoured lace gloves, layered necklaces and, of course, her signature larger-than-life headbands. Textural heaven – colour us obsessed. 

2. The Joan Collins power suit

Joan Collins wearing a white polka dot blazer and skirt © Getty
Joan Collins on the set of Dynasty in 1988

Power dressing was all the rage in the 1980s, and actress Joan Collins was the poster girl with her Dynasty character Nolan Miller's wardrobe. Think boxy shapes, killer lapels and peplum blazers that meant business.

3. The Princess Diana shoulder pads

Princess Diana wearing a red shoulder pad dress© Getty
Princess Diana at a 1988 state reception in Melbourne

Princess Diana is a fashion icon for more reasons than we can list. As one of the world's most photographed women at the time, her looks had to be polished and elegant with an air of regality. Her style had a certain girlish charm - think frilly trims, pussy bow ties and scalloped edge collars. However, her evening wear, especially in the latter half of the decade, was powerful. The Princess indulged in the shoulder pad trend on more than one occasion to give her outfit a strong silhouette.

READ: Princess Diana's most iconic winter outfits

MORE: 1970s fashion trends that we still love in 2023

4. The Kate Bush relaxed silhouette 

Kate Bush wearing a white relaxed-fit shirt © Getty
Kate Bush promoting her new album 'Hounds of Love' at London Planetarium in 1985

Bona fide free spirit Kate Bush racked up an impressive roster of hits in the late 1970s and early 1980s. But beyond her catchy discography, she also made an impact in the style department. Her favoured relaxed-fit, flowy silhouettes echoed the spirit of her music and in particular, we adore her peasant dresses and oversized shirts.

5. The Sade backless top

Sade singing in a white top with gold hoop earrings and red lipstick © Getty
Sade performing during the 1985 Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium

 Smooth Operator singer Sade was one of the incomparable beauties of the 1980s. Choosing a single defining fashion moment was nothing short of agonising, but her Live Aid outfit is totally up there. A high-neckline, giving way to the drama of a backless design feels achingly chic. The crisp white hue against the warm radiance of her skin, topped off with her trademark sleek braid, red lip and chunky gold hoop combo? Perfection. 

6. The Cindy Crawford leather jacket 

Cindy Crawford wearing a black vinyl jacket © Getty
Cindy Crawford attends The Love Ball in 1989

A fresh-faced Cindy Crawford looked utterly ravishing at The Love Ball in 1989, repping an extremely glossy vinyl jacket ahead of her stratospheric supermodel era. Arguably her voluminous mane steals the show, but we would totally wear this outfit now. Also: Kaia, is that you? Talk about spitting image.

MORE: Get the look: how to recreate Cindy Crawford's iconic 90s blow dry

7. The Grace Jones hood

Grace Jones wearing a purple hood and a leather jacket © Getty
Grace Jones as May Day in the 1984 James Bond film, A View To A Kill

What Grace Jones, aka the ultimate Alaïa muse, doesn't know about rocking a hood, frankly, isn't worth knowing. A true pioneer and artiste, Grace was best known for her striking androgynous aesthetic and outré approach.

8. The Cyndi Lauper eclecticism

Cyndi Lauper wearing a colourful dress with layered chain belts © Getty
Cyndi Lauper posing on a 1983 photoshoot

Girls just want to have fun, and we just want to emulate Cyndi Lauper's ultra-busy street photoshoot ensemble. Big hair, bold eyeshadow, and a major print clash. We're into it.

9. The Jerry Hall Ascot glam

Jerry Hall alongside model Marie Helvin at Ascot in 1982 © Getty
Jerry Hall alongside model Marie Helvin at Ascot in 1982

Studio 54 glamazon Jerry Hall brought her style A-game into the next decade and beyond. At Ascot in 1982, she made a watertight case for sharp monochrome - and we can't help but lust after her XXL lapels.

10. The Jane Fonda leotard 

Jane Fonda wearing a shiny leotard © Getty
Jane Fonda was an aerobic legend

Lashings of lycra and boatloads of energy, Jane Fonda's aerobic workouts revolutionised the exercise game in the 1980s. The multi-hyphenate captured the zeitgeist and looked totally incredible in a leotard. If only we looked this good working up a sweat...

