Attending an 80’s themed party or thinking to throw one? Then you’ll need to perfect 80s fancy dress outfit to go with it. It’s one of the most iconic fashion eras, with many famous celebrities to inspire your look. Think Madonna, Cher, George Michael, Whitney Houston, Boy George, David Bowie and more. But if you’re not sure how to piece together a look or where to find 80s fancy dress for females or males, we’ve created a list of all things neon and lycra! Take a look at the best 80s fancy dress costumes as well as how to create your own 80s outfit.

Things to consider for 80s fancy dress for ladies

80s fancy dress ladies women outfits

The 80s were all about standing out, and so were the clothes. When choosing your 80s fancy dress ladies outfit or costumes for men, think bright and bold. Neon colours like hot pink, electric blue, and luminous green should be your go-to choices. Don’t shy away from mixing different patterns and prints. Think stripes, polka dots, and animal prints, often combined in a single outfit for that quintessential 80’s look. If you’re wondering how to create your own 80s fancy dress women’s costume, then these are the essentials that make up that iconic look.

Shoulder pads and power suits

You could easily find dresses from the 80’s, but one of the era’s most definitive trends was the power suit with pronounced shoulder pads. For an authentic 80’s look, opt for a blazer or a suit jacket with noticeable shoulder padding. Women can pair these with mini skirts, while men can opt for tailored trousers.

Leg warmers and neon tights

Leg warmers were a staple in 80s fashion, often worn over leggings or tights. Neon fancy dress tights can also add a pop of colour to your outfit, true to the 80s style.

Denim and leather jackets

Denim was hugely popular in the 80s. A denim jacket, preferably oversized, can be a great addition to your outfit. Leather jackets, especially those with studs or fringe, can also give you a quintessential 80’s rocker look.

Athletic wear

One of the best things about the 80s is that it spans from uncomfortably-tight spandex bodysuits to super comfortable trackies. The 80s saw the rise of athletic wear as everyday fashion. Tracksuits, sweatbands, and aerobics gear can be a fun and comfortable option for an 80’s party.

How to accessorise your 80s outfits for ladies

How to accessorise your 80's outfits for ladies

Jewellery and belts

Accessories are crucial in nailing the 80’s look. Chunky jewellery, large hoop earrings, and layered necklaces add to the extravagance of the era. Don’t forget the oversized sunglasses and headbands. Belts, particularly wide or studded ones, can be worn over dresses or long tops to cinch the waist, a popular 80s style.

Hairstyles and makeup

The 80s were known for their unique hairstyles – think big, voluminous hair, often permed or teased. For women, side ponytails, crimped hair, and bold hair colours were popular. Men can opt for mullet or slicked-back styles. Makeup in the 80s was bold, with heavy eyeshadow, bright blush, and vivid lipstick colours. Don’t be afraid to experiment with dramatic makeup looks to complete your 80’s party attire.

Footwear

Footwear in the 80s varied widely, from high-top sneakers and colourful trainers to stilettos and ankle boots. Choose footwear that complements your outfit – sneakers for a more casual, athletic look, or heels and boots for a dressier ensemble.

Things to consider for 80s men’s fancy dress ideas 

80s costumes for men

If you’re aiming to craft an authentic 80s fancy dress costume for men, here are some key elements to consider that capture the spirit and style of the decade.

Graphic or band t-shirts

Graphic tees, especially those featuring popular bands or bright, abstract designs, were a staple of 80s casual wear. Choose shirts with iconic 80s bands or neon, geometric patterns to capture the casual yet bold essence of the era.

Acid-washed and ripped jeans

Denim took on a new life in the 80s with the popularity of acid-washed and ripped jeans. These jeans, often worn tight, are perfect for creating an 80s rocker or casual look. Pair them with a leather belt for added authenticity.

Windbreakers and bomber jackets

Windbreakers, bomber jackets, and varsity jackets were all the rage. Opt for jackets with bright colours, patterns, or logos. These lightweight jackets not only add an 80s aesthetic but also offer practicality and comfort.

Layering with tank tops and mesh shirts

Layering was a common trend, with tank tops often worn under open shirts or mesh shirts. This style not only adds depth to your outfit but also allows for creative colour and texture combinations.

How to accessorise your 80’s outfits for men

80s mens fancy dress outfits

The iconic mullets and hair bands

Hair was a significant part of men’s fashion in the 80s. The mullet, with its “business in the front, party in the back” style, was particularly popular. If your hair isn’t long enough, consider a wig to truly embody the 80s look.

Statement sunglasses and watches

Accessories were key in 80s men’s fashion. Statement sunglasses, often in unusual shapes or with mirrored lenses, were a must-have. Digital watches, particularly those with calculator functions, were also a trendy accessory of the time.

High-top sneakers and ankle boots

Footwear in the 80s for men varied from practical to punk. High-top sneakers, especially in bright colours or with additional straps, were popular for casual looks. For a more edgy style, opt for leather ankle boots, possibly with studs or buckles.

