Life moves pretty fast. And if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, it’ll be October before you know it! 1980’s pop culture costumes are always a solid choice for Halloween. So, here are some of our favorite popular and deep cut picks for 80’s character costumes. And yes, there are plenty of minimal effort options… in fact, some are just an “Add To Cart” away!
The Blues Brothers (1980)
The best thing about this particular duo costume is its versatility. The party theme suddenly switched from 80’s to 90’s? Take off the hats and boom, you’ve got Men In Black. For Jake & Elwood, you and your best bud will need black suits, black ties, black fedoras, and the signature black Wayfarers. Don’t forget to pencil in some sideburns on your cheeks. Hit it.
In order to conquer an animal, you have to think like an animal, and whenever possible, look like one. Same goes for Bill Murray. Don’t underestimate the timelessness of Caddyshack, people are gonna get a kick out of this. It must’ve been something before present-day Chevy Chase.
- Carl Spackler: A camouflage bucket hat, grey t-shirt, khaki shorts, and black combat boots.
- Mr. Gopher: A pair of fuzzy ears, a golf ball, and some brown and beige face paint should be enough to get the point across, especially if you’ve got a friend going as Spackler.
Heavy Metal (1981)
The Taarakian warrior Taarna is a great choice for those who want a sexy sci-fi costume that’s not Leeloo from The Fifth Element. You can DIY it with black and red duct tape, a black bikini set, red boots, a red glove, a long white wig, and some pink eyeshadow. Prop sword is optional, but recommended.
Indiana Jones (1981)
Not only is Indy a tried-and-true 80’s costume, but with Dial of Destiny coming out this year, it’s a pretty topical throwback! We’ve got plenty of official Indiana Jones stuff, but if you’d rather DIY, the brown fedora, bull whip, and satchel are crucial for instant recognition. If you can’t find an awesome brown bomber jacket like his, just grab whatever’s brown or khaki in your wardrobe!
First Blood (1982)
It’s alright if you thought it was just called “Rambo”, so did we. Given the memorable performance by Sylvester Stallone as the PTSD-stricken protagonist of this action thriller, this movie is ostensibly just… Rambo. And furthermore, his look is badass. To do it justice, you’ll want an undershirt, a dark pair of pants, combat boots, his signature red bandana, and a bandolier. Intense exercise regimen optional.
Flashdance was pretty widely panned, but at least it wasn’t false advertising- it’s got some great dance numbers! And next to Freddy Krueger, Alex Owens sported one of the most iconic sweaters of this decade, due to Jennifer Beals’ real life laundry mishap. In addition to her cut-collar grey sweater, you’ll want a curly wig, some leg warmers, a black pair of biker shorts, and a pair of neon pink high-heels. Or, of course, you could just grab our officially licensed costume!
However people feel about Al Pacino, it’s hard to dispute his capacity for playing intense protagonists all throughout his 20th century film career, Tony Montana being a prime example. For this look, you’ll want a white suit, red disco shirt, a red handkerchief for the breast pocket, a gold chain necklace, gaudy rings to match, and a pair of gradient lens sunglasses. Make way for the bad guy!
Risky Business (1983)
The 80’s gave us a lot of coming-of-age movies and a lot of Tom Cruise movies. Risky Business sat right in the center of that Venn diagram, and it was also one of the best of both worlds individually. If you’re trying to put together Joel’s look, you have two iconic options: the blue jeans, black tee, gray blazer, and Wayfarers… or the ill-fitting pink dress shirt, white tube socks, and white boxer briefs. People will get a kick out of either, but probably more so option #2.
A Christmas Story (1983)
Even with the relentless, repetitive syndicated runs on basic cable throughout December, A Christmas Story is still so damn lovable. Sure, it’s set in the 40’s, but dressing as Ralphie to an 80’s party is still sure to earn you some “major award”-winning smiles. Especially if it’s the bunny costume. You could also go with his standard circular specs and checkered shirt, but you’ll either need a prop BB gun or the infamous bar of red soap to really sell it.
This one’s obviously best executed as a group costume, so… who ya gonna call? But even if you’re bustin’ out solo, it’s an iconic look that works for just one, and we’ve got everything you need to channel almost any Ghostbuster. Jumpsuits, proton packs, PTK meters… you could even go as one of the ghosts!
A movie so cuddly and gross that the MPAA had to come up with an entirely new rating is one certainly worth paying homage to! Especially if you and your bestie want a matching look, but can’t decide on scary or cutesy. Why not both?
- Gizmo: Brown and white face paint, and a pair of pointy ears to match. You can use cream makeup if you prefer, but water-activated may work better to achieve the “fluffy” look. For extra credit, throw on some white faux fur leg warmers!
- Stripe: Our brand new Elf Kit is actually perfect for doing Stripe’s ears and makeup- you can use the eyeshadows as your base colors and the black and white water-activated liner for fine detailing! Most importantly, sure to top it off with a streak of white hair spray (or a wig)!
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Buddy cop movies owe everything to Eddie Murphy. Actually, almost any movie Eddie Murphy starred in owes everything to Eddie Murphy. Speaking of, do we think Shrek counts as a buddy cop movie? Anyway, Axel Foley’s iconic costume consists of a grey crew neck sweater, blue jeans, and a black hoodie (or a black letterman jacket, if you can find one). Don’t forget the police accessories!
