Style Trends Of The '80s That Are Still Just As Cool In 2023

"Stranger Things" is one of the most popular shows on Netflix, and after the resurgence of Kate Bush's song, "Running Up That Hill," it's clear that the '80s are back. With the entertainment and music industries exploring the decade's music and aesthetic, it was only a matter of time before the fashion industry would catch on. "The era was more about creative individuality, and [the current times have] set the stage for a fashion reset," Travis Hamilton, creative director and founder of Negris Lebrum, tells The Zoe Report.


It's no surprise that we have turned towards fashion trends from decades ago. "I think that nostalgia makes people feel comforted in times of crisis," Sara Radin, the writer of Teen Vogue's unofficial scrunchie history, tells NPR. "With such a gloomy aura around politics, the economy, the environment — people are really latching on to objects and clothing items that remind them of earlier times ... that they remember to be simpler, even if they weren't."

Brynn Jones, the owner of Aralda Vintage, tells Harper's Bazaar that '80s fashion was unapologetically glamourous and known for "structured silhouettes, [and] abstract and playful shapes." As the saying goes, "what goes around, comes around," and we've gathered some trends that are just as big now as they were when the new wave genre was ruling the music charts.


Oversized jackets and blazers

A classic '80s trend was oversized blazers and jackets. "A blazer is one of the most transcendent pieces a woman can own," Dana Mortada, founder of the label Dāl the Labe, tells Harper's Bazaar. In talking about oversized blazers that are a big part of her brand, she added, "We wanted you to feel a little more comfortable with extra room and to pair it with literally anything you own, whether it be shorts, a T-shirt, bodysuit, or a summer dress."


Oversized jackets are another fun way to bring the '80s back. Of course, the best spot to source them is a thrift store, where you can find authentic jackets from the decade. To balance out the bulkiness, you can pair an oversized blazer or jacket with a tighter top or pants. Or you can wear them with other oversized items, a look that has become increasingly popular. The options are endless.


Another huge '80s trend that is just as popular today is bodysuits. Back then they were mostly worn as part of an aerobics outfit, and are still a popular activewear choice today as they will stay put no matter how high you jump or how low you squat.


But there is also such a variety available on the market now that they can be worn just about anywhere: to work, for a night out, or even when lounging at home. "I would recommend going from a top to a bodysuit when sporting a look you don't want to bulge while tucking it in — such as a classic button-down — or when you're baring your shoulders," Teresa Jaide, co-founder of the brand JLUX, tells InStyle. "Having the extra support ensures your look stays intact. Try pairing your bodysuit with wide-leg trousers or even a flowy skirt. The tightness of the bodysuit will help balance out your look."

Metallic clothing

Called spring's flashiest new trend, metallic dresses, tops, bags, and boots — all of which were huge in the '80s — are poised to take over the season. Liane Wiggins, head of womenswear at Matchesfashion, tells Who What Wear that metallics were seen on almost all 2023 spring runways. "Interesting metallics were a standout trend for the season, with highlights including Jil Sander's incredible fabric developments (bouncy metallic chenille, silver sequins, and high craft techniques) as well as Christopher Kane's metallic chainmail," she shares.


If metallic accessories seem too bold for you, you can also explore this trend with makeup. "Chrome makes me think about glam rock and disco, like shiny, messy eyelids shining in low light, up all night," Donni Davy, head makeup artist for "Euphoria," tells Byrdie. Once you feel more comfortable with the trend, you can try adding a few metallic accessories to your look.

Mom jeans

Mom jeans as we know them today were born in the '80s. Over time, they have gone in and out of fashion, but with the decrease in popularity of skinny jeans, the forgiving style is big again. "Mom jeans are so comfortable and easy to wear and offer so many new outfitting possibilities," Lara Knight, American Eagle's VP of Denim Design, tells InStyle. "Size up for a looser vibe, or try a longer inseam for a more throwback silhouette." 


We used to get inspo from '80s icons, such as Brooke Shields and Madonna, on how to wear mom jeans. But today it's models like Bella Hadid and Hailey Bieber we look to. Style influencer Nena Evans tells InStyle that Hailey Bieber, in particular, has nailed the art of making mom jeans "look hella cute." "[She's] essentially mastered making mom jeans look high-end yet still practical and comfortable," Evans says. "Take a page from her book and style them with a micro crop top or bra top and an oversized blazer. Of course, you're going to need chunky sneakers and an oversized leather pillow purse to finish off the look ..."

