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Top Shoe Styles of the 80s

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By Dillon Wallace

Kick it with the decade’s most rad footwear

They say one glance at a person’s shoes and you can tell a lot about them. That saying was probably never truer than in the 1980s. The decade that brought us hair metal, shoulder pads and hair that don’t care also brought us a wide range of shoe styles and trends, new and old.


So let’s kick it by listing out the flyest shoes of the 1980s.


Rise of the Reebok

While they’re still part of the shoe game today, Reeboks have seen quite the decline since their 80s-prime time. With mega hits like the Freestyle, the all-white women’s Hightop Aerobic and, of course, the Pump, Reebok had quite the foothold (literally) on the sneaker market in the 80s. They even bested shoe giant Nike in sales by end of the decade.


Who wore them: If you were into sports or joined in on the 80’s aerobics craze, then you were most likely rocking some form of Reebok.

 

Converse All-Star & Vans Classics

In a lot of ways this shoe debate still rages as strong today as it did 30 plus years ago. In one corner, you had the Chuck Taylor faithfuls – an ex basketball player’s sneaker that retired from the game to offer casual comfort. In the other corner, you had the Vans with their classic skater side stripe or surfer slip on look made infamous by Sean Penn’s stoned surfer Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.


Who wore them: In large part, Converse were the every (wo)man’s casual shoe. Everybody from punk rockers and hip hop artists to gym goers and your dad wore Chuck Taylors. Vans on the other hand, were largely more prominent in the early skateboarding scene and surf turf but could also be seen on the feet of the casual wearer.


Doc Martens

If casual tennis shoes weren’t your 80s go-to, then perhaps Doc Martens were more your speed. These big, beefy military-inspired boots with their iconic yellow sole stitching were all about making a bold statement.


Who wore them: Teenagers, new wave lovers and the pre-emo scenesters could all be caught rocking these hefty boots.


Jellies

Picture a shoe made of jello, and you’ve essentially recreated this women’s shoe trend of the 80s (and 90s). Jellie sandals were made of a translucent gummy-like material and sported a huge variety of colors, often infused with glitter. It’s been over 30 years and men are still wondering if they were actually comfortable or not.


Who wore them: Little girls and adult women alike strutted around in the 80s in these incredibly affordable PVC plastic shoes.

 

Huaraches & Sperrys

Huaraches weren’t quite a sandal but weren’t fully a shoe, either. This casual leather footwear was great for keeping cool in the summertime – and we’re not just talking temperature. Sperrys, the infamous boat shoe, was similar in nature in the idea that they were a mix between a shoe, sandal and a sneaker (sole) while also being perfect for those hot days.


Who wore them: If you were a Huaraches fan, then you probably also liked Miami Vice, rolled up blazer sleeves and lots of linen. For Sperry wearers, look no further than the yuppie and preppy entrepreneur crowd.


Air Jordans & Adidas

Did you really think you would read an article about the 80s most popular shoe trends and not see Nike or Adidas on the list? Get outta here! These two athletic shoe giants have been waging an athletic footwear battle for decades. Whether you’re pro Nike’s Jordans or strongly in the classic three-strip Adidas camp back in the 80s, there’s no denying the fashion and cultural impact that these shoes had and still have today.


Who wore them: Sports lovers, specifically basketball and football players and hip hop artists (like Run DMC, pro Adidas) rocked these athletic kicks with pride and style both on and off the court.

Don’t let your eyes deceive you, it may be almost 2020 but we are firmly in an 80s resurgence when it comes to foot style.

 

Just look around and you’ll see kids, teenagers and adults still rocking every shoe on this list today … well, except for the Jellies. But people are still wearing Crocs and those are pretty dang close.

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