80s Style Accessories

Girls wearing 80's style leg warmers and skates
Colorful legwarmers were all the rage!

One look at any poppy music video from the decade is enough to get a decent taste of what 80s-style accessories were really like. If you're envisioning lacy gloves, strands of necklaces and banana clips, you're completely on the right track!

Accessorize Like a Vintage Valley Girl

It was known as the decade of excess, and fashions of the 1980s were definitely that if nothing else. They were excessively bold, colorful, wild and truly outrageous - enough that they are remembered and, at least in some cases, even admired today.

Accessorizing in the 80s was indeed quite a creative endeavor. The primary trait that everyone seemed to share was an affinity for vivacious color, so it only made sense that the majority of clothes, accessories and shoes at the time were designed with that in mind. Only it wasn't just color that made everything stand out - it was the cuts, the way they were worn and even the fabrics. It was a decade of adventurous '80s-style accessories that included many intriguing items, such as:

  • Fingerless gloves: Made famous by Madonna and Billy Idol, fingerless gloves were available in numerous colors and cuts. Some were long enough to cover the entire forearm while others extended simply to the wrist.
  • Plastic jewelry: Sure, even today costume jewelry is quite popular, but back in the '80s the focus was heavily on plastic, colorful pieces that were generally quite large - think giant hoop earrings, wide, square-shaped bangles, massive pendants and more.
  • Socks: Socks in and of themselves are not noteworthy accessories, but back in the '80s women everywhere managed to make a style statement by wearing one pair over another, always in different colors.
  • Fedoras: Worn by everyone from Boy George to Debbie Gibson, the simple black fedora enjoyed great popularity during the '80s and even into the early 90s.
  • Legwarmers: Today, legwarmers are known more for their function than their style prowess. Back in the '80s, though, these were worn everywhere, regardless of whether one was working out at the gym or not. There were plenty of colors and creative designs available.
  • Rubber bracelets: Middle and high school students in particular embraced the rubber bracelet trend wholeheartedly. An armful of various colors was the norm!
  • Swatch watches: Who could forget the popularity of the Swatch watch? It wasn't just a timepiece - it was a way to make sure everyone knew you were stylish and up to date on all the trends. Men and women alike would wear two Swatch watches at a time, and it wasn't unusual to see a Swatch holding a ponytail on a woman's head!
  • Charm necklaces: Perhaps one of the best representations of '80s playfulness and appreciation for color, charm necklaces were plastic chain links in bright colors that were affixed with a variety of bold clip-on charms. Many of them were functional - notebooks and pens, for example - while others were simply emblems (like bicycles, baseball bats and lipstick tubes, to name just a few of the many).
  • Banana clips: Easily one of the decade's most popular hair accessories, the banana clip was slightly banana-shaped. It pulled apart in the center, clasped the hair within its grasp and then hooked back together at the top. Many women wore them to hold together their ponytails.
  • Jelly shoes: It was also the decade that jelly shoes became the shoes to own. Every schoolgirl coveted these plastic, translucent flats, available in a range of bold colors, like bright yellow and turquoise. The shoes made a slight comeback in the 2000s, but nothing that matched the hubbub that once surrounded them!
  • Converse: "Converse is gonna make you a star…" was the famous commercial jingle, and it seemed everyone was a star judging by how many people sported the company's All Star high tops on their feet throughout the decade. Plain and simple, these casual shoes became instant classics for men and women.

80s Accessories Can Still Work Today

If you want to wear fingerless gloves, go for it. Those charm necklaces are still charming too. Feel free to pick an 80s-style accessory and add it to your ensemble; just don't overdo it. Wearing too many of these pieces together might make people think you're headed to a costume party!

80s Style Accessories