July 23, 2024

The best 80s style icons to inspire your own retrospective wardrobe

Grace Jones. Originally from Jamaica, Grace Jones moved to New York in the early 60s, took up modelling, then singing and later acting.

Aside from her incredible voice and addictive blend of R&B/pop/electronic/disco music, Grace carved out a look for herself that has remained as iconic to this day as it was back in the 80s.

Her shaved/angular hair, creative make-up and cloaks, suits, hats and costumes have always felt way ahead of their time. Still do – which is quite something.

Jerry Hall

In the 1980s, the word ‘supermodel’ was brand spanking new and referred mainly to Marie Helvin and Jerry Hall. It seemed like an actual job, rather than a celebrity offspring go-to role and Jerry Hall was the beautiful professional who took pride in maintaining her looks and working photo shoots. The Texan temptress was a truly iconic face in the 80s, with her Vogue covers remaining etched in our memories.

Diana Spencer

The late princess was probably the most photographed, scrutinized, stalked, judged and hounded woman of the decade, but all that attention didn’t distract her from turning out stunning looks day after day. Her short blonde curls and designer gowns were typical of her style in the 90s, but back in the 80s when she was still a new princess it was her flicked fringe, gentle eye make-up and suits that has us all obsessed.

Joan Collins

We don’t know if we’ve ever been able to claim “We’re so rocking Alexis’s look in Dynasty right now” but we acknowledge with respect how Joan Collins embraced the rich American power player with her shoulder pads, glossy lipstick and heels perfectly. Hair always in a bouffant, accessorised to the hilt and clutch bag at the ready to bat off any annoying husbands. The world needs more Joan Collins.

Cyndi Lauper

Cyndi Lauper’s anthem Girls Just Wanna Have Fun has been the theme tune for many of us over the past few decades. Awesome big ginger hair helped along with toxic amounts of hairspray and crazy 80s punk/pop clothes were Cyndi’s trademark.


“Robert De Niro’s waiting, talking Italian…” Forgive us we’re having a Bananarama moment. Suddenly we’re back at a school disco circa 1987. Pedal-pushers CHECK, crop top CHECK, wide-brimmed black felt hat CHECK, weird messy bit of fabric tied in hair CHECK. Can of Tango, a quick Benson Hedges behind the bike sheds and a snog from a 5th Year. YOU are so Bananarama.

Mollie Ringwald

Queen Brat of the infamous 80s ‘Brat Pack’, Mollie was eternally cast as the pretty/popular one in high school movies. And anyone who can apply lipstick with their cleavage deserves a place in fashion history.

Adam Ant

Adam Ant, the alter ego of Stuart Goddard, shot to the top of the charts in the early 80s with his New Romantic pop-punk hits including Stand And Deliver and Ant Rap. His unique look was a combination of dandy highwayman, pirate, cross-dresser, punk, military, Native American – the list is endless, but the result was damn sexy. Adam Ant gave us a lifetime of fancy dress party inspiration, and made it OK for men to wear guyliner.


Who could pin down Prince’s contribution to style? Feminine/masculine, the beautiful black curls, beauty spot, feather boas, high-necked ruffled skirt… Prince was the King of them all.

Kim Wilde

Kim was Britain’s answer to Blondie. Tough gig, but the husky voiced, super sexy lady did us proud and Kids In America/You Keep Me Hanging On were true anthems of the era. A little bit of punk, lots of eyeliner, big hair and penchant for stripy tops. Still want to be her.

Boy George

Boy George (real name George O’Dowd) WAS the face of British 80s pop music. Lead singer of Culture Club, George was very much a part of the New Romantic movement, and his unique style of dressing has remained a huge influence for the era. Dreadlocks, make-up, boots and big coats were the trademarks that made BG stand out from the rest…

Brooke Shields

Child star Brooke Shields made the headlines during the 70s in the controversial movie Pretty Baby. It’s simply human nature to be OBSESSED with our child stars and Brooke was no exception. In the 80s Brooke’s beauty was iconic, but her eyebrows were even more so and we’re still referencing them to this day.

Debbie Harry AKA Blondie

Beautiful blondes have always adorned the bedroom walls of boys and girls but in the 80s there was only one blonde that anyone was talking about. Debby Harry was the lead singer of the punk band that was America’s answer to The Sex Pistols but waaaaaay sexier (and just generally better all round really). Her perfect face was forever framed with 100% peroxide blonde mid-length hair (although she never confirmed whether her hair was naturally blonde). Easily the hippest blonde known to mankind.

Demi Moore

Card-carrying member of The Brat Pack, Demi Moore played party animal Jules in St Elmo’s Fire in 1985 who, bad as she was, we all fell in love with a bit. Followed by her role in Ghost with her cropped dark hair, Demi was a huge style icon in the late 80s.

Lisa Bonet

Her daughter Zoe Kravitz is now a stylish lady in her own right, but back in the 80s her mother Lisa, star of The Cosby Show was pretty much the most beautiful and wholesome girl on TV (as far as we’re concerned). Her image took a sharp turn after appearing in the 1987 movie Angel Heart (probably best let you work that one out for yourselves).


