From SJP's to Diana's, These Are the 1980s Outfits Worth Copying

Hannah Almassi
·5-min read

Ah, the 1980s. The decade of shoulder pads wider than doorways and hairstyles dependent on whole cans of hair spray was not an easy time for minimalists or shy and retiring types. Many people who lived through the extreme fashions of the day recoil in horror now at the thought of them returning. Eighties outfits were all about ultra-conspicuousness and being noticed. From meringue dresses and rah-rah skirts to leg warmers and stilettos, Spandex and lamé to door-knocker earrings and giant sunglasses, this was the era of OTT style, and the '90s took a sharp about-turn following the visual overload.

Now, with time and distance from this wild fashion period, not all 1980s ensembles seem quite as hideous as they once did. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if you look closely, you'll find many key looks from the ostentatious epoch cropping up in today's coolest trends. Puffball dresses and puff sleeves are certainly back. Just think of the cloud-like frocks bouncing all over IG. Cut-outs and tight LBDs are popular once more—the S/S 21 runways say so. Oversize suiting is in, as are "mom" jeans, loafers and baseball caps. Together, they were the power combo of the 1980s, and today they're looking just as great in influencer circles.

Where does one find authentic inspiration for vintage fashion trends all these years later? Well, you're still best off digging into the archives, but rather than focusing on the more attention-grabbing looks from the period, it's worth cherry-picking some more wearable outfits from the biggest celebrities of the time. For all of Princess Diana's fancy gowns and prim skirt suits, there were some cool, casual moments too. Every barely there outfit Cher wore was counterbalanced with something more approachable for an average human without a stadium audience to entertain. So from Iman's slick, white trouser suit to Sarah Jessica Parker's perfect blazer-and-scrunchie pairing, keep scrolling for the '80s outfits that made the decade look cool and are worth copying in 2021.

Style Notes: From the diamanté sunnies to the pink clutch bag, I adore everything about this smart-casual vibe from SJP.

Shop the outfit:

Free People Sheer Super Scrunchie (£10)

Arket Long Wool Blend Blazer (£275)

Weekday Rowe Extra High Straight Jeans in Sky Blue (£40)

Style Notes: We've noticed girls all over Instagram wearing bra tops with blazers, but Iman was doing it before all of us in this cool white ensemble. The oversize cut, flat pumps and long necklace are so sophisticated that it just works.

Shop the outfit:

Jacquemus Homme Oversized Single-Breasted Linen Blazer (£650)

Jacquemus Novio Twist-Front Satin Bralette (£340)

M&S Collection Leather Quilted Chisel Toe Ballet Pumps (£35)

Style Notes: There were plenty of daring looks coming from celebrities back in the '80s, but this sassy lingerie-under-chiffon number from Kim Basinger was the most elegant.

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Valentino Roll-Neck Sheer Silk-Chiffon Top (£510)

Monki Satin Triangle Bra (£15)

Maison Margiela Exposed-Stitching Satin Midi Skirt (£615)

Style Notes: She loved skirt suits then, and she still loves them now. Anna Wintour has been wearing these neat little numbers for many decades now. They're back on the trend map for spring 2021, so who better to look to?

Shop the outfit:

H&M Bouclé Jacket (£40)

H&M Bouclé Skirt (£30)

Valentino Vlogo Blush Leather Pumps (£630)

Style Notes: Sure, Grace Jones's outfits will always veer into costume territory, but this leopard-on-leopard-on-leopard look she wore for a Dior show is inspired and well worth bookmarking for a milestone birthday party.

Shop the outfit:

Alice+Olivia Harmony Dress (£160)

Amina Muaddi Holli Leopard-Print Satin Slingback Pumps (£540)

Anissa Kermiche Grand Fil d'Or Gold-Plated Drop Earrings (£160)

Style Notes: The iconic sweatshirt/blazer/jeans/boots/cap look from Princess Diana has been emulated by many and remains one of her coolest get-ups of all time.

Shop the outfit:

Arket Cotton Twill Cap (£30)

Ganni x Levi's Logo-Print Cotton-Blend Jersey Sweatshirt (£175)

Agolde Parker Blue Straight-Leg Jeans (£220)

Style Notes: Brooke Shields celebrated her 21st birthday party in this Kermit-green puffball dress. We're seeing this colour filter into stores right now, and this kind of voluminous silhouette is also trending again.

Shop the outfit:

Elzinga Asymmetric Balloon-Sleeve Wool Mini Blazer Dress (£575)

Rhode Pia Draped Floral-Print Cotton-Voile Mini Dress (£390)

Balmain Crystal-Embellished Cotton-Blend Tweed Mini Dress (£2795)

Style Notes: Is this Cher in the '80s or a cool influencer in 2021? From the shag 'do to the cut-out leather skirt paired with a plain white tee, this has all the hallmarks of a great look we'd save on IG right now.

Shop the outfit:

Pull & Bear Black Mini Skirt With Cut-Out Detail (£18)

Arket Crew-Neck T-Shirt (£20)

Isabel Marant Silver-Tone Crystal Earrings (£375)

Style Notes: Bianca Jagger's love of tailoring is well documented, but have you ever seen this pic of her before? I love the linen jacket with a satin slip skirt and the kooky accessories.

Shop the outfit:

& Other Stories Linen-Blend Blazer (£95)

Anine Bing Noel Grosgrain-Trimmed Silk-Satin Skirt (£335)

Zara Wooden Bangle (£12)

Next up, the dress brands we love in 2021.

This article originally appeared on Who What Wear

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