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Stranger Things – Top Ten 80’s fashions season 1

There are certainly many memorable fashion trends from the eighties decade. Which ones were most prominently featured in the Netflix original series Stranger Things season 1?

Stranger Things season one opens with a subtitle alerting us that the series begins in 1983. Were you born yet? If so, what fashion trends do you recall? Perhaps this list will jog your memory.

10. Wings and feathers

It’s not hard to spot a gal in Stranger Things wearing her hair with face-framing wings or feathering. Both Mike’s mom, Karen, and Tommy H.’s girlfriend, Carol, come to mind. If memory serves, the look was often achieved with a curling iron or sometimes hot rollers. And, of course, don’t forget the hairspray!

Karen Wheeler (Cara Buono), Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfard) and Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) in Stranger Things Photo credit: Netflix/Stranger Things
Karen Wheeler (Cara Buono), Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfard) and Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) in Stranger Things
Photo credit: Netflix/Stranger Things

9. Rugby shirts

Both Mike and Steve are often seen sporting the colorful striped knit shirts with a solid white collar. They are mostly worn tucked in and fitted in the series, which seems era-appropriate. Not until the later eighties do I recall the rugby shirts being worn much more loose fitting and untucked.

8. Members Only knockoffs?

It’s hard to navigate all the styles of short jackets – racers, bombers, etc. Steve is seen sporting a style likened to the well-known Members Only brand. I do not recall actually seeing a Members Only label anywhere in the series, but I was certainly reminded of it.

7. Big glasses

Over-sized frames, especially tortoise shell ones, were a staple of early eighties eye-wear. You see Barb donning a magnificent pair of her own, along with no-nonsense Flo at the Hawkins Police Department. And don’t forget about the guys! Mike’s dad, Ted, sports this “big” look as well.

6. Trucker hats

Actually, I do not believe they were called that at the time, but you know the ones I’m referring to, the kind Dustin wears. His signature hat is the kind with the mesh fabric in the back and the adjustable plastic band. I remember wearing one for tee ball, having the long plastic strip poking out the side in order to make it tight enough!

Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin), Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfard) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) in Stranger Things Photo credit: Netflix/Stranger Things
Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin), Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfard) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) in Stranger Things
Photo credit: Netflix/Stranger Things

5. Bowl cuts

While the girls were winging their hair back, a lot of the guys in Stranger Things are wearing theirs hanging down like a bowl turned upside down on top of their head. Jonathan wears the more free flowing teenage version, while Will’s cut is a little more precise. Then you have Mike’s cut that falls somewhere in between.

4. Ugly Christmas sweater

Take note of the ornate reindeer sweater Steve is wearing in episode 8 of Stranger Things. It is so very reminiscent of the “loud” pullovers that claimed the eighties. The “busier” the better — stripes, appliqués, sequins, bold geometric patterns. I had several, but the zebra patterned one comes immediately to mind!

3. Turtlenecks

Carol and little Holly Wheeler are definitely your go-to gals for turtlenecks in Stranger Things. Holly sports the traditional turtleneck with her pink bib overalls while Carol’s neckline varies between the turtleneck and the looser cowl neck style. But both girls get extra points for stripes. Stripes abound in the Stranger Things eighties universe.

Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfard) and Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) in Stranger Things Photo credit: Netflix/Stranger Things
Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfard) and Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) in Stranger Things
Photo credit: Netflix/Stranger Things

2. Ski jackets

Ski wear converged upon the general populace in the eighties and Stranger Things does not skip a beat. Will wears the very popular ski vest while annoying Troy and Carol don the full puffy ski jacket in scenes of their own. Probably many of you recall that you could indeed have both, one where the sleeves can be removed or attached with snaps.

1. Prairie shirts

Long before Seinfeld’s puffy pirate shirt, there were the ruffles on the popular eighties style prairie shirt. Barb wears a glorious plaid one when we first meet her in the first episode of Stranger Things with Trapper Keeper in hand.  I suspect these ruffled blouses may have been somewhat inspired by the popular Little House on the Prairie television series and Holly Hobby dolls.

There you have it – my top 10! I certainly enjoyed reliving some of my own fashion memories during the first season of Stranger Things. And I look forward to watching the trends evolve when season 2 arrives.

Now, what did I miss? Let me know in the comments section!

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Tracey Phillipps

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Writer, interviewer, fan artist in metro Atlanta. Always ready to talk TV and movies. Wife, mom, special needs advocate. Site owner for TalkColony.com and co-host of the Talk Colony Podcast.