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What were the 80s bold colors?

The 1980s were a time of bold, vibrant colors and striking fashion statements. As the economy recovered from the recession of the late 70s, people wanted to express themselves through their clothing and style. The 80s saw the rise of over-the-top looks that pushed boundaries and threw caution to the wind.

Neon Colors

One of the most iconic trends of the 1980s was neon clothing. Bright, fluorescent shades of green, pink, orange, and yellow took over fashion. These electric, glowing colors were a stark contrast to the earth tones that were popular in the late 70s.

Neon became a staple of 80s workout gear, with leg warmers, leotards, and headbands glowing in the gym. Neon shades were also popular in everyday clothing. Mini skirts, leggings, jackets, and accessories popped in bright neon hues. Even makeup followed the trend, with neon eyeshadows, blushes, and lipsticks.

Neon reflected the youthful energy and enthusiasm of the 80s. It gave clothing a futuristic, cyberpunk look. At nightclubs and parties, neon outfits would glow under blacklights. The brightness of neon captured theDecade’s optimism and vibrancy.

Miami Vice Pastels

Pastels also had a major moment in the 80s, thanks in part to the hit TV show Miami Vice. South Beach pastels like light pink, mint green, baby blue, and pale yellow became stylish through the show’s fashion.

These soft, melancholy pastels were a stark contrast to the bold neon shades that were also popular. Pastels had a resort wear, art deco feel that captured the essence of Miami. They were used for suit jackets, t-shirts, pants, dresses, and accessories.

Pastels gave clothing a dreamy, beachy aesthetic that transported viewers to warm tropical locales. When paired with classic 80s silhouettes like oversized blazers, the pastels took on a new wave vibe. The colors were a refreshing escape from urban life and added South Beach flair.

Primary Colors

Primary colors also saw a resurgence in the maximalist 80s. Red, blue, and yellow popped against black and white backgrounds. Primary colors were splashed across skirts, dresses, pants, and jackets in graphic prints or big blocks of color.

These playful primaries were seen on oversized tee shirts, often with screen prints. They also appeared on activewear like leotards, sweatshirts, and sneakers. Primary colors had an athletic, varsity vibe that aligned with the aerobics craze of the time.

Solid bright primary colors made clothing really stand out. Paired with the angular silhouettes and strong shoulders of 80s fashion, primary colors made a bold statement. They captured youthful joy and energy.

Metallic Shades

Metallic clothing brought some sparkle and shine to the 1980s. Silver and gold lame fabrics were used for leggings, leotards, mini skirts, and party dresses. Sequins, beads, and jewels added more glam.

Shiny metallics had a futuristic, space-age appeal. They looked flashy under the lights of discos and clubs. Metallic makeup, like frosted eyeshadows and lip glosses, complemented the clothing.

For men, metallic suit jackets and pants were a popular way to shine. Metallic shades of gray, silver, and gold were used instead of neutral colors in power suits. The reflective textures added dimension and flair.

Metallics exemplified the decadence and extravagance of 80s fashion. The lustrous textiles were perfect for an era with its shimmery art deco motifs and obsession with glittering wealth.

Color Blocking

Color blocking was another trend that allowed people to wear multiple bright colors at once. Adjacent blocks of contrasting colors created bold graphical prints and patterns.

Color blocking was seen on oversized sweatshirts, sweater dresses, and coats. These color-divided garments stood out with their eye-catching combos. Color blocking also appeared on accessories like belts, shoes, bags, and jewelry.

Color blocking allowed people to experiment with bright colors in new ways. The blocks of contrasting shades had an artistic, avant-garde look. Color blocking prints popped with energy and vibrancy.

Animal Prints

Animal prints were hugely popular in the excessive 80s. Fake leopard, zebra, tiger, and snake prints came in bright neon shades. These wild animal patterns added an exotic, untamed vibe.

Women wore brightly-colored animal prints on mini skirts, jackets, pants, and clubwear. Make up often complemented the patterns, with leopard spots or zebra stripes applied with eyeliner. Animal prints had a sensual, provocative feel.

For men, neon animal prints appeared on collared shirts and sport coats. This daring use of animal patterns gave suits and formal wear a bold pop. The colors helped incorporate animal motifs into menswear in new ways.

Animal prints encapsulated the ferocious, primal energy of the 80s. The wild neon shades gave animal patterns a futuristic spin that pushed fashion boundaries.


The 1980s were a groundbreaking time for bold, innovative colors. Vibrant neon hues, pastel Miami shades, primary colors, metallics, color blocking, and animal prints all pushed the boundaries of fashion. People used clothing as a form of creative personal expression.

80s colors had a youthful, artistic spirit. They captured the energy and optimism that reemerged in the 1980s after the drabness of the 70s. These daring, radical colors gave people the freedom to experiment and find self-empowerment through their style.

The bold colors of the 80s would go on to inspire future decades of fashion. They showed the transformative power clothing can have when it incorporates vivid, eyecatching colors that capture the essence of an era.

Color Trend Characteristics
Neon Bright, glowing, futuristic
Pastels Soft, dreamy, beachy
Primaries Joyful, youthful, energetic
Metallics Shiny, glamorous, decadent
Color Blocking Graphic, artistic, avant-garde
Animal Prints Wild, exotic, provocative

This table summarizes the key 80s color trends and their defining characteristics. The vibrant colors of the decade made a bold stylistic statement that captured the essence of 1980s fashion.