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The 1980s: An Iconic Era of Fashion and Jewellery

The 1980s were characterised by a unique blend of excess and extravagance, vividly reflected in the fashion and accessories of the era. Costume jewellery, in particular, underwent a significant transformation, with designers embracing bold, colourful, and unconventional designs. This article delves into the history, characteristics, influences, and legacy of 80s costume jewellery, highlighting its enduring impact on fashion.

The Rise of Costume Jewellery

Costume jewellery has a long history, but it wasn't until the 20th century that it became a mainstream fashion accessory. The 1980s marked a pivotal moment when costume jewellery's popularity soared, driven by cultural and musical influences. The economic boom and the rise of consumer culture in the post-World War II era made affordable, mass-produced jewellery accessible to the public. By the time the 1980s rolled around, costume jewellery had become a staple of personal style, with its popularity reaching new heights. The decade's unique cultural and musical influences played a significant role in shaping the trends that would define 80s jewellery.

What Makes 80s Jewellery So Distinctive?

The 1980s were marked by a penchant for bold and colourful designs. Designers used unconventional materials such as plastic, resin, and enamel to create vibrant, playful pieces that stood out. Neon colours, oversized shapes, and whimsical motifs became hallmarks of the era. Jewellery designs often featured geometric shapes, animal motifs, and an eclectic mix of styles that reflected the vibrant energy of the decade.

Influences and 80s Fashion Icons

The influence of key fashion icons and media cannot be overstated when discussing 80s jewellery trends. Madonna's punk-inspired looks, Cyndi Lauper's eclectic and colourful accessories, and Princess Diana's elegant pearls all played pivotal roles in popularising various trends. TV shows like "Dynasty" and "Dallas" showcased the opulent and glamorous side of 80s fashion, further cementing the decade's love for extravagant jewellery.

80s Fashion and Jewellery Trends

Power Dressing Power dressing was all about exuding confidence and authority, especially for women in the corporate world. This trend featured structured suits with padded shoulders, sharp lines, and a tailored fit, often in bold colours or pinstripes. The look was completed with blouses featuring bow ties, pencil skirts, and high heels. Jewellery for power dressing was equally bold and confident. Women wore large, statement pieces that conveyed authority and sophistication. Examples include chunky gold necklaces, oversized hoop earrings, and bold brooches. Pearl necklaces and earrings were also popular, adding a touch of elegance to the strong silhouettes of power suits.

New Romantic The New Romantic movement drew inspiration from historical fashion, particularly the romantic and flamboyant styles of the 18th and 19th centuries. It featured ruffled shirts, velvet jackets, lace, and elaborate makeup. This style was theatrical and often associated with music bands like Adam and the Ants and Duran Duran. Jewellery in the New Romantic style was ornate and often featured intricate designs. Brooches, cameos, and chokers were popular, as well as pieces with faux gemstones and pearls. Layered necklaces and long, dangling earrings complemented the elaborate clothing, adding to the overall opulence of the look.

Punk Punk fashion was characterised by its rebellious, DIY ethos. It included ripped jeans, leather jackets, band t-shirts, and safety pins. Punk style often featured tartan patterns, heavy boots, and a general disregard for conventional fashion norms. Punk jewellery was bold, unconventional, and often handmade. Studded leather bracelets, spike necklaces, and safety pin earrings were common. Heavy chains and padlock necklaces were also popular, reflecting the movement's anti-establishment attitude. These pieces were often paired with edgy, grunge-inspired outfits.

Glam Rock Glam rock was all about flamboyance and theatricality. This trend included glittery fabrics, platform boots, and androgynous styles. Artists like David Bowie and Marc Bolan were iconic figures of this movement, which blended rock music with glamorous, over-the-top fashion. Glam rock jewellery was equally flashy and extravagant. Glittery chokers, oversized rings, and sparkling earrings were common. Rhinestones and sequins were often used to add extra sparkle. The jewellery complemented the overall flamboyant and eye-catching aesthetic of the glam rock style.

Hip-Hop Hip-hop fashion emerged from the streets of New York and was heavily influenced by the music and culture of the same name. It included baggy pants, oversized shirts, tracksuits, and athletic wear. Brands like Adidas and Nike were staples, and the style often featured bold logos and vibrant colours. Hip-hop jewellery was all about making a statement. Chunky gold chains, large hoop earrings, and medallions were popular. These pieces symbolised status and success within the hip-hop community. The jewellery often featured heavy gold, diamonds, and personalised pieces that reflected the wearer's identity and achievements.

Preppy The preppy style was inspired by Ivy League fashion and included polo shirts, blazers, khakis, and loafers. This look was clean, conservative, and often associated with wealth and privilege. It emphasised classic, timeless pieces and a polished appearance. Preppy jewellery was understated and elegant. Pearl earrings and necklaces, simple gold bracelets, and signet rings were common. Monogrammed pieces and charm bracelets also fit within the preppy aesthetic, adding a touch of personalisation while maintaining a classic look.

Fitness and Aerobic Wear The fitness craze of the 80s, led by icons like Jane Fonda, brought workout fashion into everyday wear. This trend included spandex leggings, leotards, leg warmers, and headbands. Bright colours and neon hues were prevalent, reflecting the energetic spirit of the fitness movement. Jewellery was minimal in fitness fashion, focusing more on practicality. However, neon-coloured plastic bracelets and simple, sporty watches were popular. These accessories added a fun element to workout gear without hindering physical activity.

