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80's Trends We Love to Hate

Updated on January 10, 2017

For those of us who had the pleasure of being alive in, being born in, or growing up in the 1980s when asked about such a time existing, many of us just look down at our feet or shake our heads in regret and disbelief. Yes, it did in fact happen. Yes, all the horror stories you have heard are in fact true. Yes, we did tease our hair, worship Madonna, and believe that it just didn't get any cooler than Miami Vice. I still hear the soundtrack in my head sometimes and see Don Johnson in his ridiculously white suit and loafers. Ah, those were the days. Everything was totally tubular to the max and all anyone had to worry about was 'Where's The Beef?' It was a simpler time when David Bowie was considered to be the most 'radically bad (in a good way), man to ever exist. If you didn't understand that sentence, we thought he was hot. Granted we didn't set the bar real high on that one, but in a nutshell I guess you could say we didn't set the bar real high on much of anything. I have put together a gnarly list of some of the 80's trends we all love to hate. Sadly, I'm sure I have left out a few, there's so many things from back then I think we all wish we could undo, but here is what I have so far. For Sure man! (also pronounced Ferr shurrr)

Who remembers the Labyrinth? David Bowie and his best creepy guy impression.
Who remembers the Labyrinth? David Bowie and his best creepy guy impression.
  • NEON.....EVERYTHING. Wow were we ever proud of all that neon. From our freakishly large hair bows to our multi-colored shoe laces nobody left the house in a plain red t-shirt. No way. If it wasn't bright as the sun neon green to electric pink you wouldn't find it in a 'cool kids' closet during the majority of the 80's. When did this happen? Better yet why? I honestly wish I knew. I would definitely have a punch or two for the creator of that fashion. It lasted far too long and has left imprints on we who survived the neon days that will probably remain forever.
  • Hair. OH where to begin with this one. First of all, perms were considered very chic. Perms. Better known as, 'If you hate your hair try this!....The Perm!' Disastrous. Next it was extremely large hair on the women AND the men. Next there was the teasing of the hair. We would taunt our hairbrushes as if to say, 'There is NO way you'll get through this birds nest without breaking. Good luck brush.' Bangs for the girls and mullets for the guys. Bangs which, yep, you guessed it, we also teased. I have pictures that resemble a very tiny person sitting on top of my head. It's just my bangs! As for the mullets, do I really need to go into that one? Business in the front and party in the back. The slogan of the mullet. Now, if we ever happen to see a mullet on someone we joke, laugh, or point.....really? Um 'Hi kettle, it's pot, you're black.' You really shouldn't judge, when just a few decades ago you were rockin' the same do yourself.
  • Makeup. You might think this would only concern the women of the 80's, but you would be wrong. Generally the bodacious men of the 80's who grew their hair out for the sole purpose of head banging, many times also used makeup. Now before I start receiving hate mail of some kind, I don't care if you're a cross dresser, it's the 'half' dressers that bother me. The neck up - female. Neck down - male. At best, it's just very very confusing. For the women, we all wanted to be clowns or hookers. We painted our faces like we were at the carnival every day. Color color color. Blue eye shadow ALL the way up to our brows. Bright pink lipstick. Blush from our cheeks to our ears. Trust me men, as bad as the makeup thing sounds on your end, we women are definitely right up there with you.

