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80s Costume Ideas - The Decade Which Style Forgot

Lauren Perry

Posted on May 01 2020

Get Ready To Look Garish

Those of us who were alive in the 80s remember the fashions vividly. It was the decade of big hair, neon colours, slogan t-shirts and shell suits. We danced to Madonna, watched Dynasty on TV and all wanted Princess Diana’s wardrobe. It’s therefore hardly surprising that an 80s theme is one of the most popular eras for fancy dress. Even if you did live through the 80s, chances are you’ve thrown the stonewashed denim and legwarmers in the years ago. So how do you go about pulling together the best 80s fancy dress?

Clashing Colours

Restrained isn’t the look you’re going for when it comes to 80s fashion. Neon colours were in fashion throughout the decade, with the most popular looks involving a whole host of clashing shades. Start with a simple base and build on it. A great investment for your 80s wardrobe is a net mesh top, preferably in a bright neon shade. Wear it over a black bra to channel your inner Madonna, or over a plain black vest top if you’d prefer to remain a little more modest. Match your mesh top with jeans, or a ruffled skirt or tutu. Pile on the plastic beads, backcomb your hair and you’re ready to go.

Let’s Get Physical

The 80s was the era of aerobics and the shell suit, and when sportswear became casual wear. One attention grabbing costume idea uses leggings, a leotard (or swimsuit at a push), headband, wrist bands and legwarmers. If you don’t want to buy legwarmers, you can easily make them by cutting the sleeves off an old jumper or sweatshirt. Another option, and a better one for male party guests, is to build your 80s outfit around a shell suit, which you can wear with trainers. Choose the brightest, boldest clashing colours and pattern you can find.

Famous 80s Figures

If you aren’t into generic 80s fashion, why not dress as one of the decade’s famous figures instead? Madonna is probably the star with the easiest style to recreate, or wear a boxy suit and tiara, lots of blue eyeshadow and go as Princess Diana. For men, Adam Ant is a popular choice, and all you really need is a military style jacket, face paint and some ribbons for your hair. Or why not dress entirely in purple, get a ruffled white dress shirt, and go as Prince. Whichever star you choose don’t forget the make-up – this was the decade when eyeliner was as much for the men as for the women.

80s Movie Inspiration

A final option is to look at some of the decade’s big movies and draw inspiration from them. Ghostbusters is a good option, as all you need is a cream boiler suit, some felt pens to draw the logo and some creative skills to fashion a backpack out of hoses and an old bag. If you have an old fedora hat and a green shirt, become Indiana Jones complete with a charity shop vase doubling as the Holy Grail.