The Toxic Avenger (1984)
You know we had to include our beloved Toxie! Troma’s magnum opus The Toxic Avenger is a genre-defying, ooey-gooey masterpiece that makes for an awesome costume that we have the mask for! Complete the look with some green and brown body paint, a yellow tank top, some tattered shorts, white gauze around the wrists, and most importantly- the trusty mop!
The Karate Kid (1984)
This movie adaption of a true story was so beloved, it actually helped popularize karate as a sport in the United States. To properly channel Daniel, you can go with either a grey tank top and jeans combo, or the standard gi… so long as you have the iconic tenugui. Which, of course, can easily be recreated with a white bandana and permanent marker.
You already know what you need: your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle. Specifically, you’ll want some black jeans, a black shirt (or no shirt), combat boots, a badass leather jacket, and a pair of dark shades to effectively channel the Terminator. Although, technically, you’re already cosplaying Terminator every time you take a shower.
Here’s a movie we hope never says “die”. The Goonies is endlessly lovable, quotable, and memorable. Maybe crying from laughter at Chunk’s antics isn’t a universal experience anymore, but hopefully Gen Z’ers at least googled it after the actor who played Data popped up in Everything Everywhere All At Once. Hey, at least blockbuster movies are only getting better and better!
- Chunk (No, Captain Chunk!): A black Hawaiian shirt, a red windbreaker, and a pair of tartan pants that does not at all match the shirt.
- Sloth: A distressed pair of dark jeans, red suspenders, a Superman muscle tank top, and a pirate hat. Whether you get ambitious and look for a mask is up to you, but the clothes are a dead giveaway.
- Data: A light grey sweater, blue jeans, an olive green trench coat covered in as many patches as you want, and the biggest backpack you have. Caution: if you’re going out with friends, this might make you the default coat-carrier. Be sure to fill the bag with candy before you leave to avoid this.
Back To The Future (1985)
The ultimate 80’s blockbuster, and some of the most recognizable characters on the list. This movie was so beloved, people actually waited outside the Twin Pines Mall on October 26th, 1985 to see if the Delorean would come crashing through time and space. Can you even blame them for wanting to believe?
- Marty McFly: The orange vest is essential, obviously. You’ll also want blue jeans, a jean jacket, and aviator shades.
- Doc Brown: White lab coat, steampunk goggles, and a crazy white wig. Brush some white mascara into your brows if you’re feeling it, but no need to go crazy with the old age makeup- as John Mulaney put it, “This guy’s either like, forty or eighty?”
Rocky IV (1985)
The whole international relations metaphor in Rocky IV is starting to feel too relevant for comfort, but hey, maybe dressing up as badass boxers will make us feel better? Right? Fun fact: Sylvester Stallone’s choice to have him and Dolph Lundgren throwing real punches at each other landed Stallone in intensive care for half a week.
- Rocky: The trunks, boxing gloves, and a robe. Optionally, you could pick up a full Rocky costume instead.
- Drago: The trunks, boxing gloves, and a robe. You may also want blonde hairspray.
- Apollo Creed: The trunks, boxing gloves, and a robe.
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
The secret word of the day is… NOSTALGIA! Oh wait, are any of you old enough to have seen Pee-Wee’s Playhouse? Doesn’t matter! People are gonna recognize and love a good Pee-Wee tribute. Tip: if it doesn’t impress anybody when you mention that this movie was Tim Burton’s directorial debut, ask if they know that the “biker mama” from the bar scene is Cassandra Peterson (AKA Elvira, Mistress of the Dark!) For Pee-Wee, you’ll want a slim fitting grey suit, little red bow tie, and a dash of blush/lipstick to match. Be sure to slick down the hair!
Teen Wolf (1985)
If you haven’t seen Teen Wolf by now, spoiler alert: the “wolf” thing is way overshadowed by the “teen” aspect. It’s 90 minutes of a super hairy Michael J Fox trying to get the girl, overcome the school bully and win the big game, as lycanthropes are wont to do. But Scott Howard’s character design is still pretty damn iconic. All you need is a standard yellow basketball uniform, and enough wolf accessories to complete the look- for a costume this recognizable, it can be anything from a full fursuit to strategically placed crepe wool.
Top Gun (1986)
If you feel the need to speed along the process of finding a costume for your party, we got you. The flight suits worn by the likes of Maverick & Goose in Top Gun are technically DIY-able… if you happen to have aviator shades and a legit fighter pilot uniform lying around. But lucky for you, we’ve got enough men and women’s Top Gun costumes to “take your breath away”!
Crocodile Dundee (1986)
We do feel somewhat obligated to warn you that while Crocodile Dundee makes for a badass costume, people will be a little disappointed and confused when they realize you aren’t dressed as Steve Irwin. But on the flip side, if it’s not specifically an 80’s themed party, you can just let people guess your costume and go with whichever one they peg you as. Grab yourself an outback hat and decorate it by glueing on some faux bones, don a brown utility vest, and get yourself a prop bowie knife. Now that’s a knife!
David Bowie’s cinematic career gave the 80’s a handful of super weird, yet super visually appealing cult classics. Labyrinth is the best loved of the bunch, and Jareth the Goblin King is arguably the most 80’s looking character on this list. To recreate his New Romantic inspired look, you gotta do the makeup and mullet wig justice, first and foremost. Finish it with a white ruffle shirt, tight grey pants, and a black corset or vest.
