Oh, how I love the 80's. I just wish I was born at least 15 years sooner. I was born at the end of this beautiful decade but that doesn't stop me to study it. I'm really passionate about subcultures, I like to learn about the cultural aspects, fashion and lifestyle. There's no surprise that my favorite subculture is the magnificent Goth (sub)culture, and especially the traditional style that was the only way to go in the 80's.
Usually when normal people think of the 80's they think about colors, rainbow clothing, fitness attire, leggings and big hair. But when we think about the dark 80's the only common element is the big hair.
Black obviously was the predominant color. The 80's goth aesthetics was very similar to the punk look but more monochromatic. A lot of leather, especially leather pants and jackets. Long skirts for girls and skinny high waist black jeans for girls and boys. The tops were from velvet and lace and many times distressed, pirate shirts and fishnets were also popular. The diy aspect was very important in the scene, just like in punk, mainly because there weren't many shops that specialized in Gothic attire so you had to do it yourself most of the times, thrift shops were popular and they used to buy cheap second hand clothes and modify them. The traditional goth was also influenced by the revival of the 50's that took place in the 80's, this revival brought back many elements of the rock'n roll culture that remain important parts in the Gothic fashion to this day: the biker jacket, leather pants, high waist and the fetish details. This was in the 80's but with the years more and more elements from the 50's will become part of the goth fashion.
An important part of the fashion and music was the famous goth club The Batcave that was opened at the beginning of the 80's in London, it was run by Olli Wisdom and John Klein from the band Specimen, one of my personal favorites from that time. The club was the place to be for all alternative people, a fashion statement in the sound of post-punk and the beginning of what we call trad goth.
Some of the fashion icons of the era were Siouxsie Sioux from Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bettie Page and of course David Bowie for his remarkable originality in his outfits and for his role in the movie Labyrinth.
Make-up was used by both men and women. Black eyeshadows and eyeliner made a very dramatic cat-eye, inspired a by the Egyptian make-up. The eyeshadow was brought into the eyebrows, sometimes even merging with them creating a bold look. The eyebrows were pretty straight and thin and the lips usually were painted black or dark red.
Hair was very teased and the general rule was the bigger the better. Hairspray was the number one necessity for the 80's goth. Many used to dye their hair black but blonde was also accepted, sometimes even streaks of red or blue were spotted in the goth clubs. The deathhawk was a popular style where the hair was shaped into a big fluffy mohawk, many times with the sides shaved (undercut). The objective is to create height with the hair and give a striking appearance.
Shoes and Accessories
The most famous style of shoes among the goths in the 80's were the Winklepickers. These shoes are around since the 50s (another example of the influence of the rock'n roll in the goth culture) and in the 70's and 80s they were popular among the goths, punks, rockabillies and even mods. They are characterized by the long pointy toe, they can be in the form of elegant shoes or boots and they were worn by both men and women. The modern winklepicker is a bit more comfortable with more space in the toe area but still have a striking witchy look.
Other options of shoes were creepers, another shoe from the 40's and 50's made popular by Teddy Boys and of course the combat boots. These last two types of shoes are still very popular among a multitude of darker subcultures.
In terms of accessories, Cristian and Egyptian symbols were highly used. Spiky bracelets, big rings and big earnings were often seen on women and some men too.
And this are all the basics of the 80's goth style, a beautiful era that shaped many subcultures. There still are many traditional goths out there that dress pretty much like they did in the 80's but many have merged the style with other influences, like the rockabilly fashion, Victorian elements and even industrial.