Popular 80s Colors and How They Were Used in the Fashion, Cars, Home, and More

Popular 80s Colors and How They Were Used in the Fashion, Cars, Home, and More

The 1980s were defined by brat-pack movies, MTV, Miami Vice, video games, big hair, and, of course, retro 80s colors. Compared to the natural colors and subdued aesthetics of today, the bright hues and colorful patterns of the 1980s are nostalgic and promote thoughts of a time gone, but not forgotten. 

Capture has preserved over 12 million home movies and photo memories, many of which came from the 1980s, so we know a thing or two about 80s style. Whether you want to create an 80s style for your clothes or home, want to create an 80s themed scrapbook, or simply want to learn about which iconic colors defined 80s fashion, pop culture, and design, we put together this guide to inspire. 

Keep reading to learn about the cultural impact of 80s colors including neon colors, pastel colors, vibrant hues, and color palettes based on fashion, home décor, graphics design, and more. 

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The most popular color trends of the 80s include specific color combinations including neon, pastel, and vibrant colors. 

Neon Colors

Neon colors like neon pink, electric blue, and acid yellow made a profound impact on 80s culture and style. People wore bright colored outfits, used neon makeup, added neon decals to vehicles, and decorated photo slides with neon markers. If you are planning on dressing up in 80s style for Halloween, neon colors are a great nostalgic and iconic choice. 

Pastel Colors

Patel colors like mint green, soft pink, baby blue, and Easter yellow defined many people’s experiences throughout the decade. These colors were often used as part of a preppy aesthetic and could be seen in graphic design, vectors, and advertising as well. 

Bold and Vibrant Hues

Bold colors with vibrant tones like the colors used in the MTV logo were also popular. Bright colors like hot pink, bright yellow, purple, and teal helped define the 80s, but continue to be popular in the 90s color palette too. 

Differences in Color Palettes across Applications

The 80s color palette is iconic, but different color combinations were popular in different applications. For example, fashion used different 80s color schemes than interior design or automotive colors. Let’s look at how different colors defined different aspects of 1980s culture. 

Fashion

While not every article of clothing displayed Day-Glo colors, boldness was certainly a theme in the 1980s whether you wore new wave blazers, preppy pastel t-shirts, or glam psychedelic colors. Some of the most popular colors in 1980s athletic fashion included indigo, mauve, forest green, tan, and orange while popped collars and pastels invigorated the preppy aesthetic. 

When we think about 80s fashion, though, we typically think of the bright color blocking schemes that were popular among younger generations with multi-color segments of clothing combined as rainbow colors. Additionally, Miami Vice influences fashion with Hawaiian shirts, flannel, spandex, and tropical clothing. If you look back at your old home movies, you might be surprised by the bold choices you made back then! 

Home Décor

Home décor in the 1980s used an entirely different approach than 80s fashion. While some of the colors are similar, particularly soft and pastel colors, there was a focus on contrasting colors. Compared with the 1970s, there was a distinct move away from natural colors, so you’ll see more primary colors (reds, yellows, and blues). 

For appliances and kitchen hardware, gold was exceptionally popular while pink was used abundantly in bathroom settings. Striped patterns and monograms were also common and if you’re wanting to decorate your home in 80s style, then make sure you use the proper hex codes, swatches, and Pantone paint color matching for these color combinations. 

Automotive

By the early 1980s, the most popular auto colors started to change. While blue remained the most popular, red cars became much more popular in the 80s than they were in the previous decade. However, metallic colors were also popular including silver, gold, and bronze. 

Synthetic wood panels also became a popular choice while fusion colors like aqua, teal, and yellow green were often used as decals or design elements. Many people also used technicolor seat covers and car bras for an eye-catching ride. 

Graphic Design

Graphic design used lots of bold and saturated fluorescent colors to go with the Memphis design schemes, geometric patterns, and pop art. Lots of color gradients were also used to provide a futuristic look that shifted color from blue to white, yellow, or any other combo. You can see these designs on old VHS and Betamax tape boxes, school folders, company logos, book covers, and much more.

Advertising also used a similar approach and combined natural beiges, pastel greens, and deep browns with contrasting reds, blues, pinks, and yellows. Combined with drop shadows and angular lettering, these types of designs and ads are truly retro. 

Significance of Color in 80s Culture

While nostalgia involves a lot of things including movies, music, historical events, and fashion, color trends are a huge part of what defines a decade. In the 1980s, color trends were more than just vintage color palettes, they were a way to express individuality. 

Additionally, the bright and vivid pop colors reflected the energetic and vibrant atmosphere of the decade. For example, there was a feeling of hope during the 1980s because of a booming economy, no Vietnam War, a focus on youth, and a shift toward optimism. 

The use of greens also reflected the change in social consciousness to a more environmentally friendly, yet hopeful, outlook. Shows like Miami Vice, MTV artists like Michael Jackson and Madonna, supermodels Brooke Shields and Cindy Crawford, and technological progress with video games, compact vintage camcorders, Sony Walkman, and VHS all contributed to the hopeful, bright, and iconic 80s colors. 

Conclusion

Vintage color palettes of the 1980s focused on neon, bright combos, pastels, and color blocking that you can see in old 80s Polaroid photos, videos, advertisements, and graphic design. These 80s colors helped to define a decade and promote nostalgia in a lot of us. In fact, that nostalgia is part of the reason why there has been a recent resurgence in retro colors and bright geometric prints. 

While the color templates of the 1980s certainly bring about lots of nostalgia, home movies, and old photos from the past are the best way to preserve your memories and reminisce over the times you had. Capture can help you preserve those 1980s memories forever with premium digitization services. Click here to learn more! 

 

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