The quintessential 80’s action movie experience that also addresses the ineffable hallmarks of the human condition, the pitfalls of Reaganomics, and bad guys melting into gooey corpses? Say less. Robocop is a cyberpunk masterpiece with a distinctive armor-clad protagonist, so if you don’t plan on custom welding your Alex Murphy costume, save yourself the trouble and grab our officially licensed one instead.
Evil Dead (1987)
Channeling the comedy horror of the “decayed” for an 80’s party? Groovy. Get your Ash Williams on by donning a light blue jean shirt, brown pants, black duct tape to recreate his holster harness, and a healthy dose of fake blood from head to toe. If you can’t find a prop chainsaw, you can easily fashion one out of cardboard, glue, and markers.
Dirty Dancing (1987)
For all the movies about dancing that were churned out in the 80’s, the legacy of this one is hard to overstate. Every sitcom has referenced or lampooned it, and the line “Nobody Puts Baby In A Corner” has taken on a life of its own. And most importantly, it gave us those viral photos of the newly engaged couple who attempted “the lift”, and instead collided and knocked each other unconscious.
- Johnny Castle: Black pants, black belt, black undershirt, black shoes. Be sure to feather that hair!
- Baby: A super curly wig, for starters. Then, you can either do her iconic white tie-front crop top and denim jean shorts, or you can find a simple pastel pink A-line dress and a cute pair of pumps that are, realistically speaking, probably not at all comfortable for dancing.
The Princess Bride (1987)
Sorry to editorialize, but The Princess Bride transcends the 80’s. It’s so good, it’s inconceivable. There’s a shortage of perfect movies in the world, and it would be a pity not to pay homage to this one. Need costume inspo? As you wish. (No more quotes now, I mean it…)
- Buttercup: We’ve actually got two officially licensed Buttercup costumes, but any long sleeved red dress, rope belt, and long blonde wig will help you properly portray the titular character.
- Westley: Guess what? We’ve got a Westley costume too! The basic components are pirate accessories, but in all black- a medieval style black shirt, black pants, black gloves, black belt, black bandana and mask… you get it.
- Inigo Montoya: Inigo also wears a medieval shirt and black belt, along with a brown vest. but to really make it work, you’ll want to focus on the curly wig, fake mustache, and prop rapier. For super easy face scars, don’t forget to grab some rigid collodion.
You don’t need to tell anyone twice (or three times) why this is such a good choice for a costume- in addition to the instant recognizability of the ghost with the most, it’s a perfect fit for spooky season! We’ve also got a ton of Beetlejuice costumes, but for those who wanna put it together themselves, here’s your handbook…
- Betelgeuse: A black-and-white vertical striped suit, white shirt, and black tie are all essential, topped off with a spiky green wig. Then, a little all-over white makeup with a ton of purple eyeshadow, all the way to the orbital bone. Let ’em see something really scary.
- Lydia Deetz: Almost any simple black goth outfit will work for Lydia, but it’s all about the neck up for her. You’ll want some subtle taupe eyeshadow all around the eye with a dash of black eyeliner, and you can use some strong hold hair gel on your wig (or hair) to get those super spiky bangs. For the rest, either tie it into a high pony or cover it with a black sun hat.
They Live (1988)
This John Carpenter sci-fi classic is a great choice because people know it, they just don’t always know they know it. Just announce that you came to chew bubblegum and kick ass as soon as you arrive to make the entire room go “Oh, THAT movie!”.
- Nada: A black pair of Wayfarers and a blonde mullet wig are crucial. You’ll also want blue jeans and a blue flannel. Any shoulder bag strap or belt can easily be repurposed as a bandolier.
- The Aliens: You’ll have to either be handy with makeup or grab a They Live Alien Mask to recreate the intense skeletal face. But as long as you’ve got that down, you can wear basically whatever you want! But y’know, for accuracy’s sake, think “politician” with your costume.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)
Jeepers, who doesn’t love a Toon? We’ve sourced the best tips on how to channel the iconic Rabbit couple from this live-action-meets-animation trailblazer. We asked the fireman, the green grocerer, the butcher, the baker, they didn’t know! But the liquor store guy… he knew.
- Roger Rabbit: Bunny ears and a tail, red overalls, and the biggest bow tie you can find. Gloves optional.
- Jessica Rabbit: We actually have a killer costume for this look, but if you wanna go your own way, grab a glitzy red bodycon dress, a glamorous red wig, purple opera gloves, and some matching purple eyeshadow. Don’t forget the perfectly red pout.
Die Hard (1988)
Wanna know what a TV dinner feels like? We’ll give you some pointers as long as you promise not to moviesplain to people that “it’s a Christmas movie, if you think about it”. Emulating John McClane is fairly simple- a white undershirt, black pants, a little gauze (or masking tape) for your wrist, and plenty of fake blood will do ya.
Child’s Play (1988)
Most people will recognize and appreciate a good Chucky costume. But even if they don’t, what’s more quintessentially 80’s than brightly colored clothing, teased-up hair, and being a serial killer? Become a DIY Good Guy with a pair of denim overalls, a colorful striped sweater, a short red wig, red sneakers, and a prop knife!
