How to Make 80s-Themed Costumes

Fishnet stockings can be a useful accessory for an '80s costume.
Fishnet stockings can be a useful accessory for an '80s costume. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Known as the decade of greed, the 1980s was a time of excess and extravagance. This sensibility was especially prevalent in fashion. Bright colors, big hair, leather, lace, leg warmers and accessories were all the rage. When creating your own '80s costume, remember that there is no such thing as too much. The perfect '80s look is big, bold and over-the-top. Don't be afraid of teasing your hair too big or piling on too many rubber bracelets.

Things You'll Need

  • Ruffled or denim skirt
  • Wide belt
  • Tank top or black bra
  • Over-the-shoulder shirt
  • Scissors
  • Fishnet stockings or tights
  • Ankle boots or stiletto heels
  • Fingerless gloves
  • Hoop earrings
  • Black rubber bracelets
  • Silver bangle bracelets
  • Black eyeliner
  • Black mascara
  • Bright blue eye shadow
  • Red lipstick
  • Hairbrush
  • Hair spray
  • Strip of fabric
  • Tight-fitting jeans
  • Black or rock band T-shirt
  • Leather jacket or denim jacket
  • Bandanna
  • Silver neck chain
  • Leather bracelet
  • Black boots
  • Hair gel

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Female Costume

Dress in a denim miniskirt or a brightly colored ruffled skirt. Wrap a wide belt around your waist and over the belt loops of the skirt. Adjust the belt so that one side is higher up on your hip than the other.

Layer a brightly colored over-the-shoulder top over a tank top or black bra. Don't worry if the colors don't match. Fashion in the '80s was all about mixing and matching. If you can't find an over-the-shoulder top, cut the collar off a loose-fitting shirt you already own. Pull the top over one shoulder to reveal the strap of your tank top or bra.

Use scissors to tear holes into a pair of fishnet stockings or brightly colored tights. The more wear and tear, the better.

Wear a pair of ankle boots or stiletto heels on your feet.

Accessorize the outfit with fingerless gloves, big hoop earrings, black rubber bracelets and silver bangle bracelets.

Create a smoky eye look with thick black eyeliner and mascara. Cover your eyelids in a generous amount of blue eye shadow. Paint your lips with bright red lipstick.

Tease your hair with a hairbrush by holding up small sections of your hair and brushing it from tip to root. Drag the brush through several times to achieve the biggest hair look. Spray your hair with hair spray. Take a strip of fabric and fashion a headband out of it. Tie it slightly off center at the top of head.

Male Costume

Dress in a pair of torn, tight-fitting jeans. Tear up a pair of your own jeans by cutting holes over each knee with scissors.

Wear a black or rock band T-shirt. The band should be one that was popular in the '80s. Layer a black leather jacket over the T-shirt. A denim jacket is an acceptable alternative.

Tie a bandanna around your neck or one of your thighs. Accessorize with a silver neck chain and leather bracelet.

Wear a pair of black boots on your feet.

Line your eyes with black eye liner for a punk look. Spike your hair with hair gel. If necessary, use hair spray to give the spikes extra hold.


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