Bringing Back the Laugh Track: Funny 80s Outfits

Political correctness had not been invented in the 1980s. Anything was fair game. If you are looking to recall that era, why not delve into 80s outfits that recall some of the hilarious, if not quite polite, memories of the time.

Eddie Murphy was the king of 1980s comedy, and perhaps no movie showcased this more than Trading Places. If you and a partner are looking for funny 80s outfits, why not go as Nenge and Lionel Joseph (Dan Aykroyd’s character) from the African Education Conference? It’s beef jerky time! Don’t have a friend that brave, then you can always take on Murphy’s Butwheat, otay? Or, just be Gumby, dammit!

Maybe you have a partner, but Trading Places seems like a bridge too far. You can always go for that other Saturday Night Live duo, Hans and Franz. They will pump you up! You might want to stay away from the “girly man” comments, though, times have changed. If you’re going it alone, or the thought of blatantly bashing minority groups doesn’t appeal to you, there is always Dana Carvey’s other archetypical 80s character, the Church Lady. Don the Church Lady costume and deride anyone you like, we know who made you do it – Satan!

eddie-murphy-delirious-80s outfit

If recalling negative stereotypes is not what you desire, there are still hundreds of funny 80s outfits that immediately conjure a laugh. Why not invoke the spirit of Anthony Michael Hall and Weird Science by strapping a bra on your head to go with a black turtleneck sweater and a New Wave haircut. Kelly LeBrock may or may not arrive, but you’ll get a good laugh, either way. If you don’t want your hair to look like an ocean wave for the next month, buy some wireless reading glasses and a head-sized flower pot. Put them on, add a black turtleneck with no sleeves and a horse whip, and you are no longer a man. You are Devo. Or, grab a long blonde wig, a pair of Vans, and rip off your shirt. Awesome dude, Spicoli returns!

Funny 80s outfits weren’t exclusively the domain of males. Ladies, tie a ponytail on top of your head, grab some pink Chuck Taylor shoes, some leggings, and a tutu. Oh, gag me with a spoon, the Valley Girl is back. Or, Hey Mickey, put on a cheerleader outfit, paint bright red rouge circles on your face, and put two ponytails on either side of your head. You’re so fine, you blow my mind! Talk about fine, the epitome of 1980s sexism may have been Robert Palmer’s video, “Simply Irresistible.” Pull on a slinky black dress, dye your hair black and slick it to your skull, paint your lips a bright, cherry red, and then say nothing all night. You’ve just become the 1980s teenage boy’s version of the ideal woman.

Whether you are looking for camp, or kitsch, or to recall the actual hilarity of the decade, there are literally hundreds of 80s outfits to choose from. It was, in so many ways, a different world. Be sarcastic, be offensive, be ironic, but, above all, be funny.

Eddie Murphy – Party All The Time

Resurgence of 80s Clothes

80′s Outfits are Back in Style

The saying that fashion trends go around in a circle could not be more true. What was once new and hip becomes old and odd, but after a period of time it again becomes the “in” thing. The resurgence of 80’s fashion virtually makes that saying a scientific fact. Crop tops are back. Fanny packs are becoming more and more popular. Neon clothing is no longer just found in raves or at EDM concerts. Guys wearing short shorts are slowly but surely taking over beaches. And wearing leggings as pants has become socially acceptable much to the delight of men around the globe.

80s hip hop fashionAfter a long absence from everyday life, 80’s fashion is making a strong comeback. For many years, 80’s clothes only thrived when it came to costumes for Halloween or themed parties. Whether you were part of college Greek life or not, you should be grateful for fraternities and sororities alike because they kept the 80’s clothing industry alive with all of their hosted parties, neon parties and 80’s-themed events. Then, slowly but surely, 80’s clothes began to popup everywhere. It is common belief that skinny jeans led the resurrection of 80’s fashion. Guy’s wearing skinny jeans was odd and rare when it first started happening but now skinny jeans are a staple of today’s fashion. Rave clothes and neon clothes have also made a resurgence with the advent of music festivals, which are now incredibly popular.

