80s Fashion: Totally Rad or Totally Bad?

Although many people would argue that fashion in the 1980s was too big, too loud and just plain too much, we here at Nat Geo disagree. After all, the 1980s gave us Calvin Klein’s underwear, Donna Karan’s power suit, Naomi Campbell’s sexy catwalk and, of course, legwarmers! But don’t take our word for it. For the past few days, we’ve been talking to fashionistas and trendsetters to get their take on ’80s fashion. Read on to see what they have to say about neon crop tops, shoulder pads, acid-washed jeans and the overall impact of ’80s fashion on trends today.

The style experts over at Brightest Young Things embraced their inner Madonna and put together a totally rad list of ’80s STANDOUTS that take you from “Dynasty” glamour to street-style ready, all the while continuing to influence fashion today.

Despite being only three years old when the fashion mecca ended, District of Sparkle credits the 1980s for her love of vintage clothing. See how this fashionista reinvents a ’80s classic to look fresh and modern.

From neon to denim, Simply Epalf takes a trip down memory lane to review some of the biggest ’80s trends and see how they’ve influenced the style of 2013 by doing a then-and-now comparison.

According to Miss Lyle Style, the 1980s “was one of the most fun and adventurous decades in terms of fashion.” See some of her favorite ’80s fashion advertisements and keep an eye out for some of the original supermodels featured in the ads.

Wardrobe Oxygen blogger doubts that you’ll see her wearing acid-washed denim anytime soon, but admits that “the decade still influences and inspires me on a regular basis.” In honor of Throwback Thursday, she’s sharing a personal time capsule of her own 1980s looks.

In celebration of NGC’s “The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us,” J’s Everyday Fashion is asking readers to share their favorite ’80s trend.

Inspired by the 1980s pop-culture classic “Say Anything,” Avant Blargh puts a new twist on John Cusack’s trench coat. She doesn’t use a boom box to fully complete the look, but she does pose in front of her own high school to embrace her 1980s nostalgia.

Lauren and Van from Necessary & Proper raided their photo albums to see how their childhood ’80s fashion sense has evolved to today. It turns out that Van is still rocking preppy classics and horn-rimmed glasses, while Lauren hasn’t lost her love of color, especially neon!

From the Heathers’ preppy plaid skirts to Ferris Bueller’s multitoned leather jacket, District of Chic drew “inspiration from both sides of the relatively polarized ’80s style spectrum — punks, preppies, rude girls and boys, mods and modettes.”

For more incredible fashion and street style, be sure to check out each of the blogs listed above!

The 80s:  The Decade that Made Us premieres this Sunday, April 14th at 8 PM.



  1. Christine
    Murrysville, PA
    April 15, 2013, 1:35 pm

    As a late baby-boomer/early Gen Xer who came of age in the 80s, it would be a lot more authentic if these bloggers that you’re getting information from actually lived in the 80s. Most of them were barely born and are narrowing things down to a few stereotypes that they find! It was not all about Madonna!
    The first night of the show was enjoyable.

  2. niki
    April 16, 2013, 7:28 pm

    I see just now the broadcast of the n80″s documentary. WHY IS IT that NATGEO FORGETS – or purposely omits the fact that these drugs were mostly brought here by the U.S. Government??????Like everything else u omit in ur documentaries. Dont blame it on the gangs assholes, you know damn well our own government enables this shit – you want to do real reporting???? Tell the Phuqing truth for a change instead of sugar coating SHlt,.

  3. niki
    April 16, 2013, 7:30 pm

    oh yea go ahead and moderate it – we all know u dont want anyone to read actual facts

  4. IndyGiGi
    April 23, 2013, 2:13 pm

    I agree with Christine. If you want to know how it really was in the 80’s, talk to those of us who lived through it. I miss the 80’s. What a fun time!

  5. Francisco
    May 15, 2013, 11:41 am

    I agree with Christine, I was a child in the 80s so there’s only few things that I can remember vividly in terms of fashion but I’m allowed to have a say on that since I lived it. If you want a more informative blog about the 80s it should be from someone who transitioned from teen to young adulthood in the 80s.

    From what I remember, the big shoulder pads that it wasn’t a trend started in Dynasty TV show but the costume designer of the shows brought from European fashion designers. The oversize tops in contrast with the leggins. The bat wing dresses, the big hair, the big jewelry out of lucite and plastic. Neon colors were mostly wore by really young people. The make up usually was blue eye shadows with red lipstick, kind of always the same combination. The 80s that I remember most was everything big and grand, power woman gone are the time where women where delicate creatures at the mercy of men’s wishes.