Eight 80s Fashions We Love to Hate and Hate to Love

80s Fashion

Fashion from the 80s has slowly been making a comeback over the past few seasons, and it’s not looking to go away anytime soon. Young girls who make fun of their mothers for their big 80s hair, shoulder pads, neon clothes and those leg warmers get a good laugh out of old photos, but it’s mom who’s getting the last laugh as she sees the all the bold neon colors and leg warmers in teen and adolescent departments these days.

If you weren’t born before or during the early 80s, you have no idea what you are missing. The big hair, the menswear inspired lines and the sheer excitement of horrible photos is just too much to handle. It’s bad; it’s so very bad. The 80s might be the worst decade in the history of fashion (but we do have the early 90s coming in at a very close second), but that doesn’t mean those of us who lived it (and were just young enough to get away with blaming our horrid school photos on our parents) don’t love to sit back and laugh over the memories of everything that was wrong with the entire decade in terms of fashion. Read on to find out XXXX things we love to hate about 80s fashion, and things we just love about it.

Shoulder Pads

Women who looked like linebackers; it was so 80s. It was so bad, but it was so popular. The trend was one of the biggest and most long-lasting of the decade, and looking back at those unfortunate photos makes us all cringe with a touch of self-loathing. What’s most embarrassing about this particular trend is that yes, we did have mirrors in our homes in the 80s. We just liked what we saw when we looked in them. We chose to leave the house looking like that. We are ashamed.

Big Hair

Not just big hair. Big hair is not bad when it’s done well. And women in Texas have never quite forgotten the whole big hair thing, though it does look better now than it did back then. 80s-style big hair was different. It was…bad. Really, we have no other word than just bad. In the 80s it wasn’t all Victoria’s Secret angel blowouts and big curls. It was limp bangs sprayed with gallons of aerosol hairsprays to stand up as high as possible at an angle that shouldn’t actually be possible. 80s hair is, I’m convinced, the reason the ozone layer is in so much trouble (thanks Aquanet).

White Wash Denim

Oh, it was so bad. So, so bad. The acid wash denim that was so popular in the 80s is trying so hard to make a comeback and those of us who lived it once are hoping against hope that this trend does not catch on. It’s so unflattering, gross and just not at all put together. We just can’t get on board with this one again, and we beg those of you who are just experiencing this awful color for the first time to please stop buying it so we don’t have to relieve the most embarrassingly ugly days of our lives once again. It’s too much.

Off the Shoulder Shirts

This is one of those styles that can go either way, though we are inclined to wish that way was right back to 1987. It’s just not a good look. In our opinion, it’s sloppy and unprofessional, not very ladylike and kind of immature. It might be cuter on a little girl in dance class doing an 80s move than it is on a self-respecting adult. It’s definitely not the worst look to come from the 80s (actually, it was probably one of the least offensive looks of the entire decade) but it’s not that great in the new millennium either.

High Tops

Just…no. Go away. They’re not flattering on anyone but basketball players who need whatever kind of support it is they provide so that no one injures themselves on the floor. They’re not good on women wearing short neon shorts, leggings, an oversize tee or shoulder pads. Let’s leave these to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and move on to something a little more flattering, like a great pair of heels or a more casual ballet flat. But please, leave behind the high-tops and while you’re at it, skip the side ponytail, too. It’s not doing anything for you.


Some  hate it, some love it. I fall on the love it train. In the 80s, leggings were worn in colors such as aqua, teal and bright neon yellow. Today, it’s more like black and even some Aztec prints that are a lot more acceptable. And they’re much better worn these days with tunics and shoes that are a bit more flattering. We love the legging look, and we’re happy it’s come back.

Leg Warmers

Okay, so watching Jane Fonda sweat it out in the 80s wearing these was not good. But the way that they’ve come back into fashion today is a big improvement. Leg warmers are now made of a much more luxurious sweater material in neutral colors, and they are worn in a way that makes them look more fun and Aspen-vacation than 1980s workout video. We love the look and we’re glad it is back.


The blazer is one of the best pieces in the world of fashion. You can do anything with it. You can wear it with jeans, a dress, a suit, leggings and anything else you want. The good thing about this style coming back in the past few years is that the blazer has become so much more flattering. Gone are the shapeless frocks considered stylish way back when and in its place a fitted concept that’s much more appealing.

Did we mention we love that designers have removed the shoulder pads from these jackets so that we look petite and ladylike rather than resembling linebackers at a college football game? Well, we do.

Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images


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