80s outfit molly ringwaldCelebrities should receive the most credit when it comes to the transition of 80’s clothing from only being worn as costumes for themed parties to becoming part of mainstream fashion once again. Grab a tabloid magazine the next time you are waiting in line at the grocery store and its guaranteed you will see at least one celebrity donning a getup featuring 80’s clothing. Celebrities such as Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Madonna, and Drew Barrymore frequently rock 80’s clothes for no other reason besides the fact that they love 80’s fashion. Just last week, the quarterback for the Chicago Bears, Jay Cutler, and his wife, Kristin Cavallari, were spotted wearing 80’s outfits as they attended a large charity event. Jay wore a Pink DARE shirt, short shorts, and tube socks while Kristin’s outfit included a pink crop top, leopard tights, and a bright gold fanny pack.

One of the staples of 80’s clothing that has yet to make a true comeback yet are parachute pants. From hip-hop artists, to celebrities, to kids playing around the block, parachute pants used to be everywhere. Will they be the next piece of 80’s clothing that makes a sudden resurgence? Nobody knows, only time will tell. But if the rest of 80’s fashion making a comeback is any kind of a hint, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see large clothing retailers featuring parachute pants for sale within a short amount of time.

Let’s Get Physical: 80s Outfits that Worked!

I know this much is true; the 1980s were full of workout clothes. So you want to bring back the days when you kept your legs warm at the gym while Spandau Ballet crooned over the spa’s stereo system? There are 80s outfits that will bring back those halcyon days, even if you no longer have a glam ‘do.

For women, there were two similar, yet competing 80s outfits that predominated in the gym. The movie Flashdance spawned an entire genre of workout clothes based on the gritty, urban feel of the movie. Huge, frizzy hair topped an over-sized sweatshirt, preferably with the neck cut or ripped out of it. Add a black leotard, and the ubiquitous black leg warmers, and you have the preferred workout look for the 1980s urban fashion-conscious. For the complete ensemble, don’t forget to add a couple of strips of white athletic tape across the balls of your feet. Attired like this, you are ready to dancercise the afternoon away.

jamie lee 80s

Competing with that gritty look was a look based on Olivia Newton-John’s music video for the song “Physical.” Eschew the frizzy hair for a bleached glam hair style. Ditto the black; there is no grit here, only beautiful sweat. The look incorporated color-coordinated headband, unitard, opaque stockings, and leg warmers. The colors should match, and, preferably, be bright. Mix and match any from the following palette: pink, powder blue, fuchsia, teal, sea foam green, royal blue, and orange. Find the colors that fit you, but keep it bright and beautiful. Get all dressed up, pop in your favorite Jane Fonda workout tape, and let me hear your body talk!

80s workout girlFor men, the gym and 80s outfits did not mix very well. There was the tried and true throwback outfit sported by Stallone in the Rocky movies: too tight shorts, a wife-beater, white socks, and Chuck Taylor Converse shoes. Ugh, don this outfit and you feel monosyllabic. Then, there were the innovative additions of the 80s themselves. You could substitute the too tight running shorts for some too short Umbro’s. The gaping leg holes always seemed to leave little to the imagination. Even worse than that, however, were the spandex bike shorts and bikini underwear that became de rigueur workout attire for men. Talk about leaving nothing to the imagination! These sometimes forced you to close your eyes and imagine you were anywhere else on the planet.

Like cell phones, answering machines, cable television, and the personal computer, working out came of age in the 1980s. Health spas and gyms popped up all over the country. Regardless of what type of exercise you chose, there were 80s outfits that could accommodate your needs. Unless, that is, your need was to not see everything the guy beside you had to offer.addidis 80s outfit

Wake Me Up! 80s Outfits for Women

Ever wonder why your wife never displays pictures from her high school and college days? She isn’t thinking of you, trying to spare your feelings of inadequacy at having to see her with her one-time boyfriends. She is trying to erase any and all evidence of those totally gnarly 80s outfits she wore.

She doesn’t want you to see her frizzy haired perm stacked four feet above her head, the shoulder padded sweaters that made her look like a linebacker, or the pink leggings over black stockings that she thought were awesome to the max. She is trying to hide the evidence of the fact that, as a slave to fashion, she was ensnared in 80s outfits that made her parents shiver, and now make her fear for the sartorial future of your children.

She desperately wants to hide that, during the early 1980s; she was possessed by a mania to “feel the feeling.” “Oh, what a feeling,” her black leotard and leggings gave her. When she threw on an old, ratty sweatshirt three sizes too big, she had the “it” outfit for relaxation or recreation. At the time, she thought Flashdance illustrated the epitome of women’s fashion. Now, she secretly pulls out those old photographs and wonders in horror, “if my daughter sees these, will she think I was a stripper?”

