Forget about the 1990s, the 1980s was the true fashion decade. In what’s become known as the age of excess, style reflected the zeitgeist perfectly. There were some great style moments in the ’80s, but unfortunately there were also some truly horrendous looks. Here are six of the worst.
1. Miami Vice suits/neon T-shirts
If you were to ask any man about a style that defined the decade, he would undoubtedly say “those suits from Miami Vice.” Don Johnson single-handedly defined the style for the decade wearing linen/tweed suits with a variety of colored T-shirts — most notably neon ones. They were terribly unstylish in a pretty awesome way.
2. Acid washed jeans
This one can send you running for the hills. It was one of the hottest and thankfully shortest-lived trends in this decade: acid washed jeans. Though the trend didn’t become popular until the mid-’80s, it seemed to go hand-in-hand with the big hair phenomenon of the time. If you were a fan of one, then you were probably a fan of the other. In case you were wondering how this horrible style was created, the denim is basically stripped of its top layer of color using a chemical that leaves the white fabric exposed. The color remained on the lower layers of the material, giving it its faded look. And we’re so glad this trend is history, so to speak.
3. Shell suits
The shell suit was voted one of the worst styles of the past 50 years. A descendant of the track suit, this style arrived in the late ’80s and was popular with the hip hop and breakdancing scene of the era. The polyester trouser/jacket combo came in a range of distinctive color combinations, with the unfortunate effect of making any man who wore this look completely shapeless. Humanity was saved when this style went out.
4. Members Only jackets
Members Only jackets were the ubiquitous fashion statement every man in the ’80s was rocking. It was one of those things where if you didn’t have one, then you just weren’t cool. But don’t you dare wear one of these zip-up jackets today — even as an ironic hipster statement.
5. Parachute pants
Wearing a pair of parachute pants had everybody thinking you were going to jump out of a plane and go sky diving or hop a spaceship to the moon. These pants were typically made of nylon and were a little tight fitting. If you were a kid in the ’80s, few things would have been as cool as wearing a pair of nylon pants that swooshed when you walked. If they happened to come with a few extra zippers and snaps, well, all the better.
6. Shoulder padded pinstripe suits
The power suit of the time, which appeared in the ’80s nostalgia film American Psycho, was the suit of the decade — defined by a very large fit. It had shoulder pads, was roomy throughout the jacket, and baggy down the leg with widely spaced stripes. Let’s just say this suit is the complete opposite of the tailored fit of today and one we’re happy to leave in the past.