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
This is a most righteous choice for couples or besties to dress up as for Halloween. It’s convenient as a group costume, too- if you’ve got plans with friends who need a last minute look, literally any historical costume can become part of a Bill and Ted homage! Party on!
- Bill S. Preston: White crop top, blue jeans, and a long sleeved-shirt.
- Ted “Theodore” Logan: Black vest, white band tee (preferably Van Halen), an orange long sleeve shirt, and black pants rolled up to the knee.
Remember a time when our society wasn’t constantly debating the greatest cinematic portrayals of Batman? Yeah, us neither. But supposedly, once upon a time, we enjoyed Tim Burton’s Batman without dragging poor Adam West into question. It was simply camp apples and goth oranges. That said, if your favorite version was the 1989 movie, we have some excellent retro Batman and Joker costumes to choose from!
Uncle Buck (1989)
If you weren’t around for John Candy’s untimely death, he was kinda like the Brittany Murphy of his time. Which isn’t to say Uncle Buck was his Clueless, but he was just as funny and lovable. Plus, Uncle Buck’s costume is pretty thriftable- you’ll want a long grey trench coat, a matching fedora hat, a light grey scarf, a prop cigar, and a prop power drill if you can find one. (Seriously, unplugged power drills are a no-go.)
Connor MacLeod: Step into the immortal shoes of Connor MacLeod, portrayed by Christopher Lambert. For his iconic look, opt for a long trench coat paired with a loose white shirt and dark pants. Don’t forget the essential broadsword, a signature accessory for any Highlander costume. A wig with long, shaggy hair completes the transformation.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
John Bender: Embody the rebellious spirit of Bender with a red plaid flannel shirt, layered under a denim jacket. Add fingerless gloves, a white undershirt, and grey pants to complete the look. A bandana tied around one boot and aviator sunglasses are key accessories.
Claire Standish: Channel Claire’s preppy, sophisticated style with a pink blouse, brown skirt, and a brown cardigan or blazer. Knee-high boots and pearl earrings add the perfect finishing touch to this quintessential ’80s outfit.
Andrew Clark: Represent the jock with a simple, athletic look. Wear a blue jacket with an emblem patch, a white t-shirt underneath, and light-wash jeans. Complete the ensemble with white sneakers and a brown belt.
Allison Reynolds: Allison’s introverted, artsy character shines through in her eclectic, layered outfit. A black skirt, black leggings, and an oversized grey sweater are key. Add a black scarf and boots to encapsulate her unique style.
Brian Johnson: To dress as the brainy Brian, wear a green sweater over a buttoned-up shirt and khaki pants. Round glasses, white socks, and brown loafers are essential to nail his nerdy, wholesome look.
Kevin Flynn/Tron: Step into the digital world with a Tron costume. Create a futuristic look using a black bodysuit as a base, adorned with electroluminescent wire or glow-in-the-dark tape to mimic the iconic circuit patterns. A black helmet with similar detailing is a must for the complete Tron effect.
James Bond: Portray the suave spy in classic Bond fashion. Opt for a white dinner jacket with a black lapel, paired with black trousers and a bow tie. A martini glass (shaken, not stirred) and a fake pistol are essential props for 007’s elegant yet action-ready look.
Masters of the Universe (1987)
He-Man: Embrace the power of Grayskull as He-Man. This costume requires a muscle suit or a well-built physique, paired with a fur loincloth, chest harness, and red cape. Complete the ensemble with a blonde wig and, of course, the Power Sword.
Flash Gordon (1980)
Flash Gordon: Capture Flash’s heroic persona with a red tank top emblazoned with his lightning bolt logo, paired with blue jeans and red and white high-top sneakers. Add a blond, slicked-back wig to complete the all-American hero look.
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Jack Burton: Emulate Kurt Russell’s iconic trucker character with a simple white tank top, light blue jeans, and a classic black bomber jacket. Don’t forget the essential props: a CB radio and a trucker cap, preferably with the Pork Chop Express logo.
Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Conan: Channel Arnold Schwarzenegger’s barbarian look with a leather loincloth, a broad belt, and knee-high leather boots. A long, messy wig and a prop sword are key to capturing Conan’s rugged, warrior essence.
Escape from New York (1981)
Snake Plissken: Adopt the look of the ultimate anti-hero with a black sleeveless top, camouflage pants, and a black eye patch. Add a tactical belt, a holster, and a prop Uzi to complete Snake’s tough, dystopian look.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Captain Kirk/Spock: Dress in the iconic Starfleet uniform, either gold for Kirk or blue for Spock. The uniform should have the Starfleet insignia and rank stripes on the sleeves. For Spock, add pointed ears and a stoic expression to complete the look.
Lethal Weapon (1987)
Martin Riggs: Emulate Mel Gibson’s character with a simple 80s style. Wear a loose, light-colored button-up shirt with sleeves rolled up, paired with dark jeans and a shoulder holster for a detective badge. Riggs’ signature mullet wig is a must.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
Jeff Spicoli: Capture Spicoli’s laid-back surfer vibe with a pair of Vans, baggy khaki pants, and a colorful, open Hawaiian shirt. Add a blonde, shaggy wig to nail his carefree style.
Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
Lewis Skolnick: Get the nerdy look with high-waisted, plaid pants, a white button-up shirt, and a matching plaid bow tie. Thick, black-rimmed glasses and a pocket protector are essential accessories for this quintessential nerd.
Josh Baskin: Embrace your inner child with an oversized, adult-sized suit to mimic Tom Hanks’ character after his transformation. Add a red bow tie and white sneakers for a whimsical, child-like touch.
The Outsiders (1983)
Ponyboy Curtis: Go for a greaser look with a white t-shirt, a leather jacket, and blue jeans. Slick back your hair and add a pair of black sunglasses to channel Ponyboy’s cool, rebellious style.
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Private Joker: Don a U.S. military uniform with a helmet marked with “Born to Kill” and a peace button. Camouflage pants and combat boots complete the look, along with dog tags and a stern expression.
Veronica Sawyer: Capture Veronica’s dark, preppy look with a blue blazer, a plaid skirt, and a white blouse. Add a croquet mallet as a prop to pay homage to the film’s iconic scenes.
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Harry Burns: Dress as Harry with a casual, comfortable style – a simple, collared shirt with a cozy sweater, paired with khakis. The key to Harry’s look is his laid-back, approachable demeanor.
The Lost Boys (1987)
David: Embrace the vampire cool with a black leather jacket, a white, ruffled shirt, and black pants. Add fangs and some ’80s style jewelry to complete this undead look.
Tracy Turnblad: Channel Tracy’s vibrant, dance-loving persona with a 60s inspired dress, preferably with a bright, bold pattern. A beehive wig and some colorful, chunky accessories will complete this bubbly character’s look.
Ren McCormack: Get ready to dance in a classic ’80s look – a white t-shirt, a slim tie, and high-waisted jeans. Add a pair of Converse sneakers and a brown bomber jacket to nail Ren’s rebellious yet charming style.
Miss Scarlet: Embody the seductive and cunning Miss Scarlet with a long, elegant red dress, paired with matching red lipstick. High heels and a faux fur stole complete her glamorous and mysterious look. Don’t forget a clutch purse, perfect for hiding secrets.
Professor Plum: Channel Professor Plum’s academic look with a tweed jacket, preferably in plum or dark purple shades, over a sweater vest and a bow tie. Add round glasses and a pipe for a touch of intellectual flair.
Mrs. White: Dress as the enigmatic Mrs. White with a black vintage dress, reflecting her morose and mysterious persona. Accentuate the outfit with a brooch, black gloves, and a veil or a hat with a veil for added drama.
Mr. Green: Mr. Green’s look is business-oriented but slightly disheveled, hinting at his nervous demeanor. Wear a green suit, slightly rumpled, with a white shirt and a conservative tie. Carry a briefcase or a stack of papers for an anxious, on-edge appearance.
Colonel Mustard: Emulate Colonel Mustard’s military background with a mustard-colored suit or a military-style jacket with medals. A handlebar mustache, either real or fake, adds to his distinguished, if slightly pompous, military aura.
Mrs. Peacock: Mrs. Peacock’s aristocratic style is bold and colorful. Opt for a peacock blue dress with a high collar, adorned with peacock feathers if possible. Lavish jewelry, like pearl necklaces and earrings, enhances her affluent socialite image.
Wadsworth the Butler (Tim Curry): Wadsworth’s classic butler attire is quintessentially formal. A black suit, a white shirt, and a black bow tie create the perfect base. Polished black shoes and a serving tray add to the authentic butler portrayal.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Ferris Bueller: Embody Ferris’ charismatic and carefree spirit with a white t-shirt layered under a vest, paired with a leopard print cardigan. Add a pair of classic Ray-Bans and a confident smile to complete the look.
Annie: Bring to life the lovable orphan with a red dress with a white collar and cuffs, white socks, and black patent leather shoes. A curly, red wig is essential to capture Annie’s signature look.
Superman II (1980)
Superman/Clark Kent: Alternate between Superman’s heroic costume and Clark Kent’s mild-mannered disguise. For Superman, a blue suit with the iconic ‘S’ emblem, red cape, and red boots are necessary. As Clark Kent, wear a suit with a tie, glasses, and a hat to conceal your superhero identity.
Elliott: Dress as the adventurous Elliott with a red hoodie, blue jeans, and a white t-shirt. Carry a stuffed E.T. toy in a basket for the full effect of this beloved character.
21 Jump Street (1987)
Officer Tom Hanson (Johnny Depp): Embrace Hanson’s undercover high school student look with a mix of ’80s and classic styles. Think a casual blazer, perhaps in pastel shades, layered over a graphic tee. Pair with acid-wash jeans and high-top sneakers. For accessories, a simple, understated watch and aviator sunglasses will complete the cool, undercover cop vibe.
The A-Team (1983)
The premise of the show is simple. A group of falsely accused prisoners escape confinement and become soldiers of fortune for basically anybody who asks, all the while trying to clear their names and stay undercover… in their clearly marked “A-Team” van, causing a ton of explosions along the way. We said it was simple, not sensical. But even those who don’t know the show know Mr. T. To put together a non-pitiful version of his costume, you’ll want a green camo vest, tons and tons of gold chain necklaces and rings, and a fake beard. If you’re not willing to shave your head to achieve his signature ‘do, consider black hair spray down the center of your head.
