The 1980s were a great decade, known so well as the decade of excess … excessively bad fashion. Yet, it was also one of the most experimental eras in fashion. Clothes were used to define personalities and make big (hair) statements. The decade also birthed more fashion icons than any other decade, from Boy George to Michael Jackson, to that dude’s hair from Flock of Seagulls, and of course, the late and great David Bowie. Hands down, they all left a lasting impression on American fashion. It was only a matter of time before some of the biggest trends of the decade made their way back into our sartorial consciousness. Here are 10 trends from the ’80s that are back, some having never left in the first place.
1. Men’s ponytails
If you’ve been following men’s hairstyle trends, then you know all too well that the male ponytail, bun, and half-up and half-down have been on the domes of many fashion-forward men, whether you like it or not. The male ponytail is traced back to the ’80s and the two guys that are to blame, if you will, for this trend are Steven Seagal and Eric Roberts. Seagal, perhaps most associated with the ponytail, maintained a dedication to the hairstyle his entire career, while Roberts rocked the ‘do in the martial arts film Best of the Best. Very few men have managed to look as badass rocking the ponytail since, though Jared Leto has come strikingly close.
2. Ripped jeans
This spring season, ripped jeans are on the legs of every man, no matter his style. Bands like The Ramones championed this look, and usually topped it off with a cool Schott Perfecto jacket. Their style was the precursor to the ’90s grunge look, which is still in style as well. This punk rock inspired look is still seen heavily on the streets of New York.
3. Ray-Ban Wayfarers
Ray-Ban Wayfarers were the de facto sunglasses of choice for anyone and everyone who was cool in the ’80s — think Tom Cruise in Risky Business. It was just a scientific fact. This style though, which has been seen on the likes of Bob Dylan since the ’60s has arguably never gone out of style, though it definitely experienced it’s heyday in the ’80s. They’re still just as wearable and cool today.
4. Combed-back hair
Countless guys from the ’80s rocked this haircut, think Johnny Depp in 21 Jump Street. The key to this hair was to leave it short on the sides and longer on top, and then to make sure it wasn’t too done up. Consider this ‘do similar to the unkempt hipster look of today, seen on the likes of David Beckham, ever so slightly tweaked and shorter on the sides.
5. Penny loafers
Penny loafers are a prep footwear staple if there ever was one. During the ’80s though, they were seen on the feet of every celebrity, Ivy League college student, and dad on the weekends. Socks were totally optional then, just as they are now. Penny loafers have been a footwear go-to for men who wear their trousers with a cuff or just a little shorter to exude the sartorial suaveness of an Italian man.
6. Adidas Superstar sneakers
These sneakers are literally on the feet of every fashionable man and woman this season. The Adidas Superstar sneakers as a trend, were pioneered by Run DMC, though theirs were completely unlaced, with the tongues popped for extra swagger. While their way of wearing them wasn’t the most practical, there is no denying that this ’80s trend is back in full force.
7. Puffy vests
It’s hard to forget Marty McFly, er, Michael J.Fox who wore it well in Back to the Future, but we look back fondly at the pop cultural mark it has made, and how iconic of a look it’s become. While the one he wore in the movie is no longer in style per say, this past season’s puffy jacket was slightly less puffy, nonetheless, just as cool.
9. Pegged pants (or today’s cuffed pants)
Keeping with the pant trend, while today’s pants aren’t “pegged” they’re rolled up, which coincidentally is the hottest trend this season. While today may be all about cuffing your jeans past your ankles, back in the ’80s it was all about the tight roll. This was also known as pegging your pants, and the result of such was a crisp look that perfectly accented your high tops.
8. Highwater pants
Today’s highwater pants, or pants with no break are considered a great sign of style. Pants that come up slightly above the ankle or just at the ankle are as mentioned, an Italian man’s style staple. However, in the ’80s, the same type of pants were a huge signifier that you were a huge nerd, think Steve Urkel. The connotation of the pant has simply changed, but are just as popular.
10. Vans sneakers
Like Ray-Bans, it’s hard to remember a time when Vans sneakers were not in style. That said, in the ’80s the skateboard scene came into prominence and once it did, people started to pay more attention to the sneakers that guys wore. While many sneaker companies have tried, no shoe has quite embodied the spirit of ‘California cool’ like Vans. The decade was marked by Vans classic checkerboard slip-on shoes (which are just as wearable today!), gaining prominence and popularity thanks to Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, while the Authentic and Sk8-Hi are just as timelessly cool.