Back to the future - Your ultimate guide to 80s accessories

First published: 21-10-2015


October 21st 2015 was the day that Marty McFly arrived in the future in Back to the Future II, and to celebrate such a momentous occasion, and in appreciation of the current craze for all things 80s, we decided to take a look back at our favourite fashions that dominated the decade.

Ray-Ban wayfarers and aviators

Tom Cruise led the way when it came to sunglasses in the 80s. The second he arrived on screen in 1983's Risky Business, fans everywhere went crazy for Ray-Ban Wayfarers, making them one of the quintessential accessories of the decade.

Three years later, Top Gun took our breath away, and aviators were the coolest thing since sliced bread... again!

Both these looks were pretty hard to miss in the 80s, and are in no danger of ever going out of style.

Swatch watches

Swatch Watch

Any 80s kid worth their salt had a Swatch. In fact, the more Swatches you had on your arm at once, the cooler you were.

This is probably why it was totally normal to see five or six watches all over someone's wrist, all with different colours and patterns, and a bit of neon thrown in for good measure.

Swatch continues to have a huge range of watches that capture the 80s look perfectly, so if you're looking for a retro accessory this is the ideal solution!


Specifically, white ones under black trousers. Gents, think Michael Jackson in the Billie Jean video - you want to be showing off plenty of those socks around your ankles!


We have the ultimate pop princess, Madonna, to thank for this one. She rocked up in Desperately Seeking Susan with an oversized bow in her carelessly gorgeous hair and suddenly everyone wanted one.

Big bows give you instant 80s glamour, and are the perfect way to, ahem, express yourself.

Leg warmers

Leg Warmers

While some people were all about showing off their socks, others developed a penchant for covering their ankles with as much material as physically possible in the form of leg warmers.

The craze began in 1980 when Fame decided that leg warmers should, indeed, live forever, and every wannabe dancer knew these were these were the ultimate accessory. Flashdance cemented this opinion three years later, and thus an 80s style staple was born.

Any sports-wear was considered acceptable clothing in the 80s, thanks to the combined efforts of Olivia Newton-John and Jane Fonda. To complete the look, all you need is a super-slim-fit leotard, stirrup leggings, and sweatbands. Working out has never been more fun.


Not the neat little necklaces favoured in the 50s, but endless strings of pearls around necks and wrists was a big fashion statement of the 80s. Again, Madonna led the way with this one, with help from Cyndi Lauper, and now pearls have become synonymous with 80s glam.

Piano key tie

Let's face it, this style choice is up there with the mullet for one of the biggest mistakes of 80s fashion, but boy was it popular at the time!

It has become so closely associated with the fashions of the 1980s, and the 2001 comedy Zoolander immortalised it forever. For an 80s style staple, you can't go wrong with one of these beauties.



If you're really going the whole nine yards to channel the 80s style, you need a boombox on your shoulder. If strangers can't hear your music from streets away, you're not doing it right.

The 80s were a truly spectacular time for fashion, and the emerging retro trend is giving us reason to fall in love with the trademark styles all over again. From the bows and boomboxes to the coolest wrist-wear, these accessories will give you instant 80s charm and appeal.


Related articles