Good news: if you own any kind of red swimsuit, you’re more than on your way to having a Baywatch lifeguard costume! Top off the look with a whistle around your neck and/or a glamorous blonde wig. Make sure you enter the costume party in slow motion for full effect.
Dragon Ball (1986)
Goku: To dress as Goku, start with his signature orange and blue martial arts uniform. This includes an orange gi top and pants, with a blue undershirt, wristbands, and boots. Add a blue sash around the waist and, most importantly, a spiky black wig to mimic Goku’s unique hairstyle. Don’t forget a plush or toy dragon ball for an authentic Dragon Ball experience.
Thanks to the 2017 reboot, even those born well after the 80’s need no introduction to Scrooge McDuck and his three grandnephews. Due to the simplicity of the character design, it’s one of the easier looks to pay a recognizable homage to, even if you don’t have any tie-on duck bills handy! That said, this one definitely works best as a group costume.
- Scrooge McDuck: Black top hat, tiny glasses, and a blue coat.
- Huey: Red sweater, red baseball cap.
- Dewey: Blue sweater, blue baseball cap.
- Louie: Green sweater, green baseball cap.
Fraggle Rock (1983)
That’s right, there’s a five-person 80’s costume for you and your friends that isn’t The Breakfast Club! (Which is a fabulous movie, but it’s pretty hard to coordinate if no one’s willing to be Anthony Michael Hall’s character). Everyone gets to wear colorful wigs and clothes with this one, keeping in spirit with the inclusive, neighborly values of Fraggle Rock!
- Red Fraggle: Oversized red sweater and a red wig tied into high pigtails.
- Boober: Shaggy red wig, long brown scarf, and a brown newsie hat.
- Wembley Fraggle: Hawaiian shirt and spiky yellow wig.
- Mokey Fraggle: Pastel blue wig and a long grey robe. For the necklace charm, you can use a zipper or a soda can pull tab.
- Gobo Fraggle: Yellow and red striped sweater, a brown vest, and a spiky pink wig.
Full House (1987)
Danny Tanner (Bob Saget): Danny’s look is all about clean-cut, dad-style comfort. Opt for a cozy sweater, often in pastel or neutral tones, paired with classic dad jeans. Finish the look with white sneakers and a warm, fatherly smile. For a touch of authenticity, carry a toy cleaning product, highlighting Danny’s love for cleanliness.
D.J. Tanner (Candace Cameron): D.J.’s look is classic ’80s teenager. Think acid-wash or high-waisted jeans paired with a bright, oversized sweater or a denim jacket. Accessorize with scrunchies, hoop earrings, and colorful high-top sneakers to capture her youthful, fashionable spirit.
G.I. Joe (1983)
Duke: To dress as Duke, the G.I. Joe leader, start with a military-style outfit. This includes camouflage pants, a green tank top, and a tactical vest. Add a set of dog tags, black combat boots, and a toy rifle or walkie-talkie. For an authentic touch, include a distinctive American flag patch or the G.I. Joe logo.
Sure, the 80’s had a lot of shows that were basically multi-season spanning toy commercials. But some of them still kicked ass, and they make for some seriously fun group costumes!
- Jem: Pink glam rock wig, pink eyeshadow, and the raddest pink outfit in your closet.
- Pizazz: Green glam rock wig, pink and purple eyeshadow, and a zebra print dress.
- Kimber: Red glam rock wig, pink eyeshadow, a smart white blazer, and slim-fitting blue pants.
Saturday Night Live (1989)
We love you people too much to lie, so we’ll level with you. No matter which SNL era you’re channeling for Halloween, you’re likely to be seen as “that guy”. But if you have the charisma necessary for the undertaking, you’ll have plenty of iconic sketches from the 80’s to work with.
- Wayne and Garth (Wayne’s World): You kinda have to have the Wayne’s World baseball cap, but the rest is pretty simple. Black t-shirt for Wayne, white band tee paired with thick black frames for Garth, and well-worn blue jeans for both.
- Master Thespian: White shirt, white scarf, and the most flamboyant red or black robe you can find. Warning: if you pick this costume, you’ll be obligated to supplement it with the catchphrase. Ac-ting!
- Church Lady (Church Chat): Slightly ill-fitting purple cardigan, cat-eye frames, and a grey curly wig.
Saved by the Bell (1989)
Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar): Zack’s preppy style is iconic. Pair stone-washed jeans with a colorful, patterned button-up shirt (often with the collar popped). Add white sneakers and a classic ’90s-style mobile phone prop. For hair, go for styled, blond locks to match Zack’s signature look.
A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez): Slater’s look is athletic and casual. Go for acid-wash jeans or athletic pants, paired with a sleeveless or tight-fitting T-shirt to show off those biceps. A wrestling singlet or varsity jacket can be added for extra flair. Don’t forget to style your hair in a mullet for true Slater authenticity.
The Simpsons (1989)
Technically, The Simpsons are a product of the 80’s… albeit the scary Tracey Ullman era Simpsons. Whichever version you channel, please don’t go too hard on the eye makeup, ok? Just google “bad Simpsons cosplay” and you’ll see what we mean. (Disclaimer: it’s not un-seeable.)
Homer: White collared t-shirt, blue jeans, black shoes. Donut optional.
