One Of The Most Unexpected '80s Styles Is Staging A Spring-Summer Comeback

For the past several years, the late '90s and Y2Ks have been back in a big way all across the worlds of fashion and beauty. Now, there's reason to believe that the '80s are moving in to take their rightful place at the round table of cyclical fashion trends. One remarkably '80s trend that ruled the runways of New York Fashion week was, believe it or not, oversized shoulders. No, this is not a drill or an early April Fool's Day prank; shoulder pads are back.

If you survived the'80s and early '90s era of shoulder pads once and aren't sure you can do it again, take a deep breath. There are some upsides to the big-shoulder trend, including creating the illusion of a smaller waist. Here are some of the best examples of how to incorporate garments with shoulder pads into your wardrobe without needing to rethink your entire aesthetic. 

Classic blazer

When most people envision the quintessential 1980s strong-shouldered ensemble, it typically includes a powerful, structured blazer with extra squared and padded shoulders. This fashion relic can be found in an endless variety of light or heavy fabrics in every color and pattern under the sun, so take your time finding a piece that really brings you joy. 

Ruffled elegance

Not quite ready to embrace full shoulder pads but curious to try a more shoulder-forward silhouette? No need to fret. A top with puff sleeves can create the same aesthetic without any actual padding. The rouging softens the squareness while still accentuating the overall shape of the shoulders, making this an excellent transition piece. 


The late '80s and early '90s saw a major upsurge in the popularity of oversized garments. This trend is also making its way back, as seen by the return of wide-leg pant styles. Shoulder pads can even out oversized, baggy outfits, which tend to pool toward the bottom of the body, creating a more balanced overall shape. 

Vintage florals

If you were born during the '80s or '90s, there is a good chance you have memories of your mother, aunt, or grandmother wearing black dresses with bold floral prints and intense shoulder pads. You may have even worn one yourself for a special occasion. Hopefully, those memories are happy ones because these dresses are officially back. Snag one from your local thrift store before the news spreads and prices skyrocket. 

Full power suit

What is even the point of an '80s trend returning if it doesn't include the iconic power suit? Born of a time when women were moving into management and power roles in the professional world in higher numbers than ever before and trying to find their place in society outside of the home, a structured blazer with shoulder pads and a matching skirt tell the story of the struggle to mix masculine and feminine into one success story. 

Structured turtleneck

If your favorite memories of the '80s or '90s happen to include coffee houses and slam poetry, you'll feel right at home in a classic black turtleneck with a tiny bit of added structure via mini shoulder pads. Pair with hipster glasses for the ultimate in unintentional coolness. 

Mini jacket

Ready to dip your toe in but not looking to take the full plunge? A mini jacket with shoulder pads can be paired with literally any outfit without looking too vintage. Pair one with a crop top and high-waisted flared jeans for an ultra modern look that just happens to utilize a little extra structure in the shoulder department.