Feel the Byrne: 1980s Fashion Is Soft Peacocking Done Right

Fall is the ideal season for layering David Byrne blazers, vintage Kodak fanny packs, and Perry Ellis-esque knitwear.

If summer was our moment for 70s short-shorts, then fall is the season for easily layerable 80s apparel. Those dirty Reagan years were… chaotic (we’re also blaming him for Howard the Duck), but the era was also when we mastered the art of personality-driven ‘fits with acid wash denim, chunky sweaters, and bomber jackets galore ideal for cold weather dressing. 

You don’t have to go full Olivia Newton John (RIP, our queen) workout video-core to bring some 80s style into your wardrobe, and the last thing we want to do is make you look like a pompadour-ed pastiche of yesteryear. If you’re wondering how to dress like it’s the 80s with normal clothes, focus on finding a few capsule 80s wardrobe pieces, such as oversized blazers, striped button-downs, and fanny packs, and integrating them with your go-to pieces of clothing. Digging into 80s fashion in 2022 should feel like a gender-inclusive, subtle peacocking moment for you to shine, so blast the Tears for Fears and let’s burn some plastic. 

The best oversized 80s suit jackets

A lot of 1980s fashion is just 1940s proportions revisited and given a fat line of cocaine; Zoot-suited dudes and Katherine Hepburn strutted in oversized suits so that our husband, David Byrne, could dance like a drinking bird in his own XXL suit decades later. Peep the vintage goldmines of Etsy and eBay, as well as affordable sites such as ASOS for 80s-nostalgic suit jackets and trenches that feel very David Bowie in his “Let’s Dance” era. Style them up with a pair of dress pants, or down with a pair of jeans/five-inch inseam shorts and socks with sandals for pür normcore excellence.   

Oversized Trench With Checked Panels

$95 at ASOS
1980s Wool Suit Jacket

$60 at Etsy

… And the softboi sweaters to layer under them

Everyone knows that Perry Ellis fashion, with its cable knit sweaters layered under an oversized blazer, swung a massive, JFK Jr.-sized [redacted] on the table for leaf-crunching season. One of the best ways to make an oversized 80s blazer feel even more casual is with a cashmere or a cable knit fisherman’s sweater that says, “Wanna makeout and watch The Lighthouse later?” Quince is slinging direct-to-consumer cashmere sweaters for a truly bananas $59 price, while this Goodthread cable-knit has earned a 4.7-star rating on Amazon from over 600 reviews. In the words of one fan, “it is the PERFECT sweater. It's comfortable without feeling like loungewear, not too thick or thin, and most importantly he feels amazing in it.”

Mongolian Cashmere Crewneck Sweater

$59.99 at Quince
Cable Knit Crewneck Sweater

$33.90 at Amazon

Once you’re suited-up, reach for a casual leather bomber jacket, breezy windbreaker, or this *chef’s kiss* denim jacket from Quiksilver x Stranger Things. The surf and skate brand is one of the most iconic labels from the 80s and 90s, and the “Nancy” jacket it made in collaboration with the show’s costume department is spot-on with its gathered sleeves and high neck. 

Barneys Originals
Oversized Leather Bomber Jacket

$513.21$105 at ASOS
Outdoor Voices
Windbreaker Pullover

$88 at Outdoor Voices
Quiksilver x Stranger Things
The Nancy Denim Jacket

$120 at Quiksilver

The best 80s tops

Nothing makes us feel like the (even more loveable) best friend of the main dude in a John Hughes coming-of-age film than a little late-80s, long-sleeved stripe action. Abercrombie’s take on the class would also look fuego with jean shorts and an oversized 80s blazer. 

Abercrombie & Fitch
Essential Rugby Polo Sweatshirt

$70.00$59.50 at Abercrombie & Fitch

We’ve sung the praises of 70s and 80s short shorts on men, and now we bring you: the crop top. This deep teal crop top has been given slightly tapered, oversized sleeve hems with some… racing stripes? Amazing, and very Michael J. Fox.  

Green Cropped T-Shirt

$26 at ASOS

Paired with some American Eagle chinos, this is the button-down of a boy from Long Island who wants to kick my ass; but paired with a pair of baggy cargo pants and a Carhartt beanie, it’s the button-down of my future ex-situationship from the skate park. 

J. Crew
Relaxed Broken-in Organic Cotton Oxford Shirt

$89.50$39.99 at J. Crew

The best 80s pants

Once again, Abercrombie giveth with this pair of vegan leather joggers, which are the perfect hybrid of at-home sweats and zaddy pants. 

Abercrombie & Fitch
Vegan Leather Sunday Joggers

$90.00$76.50 at Abercrombie & Fitch

Everything about skiing, from the highly polarized sunglasses to John Denver “dancing with the mountains,” is a core 80s memory. This pair of quilted pants from The Arrivals makes us long for the ski lodge of yesteryear, and promises all the comfort of a sleeping bag with the durability of a pair of waterproof trousers. 

The Arrivals
Haelo Quilted Pant

$198 at Urban Outfitters

The best 80s shoes

It’s all about the sneakers, especially the low-slung, 80s-inspired Club C Reebok Revenge shoes with their very Royal Tenenbaums-esque, chalk and “Glen Green” colorway.  

Club C Revenge Vintage Men's Shoes

$85 at Reebok

Did we stutter? If you’re not ready to shell-out for the Revenge sneakers, there are plenty of affordable, classic Reeboks on Amazon

Classic Leather Sneaker

$21.25 at Amazon

The best 80s accessories

Amber aviators

Whether you were a Scientologist who starred in Top Gun or anyone else in the 80s with a face, chances are you owned a pair of aviators. Opt for an amber-colored pair to bring a little extra warmth to your fall ‘fit. 

80s Tear Drop Aviator Sunglasses

$12.99 at Amazon

The best 80s fanny pack

Fanny packs have our whole heart. You just know they were designed by a Virgo who decided we all needed more pockets, and this vintage find from Kodak is the perfect humble brag to top off your outfit, whether you’re wearing a David Byrne blazer or a Perry Ellis-worthy sweater. 

Kodak Film Logo Fanny Pack

$15 at eBay

Looking good [lowers sunglasses and winks]

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter


1980S, 80s fashion, Men's fashion

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