11. The Tina Turner denim jacket

Tina Turner wearing a denim jacket and a leather zip-up mini dress© Getty
Tina performing in her trademark denim jacket in 1985

The late Tina Turner was adorned for her effervescent stage presence. With her energetic spirit and jazzy mini dresses, she was a true performing legend. But the piece from her costume wardrobe that sticks in our mind above all else is her lived-in, customised denim jacket.

12. The Naomi Campbell high glam 

Naomi Campbell wearing a feathered Yves Saint Laurent cocktail dress on the runway © Getty
Naomi Campbell wearing a feathered Yves Saint Laurent cocktail dress on the runway

Thanks to the nature of her profession, Naomi Campbell has had more killer fashion moments than we've had style crushes. However, hands down, her most memorable look of this particular decade was when she wore a feathered cocktail dress by Yves Saint Laurent from the maison's 1987-88 Haute Couture collection.

13. The Brooke Shields relaxed-fit blazer

Brooke Shields wearing a white oversized blazer © Getty
Brooke Shields attends the premiere of the 1983 film, Staying Alive

Inimitable beauty Brooke Shields has a face that would launch a thousand ships. But beyond her signature rich brows and graceful features, she also excels on the style front. This slouchy white co-ord, layered over a cut-out bodysuit for a hint of skin, is going straight in our outfit arsenal. Recreation incoming...

14. The Whitney Houston glitz

Whitney Houston at the 1988 Grammy Awards © Getty
Whitney Houston at the 1988 Grammy Awards

Whitney Houston's music career flourished in the 1980s, as did her wardrobe. From voluminous headbands to foolproof leather-jacket-and-jeans combos, her looks captured the playful spirit of the age. One slightly more refined outlier was her embellished little black dress worn to the 1988 Grammys. It had a touch of glitz, but simultaneously felt quietly elegant. 

15. The Cher sheer sultry

Designer Bob Mackie and Cher attending the 1985 Met Gala © Getty
Designer Bob Mackie and Cher attending the 1985 Met Gala

Throughout the decade, Cher wore a plethora of striking ensembles, but her penchant for sheer fabrics is forever etched on our minds. From bodystockings to mini dresses, the performer adored glitz-infused see-through pieces, and her 1985 Met Gala look was one of her very best.

16. The Iman double denim 

Iman sporting double denim © Getty
Iman sporting double denim

While the glamorous 1990s images of model Iman and her husband David Bowie are pored over among fashion circles, Iman certainly knew how to dress in the preceding decade. Donning a double denim ensemble, she made the divisive fashion trend look categorically chic.

17. The Lisa Bonet shades 

Lisa Bonet rocking round sunglasses at the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards© Getty
Lisa Bonet rocking round sunglasses at the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards

Is there a cooler 1980s look than Lisa Bonet's (aka Zoë Kravitz's mother) 1987 VMAs outfit? It's a hard no. From round shades and wild curls to her cool-girl croc shoulder bag, we are utterly obsessed. 

18. The Kim Basinger visible lingerie

Kim Basinger wearing a sheer dress with visible lingerie © Getty
Kim Basinger at the 1989 LA premiere of Batman

Kim Basinger hopped on the visible lingerie trend way before it was even a thing at the 1989 Batman premiere. Featuring a sheer dress overlay, a waist-cinching belt, a black bra and lace high-waisted knickers, the actress' look is still relevant today.

19. The Debbie Harry boots

Debbie Harry wearing thigh-high boots © Getty
Debbie Harry was the lead vocalist of the band Blondie

Achingly cool rock star Debbie Harry repped some killer thigh-high boots during a 1983 photoshoot, and now we need a pair. Major footwear envy.

20. The Kylie Minogue micro dress

Kylie Minogue wearing a sparkly mini dress and holding hands with Michael Hutchence © Getty
Kylie Minogue and Michael Hutchence at the 1989 Australian premiere of her new film The Delinquents

Aussie star Kylie Minogue looked almost unrecognisable at the premiere of The Delinquents in an audaciously short 'XO' motif sequin dress. Her short hair and liner-rimmed eyes work perfectly within the cool-girl ensemble.

More Hello! Fashion

See more