Bodaciously Bad: Top 5 Worst Fashion Fads of the 1980s

Certain decades were just cooler than others. The 1920s rocked; the 30s … not so much. The 50s were a bit of a red scare, the 60s were all about rock n’ roll and free love – and the Cold War still, too. Often the easiest way to pinpoint a “cool” decade is to take a look at the sartorial trends popular with the young folk. For example, those roaring twenties had the liberated flapper girls in slinky dresses and hip hats. The 50s saw more short sleeved button-down shirts tucked into starched blue jeans. Not as hip. But not as bad as in the 1980s, when things just went off the rails entirely. Have a look at some of the worst fashion fads of the 1980s.

5.) Leg Warmers

fashion fads leg warmers


Apparently, everyone in the 1980s had cold ankles and wrists. That is the only logical explanation this fashion fad, because why the hell else would people have been prancing around in public and on television screens wearing colorful leg warmers and huge fluffy wristbands all the time? Not because it was such a strange, backward decade clothing-wise that people actually thought leg warmers were somehow edgy and cool, right? Right!? Their ankles were all cold, that’s all. Perhaps it was because of the teeny miniskirts that were always worn. Or because they were desperate to look like a dancer. In the 1980s, leg warmers became popular due to movies such as “Flashdance” and “Fame”. The dancers in the films wore leg warmers to prevent cramping and other muscle injuries. When clothing stores began to sell different colored leg warmers, girls began to wear them with every outfit.

Well, whatever the reasoning, you could be sure that at least one or two pairs of leg warmers could be found in every teenage girl’s wardrobe.

4.) Parachute Pants


Parachute pants are great to have on if you happen to fall out of a plane, but they are not so great to wear down on land. Why? Because they look so very, very stupid. They were referred to as “parachute pants” due to the level of extreme bagginess of the pants. As they were MC Hammer’s signature look, the unique style was referred to as “Hammer pants”. They were typical worn by men and usually brightly colored and patterned.

Not even MC Hammer could make the effrontery of these billowy breeches cool and he was freakin’ MC Hammer! For some reason, in the 1980s the mere fact of clothing being different – being extremely different – was enough to make it seem cool. The trends came and went quickly, at least, because like we said, if MC Hammer can’t make something universally awesome, it just ain’t that awesome.

3.) Gold Chains, Clocks, Earrings Hanging from Earrings


fashion fads gold chains


Having a whole bunch of dangly crap hanging off you was just the pinnacle of cool in the 80s. Gold chains were part of the fashion fads of the 80s, thanks to celebrities like Madonna, Mr. T, Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane and Run DMC. It seemed like no one who was in the public eye could be as such without a whole bunch of crap just, dangling! The thick rope gold chains were ostentatious and seen as a statement of luxury and power, with gold chains still playing a huge part in hip-hop style today. Gold chains, clocks, earrings hanging from earrings! It’s amazing a whole generation of wacky fashionistas wasn’t sucked into more compressor units and pedestal fans.

2.) Shoulder pads … Shoulder Pads

fashion fads shoulder pads


Who the hell fell asleep at the switch and let people start to think that having huge shoulder pads was anywhere near a good fashion move? Yet from rockers to Princess Diana to everyone in between, people rocked those things with pride like some latter-day epaulets. This was largely a female fashion phenomenon.

Women would wear power suits with big shoulder pads in an attempt to prove that they were just as capable and powerful as men. Shoulder-padded power suits were the embodiment of the “dress for success” mantra and during that decade, dressing like a man meant dressing for success. The popular television show, “Dynasty”, influenced increasingly oversized shoulder pads as Joan Collins and Linda Evans always rocked a shoulder-padded power suit. The leader of the British conservative party at the time, Margaret Thatcher, would also regularly wear this fashion trend. Soon, the shoulder pads were not only seen on suits but also appeared on dresses, blouses and jackets. However, shoulder pads were not only confined to women, male rockers like Prince weren’t afraid to rock the shoulder pad.

fashion fads shoulder pads


1.) Teased Hair


Teased hair looks gross, smells weird and is like touching a wiry nest of glue but don’t tell that to anyone when you get out of your time machine circa 1986. When it came to hairstyles in the 1980s, the bigger the hair, the better. “Big hair, don’t care” was a statement to live by. Men and women alike were spraying countless ounces of Aqua Net and Finesse into their distressed locks trying to create “volume” but instead creating “ugly”. Huge bangs, especially, were teased excessively for volume and height. To keep the hair bangs far off the forehead, it would take an entire can of hairspray. The higher the teased bang, the better.

fashion fads teased hair


The 1980’s fashion fads are known to be quite experimental compared to other decades in style history. With clothes being used to make big statements and define personalities, as well as experimental, the 1980s fashion fads were also empowering. No matter what your opinion of 1980s fashion is, it cannot be denied that it was a definitive decade for fashion. Also, these may be the top 5 worst fashion fads of the 1980s but we’ve all seen a few of trends return on the runway at some point. Let’s just hope leg warmers don’t make a comeback.

If you enjoyed taking a walk down memory lane, you’ll love these posts: Top 5 Worst Hairstyles of the 1980s and Top Five Weirdest Television Shows of the ’80s.


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