The ’80s were an iconic decade for fashion and style. Today, elements of the era are back – including many hairstyles for men. From the majestic mullet to wild curls and bleached blond punk looks, the ’80s offers a wide variety of inspiration for your hair. Check out these modern takes on the retro classics.
The mullet is one of the most iconic men’s hairstyles of the ’80s. Short at the front and long in the back, it is surprisingly flattering and suits many different face shapes. Plus, a mullet always stands out from the crowd. From athletes to fashion tastemakers, the mullet is coming back into style. It suits guys who want a statement haircut with a quirky edge.
2. Flat Top
The flat top – a type of high top fade with a smooth, table-like look – remains one of the boldest haircuts for men. Because it looks so unusual, it will ensure all eyes are on you. It suits both Afro-textured and straight hair types. There are several options when it comes to embracing the flat top. You can recreate the classic ’80s look by blowdrying your hair straight up and using a strong-hold product to keep it in place. Alternatively, go for a short, neat, modern take that requires less styling and effort.
3. Tall Mohawk
The ’80s punk era was all about oversized mohawks. A rebellious, wild, and edgy style, the mohawk makes a bold statement and places you at the center of attention. Adapt your mohawk by teaming it with a taper, braided sides, or a fade. You can also give a tall mohawk a more polished feel by slicking it back or give it a rugged, masculine twist by pairing it with a full beard.
One of the most iconic trends of the ’80s was the perm. However, while the tightly-coiled ‘poodle’ look may have been fashionable then, today’s perms are far more natural and flattering. Perms can last up to six months and can be combined with lots of other styles, like undercuts and fades, for a modern twist. Try a medium length style and use a curl-defining serum to get your hair looking on point.
5. High Top Fade
The high top fade found popularity during the golden age of hip-hop. Back then, the flat top – a very smooth and angular type of high-top fade – was one of the trendiest looks for men. Today, it’s advisable to choose a high top fade that suits you. Whether you pair it with twists, a line up, or another variation, your high top fade will look cool and interesting.
6. Jheri Curl
The Jheri curl is an iconic 1980s hairstyle for black men. Stars from R&B singer Lionel Richie to pop superstar Michael Jackson and rapper Ice Cube had Jheri curls. A specific type of perm, the Jheri curl technique, gives Afro-textured hair loose yet defined curls with a glossy finish. It’s a statement style that has a retro appeal and works on all hair lengths, from short to very long.
7. Long Waves
Long, curly – or wavy – hair was in style in the ’80s. From shoulder-length locks to a wild mane, long hair with natural texture is a sexy and masculine look. Once your hair is long enough, use sea salt spray to give yourself surfer-style waves. Effortlessly cool and relaxed, the style looks as good today as it did back then.
8. Slick Back
If you need inspiration for your slick back, look no further than the 1987 movie Wall Street. Back then, the hairstyle was a favorite among stockbrokers and businessmen. Today, it’s popular with guys everywhere. To maintain the wet look of the slick back, use gel and shine hairspray instead of more matte products when you style your hair and use a fine comb.
The pompadour is all about volume, so it’s no wonder it was so popular in the ’80s. Like the elephant trunk, the classic pomp came back into style with the ’50s revival and rockabilly trends. Opt for the traditional ultra-high, slick pompadour if you want your hair to do all the talking.
10. Shoulder Length
While the ’70s is best known for long hair, shoulder-length hair became a defining trend of the ’80s. Whether curly, wavy, or straight, shoulder-length hair looks great. It has a casual and laidback vibe, and you can wear it loose or tie it back in a low man bun.
11. Bleached Hair
Pop stars like Billy Idol made bleached hair popular three decades ago, and, for guys who aren’t afraid to stand out, the trend has never really gone away. If you’re thinking of taking the plunge, go to a professional rather than trying it at home. Bleaching can do a lot of damage to your hair, and if yours is naturally very dark, you may require a few sessions to get it to an icy platinum hue.