Matching pantsuit

A matching pantsuit in a bold color or pattern is the epitome of '80s fashion. Back then, it was mostly worn to work — but those days are long gone. In 2023, you can dress a matching blazer and pants up or down. Wear it with a T-shirt and sneakers for a casual lunch, or pair it with a lingerie top and some heels for a night of drinks and good music.


And if you're wondering why loose blazers and pants are back big time, Alexandra Palmer, senior curator at Global Fashion & Textiles at the Royal Ontario Museum, explains it to Elle. "It's probably sort of a reaction to the very, very tight clothes that have been in fashion for so long," she says. "The soft pantsuit can take you from brunch to the boardroom and is highly forgiving."

And while picking a neutral color for the pantsuit is great and all, a bold hue is where this trend flourishes. "Single-tone dressing is all the rage, and the bolder, the better," Emily Gordon-Smith, content director at Stylus, tells Elle. "So think hot-pink or grass-green suits styled in a heightened monochromatic way with matching footwear and accessories."


The wolf cut

If you have a TikTok or Instagram account, chances are you're already very familiar with the haircut that took over social media in 2022: the wolf cut. "It basically blends two iconic, defining periods in music, style, and pop culture — the '70s and '80s — and gets morphed into a more modern-day look," hairstylist Philip B reveals to Byrdie. "The wolf cut is a hybrid of the shag and soft mullet, creating a current take on the look of rock stars like Rod Stewart, Patti Smith, Mick, Kiss, and Joan Jett."


If you do choose to give this iconic haircut a try, we recommend going to a professional and not attempting it at home. Because the haircut is very layered, it can quickly end up looking choppy when done by yourself. "Physically show the stylist where you want your bangs and the layers to start and where you want the length to hit," celebrity hairstylist Bennett Grey tells Byrdie. "The biggest challenge is making sure the haircut flows from the bangs to the face frame and isn't over-layered — you want to make sure you're leaving enough weight through the bottom, so the hair doesn't start looking stringy."

Leg warmers

Since balletcore is a popular aesthetic amongst Gen Z, it was only a matter of time before leg warmers would come back. In the '80s, leg warmers were mostly used to keep the muscles of dancers warm, but after "Flashdance" became a massive hit in 1983, they found their way into mainstream fashion.


Since then, leg warmers have already had their comeback in the aughts, and now they are once again in style. "The 2000s and all of its trends are back, including leg warmers," designer Lindsay Vrckovnik tells Vogue. "They're similar to a pair of gloves or a hat; they can work with anybody's style — there's no wrong way to wear them! I'm currently working on super-chunky, thigh-high ones." If you're unsure what kind of shoe you should wear leg warmers with, we're here to tell you that they work with anything — from sneakers to ballet flats.

Denim jackets

In the '80s, almost every closet had a jean jacket, as the denim staple was known to be versatile, warm, and durable. Even though denim jackets never really went out of style, now they are a popular choice even if you are wearing jeans — as the denim-on-denim trend is back, big time. "I love denim jackets because they're just as versatile as jeans," blogger Christine Andrew of Hello Fashion tells Allure. "You can tie it around your waist or layer it over a hoodie or cozy sweater, and it also adds dimension under a trench."


And while you might think a classic blue denim jacket isn't for you, the truth is that a denim jacket can be any color you choose, and it can be more tight fitting or loose, depending on your preference. However, experts predict the classic '80s washed-out denim jackets will be big this year. "We're gravitating towards bright, happy, early '80s-inspired true blues and powdery soft shades that look like you've owned it for 20 years," Maggie Winter, CEO and co-founder of AYR, reveals to The Zoe Report.

Bold accessories

When it comes to accessories, the '80s were everything but delicate and minimalist. In fact, the bolder the accessory, the better it was. "The hats! The earrings! The brooches! The belts! The gloves," Brynn Jones, the owner of Aralda Vintage, gushes to Harper's Bazaar about the decade's accessories.


And this year, it is '80s jewelry that experts predict to also have a comeback. "Think lots of chunky gold jewelry, big hoops, and geometric shapes," Stephanie Gottlie, jewelry designer and curator, tells Style Caster

Fun bags and shoes will be trendy, too, as they can easily take any simple or monochromatic outfit to the next level. "We've seen an uptick in investment pieces from handbags to footwear, particularly in brightly colored adventurous choices," Rickie de Sole, the women's fashion and editorial director at Nordstrom, tells Vogue. So next time you doubt whether that hot pink handbag is worth it, keep in mind that it will help you make your everyday fashion more interesting and fun!


