What did you wear in your 1980s highschool days?

Addressing all GenXers:

I want to know what you wore when you were in highschool during the 80s. (This is for research purposes for a piece I’m writing.)

I don’t need a complicated recount of every single item you wore, I just want to know what the usual thing was that you had on for an every day sort of school day.

Boys and girls.

Here’s mine:

I lived in a middle class neighbourhood during my teen years in the 1980s but we were really more of a lower middle class family. Much lower…we only had our first car when I was 17, whereas I had a girl friend who had her own car at 16.

My typical daily wear was jeans usually. But not the expensive Jordache‘s that the preppy kids wore.

We did eventually get Nike tennis shoes, all the rage in my area at one point, as was anything with the adidas brand. (The three stripes on the runners was the it thing.)

But most of my stuff came from places like Woolco, or Kmart, the lower end big box department stores. Sometimes from the Bay where my mom worked (Hudson’s Bay Company).

The in-crowd (to my experience) was preppy. I was not an in-crowd person. 🙂 We didn’t have the money for the preppy clothing or the high-maintenance, big-hair styles requiring massive amounts of hairspray (and regular hair salon visits).

My own hair was long and getting longer as I tried to grow out the ever-popular feathered look which just didn’t suit me. I hid behind my hair it as much as possible, but I was still bullied for it by Janet and Lisa. Horrible girls.

So, I wore jeans of the non-popular brand type, and some sort of nondescript top, either a tshirt or a long shirt. Something plain, not blouses (I hate anything with complicated buttons or zippers). Certainly nothing with shoulder pads (which I usually took out if they were in my article of clothing).

I wore running shoes (I think), maybe penny loafers (can’t remember). Certainly nothing stylish or expensive.

What did you wear during a regular, daily basis in your 1980s high school days?

Aside note: Please tell me what country you lived in at the the time as well. Would be interesting to see the regional differences…

37 thoughts on “What did you wear in your 1980s highschool days?

  1. Wow! I love this post! I’m a Gen-X 80,s hair band girl from the USA.

    Like you, I wasn’t preppy either. In fact, I was bullied horribly. But I still wore clothes and name brands that were in back then. But only because I had a PT afterschool job.

    I lived in a single parent household so, if it wasn’t for the job, I wouldn’t have dressed nearly as well as I did.

    In high school, I was a variety girl. I wore Guess jeans, I had a couple of pairs of Oscar De La Rentas that Mom bought at an outlet for my birthday, and they were either acid washed or stone washed. but I certainly didn’t wear Jordaches.

    Sometimes, I’d rip a hole in the knee to make a statement and wear my Rude Dog Tee.

    I also wore Reeboks and L.A. Gear high top gym shoes.

    Like you, I didn’t have the spiral perms most of the other girls had. And that was my choice. I didn’t want perms, as the big poofy perms only left many of the girls at my school with hair that looked fried.

    But I did use hot rollers as my hair was way down my back. and I did tease my bangs and plaster them with Aqua Net and later, Aussie Sprunch.

    Some days I wore dresses with pumps.

    Some days, I wore dress pants with pleats, loafers, and blouses with the coiffed sleeves. I also wore blazers and oversized sweaters over a turtleneck.

    In my hair, I would sometimes wear a banana barrette, pull the front back with a hair clippie, or in a ponytail with scrunchie.

    It depended on what mood I was in whether I wanted to go denim or dressy.

    What a trip down memory lane this is! Thank you for this post! I enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow…your comment flashed me right back to high school! Such fun!

      I never liked the acid wash jeans, can’t remember if I had some…but I had scrunchies. 🙂

      Oh and the other day, someone on the news on tv said the mullets are coming back for the boys. Lol! 😂😭

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Can’t believe I’m going to admit this, but I went through a Miami Vice phase and actually wore white pants and pastel shirts. For a VERY BRIEF time, but still. Sonny Crockett wannabe much?

    When I wasn’t dressing up as Don Johnson, it was basically jeans and button-up shirts. Sometimes t-shirts. And a Member’s Only jacket, of course.

    Oh, the shame…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lived in Southeastern Idaho, USA until 1984 when I graduated high school. I wore button-fly Levi’s and t-shirts with tennis shoes. Don’t remember what brand. They usually came from Payless shoes. I tried the perm thing a couple of times. Couldn’t wait for it to grow out. I’m 53, living in Portland Oregon, USA. Still wearing t-shirts, usually too big because I have lost so much weight and leggings. They don’t care how much weight I’ve lost. They just get baggy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Er, I was birthing children in the late 80’s 🙂 In the late 60’s and early 70’s however when I was in high school, I mostly wore jeans. I was (and am still not) someone who dressed (dresses) fashionably. The last two years of HS I went to a girl’s school with uniforms, so that was easy. Except I hated the uniforms.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Schools in the UK all have uniform, and continue to do so. I started college in the autumn of 1989, and got to wear my own clothes, which were spectacularly untrendy. It’s interesting really, isn’t it – as soon as you see “normal” clothes, the means of the parents to provide the labels for their kids kicks in, and divides the children. It’s horrible.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. In the 80’s I was a Sergeant stationed in HQ 3rd Armored Division G-2 Shop, Frankfurt, Germany . High School was long in my rear view mirror. As far as what I was wearing at the time? Camouflaged Fatigue BDU’s with an M-16 strapped to my back. Need a visual, go ahead and google “Sgt. Rock”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I graduated high school in 1980, so style/fashion was transitional from typical 70s teen rocker – Levi jeans & plain tees or sweaters depending on the season (Canada) – and morphed into some oddball hybrid of new wave / preppy. And, hair went from shoulder length to short overnight. I avoided mulletdom. Always running shoes. Whatever was affordable. First pair of basic Nike’s in grade 10 or 11.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. California girl here! I was in high school from 1984 to 1988.

