May 23, 2024 | Marlon Wright

80s Nostalgia: Remembering the Iconic Decade


Totally Rad 80s Nostalgia

The ‘80s were wild in the best way. Not only were MTV and Blockbuster entering the scene, but so were some bold fashion and hair trends.

From what to wear and what to watch to where to hang out, let’s take a walk down memory lane and reminisce about some of the best things about the ‘80s.

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Television

Let’s start off strong with how the 80s redefined TV.

First came cable—bringing a new world of colorful entertainment into homes. Then came remote controls, VCRs—and some iconic television programs.

TV Set & VCR on StandSteven Martin, Flickr

MTV

In 1981, MTV came to cable television and it wasn’t long until everyone wanted it. Not only did you have all the latest hits, but watching music videos became all the rage.

That wasn’t the only new way to listen to music though.

Close Up Photo of Woman in vintage blue MTV t-shirtFred Seibert, Flickr

Sony Walkman

The 1980s were prime years for the Sony Walkman—in fact, some say its even a status symbol and a fashion statement to 80s kids.

Close Up Photo of Vintage Sony Walkman.Joe Haupt, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Home Answering Machines

Long before cell phones, we had landlines. And it wasn’t until 1984 that we were actually able to leave a message when someone didn’t answer.

The first answering machine was a box that hooked up to your landline phone and allowed callers to leave messages for you on a cassette tape.

Close Up Photo of National Easa-Phone answering machinephreakindee, Wikimedia Commons

Home Computers

Home computers were still emerging during this time, and if your family had a home computer it was a big deal that gave you bragging rights.

Although high-speed internet wasn’t yet a thing, you could still play games, do simple tasks and store data on floppy disks.

Close Up Photo of Apple III, personal computer 1980.Sailko, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Blockbuster Video

Blockbuster will forever be missed. Any 80s kid who didn’t get to see a film in the theater would eagerly away for it to come out on video and hit Blockbuster’s shelves.

Blockbuster entered the scene in 1985 and boasted 1000 stores by the end of the decade.

Photo of Blockbuster Video on 1818 West State Street - Fremont, OhioNicholas Eckhart, Flickr

Shopping Malls

Shopping malls were a popular hang-out spot for teenagers in the 80s. Most 80s malls had a merry-go-round and a teen-oriented clothing store that carried trends from MTV.

Teens would often hours shopping, working, eating in the food course, watching movies, and spending time in the arcade.

Interior of the Whitehall Mall Allentown PA.Atwngirl, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Video Games

Playing video games was the 80s equivalent of passing time on your cell phone or tablet. If you think kids today are the only ones glued to screens, think again.

Retro arcade in Seaside Heights, NJ.Rob DiCaterino, Flickr

80s Pants

There were high-waisted jeans, skinny jeans, acid-washed jeans, baggy jeans, knee-ripped jeans, and designer jeans—but everyone also wore stirrup pants, jogger pants, and parachute pants, also known as harem pants or "Hammer" pants.

These weird-looking pants were trendy and could be found in every fashionable clothing store in the mall.

1980S Fashion With Acid-Washed JeansAbroe23, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Gym Wear

Similar to today’s yoga pants trend, the 80s also had a fitness craze that made its way into fashion.

Young women wore off-the-shoulder torn sweatshirts over leotards with scrunched-up neon-colored legwarmers over spandex tights and sweatbands around their heads as they went about their day-to-day activities.

Beautiful young women in blue and red sportswear trainingMaster1305, Shutterstock

Big Sunglasses

The oversized sunglasses are not a new trend, they belong to the 80s. At the peak of this trend, people wore their sunglasses indoors at parties.

There were many styles of sunglasses, including cat-eyes, round styles, and zany neon styles. But the most favored were Ray Ban Wayfarers.

Grainy Film Photo of a Man and Woman in Vintage ClothesMario Amé, Pexels

Colorful Swatch Watches

An interesting fad in the 80s was wearing two or three watches on your arm.

Not only that, watches joined the color-crazed 80s with the introduction of the bold and vibrant Swatch watch in 1983. Colorful, quirky, and fun, Swatch watches came in various designs, bright colors, and patterns.

Overhead Photo of colorful swatch watchessrgpicker, Flickr

Popular Hair Styles

The bigger the better. Women would often get radical blow-outs, tease their hair, wear side ponytails, feathers, and mall bangs. As long as it was weird, wild, and big—it was in.

Screenshot From the Movie Sixteen Candles (1984)Universal, Sixteen Candles (1984)

Hair Accessories

The 80s were the decade of colorful scrunchies, hair bows, headbands, hair wraps, banana clips, and more.

But the most iconic would be the scrunchie—high up on your head in a loose or messy ponytail.

Screenshot From the Movie Valley Girl (1983).MGM, Valley Girl (1983)

Dixies Drumstick Snacks

Dixies Drumstick Snack Crackers were cute and delicious! They were shaped like miniature drumsticks and tasted like chicken.

Nabisco Dixies Drumstick Snack Crackers BoxGregg Koenig, Flickr

Push-Pop Candy

A Push Pop was a lollipop that you pushed out of a plastic tube and pushed back in to save for later. While they still exist today, they were wildly popular in the 80s.

Close Up Photo of Push-Pop Candy in a boxistolethetv, Flickr

Halloween Costumes

Anyone remember those plastic smock and face mask Halloween costumes that would tear apart before you were even done trick-or-treating?

Sometimes, only the mask survived.

Kids in Snoopy, Skeletor, Darth, He-Man costumes.thepeachmartini, Flickr

Fiber Optic Flower Lamps

Those fiber optic flower lamps that everyone thought was so chic. You often found them at kiosks in small shopping malls. Eventually they were created in various other themes as well.

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Scratch and Sniff Stickers

Scented stickers were a prized possession. They didn’t always smell good, but they were cool anyway.

And their scent actually lasted.

Vintage Donkey Kong Scratch and Sniff stickersAvane, Flickr

Mini China Tea Sets

Unlike the cheap plastic junk that kids have these days, 80s kids had little chin tea sets that were actually fancy. Is it possible they were painted with lead-based paint? Absolutely, but we didn’t care.

Close Up Photo of Vintage china tea set.PINKE, Flickr


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