80s Rock Fashion: 10 Iconic Styles That Defined the Decade

Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with the latest in fashion, beauty and style!

Ah, the 1980s—a whirlwind of a decade that left an indelible mark on rock music and fashion.

As someone who lived through the vibrant 1980s, I can’t help but feel nostalgic while recalling my favorite rock bands and their stunning fashion choices.

In this article, we’ll take a trip down memory lane and recall ten iconic 80s rock fashion styles and how to recreate them to unleash the rocker in you.

Let’s divide this sentimental journey into three unforgettable periods: the early, mid, and late 80s, each with its most representative fashion looks.

Early 80s Rock Fashion (1980-1983): The Dawn of a New Era

New Wave style of the 80s rock fashion

1. New Wave

The 80s New Wave style drew inspiration from past expressionist movements; “Art Deco” of 1920s fashion, “Pop Art” of the 50s fashion, and “Glam Rock” of the 70s fashion, to name a few.

I still remember sporting tight-fitting pants, patterned blazers, and skinny ties synonymous with the emerging New Wave fashion scene.

The androgynous hairstyles we rocked back then felt so unique, fresh, and daring, and it was a must-have as part of the total look.

Bands: Talking Heads, The Cars, Blondie.

Clothing: Slim-fit patterned blazers with shoulder pads, button-up shirts with the collar popped, tight-fitting black pants, and skinny ties.

Shoes: Pointed-toe leather shoes or ankle boots.

Accessories: Thin leather belt, black sunglasses – oversized style, and a wristwatch.

Hairstyle: Androgynous, asymmetric cut or a voluminous, layered style.

Makeup: Bright eyeshadow, heavy eyeliner, and pale lipstick.


PU blazer in red



Men Single Breasted Blazer

men Flap Pocket Side PU Leather Pants

monk shoes in black faux leather with emboss panel

Post-Punk style in 80s rock fashion

2. Post-Punk

The Post-Punk fashion had moody and dark vibes, donning 80s leather jackets, band tees, and trusty Doc Martens.

Yet, the key to a perfect 80s post-punk look was to have a DIY aesthetic, in a true expression of your rebellious spirit and style.

Bands: Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure.

Clothing: Leather jackets, band tees, button-up shirts, slim-fit jeans, or leather pants.

Shoes: Classic black boots.

Accessories: Studded belt, silver chain necklaces, and wristbands.

Hairstyle: Messy, tousled hair with a dark or dyed color.

Makeup: Dark eyeliner and eyeshadow, pale or natural-toned lipstick.


Vintage Leather Moto Jacket


Metallic Studded Decor Belt

relaxed satin shirt in red

Men Letter Patched Chain Skinny Pants

80s Heavy Metal Rock Fashion

3. Heavy Metal

There was something undeniably powerful about the Heavy Metal look; motorbike leather jackets, studded belts, tight jeans, and ripped band tees.

The bullet belts and long hair made us feel like we were part of something epic.

Bands: Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motörhead.

Clothing: Black band tees, tight black jeans, leather or denim jackets adorned with band patches.

Shoes: Black leather boots.

Accessories: Studded belt, bullet belt, and silver skull rings.

Hairstyle: Long, often wavy or straight hair.

Makeup: Minimal makeup or none at all.


Vintage Leather Moto Jacket

Bullet Rivet Belts Personalized Black Belt


Reclaimed Vintage leather moto jacket in black with metal trims

Caliber Black Metal Link Brass Shell Copper Tips

Men Slant Pocket Skinny Jeans

Mid-80s Rock Fashion (1984-1986): A Time of Boldness and Rebellion

80s Glam Metal Rock Fashion

4. Glam Metal (Hair Metal)

Glam Metal was a time of excess, and the genre’s fashion choices were no exception.

The spandex, leather, big hair, makeup, and animal prints were a celebration of life and carefree spirits.

Bands: Mötley Crüe, Poison, Bon Jovi.