Marge: Tall blue beehive wig, strapless green dress, red slip-on heels, and a red beaded necklace.
Bart: Spiky blonde wig, orange t-shirt, blue shorts, and blue sneakers.
Lisa: Spiky blonde wig, red strapless dress, red Mary Janes, and a white beaded necklace.
Maggie: Blonde spiky wig, light blue hair ribbon, light blue onesie or dress, and a red pacifier.
The Smurfs (1981)
Papa Smurf: To transform into Papa Smurf, wear a red Phrygian cap and trousers. The rest of the outfit should be blue to mimic the Smurfs’ skin. Use blue body paint or a full-body blue suit for an authentic look. Adding a white beard and round glasses will complete the wise and kind character of Papa Smurf.
Smurfette: For Smurfette, wear a white dress and a white Phrygian cap. Similar to Papa Smurf, the rest of the body should appear blue, so use blue body paint or a suit. Add a long blond wig to embody Smurfette’s unique characteristic among the Smurfs.
Stranger Things (2016)
Although a contemporary creation, the hit show Stranger Things masterfully captures the essence of the 1980s, making it an ideal inspiration for dressing up. The show’s meticulous attention to period details, from fashion to pop culture references, creates a rich tapestry of ’80s nostalgia. Here’s how to emulate the distinct styles of its main and recurring characters:
Eleven: In her most iconic look from the first season, Eleven wears a pink dress with a white collar, layered over a light blue jacket. The outfit is completed with tube socks and white sneakers. Don’t forget a blonde wig, cut short, and for an extra touch, a box of Eggo waffles.
Mike Wheeler: Mike’s look is that of a typical ’80s kid – practical and casual. Think a striped polo shirt or a simple tee layered under a corduroy jacket, paired with jeans. Add a vintage-style backpack and a Dungeons & Dragons handbook for authenticity.
Dustin Henderson: Dustin’s style is quirky and endearing. A graphic tee layered under a colorful, button-up shirt, and a trucker hat (iconically red, white, and blue) are essential. Add a pair of corduroy pants and a prosthetic front teeth set (if needed) to complete his look.
Lucas Sinclair: Lucas’ style is practical and outdoorsy. Wear a camouflage bandana, a utility jacket over a plain or striped t-shirt, and dark cargo pants. Accessorize with a vintage-style backpack and a toy walkie-talkie.
Will Byers: Will’s style is simple and subdued. Opt for a retro-striped polo shirt or a sweater, paired with slacks or straight-leg jeans. A bowl-cut wig will capture his signature hairstyle, and carrying around a drawing pad can be a nice nod to his character’s artistic side.
Joyce Byers: Joyce’s attire reflects her role as a concerned and harried mother. A simple, patterned blouse with a puffer vest or cardigan, combined with mom jeans, creates her look. A short, messy wig and a prop rotary phone or string lights will add to the authenticity.
Jim Hopper: Dress as Hopper in his chief of police uniform, which includes a tan shirt with a badge, dark brown pants, and a police hat. A utility belt, a toy revolver, and a mustache complete the authoritative yet troubled character.
Max Mayfield: Max’s skater girl style is both cool and casual. Opt for a graphic tee, a zip-up hoodie, and high-waisted jeans. Complete her look with a skateboard and a red, curly wig to emulate her fiery personality and hair.
Steve Harrington: Steve’s “babysitter” era look includes a light wash denim jacket, a tucked-in polo shirt, and classic ’80s jeans. His voluminous hair is key, so a thick, wavy wig is essential. Add a nail-studded baseball bat for a touch of his heroic side.
Nancy Wheeler: Nancy’s style evolves, but she often sports a preppy look. A ruffled blouse paired with a vest or sweater, plaid skirts or high-waisted jeans, and loafers or ballet flats capture her style. Add a curly, mid-length wig to replicate her hairstyle.
Jonathan Byers: Jonathan’s look is understated and somewhat edgy. Wear a dark t-shirt or a flannel shirt with a dark jacket, and add tight-fitting jeans. A camera as a prop and a shaggy, longer hairstyle wig capture his artistic and loner qualities.
Billy Hargrove: Billy’s style is that of a typical ’80s bad boy. Opt for a tight-fitting denim jacket, a sleeveless tee, and acid-washed jeans. Add a mullet wig, a fake earring, and an air of arrogance to complete the look.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)
These heroes in a half-shell (which, by the way, is just a shell) are another excellent choice for an 80’s costume that still carries hot-off-the-press relevance today. In fact, there’s another movie coming out this year! We’ve already got some TMNT costumes, but as long as you coordinate the colors and weapons properly, you can channel the turtles with no shell at all!
- Donatello: Purple bandanas for the face, arms, and knees, and a tall staff.
- Raphael: Red bandanas for the face, arms, and knees, and a pair of prop sais.
- Michaelangelo: Orange bandanas for the face, arms, and knees, and prop nunchucks.
- Leonardo: Blue bandanas for the face, arms, and knees, and a prop sword or swords.
The Twilight Zone (1985-1989)
For your consideration: a classic anthology series that produced a number of iconic stories, often accompanied by inimitable character makeup. Bonus points if you paint yourself grey.
- Plastic Surgeons (Eye Of The Beholder): Hospital scrubs and a tie-on pig nose… or a prosthetic one, if you really want a lasting impression. Don’t forget the surgical mask for a dramatic reveal!
