Halloween Hair and Makeup from 1988: 10 Ways to Rock a Totally Legit ’80s Costume

Published in: Face of the Day (FOTD), Hair, Makeup, Makeup Tips/How To

It’s fun to think of the ’80s as a series of John Hughes films where cool kids cruised high school hallways in preppy sweaters, chunky cable-knit vests and Members Only jackets.


Yeah…it soooo wasn’t like that (well, not all the time).

For some of us who grew up in the decade, it was also about obnoxiously big hair, Esprit sweaters, Michael Jackson zipper jackets and scrunchies.

LOTS of scrunchies.

If you’re thinking about dressing up like an ’80s girl for Halloween this year, you’ve come to the right place!

Break out your Aqua Net and Guess jeans because it’s time for…

10 Ways to Rock a Totally Legit ’80s Costume!

By the time we’re done, it’ll be 1988. πŸ™‚

1. The Scrunchie

The ’80s were a hair-raising decade. The bigger, the better, and elastic was a girl’s best friend.

Short on time to get ready for the big Halloween fete? No prob. That’s what scrunchies are for. First, pump up your bangs with a firm hold hair spray. Then, put your hair up in a high side pony with a ponytail holder, and decorate with a scrunchie in the color of your choice.

2. OPTIONAL: The Banana Clip

The banana clip works like a combined ponytail holder and scrunchie in one, but nowadays they can be a little hard to find.

3. Find a Shirt That Matches Your Scrunchie

IMPORTANT: Ideally, it should be button-down, oversized and hang down just above the knees — anything longer, and you risk concealing your tight acid washed jeans.

4. Don’t Forget the Big Broach

For true ’80s legitimacy, secure an obnoxiously huge broach to the top button of your shirt. CAUTION: Move slowly to avoid accidentally poking yourself with the pin (yes, I speak from experience).

5. Squeeze Into Your Tight Pants

The tighter, the better. You’ll know you’ve hit that sweet spot when 1) you have to lie down to button them, and 2) you can barely breathe with them on. Jeans or stretchy leggings (with or without stirrups) should do.

6. Peg Your Pants

If wearing jeans, you must — I repeat, MUST — roll up your hem. Back in the day, we called it “pegging your pants,” and it was done to show off ourÒ€¦

7. Slouchy Socks

The slouchier, the better. ADVANCED: If you really want to look your best, double them up with a second pair in an alternating color, i.e., LEG ONE: blue on top of red; LEG TWO: red on top of blue. And when you’re done, slip those feet into a pair ofÒ€¦

8. Canvas Shoes Without Laces

Honestly, it’s a miracle I made it through the ’80s without getting clocked by at least one airborne shoe. Lace-less footwear regularly flung off feet at school dances and whatnot. I mean you just expected to see Keds flying toward the bleachers; that’s just the way it was. πŸ™‚

9. Bright Liner and Frosty Lips

We didn’t wear a lot of eyeshadow, lipgloss or blush back then. It was all about the bright liner — teal, green and purple were my personal faves — and frosty lipstick.

One of my favorite looks from 1988: the bright purple eye and frosty pink lip. That’s Urban Decay Ransom liner along the lash line with Flash eyeshadow patted directly on top, Zero along the waterlines, and Dolce & Gabbana Rosebud lipstick on my lips.

If you can’t bear to skip blush (I don’t like to), you can use a shimmery highlighter with just a hint of color. In the look below I’m wearing Urban Decay Cream Highlight in Wicked.

Clockwise from left: Dolce and Gabbana Lipstick in Rosebud, Urban Decay Show Pony Palette, Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Zero, Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Ransom, Urban Decay Cream Highlight in Wicked

Swatches from left: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Ransom, Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Zero, Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Flash (from the Show Pony Palette), Dolce & Gabbana Lipstick in Rosebud Urban Decay Cream Highlight in Wicked

10. Cruise with Crimped Hair

If you have the time, crimp your hair. It was HUGE back in the day.

Unfortunately, I lost my crimping iron somewhere along the way, but a Revlon 3-Barrel Waver ($20) will work in a pinch.

