Most Ridiculous '80s Things We Want to Forget
The 1980s brought us some undeniably awesome things. Like Guns N' Roses, "Back to the Future" and Princess Diana. We are thankful for that.
But not everything in the '80s was awesome. The decade also delivered some absolutely terrible trends. In the race to be louder, wilder and more different, some crazy fads were taken a little too far.
These are the most ridiculous things from the 1980s.
30. Shoulder Pads
Famously seen in: "Heathers"
Bottom line: Shoulder pads are not always bad. When styled correctly, they can actually look good. The tragedy is that most people in the '80s seemed to not know how to get it right.
Either that, or every picture we have available is of someone who didn't.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback Nasty Gal shoulder pad suit.
29. Wild Leggings
Famously seen in: Almost every Madonna music video
Bottom line: Going out in leggings is no longer taboo. In fact, many of us almost live exclusively in leggings. But leggings in the 1980s were something else.
Bright neon colors, animal prints, neon animal prints were all the rage. It seems as if the mentality was simple — the uglier, the better.
The good thing is that not everyone was wearing them like this at the time. But they shouldn't have even been a thing.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback '80s-style leggings.
28. Sweaters Tied Over Your Shoulders
Famously seen in: Carlton Banks in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"
Bottom line: Nothing outed you as a preppy jerk during the '80s more than a sweater draped over your shoulders. The style has held out among certain circles even today, and it has not lost its snobbish connotation.
One of the most famous examples of this was Carlton Banks, who everyone ended up loving but who began the show as a complete elitist.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback cashmere sweater.
27. Windbreaker Suits
Famously seen in: Every ski resort in the 1980s
Bottom line: The '80s invented athleisure before it was a thing. We'll give them that. But the problem is that these windbreaker suits were just so ugly.
The shiny material made them look like colorful trash bags and took away any semblance of beauty from whoever wore them.
Athleisure has thankfully evolved and, while we don't love every modern casual trend, nothing has ever come as close to the disaster of these windbreakers.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback colorblock windbreaker.
26. Shutter Shades
Famously seen on: Wrestler Randy "Macho Man" Savage
Bottom line: Sometimes, people really are willing to put fashion over anything, including the ability to see. Nothing proves this as much as shutter shades, which became all the rage with youngsters for a brief period in the '80s.
People grew tired of the trend pretty quickly until Kanye West briefly brought it back in 2007.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback 12-pack of shutter shades.
25. Puffy, Shiny Prom Dresses
Famously seen in: Your parent's prom pictures
Bottom line: If you've ever seen a cute prom dress from the 1980s, please let us know because we most certainly haven't.
Prom in this fashion-backward decade was all about shiny dresses with giant ruffles, tulle and more bows than anyone should ever wear in an entire lifetime.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback '80s prom dress.
24. Terrible Music Videos
Famously seen in: "Total Eclipse of the Heart," "Like a Virgin," "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That"
Bottom line: We get that special effects and camera quality were not what they are now. But that doesn't explain the complete and utter randomness of basically every music video from the 1980s.
Most of the time, you're just there trying to figure out what in the living heck you're seeing and how it connects to the song.
Thankfully for us, music videos from this decade have provided the modern world with endless meme material.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback hits of the '80s music video DVD.
23. Snow Gloves That Revealed Cheesy Designs
Famously seen on: Freezy Freakies
Bottom line: Unlike other items on here, many people who were born after the '80s have no idea these even existed. The idea behind Freezy Freakies is actually cool: The normal-looking gloves would reveal hidden designs when it was cold outside.
The issue is not the idea, but in the kitschy execution. The designs were sometimes unicorns with floating hearts around them or, worse, skiers in awful windbreaker suits.
Now that's something to make you shudder.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback Freezy Freakies.
22. Jelly Shoes
Famously seen in: Every girl's closet in the 1980s
Bottom line: Can we be morally justified to criticize jelly shoes when we have Crocs? Probably not. Still, as useful as these shoes were when you went to rivers, we're happy cute water shoes are a thing now.
The jelly shoes were also cheap, which means people purchased a lot of them and then threw them away quickly. Translation: They were bad for the environment.
Jelly shoes are only appropriate for kids under the age of 10, and it's truly embarrassing to think full-grown adults were going out in what looks like a shoe made with dried glue.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback colorful jelly shoes.
21. Wearing Multiple Watches
Famously seen in: Numerous Swatch commercials
Bottom line: The 1980s were famously decadent. Everything needed to be what we would call "extra," and practicality was often synonymous with boring. This translated to watches which people began stacking on their wrists. Why? Because why not?
