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. 🙂
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 our…
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 of…
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. 🙂
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. 🙂
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,