80s Fashion for Men

Mar/01/2022 / by Melanie Fourie
The bomber jacket was one of the fashion staples for men in the 80s
The bomber jacket was one of the fashion staples for men in the 80’s

80s Fashion for men was an eclectic mix of apparel such as the hammer pants, stone-washed denim jeans and jackets, Hawaiian shirts and more. These 80s outfits for men was largely influenced by power dressing and streetwear associated with the hi-hop movement. That being said, pop culture has always played an influential role in swaying trends. The 80’s also saw several androgynous or unisex fashion trends. Also, the dance revolution saw celebrities influencing impressionable trendsetters to incorporate apparel such as headbands, leg warmers and Converse hi tops into their daily wardrobes. If you’re looking to reinvent the style of this era, have a look at the following guide on how to do it. 

1980s Fashion for Men Guide 

Denims

The dad jeans may be part of a bygone time, but it’s definitely made a comeback.  Bring back some 80’s flair when you pair these high-waist jeans with a horizontal sweater and gilet-type top. Be sure to complement this with a flat sneaker. These jeans are also usually tapered and faded or stonewashed. This definitely is a timeless piece of apparel, as it just keeps making a reappearance. It’s also a practical jeans and doesn’t have many embellishments, making it ideal for a middle aged consumer. Dad jeans also have double stitching along the seams, and a tapered leg. Note that these are not the skinny style jeans. 

Some of the most popular denim jackets of the 80s were the acid-wash and boxy style jackets. Today, those styles have somewhat returned, and can be found in retail and boutique stores worldwide. 

Baggy Sweaters 

Baggy sweaters were part of 80s men’s clothing. These oversized items were worn by women and men alike, and has not gone out of fashion. Nowadays, the baggy look is often described as a chunky sweater. The only difference is that today, these sweaters are not manufactured in such retro or bold colors and designs. If you’re opting for this look, try complementing your jumper with a pair of equally baggy pants. You could also pair your oversized jumper with a tracksuit pants, or a wider leg pants. To promote an evened look throughout, it’s best to not wear this with a skinny jeans. 

Athleisure 

This includes sportswear that can be worn during a workout, and as casual or leisure wear. One such item is the timeless tracksuit. Although not an 80 fashion for men invention, the tracksuit was popularized by icons such as LL Cool J, who often wore Adidas tracksuits. Today, Adidas tracksuits are still as popular as ever, and is often worn to workout session and as leisurewear. Some of the best tracksuit brands today include Adidas, Nike and Puma.

80s Fashion for men also included leg warmers in an array of bold colors. Back then it was used as sportswear and casual wear. The same applies today, as these can also be worn to a workout, or to help you keep warm in colder weather if you’re wearing a shorts or bib shorts. Today leg warmers also come with silicone grippers placed at the thigh for added comfort. 

Headbands have always been a 80s men’s clothing staple. It was worn when playing squash or tennis, soccer and during workouts. Today, you can also wear this to gym or as part of a casual look if you prefer. Some of the most popular headband types for 2021 are the tennis headband, the thin headband, the sweat wicking variation, the non-slip type and the gaiter headband. They are ideal for keeping your hair out of your eyes during a workout or for absorbing sweat. 

Socks 

Men’s socks in the 80s included a lot of character prints like Rocky socks for instance. Therefore, if you’re looking to replicate this look, you should try picking up a pair of the latest character socks. For instance, select a Marvel character pair of socks like Spiderman or Batman. This look is playful, and if you like, you can even pair the socks with some matching character briefs. 

Preppy Flair 

Not all men’s clothing were dark with a street style look in the 80s. In fact, many men wore vivid hues like pinks and blues, yellows and greens. Preppy clothing were often sweaters, pants, and polo shirts. Today polo shirts are still highly popular. They can be worn with a jeans, jeggings, slacks or shorts. 

The Timeless Leather Jacket 

When you think of men who wore leather jackets in the 80’s, images of Michael Jackson, and Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael of Wham fame comes to mind. That being said, the punk or gothic movement of the era also popularized the look further. Not much has changed with regards to the popularity of this item though, and today many men don this. Wear this with a skinny or slim fit jeans. Or pair it with your jumpers on a cold day, or over your favorite shirt. You can also wear this on your motorbike, and bring the 80’s back with a bandana wrapped around your forehead. If you prefer, wear your leather jacket with a formal pants. 

