How to Dress for an '80s Disco Dance

By Julia Detering ; Updated September 15, 2017
Dressing for an 80s disco dance is not so hard.

Mirrored balls and disco music set the tone for disco dances, an alternative to 1950s style sock hops. Dressing for a 1980s disco dance brings back the fashion trends of that decade. Everything was big. Big hair, big jewelry and big shoulder pads were all popular in the 1980s. Recreating these styles today for an 80s disco dance may mean a quick visit to a resale clothing store or adapting existing clothes with a few 80s style accessories. Men can be styling too. They just need to think tight shirts and borrow a few gold necklaces from their wives or girlfriends.

How to Dress for a 1980s Disco Dance

Find dresses or blouses with big shoulder pads. The oversized shoulder pad style has been out of fashion for a couple of decades. If shirts or dresses with the football player look cannot be found, making minor alterations to a silk blouse will do the trick. Shoulder pads can be purchased at any fabric store. Use safety pins to attach the pads to the blouse or dress.

Wear tight, shiny clothes. Gold lame and other metallic colored fabrics will add glitz to a 1980s disco dance outfit. Sequined clothes provide the glitter that was popular in the 1980s dance scene. Women can wear shiny, spandex pants with a big, sparkling top. Men can wear a silk shirt with the top three buttons unbuttoned.

Accessorize with a big belt. Big belts in colored leather or fabric cinched around the waist were a popular fashion accessory. Also, big pieces of costume jewelry round out the 1980s disco look. Think clunky faux gold necklaces with matching earrings.

Tease, curl or frizz your hair. Big hair was the trend in the 1980s. To tease hair, use a fine tooth comb. Start from the ends of the hair and comb upward toward the scalp. Permanents, which were the rage back then, can be recreated with hot curlers or a curling iron and plenty of hairspray. A crimping iron will also achieve the perm look.

Apply fake fingernails painted in bright colors. Long fingernails with fire red nail polish will add a small touch to the 1980s look. 1980s fashion dictated flash and color. So pour on the make up with plenty of eye shadow, blush and red lipstick. Fake eyelashes also help with the look.

Dress like a 1980s icon. Any 1980s disco dance should play a list of Madonna 1980s tunes. Dress as Madonna during her “Material Girl” phase. Wear black spandex pants with white lace gloves and big bulky jewelry. For men, try the “Miami Vice” look. Two day beard stubble and a tight tee shirt under a linen sports jacket is reminiscent of that popular 1980s television show.