Bright geometric patterns

The '80s were a decade with distinct patterns that mostly revolved around geometric shapes and super bright colors. In fact, mixing patterns and multiple statement colors in the same outfit was kind of the norm back then.


This year, '80s graphic patterns are having a comeback, and they are mostly being seen on jackets and pants. However, just because you want to wear a bold '80s pattern doesn't mean you can mix it with other ones. MasterClass notes that while wearing similar patterns is a great way to start exploring the trend — you can also clash patterns.

A great rule to follow to ensure your prints aren't fighting for attention is to always pick one bigger pattern and pair it with one that is smaller. To make your outfit more streamlined, opt for patterns that are similar in color. But keep in mind that these rules for mixing and matching are only guidelines. After all, fashion should be fun!

Leather everything

Leather fashion was very popular in the '80s, and if you're lucky, you might just find an original '80s piece in a thrift store or in your mom's or grandma's closets. Blazers, skirts, shorts, pants, even dresses — leather was a popular choice for any clothing item. And if you're wondering just how to rock this trend, we recommend going all out with leather from head to toe. Needless to say, if you're purchasing a new clothing item, we would encourage you to go for faux leather.


In case you're wondering just how to rock this trend now since the weather is warming up, fear not. "It's a misconception that leather pants have to be a colder-weather item — if you get leather pants made from lightweight leather and a silky lining, you are destined to elevate any outfit without feeling weighed down by the leather," Jessie Willner, creative director and founder of leather retailer The Mighty Company, tells The Zoe Report.

Off-the-shoulder tops

Even though it was technically released in 1978, "Grease" greatly impacted '80s fashion. In particular, it was Sandy Olsson's black off-the-shoulder top that was copied across the globe throughout the decade. Since then, the off-the-shoulders trend has come back regularly.


Regardless of whether you opt for a top or dress, ensure you are either wearing a strapless bra or nothing underneath. Seeing bra straps with an outfit that really isn't benefiting from them isn't a cute look. If you're worried about the top sliding down throughout the day, use some double-sided fashion tape to keep it in place. "It really adds that extra level of polish to a look," fashion consultant and stylist Cat Pope reveals to Glamour. "It's my go-to for keeping bra straps and low-cut tops in place." Another pro tip when wearing this look is to apply a tiny bit of body glitter to your shoulders and collarbone to highlight them.

Punk from head to toe

Dr. Martens boots, studded leather jackets, and fishnet tights — punk was so much more than just fashion, but there is no doubt that it heavily influenced what many young people wore in the '80s. The style could be seen in movies and heard in music, and those who were a part of the punk movement fought conformity and authority on a daily basis.


Forty years later, punk is still relevant in all spheres of life, but it is particularly in the fashion industry that it is having a comeback. With artists like Machine Gun Kelly, Billie Eilish, and Miley Cyrus exploring the style that flourished in the '80s, this trend is slowly but surely becoming more mainstream. If you want to test out the trend for yourself but don't know where to start, try adding badges to your bags and jackets, wearing leather jackets and Chuck Taylors, and rocking skinny jeans with studded belts. To take the punk style to the next level, consider opting for a shag or wolf haircut — both of which are reminiscent of the '80s.

Fanny packs

One '80s accessory that wasn't really cool then but is super trendy now is the fanny pack. "Here's the thing about fanny packs: They were never meant to be cool," costume designer and celebrity stylist Ebony Brown tells Nylon. "They came out in the '80s, and they were made for dads who just needed something more than a wallet but would never dare carry a purse."


However, in recent years fanny packs — now known as belt bags — have blown up, and they don't seem to be going anywhere. If you're wondering how to incorporate them into your outfit, digital artist and content creator Atiya Walcott shares her tips with Nylon. "I'd wear some baggy jeans with a fitted shirt and an oversized jacket or crewneck sweatshirt," she says. "Then I'd put the fanny pack on across your body with the bag in front, right in the middle of your chest."

Brown adds that even though fanny packs are generally styled with more oversized and tomboyish clothes, you can rock them with feminine pieces, too. "I style my fanny packs and belt bags with skirts and heels, and it looks super cute," she adds.



In the '80s, sequin clothing was almost exclusively worn on nights out, but the trend has become much more daytime-appropriate since then. In 2023, having a sparkly item in your closet is a must, as it takes any outfit to a more glitzy and elevated level. "Having sequins in your wardrobe for everyday wear is a great way to show flair and personality," celebrity stylist Ryan Young reveals to InStyle.