A TIP FROM 2010: Before using the waver, protect your hair from heat damage with something like TRESemme Heat Tamer Spray ($5).

Of course, an ’80s look isn’t complete without gravity-defying bangs. Here the height in my bangs and at the sides comes courtesy of Big Sexy Hair Spritz & Stay Hairspray ($15) sprayed on the roots. Then, I lift the hair away from the scalp with my fingers and dry with a dryer aimed at the roots (to lock the height in place).


If you have trouble building volume, try teasing your roots with a comb, and then spraying them with hairspray.

Gnarly! Now you’re ’80s to the max and look totally rad. πŸ™‚

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 77 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Vonnie says:

    soooo cute!! I love everything 80s and so wish that I’d had my 20s then *faraway look and sigh*. I want to go as Ola Ray from the Thriller video for halloween, but GOOOOD luck finding a denim leopard print jean capri outfit, bwahahaha.
    Vonnie recently posted … The Love of Girl Friends

  2. Phyrra says:

    The bright purple liner is AWESOME!
    And I’m sad to admit I remember curling my bangs and then teasing them.
    Phyrra recently posted … Glam Glitterboi

  3. Denise says:

    OMG Karen, I lived in Keds in high school, but I always wore mine with laces. Was the no laces a California thing maybe? I was totally going to suggest banana clip and then I saw that you wrote that. When you rolled up your jeans did you used to secure the rolled up part with a safety pin so it wouldn’t roll down? πŸ™‚

  4. Paris B says:

    Lol!! I love this Karen! Coming from someone who lived throught the 80s I found myself nodding and cringing along to each item esp. Stirrup leggings and scrunchies!

  5. Another great way to crimp w/out an
    iron- wet hair & put it into several braids- then sleep in it! When you wake up it’ll be dry & super kinky! Also, I’d add on the blush tip- don’t ignore the Dallas cheeks- total 80’s hallmark: dark, under the cheekbone & sharply angled. Can’t picture it? Google the TV show “Dallas” (or “Knot’s Landing”, “Dynasty” Etc…)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jessica,

      Yup, but in 1988 people weren’t really doing that at my school, and by ’88 it was way out of style. The stripe-y cheeks are more mid-’80s, circa 1984-86… I reference it here in this look from last year:

      Addicted to Love and Makeup: A Halloween Look

      And the waver’s great for people who can’t sleep with wet hair/or on a braid! But if you plan on sleeping with braids it helps to put product in beforehand!

  6. Karen says:

    I loved the side ponytail!

    And I was walking by Gap the other day and they are bringing back stirrups with their Stirrup legging jeans.

  7. Anna says:

    Oh seriously Karen you look amazing, the style’s fantastic and the eyeshadow perfectly fits the whole theme!
    Anna recently posted … ch 16- Quick update

    • Karen says:

      Thanks, Anna!

      Did you grow up in the ’80s? Or are you one of the MBB readers who was born after the decade (apparently a lot of teens read the site, who knew)?

  8. gio says:

    You look so cute! Love the purple eyeliner and the crimped hair.
    gio recently posted … Product Review- Eyeko London Lips in Portobello

  9. nikita says:

    Crimping wasn’t as popular in my high school in the latter part of the 80s. I rocked the piggyback spiral perm during those days! My hair was so long (almost to my waist) that it took 3 people to remove all the curlers from my hair after the perm had set! LOL!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nikita,

      The spiral perm was huge at our school too. When my BFF Cindy got hers it was a HOT MESS. She cried because her hair looked like a poodle! I remember standing in my bathroom putting globs of gel to get it to behave. Those were some rough times!

  10. Lee says:

    lol thats awesome!!!

    Howcome everyone agrees the 80s was the not-so-hottest fashion? lol

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lee,

      If you lived through it you would know! Most of the clothes were totally uncomfortable. I remember spending a majority of the decade not being able to breathe.

  11. irini says:

    karen!crimped hair looks so good on you πŸ˜€

  12. LustreBonBon says:

    Karen, KAren, kAren
    just when I think you can’t crack me up more you put your hair in a high side pony and start talking about frosted lipstick. I wore Shimmering Shell. Happy Halloween.