Iconic 80s Icons for Fancy Dress and How to Emulate Their Style

The 1980s were a decade of bold style, colours, and silhouettes, with numerous iconic figures who influenced fashion. For an 80’s themed fancy dress party, emulating one of these icons can make for a memorable and striking outfit. Here are some of the most iconic 80s figures and tips on how to dress like them.

Madonna fancy dress

Madonna is perhaps the quintessential 80s icon, known for her ever-evolving style that defined a generation. She’s also one the most sought-after fancy dress 80s female icon too.

How to dress like Madonna

  • Lace and layering: Opt for lace tops, skirts, and gloves. Madonna often wore these with layers, combining skirts over capri pants or leggings.
  • Statement accessories: Crucifix necklaces, large earrings, headbands, and rubber bracelets were staples in Madonna’s wardrobe. The more accessories, the better.
  • Red lips: Achieve Madonna’s look with bold eye makeup, red lips, and her signature messy-chic hairdo.

Prince fancy dress

Prince was known for his eclectic, flamboyant fashion sense, combining elements of punk, new wave, and classic rock.

How to dress like Prince

  • Ruffled shirts and velvet jackets: A ruffled shirt, particularly in white or purple, paired with a velvet jacket, captures Prince’s unique style.
  • Eye-catching trousers: Look for high-waisted trousers in bright colors or with sequins.
  • Signature accessories: Round sunglasses, layered necklaces, and a curly wig can help complete the look.

David Bowie fancy dress

ziggy stardust david bowie costume

David Bowie’s alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, became an iconic figure in the 80s.

How to dress like David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust

  • Glitter and glam: Opt for a jumpsuit or an outfit with glitter, sequins, and bold patterns.
  • Red hair and bold makeup/face paint: Bowie’s bright red hair and striking makeup, including a lightning bolt across the face, are key to this look.
  • Platform boots: Complete the outfit with a pair of platform boots.

Cyndi Lauper fancy dress

Cyndi Lauper’s style was all about bold colours, patterns, and unique combinations.

How to dress like Cyndi Lauper

  • Mix patterns: Combine different patterns and textures, like lace, plaid, and denim.
  • Vibrant hair and makeup: Lauper often sported bright hair colours like orange or pink and bold makeup choices.
  • Layered chain necklaces: Pile on the necklaces, bracelets, and lace gloves for a true Lauper look.

Cher fancy dress

Cher, known for her sensational outfits and powerful presence, was a fashion icon in the 80s.

How to dress like Cher

  • Faux leather jacket and tights: If you’re thinking Cher from her Turn Back Time video and feel quite daring, you could go for tights a catsuit and a big faux leather jacket over the top.
  • Statement headpieces: Cher was famous for her extravagant headpieces. A large, ornate headpiece can be a key element of your outfit.
  • Long dark hair: Emphasise dramatic eye makeup and long, straight hair, often with a rock-chic vibe.

George Michael fancy dress

George Michael became an icon in the 80s with his stylish and sometimes provocative fashion choices.

How to dress like George Michael

  • Leather jacket and tight jeans: A classic leather jacket paired with blue jeans captures George Michael’s casual yet iconic look.
  • Designer stubble and sunglasses: His designer stubble and aviator sunglasses were signature elements of his style.
  • Choose Life t-Shirt: For a specific look, opt for a white T-shirt with the slogan “Choose Life,” which you can get on Amazon, famously worn in the “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” music video.

Whitney Houston fancy dress

Whitney Houston was not only known for her incredible voice but also for her elegant and sophisticated style.

How to dress like Whitney Houston:

  • Elegant evening wear: Choose classy evening gowns, often in pastel or metallic shades.
  • Frizzy wig: Whitney often wore her hair in a sleek, elegant style, but in the 80s it was usually large and fierce.
  • Bodycon dress and pastel eyeshadow: If you don’t want glam Whit, go for 80s pastel bodycon dress and pastel makeup to match Whit like ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’.

Boy George fancy dress

Boy George’s style was unique, colourful, and androgynous, making him one of the most distinctive figures of the 80s.

How to dress like Boy George:

  • Eclectic and layered clothing: Mix and match different patterns and textures. Think baggy shirts, long coats, and hats.
  • Bold makeup and hats: Heavy eye makeup and a flamboyant hat are essential to emulate Boy George’s style.
  • Braids and beads: Incorporating braids in your hair, adorned with colourful beads, can help achieve his iconic look.

Michael Jackson fancy dress

Michael Jackson’s unique style made him one of the most recognisable figures of the 80s.

How to dress like Michael Jackson

  • Military-inspired jackets: Look for a black military-style jacket with gold or silver embellishments.
  • Signature glove: A single white glove, preferably sequinned, is essential.
  • High-waisted trousers and loafers: Pair black, high-waisted trousers with black loafers and white socks.

 

The 80s were all about confidence and making a statement. When putting together your 80s fancy dress outfit, either costumes for men or outfits for women, remember to embrace the fun and bold spirit of the decade. Whether you’re channeling a rock star, a movie icon, or just going for a general 80s look, the key is to wear it with confidence and a sense of fun. Alternatively, if you’re planning an outfit with others, check out our top fancy dress for group ideas or consider a different decade with these great 90s fancy dress costumes.