1980′s Fashion

The main fashions of the 1980s can be divided into the following categories:


Sloane Ranger


Exercise wear

Career man/woman



Punk was a reaction against more negative aspects of this decade.  It was created by groups of students,  many of which were art students,  and young  jobless people. They bought clothes from Vivienne Westwood and Malcom McLaren’s boutiques and were largely influenced by the Punk band ‘The Sex Pistols’. The aim of Punk was to rebel and the outfits worn were usually black and were supposed to look threatening, the key pieces being:

Doctor Martin boots.

Leather jackets.

Tight black trousers

Slashed jeans

Fishnet tights (for girls).

The Customising of clothes and jewellery with paint, studs, and chains.

The Punk fashion was also developing in America. The 1980s was ‘An era of contradictions, a time in America when urban individualism and raw creativity were courageously fighting for breathing room and holding their own in a culture ruled by wealthy conservatism and Republican politics.’(Homes: 1)

Between 1980 and 1990 the Village Voice had a fashion feature every month in which Amy Arbus’s portraits document the adventurous styles.

This fashion also eventually spread to Europe and Japan.


Sloane Ranger:

This style was based on the rich titled women who lived in Sloane street in West London. Princess Diana’s style was largely based on this look, the key items being:

Frilly-necked blouses.

Long skirts and pale tights



Knotted scarves

Padded jackets

A Pearl necklace



Musicians such as Adam Ant and Boy George influenced people to dress this way. The men often wore eye makeup and Pirate style shirts, jackets and boots.


Exercise wear:

It became popular for both sexes to be fit and sporty which had an effect on fashion. So that Lycra exercise wear, leg warmers, sweatbands and trainers became fashionable items.


Career man/Woman:

It was fashionable to look like a wealthy, successful business man/woman which was achieved by wearing designer labels and chic outfits. Women also wore shoulder pads to look powerful.



Carnegy, V. (1990) Fashions of a decade The 1980s. 1st edn. London: B.T Batsford.

Arbus, A., and Homes, A. M. (2006) On the street 1980-1990. 1st edn. New York: Welcome Books

Mendes, V., and Haye, A. (1999) Fashion  since 1900. 2nd edn. London: Thames & Hudson world of art.



Filed under ., Placing Photographic Practice in Context

3 responses to “1980′s Fashion

  1. Nice to see you have researched a wide variety of fashion and influences from this era. I would be nice to see some of the photographers that have/are going to be influencing the shoot that you are going to do. This will help you a lot as you can view what the fashion was really like back then and how it was shot but you can make your own modern twist on your images. Look forward to seeing more on this as I did a similar project whilst at college!

    • thank you for you comment and feed back! realy helps! can you think of any good 80’s fashion photographers to look at! as im finding realy hard at the moment to find any i like!

      • Not a problem! Patrick Demarchelier and Peter Lindbergh did a lot in the 80’s so you could try them if you haven’t already. Patrick’s website is really good as he has basically every image he has done for magazines going back to the 80’s on there.

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