Men? Women? who can tell? It doesn't even matter in the 80's.
Men? Women? who can tell? It doesn't even matter in the 80's.
Definitely women. I'm 75% sure.
Definitely women. I'm 75% sure.
  • Clothes. This one will have sub categories because there are literally so many fashion faux pa's that they just cannot fit in any one place. Unless the category was just 'Terrible.' Overall, the clothes of the 80's almost make me want to cry.
  1. Shoulder Pads. This one always baffled me. Did a woman just get confused one day looking in her mirror? Instead of her own reflection she mistook herself for an NFL Linebacker and thought, 'hmmm, I need to jab some random plush cotton on top of my shoulders. I don't know how anybody makes it through the day without this.' Were we trying to look more like a man? Maybe I will never know how they originated, all I know is we all looked stupid having shoulders up to our ears.
  2. Parachute Pants/M.C. Hammer Pants. M.C. Hammer got us all on board with the parachute pants when he came out with 'You Can't Touch This.' When we all wore those pants, nobody wanted to 'touch this' as it were. Parachute pants are enormous and have zero shape toward the top, then they begin to come in and fit somewhere around your ankle area. As if this alone didn't sound bad enough, many paired these with none other than jazz shoes. The shoes that are small, look like tap dancing shoes and have tiny shoe laces. Something about that look caught right on. I'm not surprised given every other absurdity we clung to. Parachute pants always terrified me just a little bit. There was literally a ton of material on those things. I was always scared a strong wind would come along and I'd be gone. Never to be heard from again, but I'd have my jazz shoes on, maybe I could dance my way back down. Thank you M.C.Hammer for this combination which I'm sure you regret as much as we do.
  3. Stretchy/Stirrup Pants. These pants were VERY popular. They came in all colors of the rainbow and were SO tight. They clung to everything on your body. Did we care? No we did not because we decided to find the biggest sweaters we could find and wear them on top of the pants. You might think it would have made more sense to just buy regular sized would be wrong. We NEEDED the stirrup pants you see, just in case we happened to be riding our horses around in the evening. This way you never had to change clothes. You could happily go to work or school in your stirrup pants and be ready to ride by 6:00. It was a time saver really.
  4. Tapered Jeans. This was one of the most unflattering styles of pants ever to be born. So naturally, in the 80's we made them our own. Most were acid washed, and they would start above your belly button in most cases and then work their way down to right around your ankles in sort of a diamond shape. Unless you were anorexic, trust me, these jeans did not look good on you. They are sort of the equivalent to the skinny jeans of today but much much worse.
  5. Legwarmers. After Flashdance we immediately ran out to buy every pair of legwarmers ever made. As a whole, we are not all dancers. We did not need legwarmers. Somehow, someway though it became totally necessary to have at least one pair of every color of leg warmers. Leg warmers alone, can sometimes be considered alright. The problem really begins when you decide to wear your bright neon pink legwarmers, over your 2 pairs of neon green socks, your acid washed blue jean mini skirt, and your variety of neon colored t-shirt hanging off of your shoulder, OR with whatever polka dot/striped sweater of your choosing. Outfits like that are just a seizure waiting to happen.
  6. Shimmery Track Suits. There's probably a more legit name for these but this is what I've always called them. The shimmery track suit is a multi-colored track/jogging outfit, the pants generally are made up of 1 color only which is nice when you have circus for a jacket. All the neon rules applied with these track suits and or stripes/polka dots. They were shiny, they were super loud, I mean what else could you want for your daily run?
  7. Banana Clips and Huge Earrings. Ah the banana clip. It's a venus flytrap for your head. You could open up this enormous clip, flip your hair over then bring the clip in for that 'off your neck yet glamorous look.' I honestly could never use the banana clips. Aside from them being scary, my hair wouldn't poof enough. Which of course, back then was just the 'worst-orama'! As far as the huge earrings went we all have them. Every color shape and size, we all liked to hang a mini zoo from our earlobes. It definitely classed up the rest of our outfit if we could be sure and have a life size pac man ready to attack from our ear at any moment.

Love em hate em or just think they're majorly 'bogus' the 80's will unfortunately forever be a part of our history. I look back and still can't believe some of the stuff I was willing to wear, put on my face, and how big I was willing to make my hair. Each of us have our own 'special' memories to look back on and make us blush at our ignorance. Hopefully, we will make very sure for the benefit of future generations to NEVER let many of the 80's styles and trends come back around. It scares me a little bit every time I see short skirts or leg warmers make the cycle again. Regardless of what the fashionista's of the world say, I will NOT put myself through an 80's re-run. Also, if I ever heard the words, 'Just Say No,' (thank you very much Nancy Reagan), Eat My Shorts, and don't have a cow, again, I think it will still be too soon for me. As much as the 80's may have helped shape the person I would one day be, let me just leave it with, I hope to never ACTUALLY be THAT person again. R.I.P. 1980's.


Submit a Comment

  • JeniferRW profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Couch

    Thank you all so much for your comments! I really do appreciate each and every one. I apologize for being away so long and not responding to each of you individually but do know that I always enjoy reading your thoughts and comments and really do appreciate the time it takes to go through and comment on someone's pieces. I hope to have the time to be on here more frequently in the coming months. Thanks again!