80s women outfit skirtNo such doubts assail her about the implications of some of her other 80s outfits. She is quite sure that, if her son or daughter were to find the pictures of her dolled up like Cyndi Lauper, they will think she was a drug dealer and addict. What was she thinking with the multicolor hair permed into abstract art, and the plaid huntsman’s cap that she thought set off the colors in her hair? The outfit didn’t help at all. A man’s striped tie over a white blouse, a checked miniskirt, chipped nail polish, and elf boots all screamed cool at the time. Now, when she is sure she is alone, she looks at the picture and shudders, hoping her children never get suckered in by post-punk fashion wearers.

She has no doubt about what her children would think about her days as a Valley Girl imposter. She knows they would surely assume that their mother had been a homeless teenage prostitute. What else could they think; with makeup smeared everywhere and a ponytail held in place on top of her head with an entire can of hairspray? Don’t mention the blouse sagging open down to there,with beads draped across the opening to advertise; and, gag me with a spoon, how long did she wear a tutu and stockings as her daily outfit?


Yes, men have to struggle to live down the detritus of their 80s outfits. The perms, the mullets, the too-tight jeans and muscle t-shirts are an annoying embarrassment. A minor annoyance, however, is nothing in comparison to the abject fear faced by the female descendants of the 1980s. Your wife, the love of your life, lives with a demon that she desperately hides from you and your children. She knows the skeletons of the outfits in her closet, and she wants to save your children from any semblance of such sartorial suicide.

I made this 80′s fashion for women slideshow:

Fame! 80s Outfits that Live Forever

tom cruise 80s outfit

Remember when we yearned for a return to the 1950s?Grease was the word, Leave It To Beaver was on every television, every afternoon, and our parents got a gleam in their eye when they spoke of bobby sox and duck tails. The past is prologue. Now, our children look at to us and ask if we remember “Sister Christian,” “Billie Jean,” and the 80s outfits that dance through our memories.

There is one major difference between the 1980s and the decades that preceded it. The 1980s saw the explosion of music videos, keeping our memories and those inimitable 80s outfits alive for future generations to view. Yes, our memories are now available, in living color, in easy to digest five minute portions. The result is that portions of the 80s may really live, in some form, long after our memories fade. Even my 11 year old daughter can tell you what kind of outfits Michael Jackson wore.

Then there is the 1980s version of the duck tail, the avatar of 80s hair statements, the mullet.  Not only does it live on in countless country and rock music videos, the popularity of Hannah Montana guaranteed that Billy Ray Cyrus, the crown prince of mullet madness, would become an ambassador of coiffure to future generations. Now, we all live with the shame of the haircut that was business in the front, party in the back. Unlike the duck tail, however, we cannot hide the evidence from our children.l Jackson wore on the cover of Thriller. Jackson fashioned the leather Member’s Only jacket, parachute pants, and jheri curl into a type of uniform throughout the videos for Thriller, from “Beat It” to the epic title tune.

Our children may laugh and jibe at us behind our backs for those leather jackets and mullets, but they have unwittingly adopted some of our 80s outfits, as well. Skateboarding was still incubating in the early 80s, until movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont HighValley Girl, and Hardbodies spread the cult of the Southern California teen. axel-80s-outfits-skateboard

The movement and the outfit both caught on. All across the nation, there were suddenly guys with long, lank hair, a pair of OP board shorts, and a pair of flip flops or Vans on their feet. The shirt was optional. Thank goodness shirts reappeared and the shorts disappeared; but, due to the marketing genius of Tony Hawk and the X-Games, you can still see Vans on the feet of boarders, and flip flops are a staple in the outfits of teens and young adults.

Some of our favorite 80s outfits have been consigned to the rubbish heap of history. Madonna’s “Material Girl,” with the frizzy hair and tattered chemise is gone, as are the leggings that every girl wore. So too, the blouse, facial makeup, and frizzy perm for New Wave men have all been left behind. Perhaps it is best that way. I don’t mind my daughter giggling at them in old music videos, but I don’t really fancy the idea of explaining to my 11 year old why daddy is wearing makeup, or why mommy likes showing off her bra straps.


