Top 10 Trends of the 1980s

Script written by Richard Bush. Ready for a flashback? In this video, WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 trends of the 1980s. For our series of the top 10 trends per decade, we’re taking a look at the fashions, films, music and more that was popular in a certain era. These are those famous trends that have come to represent that decade, and that have since been parodied to death. Today, we’re covering those ten years when leg warmers, shoulder pads and big hair were all the rage: the ‘80s. Special thanks to our users Caneathia Watkins, agonstark, Justin Fox, Jerome Magajes, Jonathan Orr, ClaireX and ViolaCello for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Richard Bush.

Top 10 Trends of the 1980s


Ready for a flashback? Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 trends of the 1980s.

For our series of the top 10 trends per decade, we’re taking a look at the fashions, films, music and more that was popular in a certain era. These are those famous trends that have come to represent that decade, and that have since been parodied to death. Today, we’re covering those ten years when leg warmers, shoulder pads and big hair were all the rage: the ‘80s.

#10: The Soundtrack to Our Lives

Not only did the 1980s see the explosion of the blockbuster; it also saw movie soundtracks become big business. Love ‘em or lose ‘em, movies like “Dirty Dancing,” “Say Anything” or even “The Breakfast Club” were renowned for their tunes. But there was one guy in particular that cleaned up based on his soundtrack contributions: Kenny Loggins. Hailed as the “King of the Movie Soundtrack,” Loggins’ music appeared in greats like “Caddyshack,” “Top Gun,” “Over the Top” and even “Footloose,” and kept everybody’s toes tapping throughout the decade.

#9: Bright & Bold

This stuff was absolutely everywhere in the ‘80s – and it was definitely hard to miss. From signs to fashion accessories, from pants to posters, blindingly bright colors became a new stylish decoration that went hand-in-hand with almost anything deemed self-expressive. From hot pink to electric green, neon yellow to electric blue, this color palette could be found in pop culture, on the streets and everywhere in between. Come on, admit it: you rocked a neon cap in the ‘80s.

#8: Coming of Age with John Hughes

The 1980s were the decade to be a teen, and no one knew that more than John Hughes – with the possible exception of Molly Ringwald and the Brat Pack. You can bet that almost everyone who grew up in the ‘80s can repeat the highly quotable dialogue of at least one Hughes coming-of-age tale on-demand. Famous for their farcical nature and relatable storylines, John Hughes movies almost always touch on growing up, making them ‘80s classics, timeless cinema cornerstones and signifiers of teen culture’s newfound importance.

#7: Rise of the Sub-Genre

With the death of disco came a rise in individualism. With that individualism came the desire for musicians not to be pigeonholed into the same old categories of rock, pop or other. That’s why the 1980s saw a slew of musical sub-genres that gave people new ways to find their own niche social groups. For example, hip-hop sparked b-boying and breakdancing, rock music spawned glam, indie and many punk offshoots, and synth-heavy new wave practically took over, ensuring there was something for everyone.

#6: Music On the Go

If you walked around with a Walkman on your hip or a boom box to your ear, chances are you were an ‘80s kid. Though the boom box gained popularity in the ‘70s, it really earned a foothold in the ‘80s with hip-hop and breakdancing culture. But the Walkman totally stole its thunder: As pervasive as the iPod, the Sony Walkman allowed people to bring their music with them anywhere they went, without bothering anyone around them. That means mixtapes weren’t far behind.

#5: Greed is Good

Call it preppy or call it yuppie, but it was more than slicked-back hair, V-neck sweaters and a stuck-up attitude. Otherwise known as a “young urban professional,” the yuppie was a 20- or 30-something who was part of the middle-to-upper class, and this socio-economic group came to the forefront during the ‘80s. Being a yuppie earned a bad reputation for the inherent trend towards materialism and the apparent superiority complex involved. Accurate or not, the group’s growth was slowed and eventually stopped due to 1987’s Wall Street Crash.

#4: In the Toy Box

If you noticed a lot of toy commercials during your Saturday morning cartoons in the ‘80s, you weren’t imagining things: companies were finally allowed to market directly to kids, and the result was toys of all kinds. On the one hand, you had creative toys, on the other, cute and cuddly. You also saw the beginnings of the must-have toy trend with Cabbage Patch Dolls leading the pack. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget: it was during the ‘80s that home video game consoles finally gained traction.

#3: Big Hair, Big Makeup

In the ‘80s, crazy cuts and melodramatic makeup became yet another method of expressing your personality and style. Whether it was a musician like Madonna or a leading lady like Demi Moore or Julia Roberts, the stars led the way with their puffed up hair, curls and expertly painted faces. But let’s not forget the guys: they had the ever-masculine mullet, as popularized by celebrities like tennis player Andre Agassi.

#2: I Want My Cable TV!

When cable TV hit the mainstream, it not only gave the big three American networks a run for their money; it also gave the world easier access to specialized programming that suited their tastes. Whether your interest was sports, comedy, or music, there was something for you on cable. CNN and HBO definitely changed television forever, but it was perhaps MTV that left the most indelible impression, by offering the average music lover greater insight into their new favorite bands via live performances and music videos.

Before we reveal our number one ‘80s trend, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Sequels Galore
- RV Vacations
- Merchandising - Lunchboxes, Bed Sheets, etc.

#1: Over-the-Top Fashion

There’s only one word to describe ‘80s fashion: Big. Big hair, big accessories, big colors, big everything. In fact, there’s something about ‘80s fashion that’s so elaborate that in retrospect, it almost seems like it’s from an alternate universe. Whether it was the shoulder pads, multi-colored legwarmers, or those eye-catching “Miami Vice” suits, fashion in the ‘80s was all about vibrancy and an aura of affluence and success.

Do you agree with our list? What is your favorite fad of the ‘80s? For more fascinating top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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