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Ideas to Take from 80s Hip Hop Fashion For a Chic Look

Published On Apr 02, 2024 - written by Dylan Elloit

The 1980s is marked as the pivotal time for the emergence and growth of Hip Hop. It was the time when Hip Hop artists adopted this style and represented the culture from their music to their fashion. 
Apart from music, the main representation of this culture was the 80s Hip Hop Fashion. In this comprehensive guide, we will talk about the impactful hip hop fashion in the 80s. This will be helpful if you are looking to step up your classic fashion sense.

Rappers usually wore classic colors that portrayed stoicism and the struggles of black people. Every piece of clothing rappers wore had a significant representation or affiliation with their groups and cliques. So let us have a look at the 1980s fashion.

Break Dancer Fashion

Break dancing or B-Boying has always been an important part of the hip hop genre. Apart from rapping, B-Boying is considered a huge part of hip hop. Big names in hip hop like Tupac and Chris Brown have also been break dancers. However, the B-Boy fashion is still very popular and people still adopt this fashion. 

The B-Boy Fashion included a bucket hat, which was made from wool. In the neck, the dancers used to wear gold plated neck chains of different sizes. For clothing, dancers mostly went with baggy clothes, wearing baggy shirts with loose pants and baggy belts with baggy pockets. The “Denim on Denim” style was also in trend where one would wear a denim jacket over colorful shirts along with denim pants. 

Sneakers have the biggest role in the hip hop fashion sense. Dominated by Nike, the Air Jordans have always dominated the hip hop scene. For the B-Boys, branded shoes have been a crucial and signature piece of clothing in 80s Hip Hop.

Power Suits and Shoulder Pads


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It is one of the most emblematic trends of the 80s. It is known as the power suit. The broad shoulders, tapered waists, and oversized t-shirts characterized this dress. These power suits were the epitome of authority and confidence. 

The padded shoulders were the prominent fashion of men's outfits. These padded shoulders add structure and define the body shape well. This exaggerated silhouette showed the assertive and competitive atmosphere of the corporate world during the 80s. 


Black Pride Fashion

Hip Hop was not just a music genre but a movement. A movement for black people to express their pain and suffering through this type of music. Black people specifically created this genre to channel their pain and misery through music. The oppressed black people saw this genre as a medium that would end their oppression, resulting in the mass growth of hip hop.

The black people took very pride in their identity and dressed to portray the same. The Afrocentric style included the iconic African hair, alongside the use of African prints in reds, yellows, and greens. Hip Hop artists made this fashion trend popular by also inculcating the Native Tongue and style.

We also had vocal and active artists like Tupac who used their music to stand up for the black community and draw political attention. They wore military style camo to draw attention which later became a trend in itself. 

Sports Fashion

Sports fashion is also heavily influenced by the hip hop genre. Tracksuits and sports shoes became the symbol of chill and cool hip hop fashion. Adidas and Nike were the dominant brands for these fashion choices. Many rappers often wore flashy tracksuits with catchy shoes or trendy sneakers. The jewelry was always an excellent choice to this style. Run DMC were the pioneers of this style.


Preppy Style

The IVY League inspires this style. It gained massive attention and validation among young men in the 80s. The key elements of this look are:

  • Polo shirts
  • Crew neck sweaters
  • Boat shoes
  • Chinos

Renowned brands like Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers worked on preppy style and exuded sophistication and old-money charm.

Tommy Hilfiger Outfits

Tommy Hilfiger is known for their iconic red, blue, and white colors. Back in the day, the Tommy Hilfiger jackets were quite popular among women. As Aaliyah wore a complete Tommy Hilfiger outfit once, the style became an instant hit and gathered a mass audience wanting to try this 90s hip hop fashion.


Jewelry has always been a huge part of 90s hip hop outfits, showing a rapper’s wealth and status. Worn by the drug dealers in the beginning, gold chains were a sign of crazy money due to their outrageous prices. 

However as the genre grew, rappers adopted this style and wore chains, making the trend mainstream. Now, shiny chains do not signify illegal money, but a rapper’s success and hard work.