Return of Fanny Packs

The ever so popular fashion accessory from the 80’s is making a strong comeback. What was once considered a nonsensical accessory from the past is here to stay. Fanny packs have been becoming increasingly popular in recent years and this fact really shouldn’t come as a surprise. The sudden fanny pack trend may have started as a joke but is now quickly gaining traction.

Here’s a quick education lesson for those of you who do not know what a fanny pack is. A fanny pack is essentially a moderately sized bag featuring one or more pouches with zippers that can be strapped around the waist using an adjust strap and clip. The true purpose of fanny packs is to be an effective replacement for bulky purses and overbearing backpacks. Fanny packs allow you to store your personal belongings, such as your wallet or keys, in a secure fashion around your waist that frees your arms up and removes the risk of hurting your back that comes with wearing a large backpack.

Fanny packs come in all styles, shapes and colors. Some are made to bring ease to one’s life while others are designed to enhance wardrobes. There are fanny packs made out of nylon, leather, plastic, denim, and much more. There are fanny packs meant for adults and there are fanny packs made for children. There truly is a fanny pack for anybody and everybody out there.

80s fanny pack

Through its existence, fanny packs have only been truly adorned by tourists but now other groups have begun to adopt the packs as a necessary accessory. With the popularity of large music festivals and conventions increasing rapidly, the popularity of fanny packs has followed close behind. Event attendees prefer fanny packs over purses and backpacks because they can carry their event necessities like tickets, wallet, phone, and water bottles in a safe and secure manner while they travel the venue.

The factor that might deserve the most credit for the fanny pack resurgence is the number of celebrities who are adding fanny packs to their wardrobes. In just the past couple months, several very popular celebrities have been seen rocking fanny packs including Kanye West, Tyra Banks, Ke$ha, Madonna, Hulk Hogan and even Chuck Norris! The biggest celebrity advocate for the fanny pack resurgence is Rihanna; there isn’t a week that goes by without the paparazzi catching a picture of Rihanna donning a fanny pack as part of her ensemble.

Some people claim that fanny packs are a thing of the past but that is no longer true. Attend a large music festival or look through the tabloids while waiting in line at a grocery store, its guaranteed you will see at least more than one fanny kids 80s fanny pack

80′s Music

Top 20 Songs From the 1980′s

  1. “Please Don’t Go”  KC and the Sunshine Band
  2. “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”  Rupert Holmes
  3. “Rock with You”  Michael Jackson
  4. “Do That to Me One More Time”  Captain & Tennille
  5. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”  Queen
  6. “Another Brick in the Wall, Part II”  Pink Floyd
  7. “Call Me”[13]  Blondie
  8. “Funkytown”  Lipps Inc
  9. “Coming Up”  Paul McCartney
  10. “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” Billy Joel
  11. “Magic”   Olivia Newton-John
  12. “Sailing”  Christopher Cross
  13. “Upside Down” Diana Ross
  14. “Another One Bites the Dust” Queen
  15. “Woman in Love” Barbra Streisand
  16. “Lady” Kenny Rogers
  17. “(Just Like) Starting Over” John Lennon
  18. “Staying Alive”  The Bee Gees
  19. “Roll With It” Steve Winwood
  20. “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” Whitney Houston

Kids’ 80s Outfits

In the 1950s, Beaver’s mom sent him to school everyday with his plaid button down shirt tucked neatly into his blue jeans, and his hair plastered neatly to his head. Once out of the house, his only sign of rebellion was to plop his baseball cap on his head. The 1980s were a different story. What our parents sent us to school in rarely resembled the 80s outfits we actually sported throughout the day.

Every morning, mom approved the sensible outfit her daughter wore into the kitchen for breakfast. Her Add-A-Bead necklace was on. Then, she left the house and hopped on the bus. Crouching in the back seat, she ripped off the sweater and polo, revealing an over-sized “Relax” t-shirt in neon pink and white. She tore the headband from her head, pulled out a can of spray, and teased her hair into a giant, swirling, abstract sculpture that wouldn’t bend in a hurricane. She slipped on some polka dotted leggings, and slipped off the A-Line to reveal a neon miniskirt short enough to qualify as a postage stamp.


Tucking her necklace inside the voluminous t-shirt, she was ready to face the school day.the perfect accessory for her white sweater over her oh so neat Izod polo shirt. Her A-Line skirt ended sensibly at her knees, and was either khaki, or color-coordinated to match her shirt. Her hair was perfectly neat, held in place by a wide headband, or a set of ribbon barrettes that matched her outfit. What a dream child, none of those wild 80s outfits for this girl.