Even though sequin dresses were the classic item of the '80s, opting for a sequin skirt adds a modern twist to the trend. "The key is that you shouldn't pair a sequin bottom with anything too prim or polished," celebrity stylist Emily Sanchez explains to InStyle. "You want to give an easy vibe rather than something that reads fussy." And if rocking a sequin clothing item is still too much for you — consider giving sequin accessories a chance. After all, a sequin bag or headband can add that perfect amount of glamour to your everyday outfit.

Velvet dresses

Velvet was one of the most popular fabric choices in the '80s, and it was, in particular, dresses that were often made from it. Nowadays, we most commonly associate velvet dresses with the holiday season. "Velvet has jewel-tone colors and a rich, luxe touch," Vogue's Market Editor Chelsea Zalopany points out. "The luster of the material gives a touch of seasonal flair during the holidays."


However, the rich and famous, as well as designers, have begun showcasing how to wear velvet all year-'round. With the rise of fashion maximalism, velvet has become a sought-after fabric again. "We're now in an era of fashion maximalism," fashion historian, curator, and journalist Dr. Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell reveals to Marie Claire. "So it's not surprising that a visibly luxurious fabric like velvet has made a comeback."

If you want to explore wearing velvet outside of the holiday season, we recommend starting out with a velvet skirt or a velvet blazer.

Denim overalls

Denim overalls were a huge part of the late '80s, and the trend continued to evolve in the '90s as well. And for a good reason. The classic denim piece is super comfy and perfect for those days when you don't know what to put on. "You can dress them up and make them chic or keep them casual," Katie Sturino, founder of Megababe, tells InStyle. And let's be real, overalls are kind of the adult onesie — they provide comfort without looking ridiculous.


"Overalls are a timeless piece, and they're very versatile. You can wear them in all seasons, and you can wear them during the day or at night," stylist Jenny Rodriguez tells Well+Good. "The adjustable straps are definitely something to look for because you can play around with what look you want to achieve," she adds. Meaning, you can opt to wear the overalls tightened, or you can keep one (or both) straps loose.


When it comes to hair, the classic '80s ponytail would be nothing without scrunchies. The colorful and eye-catching hair ties were just as much part of an outfit as any other accessory. And even though they went out of style for a bit (mostly the aughts and early 2010s), scrunchies are now back better than ever.


Apart from looking super cute and adding a bit more glamour to your outfit, scrunchies are generally also better for your hair — especially if they are satin or silk. "Those of us with curlier, coarser, kinkier hair have to think about the textures and materials that interact with our hair because it's more prone to breaking," NPR's product manager Khalon Richard admits. "So when I saw that there are scrunchies now coming out in silk, I was very excited about that."

Now if you're wondering just what kind of scrunchies are popular in 2023, there is no wrong answer. Small, extra large, colorful, neutral, textured — as long as it's a scrunchie, it's on trend!

Ruffled tops

In the '80s, ruffles were a popular way to spice up clothing — especially prom dresses. In 2023, ruffles are on trend again, but this time around they can be worn to more than just prom. From dramatic ruffly blouses to delicate ruffles on the hems of your skirts, there really isn't a clothing item that can't gain some extra excitement from a few (or many) ruffles.


If you spend a lot of time on TikTok, you've probably come across a lot of ruffly clothing items as part of the grandmillennial style trend. Pinterest predicted that in 2023, airy fashion will be a big deal, and ruffles certainly fall into that category. If you are someone who tends to avoid bold patterns and likes to stick to a more monochromatic look, ruffles are a fun way to add some dimension and texture to your outfit and make it a tad bit more interesting.

Pink all over

The '80s were all about bold colors, but one that definitely stood out was pink. The color was particularly popular in the late '80s, thanks to the movie "Pretty in Pink." In 2023, another pink-themed movie is set to be released, and with it, the color is having a major fashion comeback. This summer Greta Gerwig's "Barbie" will hit the theaters, and there is no doubt that pink will be a massive trend in the warmer months.


Yes, going all out with Elle Woods-like fashion this year will be big, and that means rocking pink from head to toe. "A much-welcomed mood-booster after the last few years, Barbiecore is all about embracing vibrant hues — particularly the doll's signature hot pink — in everyday life," Dayna Isom Johnson, Etsy trend expert, tells GMA. "And with many nostalgic for simpler, sunnier, and more carefree times, it only makes sense that this '80s-inspired, unapologetically pink aesthetic is taking center stage as the 'it' style of the summer."