by Jennifer Smith July 19, 2023 8 min read

Generation X must have had several moments of nostalgia for the past few years. Many of the trends and aesthetics they witnessed in the early years of their lives are making a comeback. Be it the 80s punk fashion, preppy style, or the grunge aesthetic, many trends that emerged in those eras are still getting the hype they deserved. With social media playing its role in creating the buzz around these trends, it's high time we delve deeper into them.  In this blog, we will explore the nitty-gritty of 80s punk fashion. 

Retrospecting the 1980s Punk Fashion

Newer generations engrossed in fashion are keenly interested in the punk rock subculture, mainly due to its rebellious roots. They love to recreate the fun retro looks and want to feel the same free-spirited vibes associated with the punk style. To begin with, Punk was a style of rebellious youth who refused to bow down to conformities and boldly portrayed their own style that negated the mainstream culture. 

The anti establishment punk scene started in the late 70s and was popularized in the 80s. Designer Vivienne Westwood played a key role in British punk fashion and was considered an icon of the movement.  Music artists, including Billy Idol, Madonna, and Debbie Harry, also played a huge role in popularizing punk, and their fashion sense was as rebellious as their music. These celebrities personified the punk spirit of rebellion and nonconformity, inspiring the young generation to express themselves through their clothing and music choices.

DIY (do-it-yourself) was the crux of this movement, with youngsters crafting their own unique style of clothing and accessories. Ripped clothing, leather jackets, denim, graphic tees, leather boots, and lots of studs, spikes and buckles were associated with the subculture, as were eccentric hairstyles and heavy makeup. 

Punk Style Fundamentals

Almost all styling elements for the punks speak loudly of nonconformity, giving strong vibes of disaffection and rebellion. Most of the options were for men and women alike, as a primary motive of the punk movement was to defy stereotypical feminine style clothing. Here are the quintessential punk elements that you can opt for to express your unique choices. 

Graphic Tees 

Whether you stand by a certain political sentiment or love a music band, punk style is all about expressing it all. A classic way to do so is to wear graphic tees or band tees with slogans you want to convey.

Leather Jacket 

A classic punk leather jacket is the ultimate representation of punk style, the go-to pick for layering needs.  Typically, the jackets would be black Moto ones. Leather is considered a tough material, so it aligns with the strong punk vibes. Go for leather jackets with spikes, studs, and patches to enliven the true rebel spirit.


Another popular item mostly worn by punks was a denim or leather vest, either distressed or decorated with lots of punk patches, studs and spikes.

Plaid Shirts and Pants 

A substantial trend frequently opted for by the punks was the excessive use of plaid clothing, specifically tartan. the plaid shirt, pants, and skirts were symbolic of the radical movement. 

Ripped Jeans

A great way of going against the normal culture of the 80s was to wear ripped jeans, different from the sophisticated preppy style pants. Whether slightly distressed or badly torn, ripped jeans were a punk rocker thing.

Leather Pants 

One of the garments that stand out massively are leather pants, corresponding to the offbeat style of punks. These are mostly fitted, giving an edgy look with graphic t-shirts or flannels.

Combat Boots 

High top laced leather boots, especially in black, were the go-to footwear in the 80s punk culture. Fast forward to the current fashion scene, black combat boots are still having a moment as if they were invented recently.

Converse Sneakers

When punks did not wear boots, they picked Converse sneakers to round off their unconventional looks. Comfortable yet trendy, sneakers gave the kind of devil-may-care vibes punks liked. 

Punk Rock Style Elements

Apart from the usual clothing and footwear options, several accessories and elements were a part of the punk subculture. They added the classic rebellious touch to the outfits, making punks look highly expressive, dangerous and aggressive. Adding any of these elements to your outfits will give punk rocker vibes.


Adding metal chains to belts, pants, jackets, and jewelry is one classic way to give a punk statement. Punk lovers frequently used chains from their garage or tool shed in DIY ornamentation of their outfits.


Buckles have always been an important component of punk attire. And we are not just talking about belts here. In punk fashion, buckles can be on jackets, leather pant, boots, armbands, leather necklaces, and even hats. 


Just as the other punk clothing and accessories differ from what society usually wears, the belts, too, are an outward expression of the style. Specifically, belts with chains, spikes and studs were a part of the punk attire.

Studs and Spikes 

You cannot identify yourself as a punk rocker without owning at least one incredibly stylish spiked and studded leather jacket. The metal details added to the leather jacket give it edgy vibes, a form of creative self expression by the punks.

Safety Pins

Basically used to look like holding tattered pieces of clothing together, safety pins were one of the outlandish elements of hardcore punk fashion. Besides clothing, safety pins were also used as body piercings. 


Cutting out pieces of fabric from one piece of clothing and adding it to another is one of the DIY ornamentations that punks usually do. It is also a way to personalize a piece of clothing. 


Leather masks with studs, spikes, buckles, and holes add a symbolic touch to your punk ensembles.


Bandanas, especially red and black ones, were frequently worn headgear by punk rockers.

Revival of Trends From 80s Punk Fashion 

Who knew the subculture that originated against the odds to defy mainstream culture would stand the test of time? Punk fashion has found its way through the fashion loving youth's wardrobes, and is more popular than ever before. Punk lovers follow all the iconic trends of the aesthetic, and ace designers keep showcasing punk inspired collections on the runway.