Clothing: Tight, leopard-print spandex pants, black leather vests or jackets, and band tees or mesh shirts.

Shoes: Pointed-toe or cowboy-style leather boots.

Accessories: Bandanas, scarves, leg-warmers, layered necklaces, and chunky bracelets.

Hairstyle: Big, teased hair, often with bleach blonde or colorful highlights.

Makeup: Heavy makeup – eyeliner, bold eyeshadow, and glossy lips.


 Zipper Front PU Leather Jacket


Large Turkey Flat Feather Boa

Allover Print Single Button Blazer

Tiger Print Twilly Scarf

Men Leopard Print Slant Pocket Pants

80s Hardcore Rock Punk Fashion

5. Hardcore Rock Punk

The unapologetic nature of Hardcore Punk music was reflected in the 80s punk fashion styles; band tees, torn skinny jeans, sneakers, and DIY rocker-style patches.

It was a time of true anti-establishment sentiment, and the fashion choices were a testament to that.

Bands: Black Flag, Minor Threat, Dead Kennedys.

Clothing: Black or white band tees, torn jeans, DIY patched denim, or leather jackets.

Shoes: Sneakers or combat boots.

Accessories: Studded wristbands, DIY patches, and safety pin earrings.

Hairstyle: Short, buzzed, or spiked hair, often with bright colors.

Makeup: Minimal makeup or none at all.


Denim Patchy Pocket Jacket

Loose ripped Flare Jean

Vintage Fit Patchwork Trucker Jacket

Destructed Straight Fit Jean

 Embossed Detail Star Decor Vintage Geometric Buckle Belt

80s Synth-Pop Rock Fashion

6. Synth-Pop Rock

Arriving as a breath of fresh air, the Synth-Pop genre had us exploring clean-cut yet futuristic styles that felt innovative and experimental.

Similar to the Vaporwave aesthetic, the 80s Synth-pop unconventional hairstyles and synthesizer-inspired androgynous outfits had a retrofuturistic style.

However, unlike Vaporwave, the style featured tailored silhouettes and geometrical patterns.

Bands: Depeche Mode, The Human League, A-ha.

Clothing: Oversized blazers, graphic or geometric-print shirts, and slim-fit pants.

Shoes: White sneakers or leather loafers.

Accessories: Thin, colorful neckties and geometric-shaped jewelry.

Hairstyle: Angular, geometric cuts or mullets.

Makeup: Bold eyeliner, bright or metallic eyeshadow, and neutral lipstick.




Leaf Drop Earrings

80s Rock Fashion: 10 Iconic Styles That Defined the Decade


Lapel Neck Flap Detail Blazer

Men Figure Graphic Button Through Shirt


Late 80s Rock Fashion (1987-1989): The Final Curtain Call

80s Thrash Metal Rock Fashion Style

7. Thrash Metal

The late 80s Thrash Metal scene returned to denim and leather jackets, tight jeans, and loud-logo band tees.

However, high-top sneakers emerged as we headbanged our long hair heads through those unforgettable years.

Bands: Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth.

Clothing: Black or white band tees, tight black jeans, distressed denim jackets with band patches.

Shoes: High-top Vans sneakers or combat boots.

Accessories: Chain necklaces, studded belts, and bullet belts.

Hairstyle: Long, untamed hair.

Makeup: None at all.


Cropped Frayed Denim Jacket

super skinny high waisted jeans in black

high top vans sneakers

Vintage 90's Gap Denim Jacket

Super Skinny Jeans

high top vans sneakers in black

80s College Rock Fashion

8. College Rock (Alternative Rock)

College Rock fashion uniquely blended preppy clothes with vintage finds and thrift treasures.

Dark-colored cardigans, plaid shirts, and Converse sneakers became cozy gateways to a bygone era.

Bands: R.E.M., The Smiths, Pixies.

Clothing: Vintage cardigans or sweaters, plaid shirts, and relaxed-fit jeans.

Shoes: Converse sneakers or combat boots.

Accessories: Round sunglasses, minimalist jewelry, leather belt.

Hairstyle: Shoulder-length or shaggy hair, often with natural waves.

Makeup: Natural or minimal makeup.




sneakers with heart embroidery in black

Plaid Button Front Pocket Shirt

 Relaxed Fit Jean

canvas platform sneakers in black

80s Goth Rock Fashion

9. Goth Rock

I still remember the late 80s when the dark elegance of Goth Rock started to be heard, seen, and felt.

To inner darkness, goth clothing of the 80s comprised black leather, lace, velvet, corsets, and fishnets.

And, to top it up, dark makeup completed the mysterious and alluring look that still holds a special place in the hearts of any 1980s rock fan.

Bands: Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, The Mission.

Clothing: Long black velvet coats, lace or fishnet tops, skinny black jeans or longs, flowing skirts.

Shoes: Platform or lace-up boots.

Accessories: Chokers, silver or pewter jewelry with gothic motifs, and leather gloves – fingerless style.

Hairstyle: Long, straight, or teased hair, often dyed black or deep red.

Makeup: Dark eyeliner and eyeshadow, pale foundation, and deep red or black lipstick.


PUNK Plus Fuzzy Trim Open Front Coat

Sheer Fishnet Top

 High Waist Thermal Lined PU Leather Skinny Cropped Pants

Button Front Solid Overcoat

Men Hollow Out Crop Fishnet Mesh Tee

Men Slant Pocket PU Leather Pants

80s Grunge Rock Fashion

10. Grunge Rock (Early Grunge)

Grunge style emerged towards the end of the 80s in direct contrast to the more polished and glamorous fashion of the 1980s, which became one of the most popular trends of the 90s fashion.

The grunge aesthetic of the 80s conveyed a raw feel of authenticity, acknowledging the dark side, delivered through dark colors, ripped fabrics, and an untidy appearance.

As such, grunge outfits comprised flannel shirts, ripped jeans, combat boots, and band tees paired with unkempt hair to make a statement that grunge rockers were unafraid to be themselves.

Bands: Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney.

Clothing: Oversized flannel shirts, worn band tees, and ripped jeans.

Shoes: Dr. Martens combat boots or Converse sneakers.

Accessories: Layered necklaces, slouchy knit beanie, or a plaid shirt tied around the waist.

Hairstyle: Unkempt, shoulder-length hair, often with grown-out roots or a “bedhead” look.

Makeup: Minimal makeup or a “lived-in” eyeliner look with natural or muted lipstick shades.


Flannel Heavyweight Flannel Hooded Shirt

Denim Basic Ripped Jeans

Charm Beaded Necklace

Guys Plaid Flap Pocket Shirt

extreme wide leg cargo jeans in washed black

 Letter Patch Knit Beanie


As I look back on the 1980s rock stars, their vast array of rock genres, and unique fashion looks, I’m filled with a sense of warmth and nostalgia.

Each rock fashion style, from the daring New Wave to the darkly elegant Goth Rock, had a lasting impression and continues to influence contemporary music and fashion.

Explore the most spectacular moments of the 80s rock fashion through 10 iconic styles that defined the decade – from New Wave to Grunge and Goth Rock; these are the most iconic fashion looks you can wear right now.

Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with the latest in fashion, beauty and style!

Now it’s your turn…

Which one of these 80s rock fashion styles do you see as the most popular and why?

Which 80s rock fashion trends do you think we’ve missed and should include in our next article update?

Please leave your comments below; we always appreciate your comments and use them to learn, improve, and update these articles.

A University of Oxford graduate in Design History, Katherine Saxon is researching arising TikTok cultures from a consumer psychology perspective while covering emerging aesthetics in fashion and beauty for TheVOU, Forbes, Business Insider, and more.

Similar Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.