The 1980s is known for bold patterns, bright block colours, and – of course – shoulder pads. The age of the power suit, it was a time where women were able to reclaim their femininity and assert their role in the workplace, as well as be physically comfortable. Today we’re going to look at some other iconic styles of the 1980s, including some that you may think are not as obvious.


A bodysuit gives a slim silhouette, and was a progression from the leotard, featuring snaps, hooks, or Velcro at the crotch for practicality. They can have short or long sleeves, and made from a variety of different fabrics, such as cotton, lace and nylon.


In the 1980s, we saw a lot of layering, including the use of transparent or translucent fabrics such as lace, mesh, or some type of sheer fabric. Teamed with pearls and other necklaces, this creates a kind of punk-rock look.

Corset Belts

Partly inspired by designer Vivienne Westwood, corset belts were popular in the 1980s. Late-Victorian shapes were utilized in a new way, and were often thick, executing the waist and pushing the bust up in a slightly different way from a traditional corset.

Plaids and Chequers

Whilst we often associate the 1980s with bold, bright colours, it was also a time for more subdued tones, as well as plaid and chequered patterns. Whether the country casual look of Princess Diana or the cool counterculture style of grunge musicians such as Nirvana, plaids and chequers were everywhere.

Visible Socks

In the 1980s, it was in fashion to wear your trousers cropped, or wear dresses teamed with shoes and socks. The key was to have your socks on display, particularly ‘slouch socks’. These were either pulled up to the knee or worn with heavy folds around the ankles. They would often be made from thin fabric, to encourage yet more of that lovely layering that the decade made popular. They were also sometimes teamed with black or lime green leggings.

Big Buttons

To turn any outfit into a 1980s-inspired garment, all you need is some big buttons. These, as well as safety pins, patches and bits of fabric, can be attached to clothes for an instant customisation that evokes the essence of the era.

Contact Us

At The Vintage Pattern Shop, you can explore our range of dresses, tops, separates and outerwear from our website. To discover more about which types of sewing patterns we can offer you from the 1980s, please complete our contact form, or email us at We will also be pleased to speak to you directly if you call us on either (0044) 1621-331441 or (0044) 7595261171.