Totally awesome vintage ’80s clothes for girls

Note: This article may feature affiliate links to Amazon or other companies, and purchases made via these links may earn us a small commission at no additional cost to you. Find out more here.

1983 catalog - Clothes for girls from JCPenney

Note: This article may feature affiliate links to Amazon or other companies, and purchases made via these links may earn us a small commission at no additional cost to you. Find out more here.

The clothing styles girls want to wear at school and at home (1983)

This school year, clothes that provide a versatile fashion slant without compromising practical and easy-maintenance features are the strongest leaders among the maze of trends and fads.

As in past years, separates are the bestselling student apparel. While the styles are purely functional, the pieces are easily mixed and matched. However, the news about separates this season is the way in which grown-up styles are translated into youthful looks. Some of these new options include oversized shirt-dresses, dirndl skirts and drop-waist minidresses.

Along with the classic mid-knee skirt lengths are the increasingly popular skimp and minidresses worn with coordinating colored hosiery. With skirt length of no real fashion significance, Rhoda Bloomquist, special events and fashion coordinator of Burdines, points out that hemlines are “everywhere,” adding, “you should wear a length that’s most becoming to you rather than wear one for fashion sake.”

For school girls, a trace of the ’50s takes shape in the way of full-cut bias skirts, collarless V-neck letter sweaters and revamped saddle shoes in leather or brightly colored cushion-quilted nylon.

The coed look remains a staple in every school wardrobe. Girls team classic cotton cloth shirts — some featuring ruffled stand-up collar and cuffs — with tailored corduroys. They also lean toward the simple sophisticated looks of lightweight wool blazers, button-down blouses and coatdresses.

(Article continues below images)

Girls in the 1983 JC Penney catalog: The trendiest ’80s fashions for girls & tweens


(Article continued from above)

Fashion for girls in the 1983 JC Penney catalog

While skirt lengths make little fashion impact, layered legs of colorful socks and stockings play an important role in back-to-school fashions.

“Colored and patterned stockings are an important fashion statement for all ages this year,” says Bloomquist. “The younger set wears them with minis, or together with a different color anklet.”

Knee socks, anklets and stockings range in a variety of colors from fuchsia to French blue — while argyles, rugby stripes and mini-prints have a strong foothold in the sock department. These are shown sock over sock, sock over panty stockings, and legwarmers over tights in contrasting colors.

As fall signals a new fashion season, color becomes a fashion entity. In first class is fuchsia, mallard blue, turquoise and combinations of royal blue and yellow, or purple and jade.

“Students are going for color this season,” says Agnes Lund, division manager of the children and pre-teen departments of Sears. “The girls seem to prefer the bright lavenders, and the boys like strong, bright colors.”

Corduroy jeans are a fashionable solution to most back-to-school dilemmas… Cords are reintroduced this fall in a multitude of colors, such as grape, magenta and green for girls.

Perhaps as a spinoff to this color category, many designer jeans manufacturers have introduced black denim jeans as an alternative to the blues. In fact, many of today’s blue jeans are styled much like casual dress pants. Bloomquist notes that status (or designer) jeans are in vogue once again; however, they’re dressier jeans with regard to design.

Lund agrees, saying. “the kids of today are much more concerned about their clothes — the fit, the color and being coordinated and stylish.”

Topping off many of this fall’s back-to-school clothes is the sweater. Available in such variations as vests, crewnecks and cardigans, the sweater is rated the strongest fashion statement nationwide. The total sweater picture shifts its focus to leading looks: argyles, checks, jacquards, Fair Isle patterns, novelty knits and year-round cottons.

While many of these sweater looks are layered for practical reasons, layering is also used as a designer technique to introduce more color and texture to school clothes. As more patterns are used, the monochrome shades become an important link to a color-coordinated wardrobe.

– Adapted from an article published in the News-Press (Fort Myers, Florida) – August 21, 1983

If you liked this, please share it! You can also get our free newsletter, follow us on Facebook & Pinterest, plus see retro-inspired products in our shop. Thanks for visiting!

More stories you might like

Because the fun never ends

Comments on this story

Leave a comment here!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Choose your next adventure

Join the fun

Don’t miss out on the latest and greatest vintage stuff!

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter here.