His transformation began on the bus, as well. As soon as he was out of mom’s sight, the Oxford was stuffed into his book bag. In its place was a worn and tattered t-shirt, usually black, that advertised the punk and rock groups his mom hated: Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, the Ramones, Judas Priest, or, later in the 80s, Metallica. His jeans became festooned with over-sized safety pins, and, on occasion, he ripped them across the knees and thighs.

80s kids bugle boy outfitsHe knew he could explain away the rips and tears later. His bucks joined the Oxford in favor of his Vans or Combat Boots. He then finished his preparations by taking out a can of mousse, and turning his hair into an imitation Mohawk, or a face-covering wave of “I don’t care.”The gender descendants of Beaver showed almost as much duplicity in his 80s outfits. Every morning, he appeared at the breakfast table in a pinstriped button down Oxford, sensibly tucked into the top of his Levi’s 501 blue jeans. His blue jeans, although snug, didn’t seem to be obscenely tight, and they draped the top of his deck shoes or bucks. His hair was combed neatly to the side, with a part as clear and sharp as the edge of a knife. He was respectability defined.

Beaver? He wouldn’t have died of emphysema in these school bathrooms, or found his head orbiting a toilet bowl. The beautiful little children that left the house every morning as the apple of mom’s eye transformed themselves into the Children of the Corn before the bus shuddered to a stop in front of the school. The 80s outfits that parents thought their kids wore to school bore little resemblance to the sartorial upheaval that actually held sway in America’s “Rock N Roll” high schools.
80s relax t shirt

Exploring all Sides: 80s Outfits for Men

Ah, the good old days, when men were men, sort of, and you wore your personality on (or without) your sleeves. Wait, or was it the good old days when men looked like women; and your personality was up for debate? Either way, 80s outfits for men encompassed the entire gamut of styles. In the 1980s, you could be a manly man, a business man, or, in the words of Hans and Franz, a “girly man,” all in the same day.

The professional 80s outfits bespoke wealth and success, the idea that the corporate raider was the ideal American. Dressed in Armani suits, with a pin-striped oxford shirt and Gucci loafers, and a thin-as-a-blade power tie knotted in a half-Windsor, the successful professional prowled the corporate halls, looking for his next conquest. He “relaxed” in his Izod or Polo sport shirt with a flipped up collar, khakis and penny loafers (without socks) and his Ray Ban aviators. It was, after all, the decade of conspicuous consumption; the world was his, and he would do with it whatever he pleased.

80s mens fashionFor those who viewed the hostile takeover as not enough of a demonstration of masculinity, 80s outfits provided them a way to express their testosterone levels with denim, t-shirts, and leather. Big hair was the key to this look, whether it was grown long, then sprayed and moussed beyond all recognition, or styled into the archetypical mullet, the hair advertised your willingness to party uncontrollably, or start a brawl. Skin-tight Levi’s blue jeans, ripped or not, according to your fashion, a tight t-shirt, with or without sleeves according to your bicep size, and either a denim or leather jacket over all bespoke your manliness. It helped if the t-shirt advertised a heavy metal or southern rock band: you couldn’t go wrong with Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Judas Priest, or Molly Hatchet. The harder the band, the tougher you were.

80s men outfit

For those who felt that the testosterone levels were just a bit too high in the boardroom or suburban bars and classrooms, the New Wave and Goth looks allowed you to forget you were even male. New Wave guys dressed in blouses, scarves, billowing pants, and elf boots. They augmented this feminized wardrobe with long, styled hair, plucked eyebrows, and meticulous facial makeup. The new Goths eschewed color, combining black pants and trench coats with white blouses, pasty white facial makeup, and wave upon wave of dyed black hair. In these groups, it was often difficult to tell who was male and who was female, an antidote to the orgiastic display of testosterone found in other cliques.

Whether you were secure in your persona or not, 80s outfits offered you a way to find a group and belong. The 1980s provided a vast array of different ways to display who you thought you were, and what was important to you through clothing. That freedom is still there, all you have to do is rip off your sleeves, or flip up your collar, or run in the bathroom and put on some eye liner. Come on, become a real man, 1980s style.

Check out this 80′s guys fashion slideshow I made: