Every decade has distinctive trends, but the 80s took trendiness to a completely new level.
Though acid-washed jeans and leggings got a lot of attention, they had to be paired with something equally rad—80s tops.
The 80s brought us new silhouettes, bright colors, and loud designs that are instantly recognizable as trends of the 80s, with some of them coming back for round two.
Big 80s Tops
Sheer dimension was one thing that many 80s tops had in common. To say oversized is an understatement.
80s Tees hung down to the knees, unless the wearer took advantage of a big 80s trend…tying the shirt off to the side with a scrunchie.
The button-down dress shirt was not spared from this bulky trend; they were big and billowy knee-grazers that were worn with popped collars, rolled sleeves, and sometimes wide belts to show the world that there was, in fact, a waist under there.
If the oversized shirts weren’t your thing, there were always the linebacker-inspired shoulder pads. The whole idea of shoulder pads was to give the woman that wore them a more powerful, masculine look, but another big draw of shoulder pads was the fact that since your shoulders were wider, your waist looked smaller.
It was the inverted triangle look coveted by bodybuilders. Shoulder pads weren’t just limited to suit jackets; they were also in 80s dresses, shirts, coats, sweaters—even t-shirts.
The 80s also brought us the The Cosby Sweater, a silent co-star in The Cosby Show. Made famous by Bill Cosby, they were not your average sweater. They were never plain, and featured colors and patterns that were bold—even for the 80s.
Argyle sweaters were a tamer alternative, as well as cashmere and angora. Women’s sweaters frequently had ¾-length sleeves and shoulder pads, as well as virtually any embellishments such as metal, sequins, and rhinestones.
They usually rivaled the Cosby Sweater in terms of busyness, and often had a theme—animals and flowers were the most popular.
Cool and Casual 80s Tops
Inspired by the hit movie Flashdance, the one-shoulder look was one of the biggest trends in tops. All it took was an oversized sweatshirt, which was easy to come by in the 80s, and a pair of scissors.
The band tee was also big—Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue, Cyndi Lauper, Blondie, David Bowie, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and every other big name in the music industry were proudly represented in cotton form.
To make the shirts even more original, like the sweatshirts, all it took was a few simple cuts with a pair of scissors. Cutting off the arms, necks, and bottoms of these shirts easily transformed them into belly-baring muscle tees, and they were popular with just about everybody, reconstructed or as-is.
The plain t-shirt was also still in; only during the 80s, they were oversized, bright neon, and tied off to one side with the ever-popular scrunchie. Some of us had t-shirts with shoulder pads sewn into them; some of us cut them out, making the shirt look that much bigger.
Every decade had its trendy tops, and 80s tops gave us plenty. The band tee is still as rad as ever, and the one-shoulder look is currently back in a big way.