The Classic Suit 

Suits were ever so popular in the 80s. Back then, it was oversized with large shoulder pads. Pinstriped suits ruled back then, and men would often be found sporting this to work. You can reinvent this look by wearing a pinstripe pants, waistcoat and jacket, with a white shirt underneath and a polka dot tie. Be sure to match your shoes with your tie and accessories, like a pair of sunglasses for instance. Pinstripe suits need not be worn in a formal manner only. You can also dress the suit down by wearing it with a casual sweater, and a pair of sneakers for that laid back look. High waist suits have also returned. When you wear these, it’s best to tuck your shirt into your pants, and don’t forget to don some matching accessories. 

The Tropical Shirt 

Tropical shirts were all the craze in the 80s, and were also often referred to as Hawaiian shirts. Today these shirts are still popular, especially as beach or holiday wear. Seeing these shirts are sold worldwide, simply purchase it in the shade of your choice, and pair it with your favorite chino pants, jeans or shorts. 

The Bomber Jacket 

The military bomber jacket was one of the most popular 80’s styles for men. Then casual bomber followed suit in popularity too, as well as the timeless varsity jacket. Bomber jackets have made a comeback since. Reinvent this look with brand name bombers like Nike. You can pair a bomber jacket with a tracksuit pants, or a jeans and sneakers. 

Accessories 

Neckties formed an integral part of 80s men’s attire. Some vintage styles to reinvent here include skinny designer neck ties, as well as animal print neckties. You can also opt for a striped necktie or a wide floral one. Golf neckties were popular back then too, so if you’re looking to replicate the look, get you one of these. The bowtie necktie was also popular in the 1980s, as well as the bolo necktie and diagonal necktie. Men also wore clip on ties then, as well as tuxedo bowtie neckties. 

Stetsons were smart accessories in the 80s, as is now. If you’re wanting to replicate the look, wear a Stetson or cowboy hat with a longer length leather jacket and pants, or a jeans, waistcoat and suede fringed jacket. 

Statement beanies were all the craze back then, and is still so. Pair your favorite statement beanie with a tracksuit or a jumper, jeans and sneakers. Cossack style hats were worn in the 80s, and is found in retailers today too. These are ideal to wear in the colder months with a hoodie, jeans and sneakers. You can also get a hippie hat, which actually looks a whole lot like a bucket hat. Another popular hat type of the 80s was the embroidered baseball cap. These are still obtainable today, so it’s possible to recreate this look too. Another 80s fashion for men accessory was the aviator helmet hat. If you want to recreate this look, you can do so by scouting around in vintage stores, as well as fancy costume retailers. If you cannot find this, simply have yours custom made. 

The trucker hat was popular then, and has transcended the decades. Wear this with jeans, a chino pants and a pair of sneakers to your favorite sporting event. Military winter hats were popular in the 80s. If you want to recreate this look , it’s best to look for these hats in a vintage store. 

Western leather belts were worn in the 80s too. Incorporate this easily into your look by wearing it with your favorite jeans, Western shirt, and boots. Aviator style sunglasses were popular back then too, especially with the advent of movies like Top Gun. Today aviator sunglasses are still worn by men the world over, and it’s not difficult to pick a pair at your nearest menswear retailer. 

Many men also sported mullet hairstyles in the 80’s. A hairstyle like that today will not be fashionable, but if you’re looking for that look for a costume party, try your nearest vintage wig boutique. 

Another 80s fashion for men accessory was the fanny bag. This is still worn today, and can be worn with slacks, jeans and shorts and t-shirts. Note that it’s not ideal to wear this type of bag with formal men’s attire. Men’s tuxedo cummerbunds were worn in the 80s. If you like, you can recreate this look easily by buying this at your nearest men’s boutique. Tie clips were popular in the 80s too, so if you want to reinvent the era, try to find a tie clip. 

Shimmer or bold patterned ethnic hats were often worn in the 80s, and is still worn throughout the world. Cufflinks and studs will never cease to go out of fashion, and can be worn with your suits for additional formal flair. Men wore suspenders in the 80s too. So if you want to recreate the look, opt for a pair of these to add a touch of elegance to your suits.  

Shoes 

If you truly want to replicate 1980s fashion for men, try to find yourself some shoes that were popular in that era, or at least something similar to that. Back in the day, Bo Jackson hi top trainers were pretty popular. Nowadays, you can get a similar trainer to this like a Nike hi top trainer.

