It’s the 1980s. The speakers are thumping, the MTV VMAs are the biggest night in music, and one pop star is setting the fashion world ablaze. Madonna – the “Queen of Pop” – stands at the epicenter of 80s fashion, pushing boundaries with her audacious style.
I’ve always been captivated by Madonna’s daring 80s look – her capacity to seamlessly blend fashion, ambition, and music. This article will journey back to discover the secrets of the Madonna 80s look and offer a step-by-step guide to rocking the Madonna style. Intrigued? Dive in and get ready to turn heads like Madonna did on the red carpet!
Madonna’s Impact on 80s Fashion
Madonna’s fearless style made her more than a pop singer. She became a fashion icon in every sense of the word. Whether she was attending the Cannes Film Festival, performing during the Blond Ambition Tour, or simply stepping out in public, Madonna wore outfits that had people talking.
The “Material Girl” consistently challenged traditional norms and notions of “femininity,” experimenting with different styles and setting new fashion trends. From the “Boy Toy” belt buckle to the lace gloves – Madonna always knew how to dress to make a statement, cementing her influence on the era’s fashion. That said, Madonna’s 80s look wasn’t just about what she wore; it was about how she wore it.
Key Elements of Madonna’s 80s Style
Madonna’s 80s style was, for lack of a better word, a “symphony” of bold choices. Every element was meticulously curated from hair to heels, drawing inspiration from various sources like Marilyn Monroe and Marie Antoinette.
That is to say, recreating Madonna’s 80s look involves combining all these different elements. A simple combination could be lace leggings paired with a bright crop top, finished with an oversized denim jacket. Add lace gloves, layered necklaces, and jelly bracelets to complete the ensemble. For a more daring look, try a black corset as outerwear, teamed with a mini skirt or leggings, topped off with a bolero.
Dress Like Madonna: Must-Have 80s Clothing Pieces
The ’80s were known for some bold and rebellious fashion trends – and Madonna stood hand in hand with this revolution. The best example? Her daring underwear-as-outerwear outfits. And while I’m at it, who could forget the “Material Girl” pink gown inspired by Marilyn Monroe or the white bustier from her “Like a Virgin” performance? And, of course, the yellow corseted gown designed by Jean Paul Gaultier that she wore during her Blonde Ambition Tour.
Each outfit had a story – each an iconic moment in pop culture.
Cropped tops, white bustiers, and black corsets – it seems these were staples in Madonna’s wardrobe. Madonna performed in off-the-shoulder tops and oversized T-shirts, and whenever she attended events, she brought that signature pop star flare with her. For a “Madonna” touch, consider a lace crop top or an off-the-shoulder tee paired with layered necklaces.
Madonna wore her fair share of lace leggings, mini skirts, and tutus during the 80s. On that note, her “Desperately Seeking Susan” look showcased the perfect blend of street style with lace skirts and brightly colored leggings. If you’d like to channel Madonna’s look from the 80s, go for lace skirts and brightly colored stirrup pants.
Madonna suited up in leather jackets, often pairing them with thigh-high leather boots or a black bra. She also made waves with oversized blazers and denim jackets, echoing the era’s love for exaggerated proportions. For that Madonna-inspired look, pick a bomber jacket or an oversized blazer.
Madonna’s Iconic Hair
From the “Like A Virgin” era’s high ponytail to the voluminous curls of “Lucky Star,” Madonna’s hair was a fashion statement in itself. She often added scrunchies, headbands, and oversized bows to amplify her iconic hairstyles.
Madonna-Inspired Hair Styling Tips
Voluminous, wavy hair is key for achieving this look. You can use hair mousse to add volume. As for those tight curls, it’s best to invest in a good curling iron. Scrunchies and bows aren’t just for holding hair – they’re accessories to flaunt. Don’t forget to tease the hair for that authentic 80s volume, too!
Madonna’s Statement Pieces and Accessories
When Madonna attended events or stepped onto the red carpet, it was the accessories that often stole the show.
Madonna’s accessory game was unmatched from the lacy gloves she wore at the MTV Video Music Awards to the chunky necklaces she showed off in the “La Isla Bonita” music video. And don’t even get me started on her “Boy Toy” belt and iconic “Material Girl” look with jelly bracelets; they’re perfect examples of her attention to detail.
In true Madonna manner, every outfit should be paired with statement accessories. To emulate her style, consider layering necklaces and wearing fingerless lace gloves – and don’t forget the oversized hoop earrings that she often paired with her outfits.
Credits: @4k.madonna / Instagram
Madonna’s smokey eye makeup, bold eyeliner, and mascara were her signatures – often completed with deep, red lipstick. Her makeup choices typically mirrored her equally daring clothing choices. Her makeup was always on point, whether on the Blonde Ambition Tour or the Virgin Tour.
The red lipstick – reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe – quickly became her trademark. This fearless makeup and her unique sense of style made her a force to be reckoned with in the 80s.
80s-Inspired Makeup Tutorial
Madonna’s daring 80s look can be achieved with some specific makeup techniques:
- Eyes: Opt for dark shades of eyeshadow – blacks, grays, and purples. Blend well to get the smokey effect. Next, apply a thick eyeliner, preferably black. Curl the lashes and use a volumizing mascara to make those eyes stand out.
- Cheeks: Madonna’s cheeks often had a defined contour. Use a bronzer below the cheekbones and blend it well. Add a hint of blush on the apples of your cheeks for that youthful glow.
- Lips: Madonna’s lips were typically intrepid and red. You can go for a deep red lipstick or a brighter cherry red, depending on your preference. For a more defined look, line the lips with a matching lip liner before applying the lipstick.
