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80's Party Fashion Tips for Women

Author CostumeBox / Posts / Published: 02/10/2014

With fashion trending towards neon colours, acid wash denim, and popped collars, you can guess the make-up and hair in the 1980’s was on the big, bright, and obnoxious side. This is bad if you happen to have your family photo go viral on the Internet, but good if you are looking to dress up and stand out in the crowd 80’s style. Here are a few tips on Hair, Make-Up, and Fashion…

Hair Styles:

The cool thing about the 80’s was that people had a lot of hair to work with. The 70’s trend of growing out your hair, combined with the inventions of mousse and gel, made for some totally awesome hair styles.

Here are some of the main trends that dominated, scary truth, you can pretty much apply these to guys or girls! If you don’t have much to work with, consider getting a wig, there are a ton of cool ones around, check out the wigs below or Costume Box for some great ideas.


  • Perm It – The Poodle Perm was a favourite, go for tight curls, think Lionel Ritchie. Pick up a home perm kit or grab a Kath Wig from Costume Box, just the right amount of curls!


  • Big Bangs – Madonna may have been the instigator of this trend, teasing out those bangs and loading them up with hair spray, mousse, and gel to make her forehead look like a drive-in movie theatre! Step by step tips here for the perfect look.


  • Highlights – Frosted tips were hot in the 1980’s. We’re talking Billy Idol here people, be sure to gel it out big so that people can see your roots.




Image of woman with brightly coloured 80s style hair.
Image of woman wearing 80s Tina Turner style wig.

  • Banana Clip – These were popular for about 5 minutes in 1986. An easy way to make your hair seem bigger than it is, which apparently was the whole point of the 80’s.


  • Post Punk – There are some real winners out there, basically, any take on the Mohawk or mullet combined with any or other styles here (with the absolute exclusion of scrunchies).


  • Scrunchies – Hair scrunchies, basically a fabric covered elastic band for your hair. Perfect for making a Side Ponytail like Deb’s from Napoleon Dynamite. No instructions necessary.


  • 80’s Style Wigs: If you aren’t down with bleaching your hair or burning your forehead on a crimping iron, here are some pretty good wigs from Costume Box that you are sure to get lots of use out of.




Makeup Looks:

Much like the decade, people didn’t know when enough was enough, so the general rule here is to load it on. There was no Internet in the 80’s, so these pics were scanned and kind of grainy, but give a good snapshot of the different fads in make up in the 80’s. Follow this Guide to Applying 80’s Make Up and you’ll be all good.


The Basics:

  • Heavy Foundation. Cake it on.
  • Bold eye shadow. Use colour, pink and blue were big. Don’t be afraid to colour outside the lines. Cat eyes were popular too.
  • Dark blush. Apply it heavily and visibly. Accentuate those cheek bones.
  • Dark and pink lipsticks, heavy on the matte finish.



Depending where you grew up, you may or may not have seen as drastic a cross section of looks. In North America, where cliques are strong and uniforms aren’t as popular in high school, there were large boundaries between people based on fashion: preppies, rockers, jocks, valley girls, and pop wannabes came together over where they shopped and what they did after school. There were some fashion pieces that crossed over no matter what your style: mini skirts, stirrup pants, wearing your sweater off one shoulder, leg warmers, and hair scrunchies featured in most fashion scenes in the 80’s.


Image of woman with colourful 80s eyeshadow.

Preppy Style:

A bit on the serious side, fun activities included tennis, hanging at the country club, and dressing like an adult. Blazers, plain or plaid, stirrup pants, mini skirts, and brown leather. Polo shirts were popular – collars high, sweaters over the shoulders, and a little less hair spray than the other crowds.


Need help with your preppy-speak? Check out the Preppy Handbook at Amazon, the 80’s bible for how to dress and what to say.

Rocker Style:

If you weren’t one, you probably thought she was having more fun than you… if only your mum would let you dress like that! Truth is, she was having a lot more fun than you, be glad your mother cared. Now is your chance, dress up like a trashy 80’s rocker, just watch out for those lads smoking in the boys room.


Denim, heavily faded or acid wash of course; patches on your jean jacket or leather bomber jacket, and a rock t-shirt. Get the hair big, make sure the jeans are tight (use a plastic bag on your feet to get into them) and see if you can find some feathers for your hair or earrings.

Pop/New Wave Style:

Cyndi, Madonna, and Bananarama are all good inspiration here. This is probably the most fun fashion of the decade, and likely the focus of your outfit.


With a post punk thing going on, these ladies were all about opposing items: Boots with dresses, mesh shirts over sweaters, neon and black, and loads of accessories. Leg warmers, hair scrunchies, fingerless gloves and loads of jewellery: studded belts, chokers, and jelly bracelets were hot.


Image of woman dressed in 80s costume with black tutu dress, black lace tights and white lace gloves.


Costume Box has a heap of 1980’s themed accessories for your outfit, check out these essentials below, and don’t forget the motto of the 1980’s: anything goes, and enough is never enough.

Author Gonzalo / Gifts / Published: 1 October 2014

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