    • Karen says:

      Hi LustreBonBon,

      LOL, frost was the ish back in the day. I wish I could remember the color of the Wet & Wild lipstick my friends and I used to wear… it was an obnoxious frosty hot pink.

  13. Ruchita says:

    Love this post! Pretty much everything on the list was part of my style (I use that word loosely) back in the 80s. πŸ™‚

    I remember that having my bangs done just right was a huge deal back then. The bigger the better!

    If I was doing a Halloween costume, then I would definitely go for an 80s theme. All I have to do for insipiration is pull out my old yearbook pictures from back in the day. πŸ™‚

  14. Nina says:

    you are all SET for halloween!!!

  15. saku says:

    OMG I had an 80’s flashback. I used to rock those side ponytails and bangs over the eyes. Lol, don’t get me starting on the banana blip I had tons of those. Number 8 I remember wearing those with white socks. It may be just me but I used to paint my nails at least 3 or four different colors on each hand, plus the colorful eyeliner.
    Cute and fun post.

  16. Susan says:

    We wore a lot of Keds back in the day, but we also wore those lace-up flat ankle boots with our scrunchy socks and stirrup pants, too. I actually had a pink pair that matched my HUGE pink fake snakeskin earrings and banana clip with the ribbon attached to it to make it look ruffly. I shudder to think of that outfit now, but I was rockin it then πŸ™‚ Oh yeah, in the summer time I used to wear a gray acid-washed Forenza denim miniskirt with this combo. Yikes! This was in my early college days, and boy did we have some crazy get-ups!

  17. AshBash says:

    i found banana clips at walgreens but they are a classy (is there a such thing) version. i didnt see the ones i remember owning. i feel like ive seen them in the past at beauty supply stores. i thought i was going to an 80s party this year but i decided i’ll go to the party that has no theme so i can be a harajuku girl. still going to use the clip.

  18. Lisa S. says:

    Oh good Lord, Broaches were my trade mark! I had all kinds of huge pins and broaches. I remember one was a pewter colored snake and was tricky to pin on cause it was sooo long.

    And the makeup I remember was as you have it, but piiiiled on. We loved us some blush.

    Also my wild and crazy time was more the early to mid-eighties so I rocked the Martha Quinn hair with a long fools tail in the back (think early Bananarama). Although later, I did have long hair with the dreaded spiral perm……….

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lisa,

      I still have my broaches — I keep ’em in my pastel pink and green Caboodle, HAHA! I sorta forgot I had the green/black fish above. I used to pin them on hats, too.

      Anywho, every girl in my class had a spiral perm! ‘Twas a good time for curly hair.

  19. Stef says:

    You are totally ready to sneak wine coolers into the dance!
    Stef recently posted … Hourglass Femme Rouge near perfect lipstick

  20. Paula says:

    I may be the only one, but I totally miss the 80s! Of course, I was like a size 2 back then… *sigh* And I don’t know about anyone else, but AquaNet was the best hairspray to keep the big hair big all day – especially mine, which was very fine and straight. I also possess 3 or 4 banana combs yet! As for makeup – I loved my teal eyeliner and had an eye quad with pink, blue, purple, and gold; I wore all 4 colors at once. And bring on the brighter pink lipstick!

    I may have to make an emergency run to my local thrift stores to see if I can find the makings of an 80s outfit to wear to work tomorrow night!

    • Karen says:

      I was a size 0 back in 1998. Ooh, the memories… and the pants! I have a pair of bebe skinnies I rocked back then that I can barely fit over my calf, LOL.

      Anyway, I wish I saved my banana combs, my plastic charm necklaces and my elastic rainbow heart bracelet.

      • Paula says:

        I can’t even remember where I got the banana combs – it think it was Walgreens or one of the dollar stores. As for the necklaces and bracelet, those could probably be recreated – cruise the kids’ craft aisles at your fave hobby store! Some assembly may be required…

  21. regina says:

    Your 80s makeup is totally cute! I just got the Ransom 24/7 liner the other day and your look is an inspiration to break it out and experiment. : ) Happy Halloween!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Regina,

      Do you have any shimmery purple or blue shadows or pigments? They look great on top of Ransom. πŸ™‚

      Happy Halloween to you, too! Are you dressing up this year?