  • Claudia Tello profile image

    Claudia Tello 

    6 years ago from Mexico

    I loved this Hub; you really made me laugh. The mullet wins the number 1 worst for me, closely followed by the ridiculous and unattractive MC Hammer pants. What was wrong with the 80s fashion when even if I didn't wear any of these ridiculous fashion pieces I can't say I have a single positive-outfit-picture in all my photo albums of the time?!?!?!!!

  • cardelean profile image


    6 years ago from Michigan

    OMG this hub is soooo timely. I have an 80s party to go to in two weeks! I was thinking teased hair and neon clothes but I had forgotten about the leg warmers and the banana clips! I wonder if I can find one somewhere. Thanks for the refresher. :) Congrats on your nomination and welcome to Hubpages!

  • Deborah Demander profile image

    Deborah Demander 

    6 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

    Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination. Thanks for the fond memories. I am sorry to say that I tried out most of those fashion nightmares listed above.


  • Shawn Scarborough profile image

    Shawn Scarborough 

    6 years ago from The Lone Star State

    Great hub, this certainly brings back some memories for me. Congrats on your Hubnugget nomination!

  • robyna profile image


    6 years ago from Michigan, USA

    Thanks for the memories! Sometimes 80's things are those things we love to hate. My favorite were the perms and the spiked up bangs. My hair was BIG. :)

  • ripplemaker profile image

    Michelle Simtoco 

    6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

    Looking back makes me laugh and smile. :D Well, the good old days were the good old days!

    Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. Jenifer, simply click this link and see where you can read and vote: Enjoy!

  • JeniferRW profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Couch

    @Cogerson, UM NO I did NOT know that! I used to love that 'Where's The Beef' stuff it cracked me up. I'm going to youtube as SOON as I'm done typing this comment!!

    From what I remember a LOT of guys had 'nice memories' of the girl from Flashdance haha.

    Thank you so much for commenting and I'm really glad you found this hub entertaining. I really enjoyed writing this on. It was a blast! Thank you also for voting. ;)

  • Cogerson profile image


    6 years ago from Virginia

    Great was like taking a time machine back to the you know that Wendy's has a new commercial that revisits the Where's The Beef fame? As for leg warmers I can not wait for them to come back into fashion....I still have nice memories of the girl from Flashdance.....and finally love your comments by the photos...very funny...voted up and awesome.

  • JeniferRW profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Couch

    @MM, Thank you so much for the kind compliments and comment. Ah the tragedy of the home perm. Who invented that? Was it supposed to be funny? 'Home Perm.' Sure. I had such hilarious mishaps myself. I have come to the realization now that anything using that many chemicals should be done by a professional LOL and even then you've got a hit or miss situation on your hands as to how it will turn out. I thank God everyday, I still have hair after the fun of that decade ;) Thank you again! I always love your comments, and your hubs as well!

  • Movie Master profile image

    Movie Master 

    6 years ago from United Kingdom

    Hi Jenifer, what a fun look back at the 80's, I had forgotten what an outrageous time it was!

    I had the most amazing 'big hair' (Mum's home perms)and shoulder pads, I never got on with the parachute pants but loved M C Hammer!

    Brilliant hub, loved it and pressing all your buttons! best wishes MM

  • JeniferRW profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Couch

    @Alecia, LOL that's hilarious, I wish you had a camera too back then! I'm glad we didn't have one either though for my own ridiculous dance moves would have ended up tape and probably on youTube given my luck. I was a pro at the Hammer dance :( It still shames me to admit it. LOL But thank you for stopping by and I'm glad you enjoyed it! I appreciate you commenting!

  • Alecia Murphy profile image

    Alecia Murphy 

    6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

    This is funny. I was born in the late 80s but most of these trends hung around through the early 90s so I remember some of them. Especially neon and parachute pants. My dad actually wore them and kept trying to do the Hammer dance. I wish we had a video camera then.

  • JeniferRW profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Couch

    @Gypsy, haha I LOVE it! I too experienced the perm fun. At home perms to be exact. Disastrous. I sometimes still have nightmares that someone is perming my hair. I wake up screaming and run to the mirror Just to be safe. lol I am glad to say I didn't have quite the experience you did though, I am sorry that happened to you! I can't imagine what I would do! that's awful. Someone should've warned us back then what 'perms' really can do lol. I shudder just thinking about it. Thank you for as always, your lovely comments! :) I hope you enjoyed reading this, it's always fun looking back in time.

