Big hair, bright colors, deafeningly loud outfits, and a lot of pastels. The 1980s are perhaps the most notorious style period in recent memory, looked back upon with equal parts awe and ridicule. For all the embarrassing misfires though, a handful of celebrities across all occupations managed to get it right, using the experimentative era to display a strong sense of icon-making style sensibilities and bold new directions in an image. Others were just simply fresh, steering clear of the mistakes their peers made. These are the stars who both did it right during the ’80s and did right by the ’80s. Read on for The 25 Most Stylish Celebrities of the ’80s.
Claim to fame: Roseanne; Facts of Life
Before hitting it big with ER, Clooney took his first steps toward A-lister heartthrob stardom by romancing Jackie during the first season of Roseanne. Clooney dressed like the boy next door, which in the ’80s meant tucking in his shirt with everything and hiking his pant waist as high as possible. His star began to really rise towards the end of the decade, specifically whenever he was seen around town with then-girlfriend Kelly Preston.
Anthony Michael Hall
If Molly Ringwald was the teen queen of the ’80s then AMH was the geek prince. His roles in John Hughes’ quintessential films Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club solidified him as a member of Hollywood’s Brat Pack, the then reigning class of teenage actor royalty. As such, most of his time in between a steady workload was spent flossing with fellow stylish members like Robert Downey Jr., who we’ll see later.
Claim to fame: The Outsiders; The Breakfast Club; Repo Man
Charlie Sheen’s older brother was the star of the family for most of the ’80s, and as one of the leading members of the Brat Pack, his style was actually pretty similar to buddy Rob Lowe, with only slightly less impressive execution.
Claim to fame: Full House
Stamos’ reign as the country’s leading heartthrob began in the late ’80s with a little show called Full House. Much like Don Johnson and Miami Vice, Uncle Jesse was more than just a character Stamos played. John was Jesse and Jesse’s swag—enviable mullet, leather jacket, and an assortment of blazers—extended to the actor’s real-life image as well.
Occupation: Rock musician
Claim to fame: The River; Nebraska; Born in the U.S.A.; Tunnel of Love
The Boss is a defining symbol of Americana, as heavily reflected in his style just as much as his music. As such, his go-to outfits, even in the face of international fame, were almost always a basic leather jacket, white tee, blue jeans. And yet no one ever managed to make basic look as cool as Springsteen did.
Occupation: Punk rock musician
Claim to Fame: Billy Idol; Rebel Smile; Whiplash
The punk rocker had a signature attitude and wild rocker steez that was on full display through his wardrobe, which consisted of lots of leather and bleached blonde spiked hair. The iconic look would even go on to inspire one of pop culture’s most stylish vampires.
Occupation: Rock/Pop musician
Claim to fame: 21 At 33; The Fox, Jump Up!; Too Low For Zero; Breaking Hearts; Ice on Fire; Leather Jackets; Reg Strikes Back; Sleeping with the Past
Like his fellow glam-rock member David Bowie, Elton became widely known for his weird outfits, particularly during live shows. And just like Bowie, he managed to push image boundaries without becoming gimmicky, though the late-’70s and ’80s featured his strangest, most experimental looks.
Claim to fame: Risky Business; Top Gun; The Color of Money; All the Right Moves
Cruise started the decade with a bang, scoring his first leading role relatively early into his career with Risky Business and following that with Top Gun not long after. With those high-profile (and future classics) features under his belt, plus highly publicized romances with Rebecca de Mornay and Mimi Rogers, TC went from a newcomer in ’81 to one of the decade’s premier superstars by ’86. His style showed as much range as his acting, and he either channeled his inner American rebel or perfected the tee under blazer look.
For more 80s celebrities with the best fashions, click “Next.”