The trend is coming back with certain celebrities like Billie Eilish and Justin Bieber, though it doesn't seem like it'll possess normal people again.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback unisex Swatch watch.
20. Bucket Hats
Famously seen in: LL Cool Jay's wardrobe
Bottom line: Gen Z has tragically fallen for the trap of bucket hats, just like people in the 1980s and early 2000s.
Alas, there is nothing we can do but let them repeat the mistakes of our youth and rejoice in the fact that social media will make it impossible for them to erase the evidence.
As for you, keep those bucket hat pictures deep in your memory shoe box.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback checkered bucket hat.
19. Dungeons & Dragons
Famously seen in: "E.T. The Extraterrestrial"
Bottom line: We don't want to insult anyone. "Dungeons & Dragons" is still a very popular game and a legitimate way to escape reality. But if we're honest, it's a little cringey to think of a bunch of people in a basement pretending to be wizards and whatnot.
Hey, we like dorky things too. It's just a matter of accepting that it's OK to be a dork.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set.
18. Leg Warmers
Famously seen in: Jane Fonda's exercise videos
Bottom line: Leg warmers are great to warm your legs. Nowadays, you would only wear them inside the house where no one can see you. Somehow, back in the '80s, people decided to wear them all the time and for no reason other than "fashion."
The accessory is now mostly connected to the decade's embarrassing exercise clothes (don't worry, we'll get to it), but it was also worn in everyday life.
That doesn't mean every person was out there going to the office in leg warmers, but enough people wore them out in the street to become part of the classic 1980s look.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback two pairs of leg warmers.
17. Ugly Car Designs
Famously seen in: The DeLorean
Bottom line: Cars in the 1980s were very much like the clothes: chunky, geometric and trying way too hard to look futuristic.
They didn't always have bright neon colors, but they couldn't escape the lack of taste that pervaded throughout the decade.
Not very many car collectors are trying to get their hands on a 1985 Chrysler LeBaron and we think that's a good thing.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback DeLorean toy car.
16. Popped Collars
Famously seen in: Corey Hart's "Sunglasses at Night"
Bottom line: In the 1980s, every cool guy and gal wore a popped collar. They were a sign of confidence, power even.
The style has had its comeback moments but has hopefully seen its last days. If you popped your collar now, you would more likely be associated with a fraternity house than a cool cat.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback collared shirt.
15. Patches That You Ironed Into Your Clothes
Famously seen on: The Sex Pistols
Bottom line: Where to even begin with this one? Ironing things onto your clothes is a cool childhood activity, especially in the age before the internet when we had to find things to do. But why was it ever a thing for grown-ups to iron patches onto their jackets?
The trend carried over from the hippies in the '60s and '70s. Still, it's a tad bit more embarrassing in the '80s because it was often a punk thing to do.
Yes, it was considered punk to spend your time doing something that you could have gotten at the kid's section at Michael's.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback custom iron patches.
14. Headbands Worn at All Times
Famously seen in: Everyone's style from Cyndi Lauper to Olivia Newton-John
Bottom line: When you got hair as big as it was in the '80s, you need to keep it back when you exercise. We get that.
What we don't get is how headbands became a fashion statement to be worn at any time of day or night.
Let's be honest. Absolutely nobody ever pulled this look off.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback exercise headband.
13. Crimped Hair
Famously seen in: Cyndi Lauper's style (again)
Bottom line: As technology got better, it allowed people to do things to their hair they had never been able to do before. And the choice was crimping.
New special hair irons allowed you to style your hair in tiny waves that made it frizzy. It was all the rage.
The style came back in the early 2000s, mostly thanks to "Lizzie McGuire." The resurrection didn't last long. To the betterment of humanity.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback hair crimper iron.
12. Side Ponytails
Famously seen in: Basically every teen show
Bottom line: Worn either halfway up or fully up, the side ponytail was a stable hairstyle of the 1980s and 1990s. It was different from anything previous generations had done — at least from the time they turned 6.
Though not the worst hairstyle, it is just simply too childish and not cute enough for us to ever want it to come back.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback metallic scrunchies.
Famously seen in: Madonna's "Lucky Star" music video
Bottom line: We don't really get what the deal with mesh is. This unfortunate style refuses to die, popping up every once in a while on runways and in stores.
It's been around for so long it's no longer edgy, which was the only excuse anyone ever had to wear it despite it looking terrible.
We admit some modern mesh clothes don't look as bad as their 1980s counterparts, but they still don't look great, so we'll pass.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback long-sleeved mesh shirt.