Athletic Wear as Fashion 

Athletic wear became the fashionable choice for everyone back in the 1980s. People loved wearing these outfits also because of the rise of fitness and the influence of the gym culture. It included loose trousers with vests. 

The tracksuits, sweatpants, and sneakers were the showstoppers of that time.

Punk and New Wave Influence

This trend started in 1970 and continued influencing the fashion industry until the 80s. There were so many extraordinary fashion staples that are still loved. It includes:

  • Leather jackets
  • Ripped jeans
  • Band t-shirts

These popular fashion statements embrace the attention of music and subculture.

The Tracksuit Galore


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The tracksuits made from jersey and heavy polyester were the main part of hip-hop culture. It was considered as the epitome of class. This kind of dressing was introduced by the famous rappers Diddy and Sean John. 

They made tracksuits, “The Tracksuits”. It also became a sign of wealth back in the 80s. This attire is no doubt OG cozy and can be worn anywhere.


The sleeveless denim overalls were an essential fashion item in the 80s. This wardrobe staple was a perfect choice for people who love to stay comfortable and casual. To slay this look nowadays, you can try it with a pair of sneakers and a crop top. 

Denim Love 

Not only in the 80s, denim is a fashion staple even in 2024. People were crazy about denim then and now. The 80s was a significant era of incredible denim fashion. Many iconic trendsetters were seen wearing denim styles back in the 80s. 

Here are some of the key elements of denim style from the 80s.

  • High waisted jeans
  • Mom jeans
  • Acid wash
  • Stonewashed jeans
  • Denim jackets
  • Double denim
  • Denim dungaree
  • Tapered jeans
  • Designer jeans
  • Embellishments
  • Colorful denim

The denim was among one of the top-notch 90s hip hop outfits. Many well-known brands like Moschino, Calvin Klein, and Versace were the high-end brands that introduced denim fashion to a new trend. The West Coast artists like Eazy-E and Tupac took this fashion to another level by pairing denim jeans with oversized t-shirts.

Neon Colors and Spandex for Women

In the 80s, the neon color became the best way to achieve fashion and style. It added vibrance and energy to the women's attires. We can see ladies from the 80s wearing neon leggings, spandex bodysuits, and fluorescent jewelry. It was the famous choice of daytime and evening looks. Still, the 80s and 90s hip hop outfits resonate in the modern age and fashion very well.

The Shoe Trends of the 80s

Just like outfits, we have seen a grand variation in the shoes as well. There were many notable shoe trends from the 80s. Here are those:

  • Chunky sneakers
  • Jelly shoes
  • High-top sneakers 
  • Ballet flats
  • Legwarmers
  • Ankle boots
  • Platform shoes
  • Espadrilles
  • Pumps with embellishments

The shoe trends of the 80s were very bold and a blend of vibrant colors. We can see many glamorous, athletic, and casual styles that reflect the variety of fashion from that era!

Hairstyles Mania in the 80s

The hairstyles were the main cause of attraction in the 80s. Whether it is a music video, movie, or a poster of any actor. People love to see what is new in hairstyles. For men, hairstyles like spiked hair and Mohawk were the absolute favorite choice. The long straight hair was also observed in the men of the punk genre. It gives the rebellious spirit and dark energy!

For females, the most common hairstyle was the feathered haircut. It looked lovely. Also, the side ponytail with a hair band served as a national hairstyle of that time. Females opted for curl and permed hair as well. 


The fashion trends in the 1980s were very bold and diverse. People opted for the electric, emblematic, and chic bold appearance. The cultural zeitgeists of that era wore all the trends to grant validation. We can see many people who love to wear the 80s hip hop fashion to continue the legacy. 

It is a source of inspiration for upcoming designers and fashion novices. Old-time fashion influences us so much. The 80s fashion remains the enduring and ever-evolving world of wonders!

Dylan Elloit

I am a fashion Blogger and a trendsetter with the urge to groom others. With 7+ years of blogging experience, I have seen multiple fashion timelines. Most of my articles are the best way to stay tuned in the fashion World.