80's fashion: excesses and Made in Italy

Discover the excessive and colorful world of the 80s. Get to know the fashion and trends of those fabulous years


80s fashion

The 80's marked the real boom of Made in Italy, reaching peaks that have never been surpassed. Fashion reaches an incredible popularity: clothes are loved, flaunted, shown as a true symbol of social welfare and also assume political connotations.

The stylists become authentic celebrities. In these years triumphs female emancipation, which is free from the canons imposed by a purely male dominated society. 

These are the years of Madonna, who imposes a new look, exuberant and determined. But it is also the period of obsession with aesthetics, the body and appearance. Contributing to the great revival of fashion on the world stage were the first music videos and the great popularity of Hollywood films. These were the years of Michael Jackson's sci-fi videos, Queen's sequins and Mc Hammer's melodies. 

80's fashion is the triumph of Made in Italy

In the middle of the 80's the eyes of the world moved to Italian designers, who dressed American celebrities and conquered all the front pages, becoming the icons of 1980s fashion. 

The fashion world witnesses the unstoppable rise of designers such as Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Prada, Valentino, Versace, Salvatore Ferragamo, Moschino, Trussardi. The capital of fashion becomes unquestionably Milan, surpassing London and Paris. Milan in those years becomes the true center of style, then losing the scepter in the early 2000s. 

The brands became a real status symbol, so much so that the same stylists put their logos in the collections. Having a high fashion garment immediately means identifying oneself with a high social class. In 1984, for example, was born the famous Birkin Bag by Hermès. 

Created by Jean-Louis Dumas to celebrate Jane Birkin, the bag has become an unmistakable symbol of wealth and style. To this day, it remains a true cult object.

jane fonda 80s fashion

The 80's Style

Fashion in the 80s was characterized by excess. Everything was big, exaggerated, bold and absolutely colorful. True cult object of those years were the reinforced shoulder pads under jackets. 

The shoulder pads gave women a strong, determined and bold style. They conveyed strength, impressiveness, charisma. The night instead, the clothes were characterized by the great use of sequins. 

The look was then completed by the hair backcombed, which depopulated not only among ordinary people but also among the stars. In fact, extremely flashy hairstyles reigned, such as those of Bon Jovi. The rock group is probably responsible for the great diffusion of these hairstyles and the consequent "Hair Metal" style. 

A great source of inspiration for the look was also "Dinasty", the famous TV show where clothes covered in sequins, exaggerated jewels, vertiginous necklines and very high heels reigned supreme. In short, all the best of 80s style. 

The cult of appearance

80s fashion is also characterized by an obsession with beauty and the cult of the body: men and women flock to gyms and celebrate characters such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jane Fonda. Jane Fonda became a true icon with her backcombed hair, colored power suits and fluorescent accessories.

She teaches fitness to the whole world, gaining enormous success. Jane, with her leg warmers and bright colors always present, became the truly icon of the unforgettable 80s workouts.

All over the world gyms and new sportswear were born: technical fabrics became part of everyday clothing. If before leggings, bodysuits and accessories had a niche market, now they become garments worn and flaunted in everyday life.

80s fashion for men

Madonna and the Sex Pistols 

As mentioned before, the world of music had a decisive impact in defining the canons of the 80s. Speaking of music, the undisputed queen of those years was undoubtedly Madonna. 

Her distinctive style? Studded jackets, lace gloves, and Jean-Paul Gaultier's iconic bras. It's a style that causes a stir, one that eschews any rule or classic canon, but one that makes her unique and inimitable. 

The motto "When in doubt, overdress!" was undoubtedly also espoused by the Sex Pistols, a famous British punk band. The Sex Pistols shocked audiences with their offbeat, aggressive style and their rendition of God Save the Queen. 

They loved amphibians, studs, leather jackets, and a life over the top. The muse of their punk look was the young designer Vivienne Westwood, wife of Malcolm McLaren, manager of the Sex Pistols, very popular in the 80s. Westwood combined vintage clothing with studs, straps and chains. Vivienne Westwood created an extreme mix of styles that completely changed the idea of fashion at the time.

Preppy Fashion in the U.S.

Alongside the more transgressive and casual clothing of the 80s fashion, the "preppy" category is also making its way. This name defines the unmistakable look of all Americans who attend the prestigious universities of the Ivy League.

The preppy style is not just a fashion but a real philosophy of life: the term derives from the abbreviation of "preparatory school" precisely to indicate the uniforms of American students, who were preparing to attend college. This style included the classic polo shirt paired with a cardigan or blazer for men. 

For women, it included skirts with checked patterns combined with tights of every color or chino trousers, V-neck sweaters, cardigans with buttons and, to complete the look, ballet flats or minimal heels.

80s fashion for women

There is no shortage of female icons in this decade. Every woman could find her reference, from the elegance of Princess Diana and Joan Collins to the transgressiveness of Madonna. 

80s outfit for women is characterized by use of bright colors and exaggerated garments that could not go unnoticed. In the early 80s the most popular garments were parachute pants, acid wash jeans, high waisted pants and bikini, and bomber jackets with animal prints.

80s Madonna

80s fashion for men

80s mens are well known for their eccentric styles. They were used to dress with colored bomber jackets, American jeans and tight polo shirts or striped shirts. The most popular shirts of these years were quite soft and with colorful prints. On the other hand, vintage men's shirts featured a round neck with very eye-catching shades, often paired with a suit.

Furthermore, menswear fashion was linked to urban culture, as many trends were marked by the birth of new musical styles. This is the case with sportswear which was widely used by some Hip Hop singers, including Tupac and Puff Daddy. Notable items include sweatpants, colorful anoraks, thick trainers and wide basketball shorts.

The 80s in Italy

In Italy, especially in Milan, the fashion of the "paninari" spreads. The "paninari" refuse any political commitment, preaching a life of fun, carefree, appearance. The Paninari love flashy and colorful clothes, they buy only from the big American brands, such as Timberland, Levi's or Woolrich. 

They have a defined slang and a very evident way of behaving. In Milan they consider themselves an elitist movement, not for everyone. It's easy to distinguish them: they go around the city center, they give life to parties until dawn and show off colored down jackets, American shoes, sweatshirts with obvious logos, jeans with turn-ups.

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