Affordable 80s Jeans That Could Turn Back Time
Fashion never dies, it just hibernates. Still, without evidence, it’s difficult to remember that everything we’re wearing has been done before. When brands unveil their latest collections our oohs and ahhs are really odes to foregone fashion eras. We’re okay with that. I can’t think of anything people love more than nostalgia.
The millennial generation has been focused on body inclusivity and sustainability. Jeans that accentuate our butts rather than flatten them is innovative. Oh, and make sure you upcycle your denim and use ethical labor.
We’re not rocking the boat with new designs - no design is ever new. Our gift to the fashion world is offering plus-sized and curvy collections as a standard. Yes, future generations will thank us for fixing the problem with limited bra sizing. The latter end of this decade will be forever known as the era of “Clothes That Actually Fit.”
While we’ve achieved a lot of good, some subtle fashion shenanigans have gone under the radar. We’re currently in a pants phase that I like to call “ankles be damned, and it needs to be addressed.
Every single pair of pants on the market is cropped, and with little protection for our ankles, I don’t know how they’ve survived the last three seasons. My ankles have tan lines that look like the opposite of house arrest. In fact, these tan lines speak to house freedom and the mosquito bites on my ankles prove I’m just a buffet in Mother Nature’s ecosystem.
This experience causes me to mentally escape to a time when jeans may have been pin-rolled, but ankles were protected by several inches of thick white socks. I escape to the 80s when fashion-especially denim- was inconvenient. This was a time when Cher and Diana Ross danced all night in jeans that weighed as much as them. Still, I have to believe that if they knew then what we know now they’d opt for the more ethical pair and they’d support brands that made trendy jeans available to everyone.
These are the 80s jeans your favorite 80s style icons would’ve totally worn.
Grey Mom Fit Jeans
$60 at time of publication
This photo of Cher vibing at Studio 54 illustrates how I want to feel every day. If I could ask “studio 54 Cher” what her recipe was for looking so overtaken with joy, I’m sure she’d say it was 100% the denim and nothing else. Well, maybe the suspenders as well. I, too, lose it over a well-styled suspenders. To copy this look you’ll for sure need these Grey Mom Fit Jeans and make sure you don’t forget the suspenders.
These 80s jeans are available at shop.mango.com.
Ripped X-Long Mom Jean
$50 at the time of publication
This photo convinces me that Madonna invented airport style. Airport style is a skill. Not everyone has the forethought to put together a high-key trendy outfit that’s low-key comfortable. A loose fit basic tee, leather biker jacket and thick white socks ( because planes are cold) and trendy jeans are the go-to airport ensemble. Still, I think given the option I think Madonna would opt for a ripped Mom Jean for even greater lightweight comfort. Oh, and the x-long style is a must for a commanding cuff.
These 80s jeans are available at ae.com.
Women’s 90s Cheeky Straight Jean
$78 at time of publication
Lisa Bonet (Lilakoi Moon) might very well be Mother Nature in the flesh. And, last time I checked, the enchantress still looks exactly. like. this.
For Bonet, a good pair of jeans needs no embellishment beyond the natural curve of a woman’s body. Everlane’s new cheeky jean accomplishes just that with their tapered waist design and butt-lifting pockets. Add to them Everlane’s sustainability practices and you have the perfect jean for Bonet.
These 80s jeans are available at everlane.com.
Mid Blue Straight Ripped Jeans
$90 at the time of publication
Tina Turner is one of the greatest Rock & Roll performers of all time and she definitively has the best legs of all time. So, when she trades in her signature mini-dress for ripped jeans, a basic white tee, black booties, and stringed pearls - for a touch of class- it’s a statement. This look is pure rock and roll and River Island’s straight ripped jeans make the perfect statement jean.
These 80s jeans are available at us.riverisland.com.
Levi’s Medium Wash Wedgie Fit Jeans
$98 at the time of publication
In one of many captivating Debbie Harry performances, she sported Levi’s classic yet lesser-known 505 style. In a Telegraph interview, Levi’s historian, Tracey Panek said the 505 was dubbed the “coming of age jean.”