New Wave New Wave fashion was eclectic and experimental, influenced by punk but more polished and vibrant. It included bold patterns, neon colours, and androgynous styles. Bands like Devo and Talking Heads were fashion icons of this movement, which blended futuristic elements with retro inspirations. New Wave jewellery was quirky and innovative. Geometric shapes, neon colours, and plastic materials were commonly used. Large, abstract earrings, layered necklaces, and statement bracelets complemented the bold and unconventional clothing styles of the New Wave movement.

Goth Goth fashion drew inspiration from Victorian and punk styles, featuring dark, moody colours, lace, and velvet. Black was the dominant colour, often paired with dramatic makeup and accessories. The look was both romantic and macabre, with an emphasis on individuality and artistic expression. Goth jewellery was elaborate and darkly romantic. Silver jewellery, often featuring motifs like skulls, crosses, and spiders, was popular. Chokers, layered necklaces, and rings with intricate designs added to the dark, mysterious aesthetic.

Miami Vice/South Beach Style Inspired by the TV show "Miami Vice," this style was characterised by pastel colours, linen suits, and casual elegance. Men often wore t-shirts under blazers, while women favoured lightweight, flowy fabrics. The look was relaxed yet sophisticated, perfect for a tropical climate. Jewellery for the Miami Vice style was minimal and sleek. Gold chains, simple stud earrings, and delicate bracelets were common, adding a touch of sophistication without overwhelming the casual elegance of the outfits.

Bohemian Bohemian fashion in the 80s was a mix of earthy tones, natural fabrics, and eclectic accessories. It drew inspiration from the 60s and 70s hippie movement but added a more refined and modern touch. Flowy dresses, layered clothing, and ethnic prints were key elements. Bohemian jewellery was all about layers and natural materials. Beaded necklaces, wooden bracelets, and feathered earrings were popular. The jewellery often featured earthy colours and handmade designs, complementing the relaxed and free-spirited vibe of bohemian fashion.

Mod Revival The Mod Revival in the 80s brought back the sleek, tailored looks of the 60s mod subculture. It featured slim-cut suits, polo shirts, and mini skirts, often in bold colours and patterns. This trend was neat, sharp, and heavily influenced by music. Jewellery in the Mod Revival style was minimal and stylish. Simple, geometric designs, thin ties, and classic watches were common. The focus was on clean lines and understated elegance, reflecting the polished aesthetic of the mod look.

Minimalist Minimalist fashion in the 80s was a response to the excess and flamboyance of the decade. It featured clean lines, neutral colours, and simple silhouettes. This trend emphasised quality over quantity, with a focus on timeless, versatile pieces. Minimalist jewellery was understated and elegant. Thin gold or silver chains, small stud earrings, and delicate bracelets were common. The jewellery was designed to complement the simplicity of the clothing without drawing too much attention.

Rockabilly The Rockabilly trend in the 80s was a revival of the 1950s rock and roll style. It included leather jackets, rolled-up jeans, and polka dot dresses. This look was rebellious yet nostalgic, drawing heavily on the aesthetics of early rock music. Rockabilly jewellery was bold and retro. Leather wristbands, skull rings, and cherry-themed accessories were popular. The jewellery often featured vintage-inspired designs, adding a touch of rock and roll attitude to the outfits.

Tropical/Island Style Tropical or Island style in the 80s was all about bright colours, floral prints, and relaxed silhouettes. Inspired by the vibrant culture of tropical regions, this trend included Hawaiian shirts, sarongs, and sundresses. Jewellery for the tropical style was colourful and fun. Shell necklaces, beaded bracelets, and flower-shaped earrings were common. The jewellery often featured natural materials and vibrant colours, perfect for a laid-back, beachy look.

High-End Designers

High-end designers like Chanel, under Karl Lagerfeld's direction, embraced the extravagant spirit of the 80s with bold jewellery pieces. Chanel's use of large, colourful resin and enamel jewellery added a playful yet luxurious touch to their collections, moving away from their more traditional designs. Designers such as Vivienne Westwood also played significant roles in shaping the bold and rebellious jewellery trends of the decade.

Elegance of a Bygone Era

Despite the decade's emphasis on boldness, there was also a trend towards elegance with pieces like pearls and cameos. Women often layered multiple strands of pearls or chose pearl-encrusted brooches and bracelets. Cameos, with their intricate carvings, added a vintage charm and were popular in brooches, earrings, and necklaces.

Legacy and Modern Influence

The legacy of 80s costume jewellery is still evident in today's fashion. The bold colours, oversized designs, and playful aesthetic continue to inspire contemporary designers. Vintage 80s costume jewellery is highly sought after by collectors and fashion enthusiasts, with many pieces considered iconic examples of the era.


The 1980s were a time of bold and playful fashion, and costume jewellery was no exception. The decade's unique cultural and musical influences helped shape the trends that defined 80s jewellery, leaving a lasting impact on the fashion world. Today, the legacy of 80s costume jewellery can be seen in the continued popularity of bold designs and the enduring appeal of vintage pieces. As fashion continues to evolve, the spirit of the 80s remains a vibrant and influential part of the industry's history.

By integrating these additional details, your blog will provide a richer and more comprehensive overview of 80s jewellery, capturing its diversity and the cultural influences that shaped it.

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