- Finishing touches: Set your makeup with a setting spray for that lasting effect, especially if you’re hitting the dance floor like Madonna!
Get Inspired: 10 Iconic Outfits Madonna Wore in the 80s
Madonna’s 80s style transcended mere fashion. It reflected her persona, and each outfit told a story. Here are some standout moments from the decade that left people talking.
#1 Madonna’s MTV Video Music Awards Moments (1984)
Throughout the 80s, Madonna attended the MTV VMAs in outfits that would become instantly iconic. Whether it was the time Madonna channeled Marie Antoinette with a vintage-inspired performance or when Madonna showed a white wedding dress with white gloves while performing “Like a Virgin,” the Queen of Pop always brought something special to the award show.
#2 Virgin Tour (1985)
During Madonna’s Virgin Tour in 1985, she donned a memorable ensemble that embodied her early ’80s style. The key part of her outfit was a bright and colorful jacket – mainly a rough blend of yellow, purple, and white. Pairing that with her purple skirt, reminiscent of her 80s punk-inspired aesthetic, represents her fearless approach to fashion and her ability to constantly reinvent her look while maintaining a provocative edge.
#3 “Desperately Seeking Susan” (1985)
Madonna’s jacket in the film “Desperately Seeking Susan” (1985) became an iconic fashion symbol of the ’80s. With a distinct pyramid-and-eye design, the bedazzled thrift-store find perfectly captured the film’s bohemian and rebellious spirit. It further solidified Madonna’s status as a style influencer and pop culture sensation of the era.
#4 “Material Girl” Music Video (1985)
Channelling Marilyn Monroe, Madonna’s pink gown and sparkling jewelry in the “Material Girl” music video were reminiscent of Hollywood’s golden era. But with her unique spin, she turned a classic look into something unmistakably “Madonna.”
#5 American Music Awards (1985)
Madonna’s 1985 American Music Awards outfit was a daring statement, to say the least. She wore a black corset dress paired with lace stockings and fingerless gloves. This outfit exemplified her unique blend of punk, pop, and provocative style – further solidifying her status as a trendsetter and cultural icon in the mid-’80s.
#6 Who’s That Girl (1987)
With a red skirt and a black leather jacket, Madonna dominated in the 1987 movie “Who’s That Girl.” Moreover, she paired the red-and-black outfit with fire-red lips, a platinum bob hairstyle, and a black hat.
The outfit for this movie was a perfect combination of her daring personality and intelligent intuition.
#7 Like a Prayer (1989)
Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” outfit in 1989 featured a black slip dress and a cross necklace. The outfit was simultaneously minimalist and provocative, reflecting her transition to a more mature and controversial image. The use of religious symbols sparked some intense debates – making it an influential moment in Madonna’s fashion evolution and the pop culture landscape of the late ’80s.
#8 Express Yourself (1989)
In Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” she sported a powerful and androgynous look, featuring a tailored pinstripe suit, a cone-shaped corset, and a wide-brimmed hat. This outfit symbolized her message of female empowerment, challenging gender norms, and asserting herself as a pop culture icon in the late ’80s.
#9 Blond Ambition Tour & The Jean Paul Gaultier Cone Bra (1990)
One of the most unforgettable pieces Madonna wore was the cone bra designed by Jean Paul Gaultier during her Blond Ambition Tour. This bold underwear-as-outerwear moment was more than fashion – it was a statement of femininity and power.
The yellow corseted gown, also made by Gaultier, was another testament to Madonna’s fearless fashion choices.
#10 The Oscars With Michael Jackson (1991)
I know I’m venturing into the 90s territory here, but when Madonna arrived at the 1991 Oscars – hand in hand with Michael Jackson, no less – she was the epitome of glam. Draped in a white ensemble with the perfect blend of elegance and her signature “edge,” she once again left an unforgettable mark on the red carpet.
Madonna’s Legacy Beyond the 80s
The 80s might’ve been Madonna’s breakthrough decade, but her fashion influence remained strong for years to come. The ’90s saw her in the “Girlie Show,” with a top hat and a black corset. And later, in the 2000s, her “American Pie” video gave glimpses of her ever-evolving style, with a nod to the 80s.
Madonna’s fashion journey has been one of experimentation and self-expression. Her outfits from the 80s – whether it was the “Lucky Star” leather jacket, the “La Isla Bonita” brightly colored dresses, or the thigh-high leather boots she rocked on stage – have left their marks on fashion history. In fact, they still inspire designers, artists, and fans to this day.
Long after the 80s era had passed, Madonna’s 80s look inspired many fashion trends to come – and she remains an unrivaled fashion icon in that sense.
The Queen of Pop has left an indelible mark on 80s fashion. Her audacious choices, fearlessness in challenging norms, and exceptional ability to blend music and fashion made her an icon. More than her outfits, though, Madonna’s attitude, spirit of rebellion, and confidence made her truly stand out.
Madonna’s 80s look wasn’t just about fashion; it was a statement. And now, with this guide, you have the tools to embrace – and recreate – Madonna’s style. Whether you’re hitting the dance podium or attending a theme party, with a touch of lace here and a daring lipstick there, you’ll be all set to rock Madonna’s signature 80s look.
Also – stay true to your natural beauty and preferences. Most people have no difficulty mimicking and replicating someone’s style – but true beauty is an art that can’t be obtained if we continually strive to simply copy something.
I’d love to see your Madonna-inspired outfits! Share them in the comment section below, or tag me on Instagram or Pinterest!