- Henry Bemis (Time Enough At Last): You’ll need a thick book and an even thicker pair of round coke-bottle lens glasses. As well as a light colored suit, a white collared shirt, and red tie. Be sure to pull the pants way up.
- The Gremlin (Nightmare at 20,000 Feet): Any gorilla suit or Bigfoot costume will do, but the more ridiculous, the better. This is another look you could use prosthetics for, but since the face makeup is so unique, you may actually have better results using black eyeliner and strategically placed cheek contour.
Where’s Waldo? (1987)
We know what you’re thinking- “Hold up, he’s not a TV character!” Indeed, he’s not. His name’s not even really Waldo, and you can Google it to learn the shocking, upsetting truth. But he is an 80’s character, and hiding in plain sight is kind of his thing. We do have plenty of Waldo costumes, but you probably already know how easy this one is to throw together- blue jeans, red and white striped sweater, matching puff beanie, and some thick round frames to top it off!
For all the iconic costumes he rocked throughout his career, Bowie’s signature outfit during the height of his mainstream success was relatively subdued. So all you’ll need to channel his 80’s look is a blonde mullet, a two-piece suit, a white work shirt, and a black necktie or bow tie undone around your neck.
Daryl Hall & John Oates
The biggest thing to remember if you want an authentic Hall & Oates costume? Use their full names; they hate when you call them Hall & Oates. Almost as much as they hate each other.
- Daryl Hall: Blonde mullet, button-up shirt (preferably with a tacky 80’s pattern), and a padded-shoulder jacket or black leather jacket.
- John Oates: Curly black mullet, fake mustache, tank top, and jean jacket.
If you’re looking to channel the 80’s, nothing says “sign o’ the times” like The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. That decade spawned a ton of mononymous musicians, but when they surpass every literal monarch in a Google search for “prince”, you know they’ve earned that title. We do carry some Prince costumes on our site, but if you’re starting from scratch, the main components should be a curly black wig, a white poet’s shirt, skinny black pants, and a bright purple trench coat.
In the early ’80s, ABBA’s style was a dazzling mix of glam and pop. For the ladies, think sequined jumpsuits or mini-dresses in bright colors, paired with platform boots. Men can opt for tight, satin trousers and ruffled shirts under velvet blazers. Don’t forget the essential ABBA accessory: a microphone for that perfect sing-along moment.
Elton John’s outfit in the “I’m Still Standing” music video is quintessentially 80s. Embrace his flamboyant style with a strikingly colorful suit, ideally with a bold pattern. Add oversized, glittery sunglasses and a sequined shirt. Complete the look with a flashy hat and platform shoes to capture Elton’s extravagant persona.
Channel Fleetwood Mac’s bohemian and mystical vibe. Stevie Nicks, in particular, is iconic for her ethereal, gypsy-inspired outfits. Think flowing lace shawls, velvet dresses, and layered chiffon. Add a top hat, fingerless gloves, and platform boots for a true Stevie Nicks ensemble.
For George Michael’s iconic look, especially from his “Faith” era, go for a leather jacket paired with blue jeans and a white t-shirt. Accessorize with aviator sunglasses, a stubble beard, and his signature cross earring. The key is to embody his cool, rebellious yet approachable vibe.
Guns N’ Roses
Emulate Guns N’ Roses’ hard rock style, particularly Axl Rose’s look. Opt for tight leather pants, bandanas, sleeveless tees, and lots of jewelry. Don’t forget the trademark long, straight hair wig, and if you’re daring, a temporary tattoo sleeve to complete the rockstar look.
To channel Journey’s Steve Perry, wear a pair of tight jeans, a Journey t-shirt or a tank top, and a leather jacket. Add a mullet wig and a microphone to capture the essence of their 80s rock performances.
Madonna’s 1980s look is iconic. Opt for a lace top, a tutu skirt, fishnet stockings, and lots of bracelets and necklaces. Add a bow headband, a beauty mark above the lip, and tease your hair or wear a wig to complete the Material Girl look.
For a classic Metallica look, think black: black t-shirts with the band’s logo, black jeans, and black combat boots. Add a long, wavy hair wig and a fake guitar to embody the heavy metal vibe of the 1980s.
Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” era is perfect for an 80s look. Wear a red leather jacket with black stripes, black pants, and a single white glove. Add black loafers with white socks. For a “Bad” era look, switch to a black leather jacket with lots of zippers and buckles.
Freddie Mercury’s stage outfits are legendary. Recreate his Live Aid look with light blue jeans, a white tank top, and a studded arm band. Add a thick mustache and a short, slicked-back hair wig to capture Mercury’s commanding stage presence.
Emulate Run-D.M.C.’s hip-hop style with black fedoras, gold chains, and Adidas tracksuits. Don’t forget the essential Adidas sneakers without laces. Add some thick-rimmed glasses to complete this 80s hip-hop look.
To dress like Robert Smith of The Cure, wear black: a black, disheveled suit with a white dress shirt, untied. A backcombed, wild black hair wig is essential, along with smeared red lipstick and heavy eyeliner to capture his gothic, moody persona.
Need Even More 80’s Inspo?
You already know we’ve got ya covered. Check out the huge collection of 80’s costumes on our website!