12. Slick Back Quiff
The quiff is one of the most simple and versatile hairstyles for men. To give yours that 1980s Johnny Depp look, try the slick back quiff. Use pomade to give your hair a semi-wet, almost oily look, and use your hands to push your hair back. The key is to make it look effortlessly cool, rather than smooth and neat.
13. Wild Natural Curls
Curly hair was a massive trend in the ’80s. Now it’s back in style for men. Whether short, mid-length, or long, guys lucky enough to have waves and coils should make the most of their natural texture. If your hair is naturally straight, try a modern perm. The new techniques and formulas will give you a natural effect, rather than tight coils or the ‘poodle’ look – some trends should stay in the ’80s.
14. Feathered Hair
The feathered hairstyle was popular in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and it is coming back into style now. Developed for straight or wavy mid-length hair, it involves cutting in layers, center-parting and then pushing the layers back. It looks best on those with angular and longer faces as – like most center-part hairstyles – it can make round faces look even wider.
The punk movement made rebellious hairstyles like mohawks and undercuts popular in the ’80s, and they are still a favorite hairstyle for men today. Pair your undercut with volume and texture for a faux mohawk effect. It will give you all the attitude of the era without making you look outdated.
16. Elephant Trunk
Also known as a messy pompadour or wavy pompadour, the elephant trunk first became popular among Greasers in the 1950s. The Rockabilly trend in the ’80s brought it back into fashion, and it was memorably worn by Duckie in the classic movie Pretty In Pink. Today, the elephant trunk makes for an interesting twist on a classic pompadour, and it is still a strong statement.
17. Long Comb Over with Texture
One of the more casual and timeless ’80s hairstyles is the long comb over with texture. Part your hair on the side and blowdry it upwards, so there’s plenty of lift. Your hair should look volumized, rather than flat, for the classic ’80s finish. Next, use a volumizing powder or spray and work it through to add some definition to your hair, so it looks relaxed and casual, rather than fluffy.
18. Pink Hair
The ’80s New Wave movement was all about self-expression and wild, unnatural hair color – like pink – was part of the subculture’s style. Today, guys are embracing pink hair as a cool and stylish statement. Ideal if you work in a creative industry, it shows off your personality and bold attitude. It’s still a men’s hair color that has a rebellious, subversive, and edgy feel.
What were popular hairstyles in the '80s?
Some of the most popular hairstyles of the 80s included the mullet, flat top, tall mohawk, perm, and high top fade.
Are 80s hairstyles coming back?
The hairstyles of the 80s are back. However, like all returned trends, this time around, they feature modern updates and interpretations. Mullets are featuring more shag-like texture and subtle shapes, while mohawks are more Viking than punk. The perms have evolved to give much better, healthier results, and sleek styles like the pompadour, quiff, and slick back are more likely to be seen in bars and restaurants than just on Wall St.
How did men wear their hair in the 80s?
Men had a lot of variety to choose from when it came to hairstyles in the 80s. There were lots of length with styles like the mullet, Jheri curl, long waves, perm, shoulder-length hair, wild natural curls, feathered hair, and a long comb over. Shorter options included the flat top, mohawk, high top fade, slick back, a pompadour, slicked back quiff, and undercut. Lastly, like the colors in fashion, hair shades were bold, featuring bleached blonde and pink as popular choices.
How do you get big 80s hair?
Embrace the volume of the 80s by befriending the right styling products and tools. Run mousse through wet hair to start. Then, use a blow dryer and large, round brush to blow dry up from the roots, securing even more volume. Depending on the style, you can also backcomb your hair; however, this can cause damage, so do it sparingly. Lastly, add more texture and finish off your chosen style with a high hold product like wax or clay and a final spritz of hairspray.
Arabella Roden is a skilled writer and sub-editor with over ten years of experience across print, digital, and B2B. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and specializes in beauty, hairstyles, fashion, tattoos, and lifestyle topics. Arabella is currently the Chief Sub Editor at Mecca Brands and has been writing for The Trend Spotter since 2019.
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