  22. justjillian says:

    you could rock high top reeboks or la gears (if you could find those!)

  23. Deb says:

    I was in elementary school in the 80s, but I had a really similar oversized polka dot sweatshirt that I used to wear with stirrup pants and slip on Keds. Man, I felt so cool…

    I can’t even count how many scrunchies I owned…that one went into the 90s, too. When I visited my friend in Kyoto, Japan last summer, scrunchies were in, and they were selling them everywhere! None for me, thanks. Too many memories.
    Deb recently posted … Niederegger Lubeck Marzipan Classic

  24. Arianne says:

    LOL I just love this, Karen. Well done.
    Arianne recently posted … Sneak Peek- MAC A Tartan Tale Colour Collection Photos and Swatches

  25. lexi says:

    OMG – LOVES! I’m 36 and I love everything 80’s, however, I would like to mix it up and do a 90’s look – either early 90’s BBD/Poison look or Nirvana Grunge Girl. I wish I had somewhere to do to rock this look.

    I loved wearing my black scrunchie on my wrist like a bracelet. I still do this with my hair elastics hahaha.

    I would kill to fit into my acid washed Bongo miniskirt with the ruffles on the back!

  26. lexi says:

    I forgot to add that the laser background you used was an actual background drop in a picture I took with an ex-BF in 1991! How rad is that??

    • Karen says:

      We had that same background for our sticky yearbook pictures in eighth grade. I still have the pics of my two BFFs from that era and they make me CRACK UP whenever I see them!

  27. Jenna says:

    I love this post! My friends and I used to measure our bang waves to see who’s was the highest! This post took me way back!

    Jenna recently posted … 10 Blogs I love

  28. Kerry says:

    I remember rocking my ’80s fashion in first grade…my favorite was a big ol’ chunky sweater, hot pink/fuchsia stirrup leggings, cowboy boots, and a side ponytail held with, of course, a scrunchie.
    Another favorite was my vinyl orange Keds with scrunched orange socks — I’d often double the orange socks with yellow ones.

    Good Lord. We were stylish, weren’t we? πŸ™‚

  29. steph b says:

    Oh man — royal blue eyeliner on the lower lash only and Revlon’s frosted brownie lipstick was the cool look in my HS in the 80s. But I think of scrunchies as a 90s thing — what we dropped the banana clip for. Oh – and the skinny, studded belts worn hanging around your hips on top of really bright button downs.

    • Karen says:

      YES! I always wanted one of those studded belts. Never got on though, boo. πŸ™

      • steph b says:

        I had a red one that wrapped around twice and had pyramid shaped studs all around it. My fav outfit was that belt over a turqouise button down shirt, turqouise jeans, and red slouchy ankle boots. For some school talent show fund raiser a bunch of friends each wore a different colored version of that outfit and lip-synched to Kool & the Gang’s Celebrate. We totally rocked.

        You should get yourself one of those belts now!

  30. jana says:

    did you ever use the wet and wild black eyeliner and then use a lighter to melt it so it would go on even darker? heehee…
    jana recently posted … mouse-capade

  31. Glosslizard says:

    LOL! Love the 80’s! I loved all the bright (aka glaring) colors of clothing and I wore tiger stripes in any form I could find them! Take on meeeeeeeee! πŸ˜€

  32. Diana says:

    Karen, that is freakin’ hilarious! I love the upgrade on the lipstick though, because you know back in the day it was Wet N’ Wild frosty pink lipstick (you know…the no name shade….just the number!) LOL!

  33. Alexandra says:

    I remember a favourite outfit of mine in the 80’s was a betty boop reversable jumper, remember the realy thick ones and stirrup leggings. I also rocked the bright coloured tights lol.

  34. Ginger says:

    I have a question: Is the Urban Decay Highlighter similiar to MAC By Candlelight powder? I was trying to find something with that similar glow. πŸ™‚

  35. Sharon says:

    I was in my 20s during the ’80s… lots of memories… although by 1986 most of my work clothing was “classic” rather than “trendy”. My mother used to sell Beauty Counselor cosmetics and much of what I had came from her — the light blue eyeshadow on the lid, with purple in the crease, and Ash Rose lipstick to tie the look together.

