The Television Shows That Influenced Fashion the Most in the 80’s

Dynasty poster
Dynasty poster

Many people who didn’t live through it, and some who did, might think of the 80’s as a decade known for fashions that tended toward the outlandish and the outrageous. A lot of the ideas can be written off to the old adage of “seemed like a good idea at the time.” But there is no denying that the fashion choices were often bold, and there’s something to be said for not playing it safe that still applies to fashion today. It’s better to take a chance and possibly hit a fashion home run, even if means the chance that you strike out, rather than settling for a bunt single. People will at least remember those who went big or went home, as opposed to those who played it safe and are quickly forgotten.

One other notable trait about fashion in the 80’s was how much it was influenced by what was going on in television. While fashion itself might not have had its finest moment in the decade, there’s no denying that the 80’s represented a seriously great era for television. Whether they were critically acclaimed or immensely popular, many shows from those years are remembered quite fondly. And, at the time, many of those same shows went a long way to impressing upon people ideas for what they should wear. In fact, if you raided the closets of most fashion-minded people in the 1980’s, chances are you could find parts of their wardrobe that were direct descendants of their favorite shows.

Television continues to influence fashion, and one of the most fashionable shows in recent years was the teen drama Gossip Girl; if you’d like to relive that show, what better way than a Gossip Girl tour of all the show’s famous locations in New York City. Now let’s look back at three shows that were impactful on viewers in terms of what the characters wore as much as what they did.

Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas in Miami Vice
Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas in Miami Vice

Miami Vice

Famously pitched as “MTV Cops,” this NBC Friday night staple followed the exploits of a pair of narcotics officers who patrolled the streets and waters of Miami. Many men watched star Don Johnson closely; hence the 80’s boom in neon-colored sports jackets, t-shirts underneath those jackets, and stubble.

Dynasty poster spotlighting 1980's style
Dynasty poster spotlighting 1980’s style


If you wanted to look opulent in the 80’s, there’s a good chance you watched each week on ABC to see what the Carrington family was going to do next. The show was known for catfights, over-the-top performances by stars like Joan Collins, and excellent pointers if you wanted to dress like the rich and famous.

Sarah Jessica Parker in Square Pegs
Sarah Jessica Parker in Square Pegs

Square Pegs

This comedy starring a young Sarah Jessica Parker ran for only a single season in the early 80’s on CBS. But it provided a pretty good snapshot for what it was like to be a teenager at the time, from the way they talked, the music they listened to, and, more than anything, how they dressed.

The 80’s was a great time to be around if you were both a fashion maven and a television connoisseur. These three shows stood out, but there were many that cast a long shadow on the fashion choices in that memorable decade.

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