Imagine a world where there was no Madonna. We can’t. It’s too boring. Love or hate her nowadays, back in the 1980s Madonna stood for everything that was cool, exciting and super-mega-hot. The Italian-American singer/dancer introduced the first of many trademark looks in the early 80s and soon we were all sporting lacy fingerless gloves, ¾ length black leggings, rara skirts, eyeliner, beauty spots and statement tee’s. And we weren’t just copying her style, we LOVED the music (awesome), the attitude (bad), the gum, the boyfriends… need we go on?

Miami Vice

Can a TV show be a style icon? Hell yeah. Seriously, we know men who still think it’s OK to wear a tee shirt with a white blazer (sleeves rolled up). They look like drug barons now, but back in the 80s this look was ssssmokin’. Want to get your boyfriend rocking a bit of the crime-busting duo Sonny Note Don Johnson, Dakota Johnson’s dad. and Rico? Think pastels, white trousers jackets, slicked back hair, shoulder pads and sunglasses. In fact we’re almost tempted to give it a whirl ourselves.

Kim Basinger

In the 1980s Kim Basinger (that’s Bay-Sing-Ger people) was the goddess of the silver screen. All that stunning long wavy hair, always just perfectly aimed towards one side, often accentuated with an off the shoulder dress – just enough of a hint of the sexy gypsy/folky/hippie vibe matched by the powerful feline eye make-up, just bitten lips and flushed cheekbones. 9½ Weeks got our attention, but Kim did the rest…

Olivia Newton John

Wanna get physical? Wanna let Olivia hear your body talk, your body talk? Squeaky clean Sandra Dee from Best Musical Ever Grease grew up in 1981 and got seriously down and dirty in her video for Physical. She looked AMAZING in her tennis whites, lycra and headbands singing away to her posse of erm, gym-loving men. This is the first song on our gym playlist. If we had one. If we went to the gym.

Sheena Easton

Did Prince make Sheena sexy? Fact was Sheena was pretty damn hot before she got all down and dirty singing with Prince. For clarification of Prince duet/sexiness refer to video for U Got The Look.

Susanna Hoffs

The lead singer of the American mid-80s all-female rock band was not only every boy’s dream girlfriend but for a lot of girls she perfectly carried off the hippie/folky long skirts, long hair, big hooped earrings, and eyeliner that, at the time we were so channeling. She could sing AND play the guitar. That’s actual real life girl power.

Paula Yates

Oh Paula! You were the perfect punk princess of our youth! We read all your books, worshipped your style, pledged a lifetime of allegiance after every episode of the The Tube and had your hair down at one point. The rockabilly dresses, the short super-blonde hair, the updo’s, red lippy… always an icon, no matter how history played out.

Duran Duran

The style gods were feeling generous when they handed out fashion sense, good looks and great hair to these boys from Birmingham. The biggest British group of the 80s rocked pretty much every trend going at some point and often all at the same time. They also wore lipstick. Still can’t decide if it’s Nick Rhodes or John Taylor we love more.

George Michael

When WHAM! hit the dust and George went solo, out came the shades, white tee-shirt, ripped jeans and leathers and a style icon was born.

Melanie Griffiths in Working Girl

When secretary Tess (Melaine Griffiths Dakota Johnson’s mum) gets her big break in the office her wardrobe comes along for the journey too. Big hair, power suits, shoulder pads oh my! Can we bring Tess’s wardrobe back? Can we? Ok – GLAMOUR are bringing it back.

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson, the King of Pop and probably the biggest superstar to have ever walked the face of planet earth, was a man for whom style was a way of life. So let’s just break it down to our top 5.
1. The sequinned leather glove (just the one mind)
2. White suit and fedora
3. Red leather jacket with epic shoulder pads (circa Thriller) with red trouser combo
4. Embellished military jackets
5. Red college jacket (circa the early days)

Dave Gahan

As our Picture Editor says of Dave Gahan, lead singer of Depeche Mode – “swoon”. Dave’s slicked back hair, waistcoats and tattoos were all part of the package that earned him and the band a huge and loyal following.

Jane Fonda

The fabulous Ms Fonda has worn many hats in her lifetime so far – including political activist, writer and of course actress. But we’re focusing SOLEY on Jane Fonda in The China Syndrome where she plays a steely journalist determined to uncover the truth behind a nuclear power plant. And not just her acting. Boy-o-boy that woman knows how to rock a look in this movie. The shirts with the BIG collars, the flicky hair, hoopy earrings, power suits.

Michelle Pfeiffer

Pretty, perfectly created Michelle was the go-to girl in the 80s for the major studios. We fell in love with her when she played opposite Al Pacino in the gangster movie Scarface. Ridiculously beautiful, blonde with a killer figure, Pfeiffer was the girl we all wanted to look like (and would HAPPILY still look like – have you seen Stardust? ). She is one of our all-time favourite movie goddesses.

David Bowie

A style icon from the 60s to 2016 (and forever more). The king of self-invention, Bowie invented trends before anyone could have predicted them and redefined what it meant to be a popular rock star – and what that might look like. A ginger-haired, snaggle-toothed, pale, skinny lad from surburbia? Yes, you can be the new of king of cool.

Axl Rose

Rocking in at the tail end of the 80s is Guns Roses frontman Axl Rose. Long blonde hair, guyliner, backwards cap, avatars, tight leather trousers and that trademark bandana. Sure, it was the customary look for any self-respecting rock GOD, but somehow Axl just nailed it with a touch more style than his fellow rockers.

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