1980s Street Style in London

Tim Graham / Contributor

From punk to menswear, Princess Diana to David Bowie, and everything (and one) in-between, this look at street style defines London in the 1980s.

London in the 1980s was full of life and color. A remarkable number of subcultures, each with their own definitive looks and style, were born early on in the decade. As punk transitioned into a "new romantic" style, flamboyant glamour took over flared jeans and band tees and David Bowie reigned. Goth was also born from this post-punk era.

Camp and overall ostentation, driven by artists like Boy George, informed the way even the most refined individuals dressed, and vice versa. Pearls became punk, hair teasing became the norm, and bolo ties started getting paired with suits.

Princess Diana set more trends than arguably any other British woman at the time. As the queen (so to speak) of the power shoulder, she defined the style of the 1980s as we know it still today. 

Related: A Look Back at London's Greatest 1970s Street Style

Here, we take a look at one of the most recognizable eras of street style in one of our favorite cities across the pond.

Hip Hop


Five-panel hats, oversized collared shirts, and metal-rimmed sunglasses––all inspired by the early days of hip hop. Left: Londoner carries a boombox in the 1980s. Right: MCs Bionic (left) and Rodney P of English rap group, London Posse in the 1980s. Kerstin Rodgers / Contributor;  David Corio / Contributor

"Athleisure"


The first semblances of the "athleisure" trend can be spotted in the '80s. Left: Two young Londoners in leisurewear in 1985. Right: Miss Lovely Legs of Great Britain, Michelle Jenkinson, pictured in London, 1983. 
Leon Morris / Contributor; PA Images / Contributor


Leggings became a style staple in the '80s. Here, a model wears a 'Heiluri'-style batwing sleeve wool sweater in London, 1983. 
PA Images / Contributor

Post-Punk


Highly texturized hair and pigmented makeup looks can be seen throughout a variety of post-punk styles. Left: Punk Londoner pictured in a band tee, oversized blazer, and metallic eye in 1981. Right: Jane Kahn, fashion designer, seen with crimped hair and expressive makeup in London,1981. 
UniversalImagesGroup / Contributor


Skin-tight leather and "pleather" can be seen across several style types. Left: A woman in a leather dress and patterned tights in the 1980s. Right: Fashion designers Lesley Beamont and Daniel James at Skin Two Club in the 1980s.

Vintage


Pearls, bolo ties, vests, lace, and paisley––materials and vintage reclaimed from prior generations defined the "cool-kids" of the '80s. Partygoers pictured in London, 1985. Kerstin Rodgers / Contributor

Color Play


Color themes dominated multiple style cultures during the '80s. Left: A London party-goer in a white-and-black ensemble. Right: Catherine Rabett of West London pictured wearing a bright red mono-toned skirt suit. Kerstin Rodgers / Contributor; PA Images / Contributor

The Power Suit Era


Left: Catherine Rabett in belted, high-waisted trousers and a tie-neck blouse at the Ritz Hotel, London. Right: Model in tweed trousers and striped tie-neck blouse. 
PA Images / Contributor

Prep and Princess Diana


Lady Di made '80s prep one of the most iconic style periods in western history. Here, Princess Diana is pictured in pastels (left) and her signature power shoulder (right). Georges De Keerle / Contributor