What Was Men's Fashion in the 1980s

Men's fashion in the 1980s was characterized by a distinct style that reflected the cultural and social changes of the decade. 80s men’s fashion was eclectic, expressive, and passionate. It influenced future generations of fashion and has defined legendary celebrities through their 80s fashion choices.

This blog post will explore the clothing and apparel that men wore in the 1980s, different types of styles in the 80s, and myths about men’s fashion in the 1980s. At the end of this post, you should be familiar with what men wore in the 80s, and the influences that changed the fashion industry within this eventful period of time.

Key Takeaways

  • The fashion trends of the 80s disengaged from prudish clothing choices and were driven by self-expressive passion.

  • To this day, big brands such as Nike and Adidas bring back fashion that’s directly inspired by the 80s for promotional campaigns that are met with great reception.

  • Rock, punk, sports, and preppy cultures all painted a stroke of the broad canvass that makes what we define as 1980s clothing.

What Was Men’s Fashion in the 80s Influenced by?

The fashion trends of the 1980s were influenced by a range of cultural, social, and economic factors. One of the major influences was pop culture, particularly the rise of MTV and music videos. Music icons such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Prince set the tone for fashion trends with their bold and innovative styles.

Advances in technology in the 80s, such as the introduction of the personal computer and the video game console, also had a significant impact on fashion. This led to the popularity of futuristic and tech-inspired clothing. The 1980s saw a period of economic prosperity, which led to an increase in consumer spending. This, in turn, led to a rise in fashion trends that emphasized luxury and excess.

The 80s also saw a renewed focus on fitness and health, which led to the popularity of sportswear and athletic-inspired clothing. Additionally, street culture and the rise of hip-hop music had a significant impact on fashion in the 80s. This led to the popularity of baggy clothing, tracksuits, and sneakers.

Men’s fashion trends in the 80s represented a departure from the more conservative styles of the previous decade and were shaped by a range of cultural and social influences.

Guy listening to music on a boom box

What Was the Fashion in the 80s?

The fashion trends for men in the 1980s were bold, colorful, and often inspired by the music and pop culture of the era. Here are some of the key fashion trends for men in the 80s:


Power Dressing

The 80s saw the rise of power dressing, which was characterized by sharply tailored suits, wide-shouldered blazers, and double-breasted jackets. These outfits were often paired with silk ties and dress shoes.

Athletic Wear

Sportswear became increasingly popular in the 80s, with brands such as Nike and Adidas leading the way. This included tracksuits, sweatshirts, and sneakers.

Acid-Washed Jeans

Jeans in the 80s were often acid-washed, which created a unique, faded look. They were often worn with high-top sneakers or boots.

Neon Colors

Bright, fluorescent colors were all the rage in the 80s. Men often wore neon-colored clothing, such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, and jackets.

Preppy Style

The preppy style, which had its roots in the Ivy League colleges of the Northeastern United States, was also popular in the 80s. This included polo shirts, cardigans, and loafers.


Men in the 80s often wore accessories such as sunglasses, watches, and chunky jewelry, including gold chains and bracelets.

Casual Fashion in the 80s

Casual fashion for men in the 1980s was characterized by a relaxed and comfortable style, often featuring robust and bright colours. Denim was a staple of casual wear, with acid-washed and ripped jeans becoming increasingly popular.


 Men often paired jeans with graphic t-shirts, polo shirts, or sweatshirts featuring bright prints or logos. Athletic wear, such as tracksuits and sneakers, also became popular for casual wear. Accessories, such as sunglasses, watches, and caps, completed the casual look of the 80s.


 Overall, casual fashion for men in the 1980s was all about expressing individuality and a laid-back attitude, while still incorporating trendy and fashionable elements.

Peaceful protesters

Sports Fashion in the 80s

Sports fashion for men in the 1980s was characterized by a combination of comfort and style, with a focus on athletic wear and sportswear. Popular brands such as Nike and Adidas introduced innovative designs and materials for their shoes and clothing, which became the go-to choice for men who wanted to showcase their active lifestyles. 


Tracksuits, sweatshirts, and hoodies featuring bold colors, geometric patterns, and brand logos became staples of sports fashion in the 80s. Accessories such as sports watches, headbands, and sweatbands were also commonly worn. The sports fashion of the 80s was both functional and fashionable, reflecting the growing trend towards fitness and health during that time.

Preppy Fashion in the 80s

Preppy fashion in the 1980s was defined by a polished and refined style that was often associated with Ivy League schools and East Coast culture. Men's preppy fashion featured a range of classic and timeless items such as blazers, oxford shirts, khaki pants, and penny loafers. 


Sweaters tied over the shoulders, cable knit sweaters, and argyle patterns were also popular choices. Pastel colors, particularly pink and green, were a common feature of preppy fashion in the 80s. Accessories such as belts, ties, and watches were often paired with preppy outfits to complete the look.

Punk Fashion in the 80s

Punk fashion in the 1980s was rebellious and had an anti-establishment attitude, with a focus on unconventional and sometimes controversial clothing items. Men's punk fashion featured ripped and studded denim, leather jackets, combat boots, and t-shirts featuring provocative slogans or band logos.

