Jacob Osborn

13 Best '80s Fashion Trends for Men | Man of Many

It’s impossible to think ’80s fashion without conjuring words like decadent, bold, colourful, and excessive. Trends such as ripped jeans and biker jackets ruled the decade, however, it was about far more than its loudest style statements. Indeed, there’s quite a lot of ground to cover between “The Lost Boys” and “Wall Street.”

What Was Men’s Fashion Like in the 80s?

Then: Ahhh, the mighty mullet. Is there anything more synonymous with dated ’80s men’s fashion than this oft-ridiculed haircut? We think not. Once popular among jocks and movie stars and everyone in between, it consists of hair that’s short in the front and on the sides, and then long in the back. We’re sure you’ve heard it before “business in the front, party in the back”.

1. The Mullet

Then: Picture a sweater that’s a size or two too big and you’re now in baggy jumper territory. Worn by men and women alike, this ’80s men’s fashion trend commonly featured loud colours and patterns, the kind of which you’d only see nowadays at a retro-themed costume party or ugly sweater contest. As out there as it is, the baggy jumper is one of the easier outfits to pull off, just pair it with some basic slacks and you’re on the way.

2. Baggy Jumpers

Then: Back in the ’80s, bomber jackets usually appeared in a few separate forms. One was the airforce bomber, which delivered straightforward military vibes, think Top Gun. The casual bomber, meanwhile, served up a preppier aesthetic. Last but not least is the letterman (aka varsity) jacket, an off-shoot of sorts with a sole purpose in layering. We should also note that the ’80s didn’t invent the bomber jacket (which dates back to WWI) and didn’t kill it off either.

3. Bomber Jackets

Then: Ever heard of the show “Magnum, P.I.?” Set in Hawaii, it starred Tom Selleck as the title character, a private investigator who solved crimes when not drinking cold beer, picking up women, or working on his tan. Where are we going with this, you ask? Tom Selleck’s thick moustache and iconic Aloha shirts, naturally. A veritable trend back in the day, the combination still makes for a great ’80s costume idea today.

4. Hawaiian Shirts and Moustaches

Then:  The Canadian Tux was a bonafide men’s fashion trend back in the ’80s. If you couldn’t tell already, we’re speaking of double denim. It’s the kind of ’80s outfit men wore all the time back in the day, allowing them to blend in with other double denim dudes. To be honest, doubling up on denim wasn’t as bad as some people made it sound, permitted you stuck the tux with confidence and adhered to the same colour rule you were good to go.

5. Double Denim

Then: Athleisure has been a staple over the last couple of years, and we might have ’80s tracksuits to thank for it. To be clear, the tracksuit was not an ’80s invention. However, after ’80s hip-hop acts such as Run DMC and LL Cool J began wearing Adidas get-ups as style statements, a men’s fashion trend was born. While tracksuit materials and designs have improved or at least changed over the years, the core principle remains the same: this is proactive apparel you can wear outside the gym.

6. Tracksuits

Then: According to legend, you can go blind staring directly into the loud patterns and bright colours of an oversized printed shirt. Needless to say, this ’80s men’s fashion statement doesn’t say “retro” as much as it does scream it.

7. Oversized Printed Shirts

Then: Fluro is short for fluorescent and fluorescent is another word for neon and neon was freaking everywhere in the ’80s. From ’80s men’s fashion to bar signage to concert performances to college dorm rooms to hair dyes to movie screens to art exhibits, neon came roaring back into fashion.

8. Fluro

Then: You weren’t officially an ’80s bad boy if you didn’t have at least one leather jacket, if not a closet full of them. Continuing a trend set forth by previous decades, the popular item was worn by bikers, punks, heavy metal rock gods, and pretty much anyone with a sense of fashion.

9. Leather Jackets

Then: Gather ’round boys and girls, because we’re going to tell you about a great man from a different era. He went by the name of Michael Jordan and he changed not just the sport of basketball, but the entire merchandising-marketing complex. Okay, okay…we know you’re familiar with Michael Jordan, just like you’re familiar with Air Jordan sneakers. Originally available as high tops, they struck an achord between fashion and function while paving the way for an industry-wide trend. More than must-have footwear, they also turned Nike into the global behemoth it is today.

10. High Top Sneakers

Then: No list of ’80s men’s fashion trends is complete without the power suit. As much a uniform as it was a style statement, the most common examples delivered sharp cuts and wide shoulder pads. They came to us from designers like Armani Versace, who employed bolder colours and lighter fabrics than his predecessors.

11. Power Suits

Then: “But Mooooom, everyone has one!” that’s the sound of a bratty ’80s teenager begging his mother to let him get his ear pierced. By the time he shows up in school with his radical piercing, no one will know he whined for hours just to make it happen. Sealing the deal are some choice highlights in his hair, a sign of being cool if there ever was one.

12. Highlights and a Pierced Ear

Then: Already worn by sports fanatics and frequent concertgoers, logo t-shirts were definitely nothing new in ’80s men’s fashion. The decade saw merchandising and sloganeering go to extremes, as brands and logos all but took over the nearest apparel store or gift shop.

13. Slogan and Logo T-shirts

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