    Popular colors were pastels, neons, turquoise, red, white.

    For tops, I wore:
    1) Big oversize puffy sweatshirts
    2) Chunky knit oversize sweaters
    3) Oxford cloth button-down shirts with the collar worn up
    4) Striped or patterned waist-length boxy tops with big round plastic buttons
    5) Short-sleeved cotton button-downs in bold stripes or floral print… only these fastened with Velcro rather than buttons or snaps. These tops were worn with a belt over them.

    For pants, which were generally slim-fitting, I wore:
    1) Guess jeans – the ankle-length kind with the zipper at the ankles
    2) Calvin Klein jeans with pegged ankles
    3) Ankle-length cotton pants with a notch at the ankle… both in stripes and solids
    4) Ankle-length corduroy pants

    Shorts & skirts:
    1) Cut-off jean shorts
    2) Mini skirts, both bright colored and blue denim

    1) Nike – navy blue with white swoosh
    2) Reebok – white high-top
    3) Keds sneakers – white
    4) Sperry topsider dock shoes
    5) Suede ankle boots

    I also wore big earrings. I still think about my favorite earrings at the time, which I obviously no longer have. They were white with a clear plastic dangling disc. Haha.

    The big slouchy sock look was big during this time but I wasn’t a fan so I didn’t participate in the fad. Lots of girls also wore a banana clip in their hair but I thought it was hideous (looked like a mohawk) so I never had one. Wearing lots of sparkly blue eyeshadow was also on trend (yet another I didn’t participate in).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes the ankle thing on the jeans…I remember now. And the earrings. God. I found some of mine just recently when my 11yo daughter was going through some old box – horrid stuff. Plastic, bright neon colours, huge! lol

      I can almost picture you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. How funny you ask this question this day! We were just having a conversation about this yesterday!
    I HATED 80s clothes!
    I was (and remain) preppy. I wore pegged jeans with oxford cloth shirts. Sweaters and loafers and black and white saddle shoes.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I was a bit of a wild child lol no… I hung out with the “rougher crowd” honestly they where not but being 4”11 being with the”rougher crowd” helped lol I wore mini leather skirts , dressy high or ankle boots mini denim skirts. Lots of jewelry and yes the big hair lol

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, boy! I’m an 80’s high school kid all the way (US btw). The perms. The big hair (though I don’t think I ever hit the extreme levels of big). For a while, the blue eye shadow, but I think that was before HS, so mid 80’s maybe?

    I wore jeans (yes, Jordache, but only because they were the only jeans made short enough to fit my stubby legs), some with zippers in the ankles, some on the high waisted, baggy side with the tight roll at the bottom (perfect style for the short girl) and mostly denim mini-skirts.

    There were a lot of layers, mostly socks and shirts, in different colors. I remember mostly doing the layers on button down shirts with the collars popped. The socks would get scrunched down and were normally worn with tennis shoes or even something resembling high tops. LA Gear if I remember correctly. I was also the odd one out (not fitting into any one crowd) and often wore heals of some kind (though not with the socks, though heals and lacy socks could occasionally be seen thanks to ZZ Top videos). My favorite in early high school was a pair of white lacy ankle boots.

    The t-shirt layering for girls was often in crop tops that barely met dress code. I tended to wear a shirt that had lace on the bottom underneath to get away with it. Same went for the mini-skirts. A lot of girls would wear tight, bike short type shorts with lace on the bottom under the minis.

    You saw lots of neon and bright jewel tones. In my school, the color of the layers were often school colors, at least during spirit weeks. Guys would often wear the Izod polo type shirts, again with the colors popped. There were lots of penny loafers, but I think in my school you saw those more on the guys than the girls. A few of the guys had the guts to wear parachute pants for a while, but it wasn’t as wide spread. And you couldn’t take a step without encountering at least one person in a jean jacket.

    Different cliques tended to have slightly different dress preferences, but the majority of the school tended to fall somewhere in the above range.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My kids were flipping through my yearbooks not too long ago and had a blast laughing at all the craziness. I can’t wait until they are old enough I get to laugh at theirs.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s for an article I’m thinking of submitting to a contest that addresses what teens wore in highschool but only peripherally. The article isn’t about fashion. I want to keep a target audience in mind, plus I’m curious as I travel down memory lane.

      I was a kid in the 70s in Switzerland. I remember horrors about wrinkly shirts, bell bottoms, and brown. And beige. And loooooong hair. And big collars and ugly, patterned shirts with buttons. ICK! Ugh. :p

      Liked by 1 person

  12. My mom was a stylist in Manhattan before we moved to the “farm”, so when we visited the “City” from upstate, we shopped. She had an eye for fashion which is most likely why I strayed toward fashion for my first Manhattan jobs. We devoured fashion magazines but we shopped long ago at the thrift shops and the basements of some major department stores before this was trendy to do. I was a well-dressed city kid in the country.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Being British, I had to wear a school uniform on school days. So not that interesting.

    Outside of school, I tended to wear jeans and t-shirts with a preference for t-shirts with jokes on them. Also sweaters — 1980s sweaters with large checks.

    I was never very good at keeping up with brands, most of my clothes came from shops like C&A, but I did have a penchant for Hi-Tec trainers.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I was one of the preppy kids. Calvin Klein jeans. Monogrammed crew neck sweaters. Oxford cloth button down shirts. Plaid skirts. Docksiders or loafers. I went to high school from 78-82.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Not in high school. I have thin hair so I did the slight layers, and would try to feather it back. My daughter unearthed my yearbook photo. If I find it I’ll email you

        Liked by 1 person

Share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.