Accessories such as dog collars, chains, and safety pins were also popular choices. Hairstyles were often bold and unconventional, with spiked or bleached hair being common among punk men. 


The punk fashion of the 80s was a reflection of the underground punk rock music scene and was often seen as a way of expressing individuality and nonconformity.

Men’s Suits in the 80s

Men's suits in the 1980s were well-defined and had a confident style, with a focus on power dressing and a strong silhouette. The suits featured padded shoulders, tapered trousers, and double-breasted jackets with wide lapels. The color palette for men's suits was varied, with bold and bright colors such as pink, purple, and blue being popular choices.


 Additionally, pinstripes, checks, and hounds tooth patterns were also commonly seen in men's suits during the 80s. Accessories such as ties, cufflinks, and pocket squares were often used to add a touch of personality to the formal look.


Men's suits in the 1980s were an opportunity for men to show off their wealth & fashion through the increasing prominence of corporate culture and the desire to make a bold and confident statement in the workplace.

Business man adjusting his tie on a suit

How men Wore Jeans in the 80s

Men's jeans in the 80s had quite a few different qualities including a range of styles, colors, and finishes that reflected the cultural and social influences of the time. The popularity of rock music and the rise of MTV led to the popularity of ripped and distressed denim, with acid-wash jeans being particularly popular. 


Baggy and loose-fitting jeans, often worn low on the hips, were also popular among men in the 80s, particularly within the hip-hop and streetwear cultures. High-waisted and tapered jeans were also common, particularly towards the latter half of the decade. The color palette for men's jeans was varied, with bold and bright colors such as red and green being popular choices.

Shoes Men Wore in the 80s

Men's shoes in the 80s encompassed a wide variety of styles and trends that reflected the diverse influences of the time. Athletic shoes, particularly from brands like Nike, Reebok, and Adidas, were popular choices for casual wear, with high-top basketball sneakers and low-top running shoes being particularly popular. 


Loafers and boat shoes were also popular, particularly within the preppy and yacht rock cultures, while combat boots and Doc Martens were popular among the punk and alternative music scenes. The popularity of aerobics and fitness also led to the rise of the aerobics shoe, which often featured bold colors and designs.


Myths About 1980s Fashion

There are several myths about 1980s fashion that have persisted over the years. One of the most common myths is that all 80s fashion was loud, bright, and over-the-top. While it is true that bold colors and statement pieces were popular during the decade, there were also many subtle and sophisticated fashion choices that were popular at the time.


Another myth is that 80s fashion was all about shoulder pads and power suits. While these items were certainly popular, they were not the only fashion choices available. There were many different styles and trends during the decade, including casual wear, punk fashion, preppy fashion, and more.


Additionally, it is often said that 80s fashion was all about excess and extravagance. While it is true that some fashion choices of the decade were flashy and over-the-top, many people in the 80s embraced a more minimalistic and understated approach to fashion.


Finally, there is a myth that 80s fashion was all about conformity and everyone dressing the same. While it is true that some fashion choices were popular among large groups of people, there was also a strong emphasis on individuality and self-expression in 80s fashion. Many people embraced unique and eclectic styles, and there were many subcultures and communities with their own distinct fashion choices.

Fashion Icons in the 1980s

There were several male fashion icons in the 1980s who influenced men's fashion trends and became style icons of the decade. One of the most famous was Michael Jackson, whose iconic red leather jacket from his "Thriller" music video became a fashion sensation, and whose fashion choices during his "Bad" era influenced men's fashion trends, including the popularization of fedoras and military-inspired jackets.


Another famous male fashion icon of the 80s was Don Johnson, who played the lead role in the popular TV series "Miami Vice". Johnson's character, Sonny Crockett, popularized the "Miami Vice" look, which included pastel-colored suits, linen blazers, and t-shirts worn under suits.


Other notable male fashion icons of the 80s included Tom Selleck, who played the lead role in the TV series "Magnum, P.I.", and whose Hawaiian shirts and short shorts became a popular look, and Prince, who was known for his flamboyant and gender-bending fashion choices, which included high-heeled boots, lace gloves, and ruffled shirts.


How 1980s Fashion Influences Todays Trends

The 1980s had a significant influence on today's fashion, with several trends and styles from the decade continuing to be popular today. One of the most prominent influences of the 80s on modern fashion is the revival of retro sportswear, with brands like Adidas and Nike re-releasing classic designs from the era. 


Additionally, the popularity of oversized clothing, particularly in streetwear culture, can be traced back to the baggy and loose-fitting clothing styles of the 80s. Another trend that has made a comeback in recent years is the use of bright and bold colors in fashion, which was a defining characteristic of 80s fashion.


Finally, the popularity of statement accessories, such as chunky jewelry, oversized sunglasses, and fanny packs, can also be traced back to the 80s, when these items were a popular choice among both men and women.

Dude sitting in a chair


The 80s was a culturally eventful and self-expressive period of time that impacted fashion trends in today’s market and decades to come. It’s a moment in history defined for its individualism, colourful splashes of personality, and fun spirit.

If you’re interested in trendy 2023 fashion that’s been inspired by elements of the 80s. Take a look at the diverse collection of quality apparel at Runway Fashion Street. Thank you for reading our blog post. Check out other articles related to this topic such as What Was Men's Fashion in The 1920s?

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