Now is a great time to make an eighties costume. Some fashions from the decade have returned, making it easier to create an authentic look. Here's how to go all-out cartoonish, a la Cyndi Lauper, tone it down with a preppy look, or land somewhere in the middle, with a Valley Girl style.
Of course, like with any period in fashion, not everyone fell into one of these categories. Movies exaggerated the fashion of the '80s, as with "Return of the Living Dead," or "Friday the 13th part 3," where punk haircuts and clothes are made to look over-the-top goofy. But what fun would an '80s costume be without a little exaggeration?
If you want to go the over the top route, it's easy to pick up some crazy temporary hair color (blue, green, and magenta are all excellent choices). Bold eye makeup colors are a hallmark of '80s style, too (think Boy George). Just buy some fuchsia, yellow, or other unnatural looking hues, and use your imagination. Top it off with some heavy eyeliner.
A scandalously short mini-skirt or dress (especially the kind with elastic at the hip to make it blousy at the top) with opaque or patterned tights in a strong color and high heels might make people think you're going as a hooker. But if you get the hair and makeup just right, they should get the picture. Long-haired girls can tease their tresses for a Jersey look (complete with big nails), and guys can wear wigs if they're trying to do the Boy George or Pete Burns (from Dead or Alive) thing. A can of hairspray (preferably White Rain) and an old-school comb may be necessary to plaster your do into place.
Another way to make an eighties costume is to go the retro sixties route. There was a revival of appreciation for the music and style of the sixties in the eighties, and bands like the Fuzztones and the Stone Roses borrowed from that decade to varying degrees. Paisley shirts and stovepipe jeans are an easy route to take for guys wanting to do this kind of 80's costume. Girls can do white lips and black eyeliner, a cute vintage minidress, and go-go boots if they're lucky enough to find them. A big headband is a nice touch, but very short hair is great too.
The movie "Valley Girl" provides great fodder for '80s costume ideas. The Valley Guys wear pastel-colored polo shirts with the collars standing up. Blond hair is ideal, and it should look like it took some time to fix. Tight white jeans or khaki pants top off the look, with boat shoes or Vans as the finishing touch. The girls have a toned-down version of the previously mentioned mini-skirt look. Their hair looks very done, but not as flamboyant as the "big hair" look. Deborah Foreman, the movie's star, sports a bit of a "femullet," with slightly shorter sides, and blond waves. Tans are essential, as are perfect manicures. Bracelets are big (think Madonna in "Lucky Star") for going out. Sleeveless minidresses with capri-length leggings and flats are great, but if you really want to be noticed, top off your eighties costume with a big bow on top of the head, and giant hoop earrings.