  • JeniferRW profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Couch

    @chablis, lol thanks for stopping by ;) I completely agree with you though I really did dig the music! Still do to be honest, I bought one of the new record players a couple years ago so I could listen to all my records LOL I upgraded all my awesome cassette tapes finally to c.d.'s but I still do like the record player. My 3 year old son LOVES to dance around the kitchen and living room to M.J. Thriller, Donna Summer Bad Girls (even though technically it's from '79 I still count it in lol) We have the BEST time rockin out.

    Most people play 'classical' to their bellies I hear when they are pregnant, I went with Rolling Stones and Bob Seger more often than not it seemed to do the trick though! He's definitely inherited my spectacular taste in music ;) haha Thank you again! I always appreciate your thoughtful comments!!

  • Gypsy48 profile image


    6 years ago

    The 80's were the bad perm era for me! ! must have been out of my mind. I actually cried afer one perm turned out so bad, I had it straightened and then my hair started falling out. Fun reading your hub:)

  • chablis345 profile image


    6 years ago from Berkshire

    Ah the 80's - your hub brings it all back! The clothes - what were we thinking!!! but the music was good, cant beat a bit of Kajagoo goo!

    It could have been worse - think of the 70's and Bay City Rollers - I still have vivid memories of my far more fashionable friend knocking on my door wearing 3/4 length trousers, stripy socks and a bright orange bodywarmer - ye gods!

  • JeniferRW profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Couch

    @jabbo, thank you :) I'm glad you enjoyed it! hahah so many can relate on the shoulder pads, it was super weird. I'm with you, I never ever got that!

  • jabbo1 profile image


    6 years ago from Iowa

    This was fun! I was in high school in the early 80s so I remember it all quite well...too well! LOL Got so tired of all the shoulder pads...never understood that either!

  • JeniferRW profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Couch

    @princesswithapen, thank you so much lol I'm glad you were timewarped back with me! It was fun to do and thank you for commenting and I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

  • JeniferRW profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Couch

    @quotations, thanks for reading! that is the difference between you and I though, I'm not sure I WOULD be willing to wear what we wore back then for any reason LOL.

    I'm obviously joking! It is not meant in any to put down the 1980's as a whole, it's a fluff piece that was just supposed to be fun and funny. None the less I do appreciate your comments as always and your unique perspective on things. Thanks!

  • JeniferRW profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Couch

    @Jeanie, oh geez, I sincerely hope that stirrup pants do not make their way back to us. I just don't really know what to make of them at all LOL I never knew what to make of them back then, I've always been pudgy haha so they never looked real great on me. If you're an extremely short person like myself it always helps to be tiny otherwise you just look fat all the time. Stirrup pants were not for me. haha thanks for reading and commenting! I always love to hear your opinions on stuff I put here.

  • princesswithapen profile image


    6 years ago

    This hub made me feel like I was in the 80s right now. Good read!


  • JeniferRW profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Couch

    @james halpin, Thanks for stopping by I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  • quotations profile image

    Robert P 

    6 years ago from Canada

    Nice hub. As a child of the eightees I look back on the things that we thought were fashionable and cringe, but at the same time I think that it was a much more optimistic decade and besides silly hairdos and ugly fashions the eightees were also the start of a lot of enduring things such as the personal computer, cellphones, etc. I would be willing to wear a few pastel suits and slather on some hair gel if it meant getting back some of the things we have lost such as manufacturing jobs, an actual economy, optimism in the future, and a world that was relatively at peace.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile image

    Jeannie InABottle 

    6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    I think I honestly shuddered a little when I read the words, "Shoulder Pads." That was definitely the worst look from the '80s. Women looked horrible wearing those things. I am wondering if the stirrup pants will come back in style since leggings are in style. I am not so sure how I feel about that. Hmmm.

    Great hub and voted up!

  • James Halpin profile image

    James Halpin 

    6 years ago from York, Pennsylvania

    Being born in the early 70's I was able to experience the 80's in my formative years. Those were some of the best years ever. The good far out-weighed the bad. Thanks for a great Hub!


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