The design of Levi’s 505 was largely a convenience play. The straight-leg silhouette was the same as Levi’s Original 501 but rather than a button fly the 505 used a zip fly which was more flattering and convenient. Debbie Harry adored the 505 and wore them repeatedly during performances. But, if Debbie Harry had to do it all over again we’re certain she’d wear Levi’s Wedgie Fit Jeans. They’re lighter weight, would flatter Harry’s waist and butt and come in a variety of sizes.
These 80s jeans are available at levi.com.
$128 at time of publication
Oh to be a fly on the wall at Studio 54 while Diana Ross danced all night long in her sandal sling-backs, ripped tank, and perfectly tailored jeans. Reformation’s brand is built on effortless femininity and celebration of the female form. Divinely feminine describes Ross and her legacy perfectly. Well, that and a relentless proclivity to boogie. Reformation’s Willow Jean has an inseam high enough and a waist tapered enough to facilitate Diana Ross’s best dance moves until the sun comes up.
These 80s jeans are available at thereformation.com.
Unif Twerk Jeans
$120 at the time of publication
Of course Pam Anderson made boyfriend wear sexy in the 80s. Those jeans were not just distressed, they were in a full-blown panic state and so was every teenage boy, and girl. Not just any pair of jeans would’ve worked for her. No, they needed to be comfortable, they needed to be cheeky. They needed to look like she rolled out of bed impossibly stunning and threw on a pair of her flavor-of-the-month’s jeans. They needed to look like Unif’s Twerk Jeans.
These 80s jeans are available at shopbop.com.
Washed Black Raw Hem Straight Leg Jeans
$30 at the time of publication
Could Cher have known how much of a statement her “I’d Rather Believe in You” photoshoot would make? Each camera flash bore a new subtle movement. Still, the shoot was so iconic that even Kim Kardashian felt compelled to recreate it. That image is a reminder that merely existing is beautiful, especially when you’re Cher.
The Washed Black Raw Hem Straight Leg Jeans from Topshop are the perfect affordable jeans to recreate the look. If these jeans were available then, Cher would totally go for them.
These 80s jeans are available at topshop.com.
High Rise Rolled Hem Mom Jeans
$60 at the time of publication
Sarah Jessica Parker came out of the womb a fashion icon. No matter the decade, no matter the trend, she’s never missed a beat. The woman can’t get it wrong. When you find a throwback photo of SJP leaning against a red vintage drop-top in a tuxedo jacket, pill rolled jeans, white sneakers, and thick, socks you just nod and take it in.
These 80s jeans are available at urbanoutfitters.com.
Levi’s 501 Original Dark Wash
No list of 80s jeans could be considered authentic without Levi’s 501 jeans. The 501 jean is as much of an 80s fashion icon as Brooke Shields is. And Brooke is no stranger to the power of a good pair of jeans. You may have seen her throwback Calvin Klein jeans campaign.
Well, it caused quite the uproar in the 80s. A then 15-year-old model, Brook Shields, appeared in Calvin Klein ads in a revealing button-down shirt and their straight leg skinny jeans. Some Americans were none too pleased. The commercial was pulled from airing in CBS’s and ABC’s New York market.
If Brooke had to do it all over again, I’m hoping she would but in Levi’s 501s since the Original Calvin Klein jeans are no longer available.
These 80s jeans are available at levi.com.
Grey Pleat Mom Jeans
$80 at the time of publication
Before Janet invited nasty folks to call her “Miss Jackson,” she sang a song called “Young Love.” The chorus went like this:
Ring around the roses
Searching for a heart so true
A pocket full of posies
All adds up to me and you”
Who needs love? Am I right? Nobody can hug you tighter than a pair of good jeans. I like to imagine that rather than young Janet searching for love, she searched for these Grey Pleat Mom Jeans to complete her look.
These 80s jeans area available at topshop.com.