If possible, try to get yourself a pair of sneakers similar to British Knights hip top sneakers. This was the initial brand with artists endorsements. For something similar, your best bet would be a pair of Converse sneakers. These shoes were initially designed for basketball, but has become a fashion statement in its own right throughout the decades. You could also try to get something similar to Air Jordan’s to replicate an 80’s look.  Reebok Pump was also popular in the 80’s, and a must-have for the trendy man. Perhaps go for a similar style Reebok sneaker to achieve a similar look.     

Eastlands was a type of soft brown moccasin then. To achieve this look, simply purchase a pair of soft moccasins, with some spiral laces if possible. You could also try something similar to Keds. These shoes were completely flat with laces. Considering the simple design here, it’s easy to get these sneaker types, to help you recreate the vintage look.  

You can get a pair of dress or formal shoes to wear to the office or when you paint the town too. For the office, you can also wear some Oxford shoes with laces, or a pair of timeless loafers. For that casual Western look complete with Stetson and jeans, don’t forget to add a pair of Western boots with a buckle.  

FAQ’S

What clothes were popular in the 80s for men?

Men wore denim jeans like the dad jeans in the 1980s. The dad jeans of the 80s was mainly stonewashed. However, today’s dad jeans are both stonewashed and in darker shades. These jeans comprise a high waist and are tapered too. The denim jacket was also popular in the 1980s. These were mainly boxy style, and came in acid wash variations. Today, the boxy jacket has made a comeback too. 

Baggy sweaters were all the craze in the 80s and today, men still wear this for optimal comfort. Athleisure was popular too back in the day. It comprised mainly headbands, which can still be used as a sports accessory to absorb sweat, and keep your hair out of your eyes. Other sportswear that became a fashion item are leg warmers. Today men wear these with their leggings, or with a shorts to keep the cold at bay. Bomber jackets were popular too in that era. You had the military bomber jacket, and the varsity variations too. Men also wore timeless leather jackets with jeans and bandanas wrapped around their foreheads. 

What do men wear to 80s parties?

Men wore tuxedos with cummerbunds to parties in the 80s. They also very seldom forgot to wear cuff links and a tie pin. More formal attire for men in the 80s included suits, especially pinstripe ones with matching waistcoats, shirts and dress shoes. If invited to a beach or pool party, men in the 80s would wear a tropical shirt with a shorts, or a jeans and pair of sandals or flat sneakers. 

What is a typical 80s outfit?

A typical street style 1980s fashion for men outfit would include a jeans worn with a pair of high sneakers, and a hoodie or baggy sweater. The look would be complemented with a headband. Men in the 80s also opted for a punk look at time. An outfit here would include a studded leather jacket, a light blue jeans and a pair of high top sneakers. 

How do you dress like the 80s in 2021?

It’s not that difficult to get this look, as many of the apparel worn back then, can still be found in retail stores today. To obtain this look, wear an Adidas tracksuit with a headband, and a pair of high top Converse sneakers. Note that these high top sneakers need not be Converse only, but anything that looks similar to it. Don’t forget to don your leg warmers over your sweat pants, for added warmth in colder months. 

You can also find bomber jackets easily. Simply match this with your favorite baseball cap and a jeans and sneakers, and you’re good to go. You may also wear your headband with this look. Get the biker look with a leather jacket, bandana and jeans. You can also opt for a Western look by wearing a Stetson, a formal shirt and a formal fringed jacket. Be sure to pack in your Western boots if you’re opting for this look though. 

How do you make an 80’s look?

You can make an 80’s look by just incorporating some 80’s fashion elements into your contemporary wardrobe. For instance, wear a pair of moccasins, with preppy apparel such as light colored slacks and a sweater. You can also wear your tracksuit with a headband, and a pair of hi top sneakers. 

Adding accessories is another great way to make an 80’s look. Try incorporating some neckties into your wardrobe for some 80’s flair. Some of the types of neckties to include here include the bolo necktie, the golf necktie and the bowtie necktie. You should also add a few statement beanies to your collection of 80’s must-have accessories. Fanny bags are also a staple when it comes to reinventing an 80’s era look. A trucker hat will also help you recreate this look. These come in an array of fabrics and colors. Cossack hats are also a great idea for when you want to replicate an 80’s look. Be sure to add some leather belts to your accessory collection too, as this will complement your Stetson and Western boots perfectly.