10. Patterns That Were Over the Top
Famously seen in: Every 1980s fashion magazine
Bottom line: We love colorful, geometric patterns. They can be absolutely gorgeous. But whoever designed them in the '80s simply seemed to miss the mark. Rather than looking bold, many of the designs of the decade were tacky.
A lot of the fashion stole and appropriated from African patterns and fabric traditions. It didn't do a very good job at replicating the beautiful styles.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback 1980s geometric shirt.
Famously seen in: Billy Ray Cyrus' style
Bottom line: What can we even say about mullets? A hairstyle with the tagline "business in the front, party in the back" is already cringeworthy.
We want an anthropologist to explain how mass hysteria and delusion could've led an entire generation to think this haircut was cool.
Famous mullet wearers include Billy Ray Cyrus, Axl Rose, Paul McCartney and Bono.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback mullet wig.
8. A Show About a Magic Rubik Cube
Famously seen in: "Rubik, the Amazing Cube"
Bottom line: We get that the 1980s were a period of social and political turmoil, and that means that people were confused and desperate for comfort. But why, oh why, would anyone make a show about a magic Rubik's cube?
To make matters worse, the cube is absolutely terrifying, with teal legs and a creepy face peeping out from the sides.
Thankfully, this publicity stunt from hell only lasted 13 episodes.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback Rubik's cube.
7. Rock/Metal/Punk Fashion
Famously seen in: The Sex Pistols
Bottom line: How do we say this without being mean? Heavy metal fashion was, um, laughable. We get that it was transgressive at the moment, but it is just so desperate to be different that it gives us secondhand embarrassment.
This isn't exclusive to the '80s. After all, Kiss started in the '70s, and they thought having men paint their faces with stars and kitty whiskers was metal.
We can't stop laughing.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback Sex Pistols Queen Elizabeth shirt.
6. Mismatched Neon Clothes
Famously seen in: Every corner of the 1980s
Bottom line: Brighter, bolder bigger. Sure, sure we get it. But did it have to be this exaggerated? One neon thing is enough, but layering neon piece after neon piece is just a hostile attack against the senses.
On the other hand, the colors probably helped prevent car accidents.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback neon green jacket.
5. Over-the-Top Makeup
Famously seen on: Madonna and Cyndi Lauper
Bottom line: Blending was basically unheard of in the 1980s. You wanted everyone to see the exact brush strokes you used to get neon-pink cheeks. To match those cheeks, you used bright eye shadow, heavy eyeliner and even brighter lipstick.
Besides the horrid blush, all of the makeup looks good in isolation. The problem is the sum of all parts, which is just too much.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback eyeshadow palette.
4. Overuse of Hair Spray
Famously seen in: Every 1980s yearbook
Bottom line: It is a truth universally acknowledged that anyone in the 1980s wanted enormous hair.
OK, not everyone tried to build to Tower of Babel with their hair. Cindy Crawford and Julia Roberts always had volume without looking ridiculous. But many, many poor souls never achieved this balance.
Seeing pictures of 1980s hair is almost shocking. Plus, all the hairspray necessary to achieve it is probably responsible for some of the holes in the ozone layer we still have today.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback hairspray.
3. Puffed Wedding Sleeves
Famously seen in: Jennifer Connelly’s wedding dress in "Labyrinth"
Bottom line: Everyone wants to look beautiful on their wedding day. Some people who got married in the 1980s might not feel that way when they see the pictures.
The culprits are the gigantic puffed sleeves paired with large ruffles and bows and big veils.
It's like the prom dressed evolved to be even uglier.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback vintage 1980s wedding dress.
2. Flashy Exercise Clothes
Famously seen in: Exercise videos
Bottom line: In this current age of fitness, we care a lot about looking good when we exercise. That is exactly what people in the '80s wanted to do. Once again, they suffered a case of trying-too-hard and went way over the top with it.
Exercise fashion has become one of the defining looks of the 1980s. A lot of it has to do with the fact that it puts together some of the worst trends of the decade: lycra leggings and leotards, hairbands, leg warmers and colorful animal prints.
Nostalgic? Get the throwback body suit.
1. Smoking Indoors Was Acceptable
Famously seen in: Airplanes, restaurants and Disneyland
Bottom line: While we've focused mostly on fashion and pop culture trends, for our top pick, we had to get more serious. In the 1980s, despite medical evidence of the harm of secondhand smoking, people still lit up cigarettes indoors all the time.
It was fair game to smoke in airplanes and restaurants, which seems absolutely ridiculous now. Thankfully, laws were enacted and we don't have to worry about that anymore.
Unless you live in Europe. In which case, you're out of luck.