    “Colour me Beautiful” — anyone remember that? I still have the little package of fabric colours somewhere. I bought a lot of clothes that decade, acid wash jeans, stirrup pants, oversized sweatshirts, cropped sweaters, and SHOULDER PADS were everywhere by 1986 or 87. Who can forget the colored pantihose, booties, leg warmers, headbands that went under the hair, feathered hair, mullets, perms everywhere? I was a size 2 or 4 back then, sigh.

    You know you’re getting old when people reference the decade you were at your prime. Heh. πŸ™‚

  36. Instant Karma (formerly L) says:

    That’s amazing!

    Man, I wish I were a little older in the 80s. I was born in ’86, so I spent the 80s chasing after butterflies, watching Sesame Street, learning to read, and hugging teddy bears (okay, I still do that last one). I have tons and tons of wavy hair. I would’ve rocked the crimp.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Instant Karma,

      Are you serious?!? I still remember 1986. That was the year my parents made me get the boy hair cut… it was a rough one, LOL!

      P.S. I still hug teddy bears too!

      • Instant Karma (formerly L) says:

        Hahaha, I am so sorry! Poor little Karen :(. I never got any tragic haircuts as a kid aside from the one I gave myself. In 1990 (oh my God, 20 years ago), I saw that my classmate, Meredith, had a really pretty haircut, and I wanted mine to look like hers. I decided it would be a great idea to hide under the dining room table and start cutting away with my little safety scissors. I apparently had a bald patch for a few weeks, lol.

        I don’t think I will ever be able to fully outgrow my love for stuffed animals. Whenever I have to go into a Hallmark store, I’m always tempted to buy something. Most of mine are at my parents’ place, but several serve as accent pieces in my apartment, lmao. They obviously coordinate fabulously with my art, my 1959 globe and my vintage Soviet stuff (including amusing nesting dolls), lol.

        • Karen says:

          My stuffed animals live at my parent’s house, too! They hang out in an old bookshelf in my room. πŸ™‚

          My mom has bugged me so many times over the years to donate them but I can’t bear to part with them.

          Was 1990 20 years ago? YIKES, I’m old.

          • Instant Karma (formerly L) says:

            I am so glad I’m not the only one! I gave away a few to charity when I went off to college, but I couldn’t bear to part with most of them. They had too much sentimental value!

            Also, okay, am I the only person who would look at a bunch of the same stuffed animal and pick my favorite? There would always be one that appealed to me more than the others. I would pick up, like, four of them, and then have them square off against each other. The champion of cuteness would be the one I bought, lol. It was like the March Madness of stuffed animals.

  37. Kim says:

    And this is why I love your blog! I was caught between nodding and laughing, and shaking my head with shame for sporting this look for many years. πŸ™‚ I totally forgot about the obnoxious broaches – I don’t know how since I had a decent collection.

    On a side note, I wore Ransom for this Halloween too and my teenage babysitter told me 10 times that she loved my eye make-up. I had paired it with the goldish shadow from Private Affair. Holy fallout on that glitter, btw!

  38. shelby says:

    oh how badly i was i was the age i am now in the 80’s, i would ROCK the big curly hair, leg warmers, bright colors, spandex, i wish i could live my whole life in an 80’s workout video, sadly i was born in ’89

  39. Liz says:

    OMG this brought back memories of high school and college! I remember using scrunchies a lot, but I also remember huge patent leather and satin clip=in bows for the hair. You coordinated them with your clothes just like scrunchies, but they rode a little lower on the head.

    I don’t remember anyone wearing leggings, but acid wash jeans were IT, as narrow as possible at the ankle. I had problems with this thanks to my big feet, LOL. Huge sweaters and button down shirts over them is right, in bright multicolor if possible.

    Electric eyeliner in blues and purples and frosty lipstick in fuchsia and mauve, ah memories!
    Liz recently posted … Ultima II- Natural Mauve

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