As sustainability measures like clothes upcycling and DIY influence today's fashion big time, it aligns with the spirit of punk rockers who started doing this back in the 1980s. Punks literally incorporated elements in their outfits that were found around the house, such as chains and pins. Turning an ordinary leather jacket into a punk jacket with these was quite the norm.

A great thing about punk fashion elements is that they can be merged with other aesthetics and subcultures. A fashionista who wants to learn how to be a baddie can wear punk inspired ripped jeans, black leather jackets, or chained accessories, or a vintage aesthetic follower can opt for plaid pants or graphic t shirts. 

Punk Hairstyles 

Eccentric hairdos were incredibly popular among punk fashionistas, as they aided in creating an empowering, nonconformist identity. The unusual haircuts included:

  • Mohwaks, which was basically hair styled into a strip down the center of the head. Nowadays, mohawk styles are very much in fashion, but the variations trending now are subtle and wearable. 
  • Another style was the Mullet, with short hair at the sides and front and long, flicky ends at the back. 
  • Hair styled into sharp upward spikes was quintessentially punk. 
  • Brightly colored hair was common among the punks, with hair dyed in vibrant hues such as purple and blue. 
  • Skinheads style was another famed hairstyle, which included short hair on the back and sides, while the hair on top stayed longer and messy.

80s Punk Rock Outfits for Men 

You don’t need to fret much about outfit coordination skills to be a punk. Here are some ensemble ideas for men to build 80s punk inspired looks. 

  • Try pairing a basic black t shirt with distressed blue tapered jeans. Show your gravitation towards punk style with a black leather jacket with spikes, black laced high top boots, and multiple wristbands. A spiked hairdo would add the perfect touch to this outlandish look. 
  • Build an edgy look with an extra dose of punk by teaming up a white and black slogan t shirt and black torn jeans. Layer the outfit with a patched cardigan, and accessorize with punk leather gloves, a bucket hat, and dark lined eyes. 
  • Another eccentric look can be created with plaid pants. Channel the inner punk with a black graphic t-shirt, red and black tartan pants, a chained belt, and mismatched shoes. To punch up this look, a punk style denim jacket will be highly voguish. 


Punk Style Outfits for Women 

Only a few staples would differ from men’s punk fashion, but women’s outfits can actually test your sartorial ability. 

  • Wear a black slogan tee along with fitted leather pants. Add a beanie to the look to stay warm.  The choice of footwear with this get-up can be Doc Martens boots or low top converse sneakers. 
  • You can also wear a black tank top and torn skinny jeans with a red and black flannel. Military style boots and a black beanie would perfectly complement the look. 
  • Go against the conventional style by opting for a purple and black punk look. A band tee with purple and black plaid pants accessorized with a spiked leather belt is easy to throw together. You can level up the punk vibes with buckled military boots and gloves.
  • Another way to look punk without putting in a lot of effort is to choose a statement red studded leather jacket. All you need is a black t shirt and leggings to pull off this look right. Inject some high fashion with red platform heeled sandals. 


Custom Punk Leather Jackets

If you want to express your penchant for the punk subculture, there is nothing that could help you do it better than a personalized punk leather jacket. With Leather Skin Shop’s custom leather jackets, you can channel your inner punk with any details that you want, be it studs, spikes, patches, or buttons. Whether you want to accentuate your true spirit of nonconformity or just want to dress like a punk, a good quality leather jacket with punk elements will make a strong statement. 


What did punks usually wear in the 1980s?

As the mainstream punk fashion scene emerged in the UK, fans of the subculture started wearing graphic t-shirts, leather jackets, ripped jeans, chunky soled boots, and plaid shirts and pants. Leopard print pants, bondage pants, fishnet stockings, and spiked and studded clothing items were also preferred choices.

How can you dress like 80s punk rock style?

To dress like 80s rock fashion, incorporate silver toned metal details such as chains, studs, spikes into your outfits. Fitted leather pants, an oversized graphic t-shirt, and a black leather jacket are the befitting choice to look like a rock artist from the 80s. For footwear, don’t go for anything else than laced up combat boots. The chunkier the sole of your boots, the better the punk rock look.

What are some fundamentals of 80s punk fashion?

The typical wardrobe of a punk fashion follower in the 80s included slogan t shirts, distressed jeans, leather jackets, tartan pants, flannels, and leather pants. Footwear choices were Doc Martens, converse sneakers, and military boots, and add accessories like studded belts, chains, and spiked wristbands were must haves. The trends weren’t limited to clothing and accessories. Body piercings, tattoos, dark eyeliner, and asymmetric, brightly colored hairstyles also impacted the punk look.

What were the 80s punk fashion hairstyles?

The most popular punk fashion hairstyles included mohawks, mullets, and skinheads. Punks also shaved their heads as a part of their rebellious nature, while others would color their hair bright and make spiky hairdos to make a stand out style statement.


The era of punk sure began in the 80s, but the trends that made up the subculture are still going strong. It doesn't look like these edgy style leather jackets, combat boots, or punk inspired hairdos would die anytime soon. A proof of this is the 80s punk fashion trends that are massively followed on social media. If you relate to the punk ideology, you can go ahead and try any of the style suggestions mentioned above to recreate the looks.

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