How to Rock the 80s Businesswoman Look

Image of model Yasmin le Bon in the 1980s showing off her style.
A businesswoman is a woman who works in business or commerce, especially at an executive level. She exudes power, confidence, and authority through her work and through here look.

The 80s businesswoman look was haut and unique back then, and it still is today.  

While many of the 80s styles did not survive into the 90s, the decade was rife with a flair that we now look upon with curiosity and nostalgia. Fashion styles and beauty routines were very different back then, perhaps too different for some, but many today are rocking both 80s professional fashion and 80s casual fashion.

So can you.

The early 80s fashion scene saw a plethora of different clothing and makeup styles from pencil skirts to all feathered bangs. No 80s outfit was complete without the quintessential shoulder pads – the bigger, the badder. Along with the fashion trends of the time, women wore big jewelry including the now famous hoop earrings, and much of the clothing was bedazzled. Young women wore white sneakers and blew gum bubbles like it was going out of style. To top it off, blue eyeshadow was applied, and a multitude of hairspray layers keep the look together.

The late 80s fashion scene was characterized by another set of style staples. Women in the workplace wore black outfits with red lipstick and platform black leather boots; they also strapped a black purse with chrome straps around their shoulder. The 80s fashionista business woman either worked in or was determined to work in a corner office in New York City.  She was fierce and she was the epitome of the decade’s powerhouse businesswoman. A title and style we can all aspire to.

Attitude and hair were both big in the 80s, it required a lot of work and a lot of product to create and maintain the mane.

Image of model in the 1980s showing off her big hair.

A woman could not just get up and out of bed and head out to the office; she had to spend some time in front of the mirror to pull off the businesswoman look of the 80s. A teaser brush in one hand and an aerosol can in the other, hair was basically another outfit. 

Pairing clothing and hair was essential; women would dress according to their hairstyle. A vintage black suit with big blond hair was standard. The combination of hair and clothing was seen as an important tool for presenting oneself as a professional and sophisticated business woman. Rocking the 80s look at work was part of the job, it took time and effort to pull it off and demonstrated how serious a woman was about her career, or how high on the business ladder she wanted to climb. Back then, going to the job was more than just going to work, it was an opportunity to make a fashion statement that could get you an interview or even a promotion. 

image of model in the 80s heading to work wearing a grey suit and a white jacket over.

Every woman wore what worked for them, from a black and pink-striped tuxedo jacket to Michael Jackson inspired vintage wool jackets. Almost nothing was off limits during the 80s fashion scene. The best way to rock the 80s businesswoman look was to outdo others, which many did. The goal was to impress with a dress, sure men would enjoy the look, but women would compete with each other. After all, their jobs depended on it.

Rocking a pair of heels at work is normal, but in the 80s nothing was normal. Heels had to show off a woman’s legs and help her strut down the corridors. Many women wore shoes of different colors to stand out and show everybody who’s the boss. Women wore red leather ankle boots to both attract attention and be used as a warning. Try pairing red heels with your 80s outfits to do the same.

Sayings such as, ‘dress to impress’ and ‘dress for the job you want, not the job you have’ were standard then and should be standard now if you want to rock the 80s businesswoman look. Keep these saying in mind when at the office, look around and size up your colleagues; which one of them is going to be serving coffee or having coffee served to them? The 80s mindset was shark territory; rock the outfits and the attitude.

A great way to make a fashion statement, and an entrance, is to sport an 80s bag. Not only can you carry your essentials, but the bag will also speak volumes about your style and intention. Take for example this tricolor handbag by Celine, a truly unique piece that screams the 1980s and gives people something to talk about. You can rock this bag with or without an 80s outfit, a bag this bad ass will call attention and evoke a sense of power. A bag this stunning is easy to rock as it does a lot of the work, but don’t forget to act the part as well, a great outfit needs a great woman to complete it.

Another important accessory to rock is a pair of vintage sunglasses

There were many different colors and shapes of sunglasses in the 80s, including neon frames and the robot wraparound slit glasses – these were a big hit and were even featured in movies of the time. A hot pair of sunglasses can step up your outfit and add a layer of mystery to your look. Hide behind those shades to give off a mysterious feel, but don’t be shy, the 80s were as much about fashion as they were about having fun.

Another popular 80s pair of glasses were aviator glasses. Both men and women wore these, but women wore them better! You don’t have to go full 80s color to rock the decade, you can rock these classic black Chanel sunglasses and step back in time, right to the mid 80s scene. In the 80s, women wore these glasses with a neck strap so that the sunglasses wouldn’t fall down, you can easily put them on a remove them without having to place them somewhere. Add this accessory to your sunglasses for an added touch of 80s flare, you’ll look the part and benefit from the functionality of the combination.

Vintage jewelry is another common and exciting piece to add to your 80s outfit.

Women in the 80s wore a lot of jewelry; they layered it and combined different shapes and styles. The 80s was really a unique style that you can resurrect even with jewelry. Think color, and then add some more color, and then add layers. Jewelry of the time was fun. Bright, neon colors combined with whimsical shapes adorned many women. The jewelry was appropriate both at work and outside of work. Jewelry was and still is the crowning jewel of an outfit, be sure to add it to your businesswoman look, you’ll feel like a boss.

A popular jewelry shape was the heart. It is a symbol of passion and compassion, two traits characteristic of a true businesswoman. Take for example this Chanel pink logo print necklace and earrings set featuring a heart logo on silver-tone chain and a matching pair of drop earrings. It contains both a shape and a color, essential qualities of the 80s look and feel. Remember, you can pair different jewelry together such as different colors and different shapes, the 80s allowed for this so have fun with it.

The cherry on top would have to be a hat. Just as with clothing and jewelry, hats that adorned women’s heads in the 80s were fun and colorful. The fashion scene saw plastic colored visors, hip-hop hoods, and baseball caps. Hats were a big deal back then, not only in style but also in size. You could rock just about any style hat with the right 80s outfit. But for the businesswoman, you can step it up a little. A sharp hat can do the trick such as this hand women straw hat in black and yellow. The shape is serious and formal while the color is young and vibrant, a killer combination if you want to rock a memorable 80s businesswoman look. Try on many different hats, see what works for your 80s outfits, you’re sure to find a match. When you do, rock it like the music of the times.

What you wear says a lot about who you are and a lot about who you are not.

Choose wisely as always, but allow yourself some extra room to play with when it comes to dressing 80s. The style was characterized more by personality than by the clothing itself, allow your inner child out and dress her for fun and success. A businesswoman has time for both, so incorporate this into your life and closet. An 80s outfit is sure to never go out of style as they can be comfortable and spontaneous.

When it comes to the 80s, rock what you normally wouldn’t rock because it’s too flashy. This is the time you can pull it off without a worry. The decade came and went, but the fashion is still here going strong. The movies of the 80s are still available, so take some time to do your homework and watch these films, they can be a valuable lesson in learning how to rock the 80s businesswoman look. Shop our online store to find 80s pieces that will help you rock and help you cash in.

The power of a fashion style lies in both the decade and the dame.


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