Fads

1980s Hairstyles that Defined the Decade

1980s hairstyles came in all shapes and colors. The Farrah Fawcett feathered hairstyle of the 1970s gave way to rattails and teased hair. People of the 80s witnessed mullets reign supreme in suburbia and African Americans sport the glossy Jheri Curls.

In The 1980s has compiled a list of what we think are the most popular hairstyles of the 1980s and the reasons why.

Our Top 7 1980s Hairstyles

1

The Mullet

1980s hairstyles

The Mullet

The mullet hairstyle is described as short on the sides and long in the back. But Mullet Heads like to describe it as “Business in the front and party in the back.” Believe it or not, the mullet hairstyle was not created in the 1980s and it wasn’t even called a “mullet” during that timeframe. The hairstyle was used as early as the 6th century AD, when it was described in writing by a Byzantine scholar named Procopius. The term “mullet” was actually coined by the band Beastie Boys with their song “Mullet Head” in 1994. An interesting fact about the mullet hairstyle of the 1980s is that lesbians would often wear their hair this way as a means of identifying their sexual orientation to other lesbians. Who ever knew?!

2

The Rattail

1980s hairstyles

The Rattail

The rattail is a modified mullet in which only a fraction of the hair on the back of the head is long while everything else is cut short. This modification makes the hair resemble a tail, which leads it to its name. The rattail became extremely popular in the 1980s and began to fizzle out in the early 1990s. You don’t see this hairstyle too often anymore, but we’re sure it will make a comeback someday.

3

The Jheri Curl

80s hairstyles

Here is an example of Jheri Curls. A 1987 High School senior class photo of Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson). Image: Public Domain.

The Jheri Curl was a popular hairstyle for African Americans during the 1980s. It’s named after its creator, Jheri Redding. Redding was a hairdresser who created this hairstyle as way to loosen the hair curls and add some shine to the hair. Although this hairstyle became very popular in 80s, it took at toll on the hair and it cost quite a bit to maintain the look. Although it may no longer be fashionable, this hairstyle is one of the great fashion trends of the 1980s.

4

The Flattop

1980s hair

Here is Ivan Drago from 1985’s Rocky IV sporting a Flattop haircut.

The Flattop was really popular in the 1950s and unexpectedly became trendy again with boys and men in the 1980s. It’s a military style haircut which requires electric clippers to trim the hairs on the top of the head to the point that when they stand straight up, the top of the head appears like a table top. The hairstyle resembles a box sitting on the top of the head. Usually the hairs were cut short enough that they would stand straight up on their own, but sometimes gel would be required.

5

The Diana

80s hair.

Princess Diana in 1982. Her hairstyle was simple yet elegant.

You guess it!  This hairstyle was made popular by Princess Diana.  Since the early 80s, Princess Diana was a huge celebrity.  She graced the cover of People magazine at total of 57 times.  Her hairstyle and fashion sense was imitated by millions of young girls and women around the world.  Princess Diana popularized a hairstyle that was relatively short and easy to maintain.  The hairstyle portrayed a modern, professional look that was classy and still resonates with women today.

6

Side Ponytail

hairstyles of the 1980s

The Side Ponytail was a huge hit in the 1980s. Image Credit: Broadway Box

Who ever said a ponytail needed to be on the back of  the head?  Don’t tell that to an 80s girl.  This hairstyle became HUGE with young girls and teens in the 1980s.  Famous celebrities such as Debbie Gibson and Danica Mckellar from the TV series Wonder Years where seen sporting this look.  The name is misleading since the side ponytail didn’t necessarily have to be on the side of the head.  A lot of girls like to place it directly on top (also known as the Whale Spout).  This side ponytail conveyed youth, rebellion, adventure and glee.   This hairstyle was a fad  that never went away and continues to be popular today.

7

Crimped and Teased

80s hairstyles

The band “Steel Panther” is a great example of the hard rock hairstyles of the 1980s.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why they called some rock groups “Hair Bands”.  The latter half of the 1980s saw Glam Metal popularize the big hair look that was both voluminous and loud.  This look involved crimping, teasing, perming, bleaching and chemically treating their hair into a wild mess.  Both men and women enjoyed this hairstyle and it became an iconic symbol of 1980s hairstyles.

Nothing Was Off Limits For 80s Hair

In the 1980s, hairstyles were how people expressed who they were.  It was more than fashion, it evolved into an art form.  Cyndi Lauper was a prime example that imagination was the only limit for 1980s hairstyles.

Did we leave one off the list?  Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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Jim H

Just like many of you who visit this website, Jim grew up in the 1980s. Since that timeframe, Jim has developed a love for website design and history. Jim and his wife Kim decided to put it all together and created inthe1980s.com. Thanks for visiting!