What the '80s really looked like

Story highlights

  • Big hair and bright colors dominated the '80s fashion scene
  • Share your '80s photos with the hashtag #EightiesCNN

(CNN)When it came to fashion, the 1980s weren't subtle.

"Everything was over the top. Big hair, big cars, great music!" said Greg Graham, who was a high school senior in 1986.
Greg Graham in 1986.
Back then, Graham was partial to wearing white jeans with a colorful madras shirt over an equally bright, pink Polo shirt (you know he had the collar flipped up). Throw in a Swatch watch, and you've got a perfect '80s ensemble.
    We asked people to share their photos and memories from the era, and boy did they come through. Most remembered the '80s fondly, even though they chuckled at their fashion choices. When you scroll through the photos, a few trends stand out:


    Susan McCaughey says she spent at least an hour every day teasing her hair to improbable heights.
    Susan McCaughey poses in 1988.
    "I used to have to duck to get into my car," she said.
    Then she still had to do her make up and get her nails done weekly in White Plains, New York.
    McCaughey says she loved Spandex and leather clothes, huge jewelry and pumps in every color. You can't see it in her photo, but one of her long nails was pierced with a diamond stud.
    Marla German and her cat in 1982.
    Marla German doesn't miss spending hours a day getting ready. She favored ankle boots, slim pants tapered at the ankles, lots of black clothing, catsuits, and tight tube dresses.

    Bright colors

    Ellie DeLano in 1987.
    Ellie DeLano was a college student in the '80s and remembers dancing, laughing and hanging out with her friends from the theater department.
    She joked that she used to apply makeup by the trowel-full. She credited Aqua Net and "I Dream of Jeannie" reruns for her hair style.
    "I miss the '80s so much. Everything was just bigger and brighter and nobody took themselves too seriously,' DeLano said.


    Nique Quesada took fashion cues from Nick Rhodes in 1986.
    It's almost impossible to overstate how much music, and MTV, influenced '80s fashion.
    Nique Quesada fell in love with Duran Duran and styled herself after the popular New Wave band. You can see her devotion to Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor and Roger Taylor in her photos over the years.
    Dawna Olson channels Pat Benatar in 1985
    Dawn Olson was also a music-obsessed teenager, but she preferred wearing peddle pusher pants, baby doll socks and heels, miniskirts, leggings with oversized tops and, of course, really big earrings.
    In high school, she became friends with some Los Angeles radio DJs who let her help spin records after school and got her in to nightclubs, even though she was underage. She got to see many of her favorite bands that way, but almost quit her coveted mall job at "Fashion Conspiracy" to go to a Psychedelic Furs concert.
    "I can't tell you the number of times I had to pinch myself," Olson said.
    Were you a child of the '80s? We want to see your photos. You can share them below, or post them on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #EightiesCNN.