These ’80s-Inspired Halloween Costumes are Super Rad
by Jessica Banks
There’s a reason ’80s costume parties are so popular, and it’s mostly because the decade is a goldmine for crazy costumes. Check out the top 15 ’80s icons you’ll want to be this Halloween.
Molly Ringwald in “Pretty in Pink”
Is pink your favorite color? Did you watch Pretty in Pink and have total outfit envy when Andie Walsh came on the screen? (Don’t worry, we’ve all been there—even Amy Poehler). If you answered yes to any of these questions, consider rocking one of the many pink outfit choices Molly Ringwald’s character made.
What would the ’80s even have been like without Madonna? Not only is she the queen of pop, she’s also the woman we have to thank for lace gloves, mesh body suits, and moussed up, crimpy hair. She’s the perfect diva to channel for you next Halloween party. Just grab your lace gloves, red lipstick, and a whole lotta mousse, and prepare for the fashion nostalgia to come flooding in.
Jane Fonda, the original exercise queen. ’80s workout wear Halloween Costumes seem to be the epitome of colorful exercise fashion—think neons, bright colored leotards, and legwarmers. This costume is easy and cheap. Be sure to spend some time with your head hanging over a hair dryer for some extra ’80s oomph and you’re good to go.
Benatar was definitely a fan of outrageous colors, patterns, and chunky belts in the 80’s. This costume is simple, just buy an over sized red t-shirt, crank up “Heartbreaker”, and go to town with your crafting scissors to get the wide-necked, fringy look you see here. Grab a pair of black leggings and the chunky belt you bought sometime in the early 2000s and act like the badass singer you should have been.
In the ’80s, Jackson loved to rock sequins and bold colors, as well as the infamous red leather jacket and single glove during showtime. Pick any combination of these to create your own unique take on Jackson’s style. Make sure you include dancing shoes—you’ll need them if you truly want to emulate the king of pop!
If anyone took ’80s fashion as far as she could, it was Cindy Lauper. The neon colors that were popular wen’t just reserved for her clothes, but often were incorporated into her hair as well. Luckily, we have hair chalk and colored hairspray to achieve looks like this now. If you’re willing to rip up a pair of good black tights and tease the life out of your hair, take a crack at a Lauper costume for this year’s Halloween.
Baby from “Dirty Dancing”
You’ll have the time of your life dressed like Baby for Halloween! She has a wide variety of looks to choose from, including this pink dress from the infamous dance scene and a few other outfits you might be able to dig out of your closet, like the cropped white button down with Bermudas or a simple pink tank top short shorts and white tennis shoes. Bonus points if you can get your partner to do the lift with you when Time of My Life comes on at the party your attending (he doesn’t need to know you requested it).
Marty McFly from “Back to the Future”
We’d be lying if we said we’ve never wanted to be Marty McFly at least once in our lives. We love this costume for its simplicty—it can as easy or as accurate as you want it to be. In its simplest form, this Halloween costume is a jean jacket, red vest, plaid flannel and jeans. Most of this can probably be found somewhere in your closet (or you sister’s, or your best friend’s). Plus, it’s a great excuse to wear denim on denim with no risk of criticism.
You pay homage to your favorite painter by bringing his style and calm demeanor to your next Halloween party. Whether you go as Bob Ross or his masterpiece, you’re bound to be a hit. Afraid you’ll make a costume mistake and won’t be able to live up to the legend himself? Take a lesson from Ross himself who said, “We don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents.”
David Bowie had as much talent as he did flair for outrageous fashion. The late and great Starman singer experimented with hair, makeup and clothing so famously that most people picture him with the teal and orange lightning bolt streaking across one eye. Be ready to spend a lot of time on your makeup if you want to emulate this icon’s style, that lightning bolt will likely take a lot of patience and trial and error.
If you’re the type of gal who opens her closet and is greeted by nothing but black, black, and more black, who better to dress up like on Halloween than Joan Jett? The singer who gave us “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” had an incredibly edgy sense of style back in the ’80s (and still does). Use Halloween as an opportunity to wear all the edgy combinations you normally wouldn’t, and enjoy feeling like the badass rocker you’re dressed as!
Sloane Peterson from “Ferris Buller’s Day Off”
Sloane Peterson is an absolute ’80s queen with her fringed, white leather jacket and high-waisted gray shorts. Most of these items can probably be found in your closet, though you might have to do some thrifting to find a jacket like Sloane’s. Bonus points if you can get two friends to dress like Ferris and Cameron to complete the trio!
Yes, the 2016 female-reboot of the Ghostbusters was great, but it was Peter, Ray, Egon, and Winston who originally stole our hearts as they battled their way through New York. If makeup, hairspray, and neon leotards aren’t your thing, this low-key costume is for you. Grab your jumpsuit, tool belt, and portable vacuum cleaner and be ready to get all those Halloween ghosts.
Another great costume for people with no desire to squeeze into a bright yellow leotard and an affinity for the color black, the terminator is a totally badass costume. Spend time experimenting with special effects makeup, and say hasta la vista to teased hair and legwarmers this Halloween.
E.T. and Elliot
Come on, once you got over being incredibly creeped out by the guy, you know you loved E.T., and there’s never been a more adorable 10-year-old to grace our TV screens than Elliot. Since E.T. and Elliot are basically #BFFgoals (and plastic E.T.’s might be hard to come by 20+ years after the film’s release), feel free to sub in your furry best friend if you think they’ll sit in a basket long enough for photo ops.