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Fashion and Clothing History


Researching the 1980s


Sorry, there's no section of the library devoted to 1980s fashion!  

Searching for fashion by a specific decade can be tricky because the same time period can be described several different ways and information about a decade may be found in several different sections of the library.  There is no one phrase that will bring back all the clothing of a decade so try a few different searches to see what works.  Here are some suggestions of searches to start with. Get creative and add some of your own!

1980s     Nineteen eighties     80s     80s fashion

Here are some other tips for researching by a decade:

  • Search by designer, not designer by decade.  For example, if you were to search "Ralph Lauren 80s" you would find zero books.  However if you were to search for just "Ralph Lauren" then look through the many books we have on him, you would find plenty of his designs from the 1980s.  Because a designer's career can span decades, it's difficult to restrict a search to a specific designer AND a specific decade.
  • Search by type of clothing.  Looking for a 1980s wedding dress?  Instead of "1980s wedding dress" search for "wedding dress" then look through some of the books you find for images from the 1980s.  
  • Search by photographer.  Like designers, a photographers work may span many decades.  
  • Search by century.  A book that covers the entire 20th century may have a very good chapter on the 1980s with images you can't find anywhere else.

Recommended Books About 1980s Fashion

80s: All American Ads
80s Fashion
Fifty Fashion Looks That Changed The 1980's
Fashions of a Decade: the 1980s
Back in the Days
The 1980s
1980s Fashion Print
Vintage T-Shirts: more than 500 authentic tees from the '70s and '80s
Fashionable Clothing from the Sears Catalogs Early 1980s

Magazines and Store Catalogs from the 1980s

Please note, some of our magazines are available digitally and some are only available in print in the Periodicals room on the 4th floor for in-library use. Visit our Periodicals LibGuide to see all of our periodicals by decade.

Dance Magazine 1988

Dance Magazine

trade publication January 1970 (v44 n1)-Current (with gaps).Monthly An influential American trade publication for dance with emphasis on advice for dancers, articles written by and about dancers, and information on dance equipment and costumes

Essence Magazine 1982


May 1970-Current. 10x per year Fashion, beauty, home decorating, food and general features aimed at African-American women

Harper's Bazaar July 1985

Harper's Bazaar

1930-Current. Monthly microfilm: November 1867-December 1923; January 1975-December 1976 The Harper's Bazaar Archive: November 2, 1867-Current (FIT username and password required for access) (Earlier Issues available in Special Collections) Leading American high fashion magazine.

Modern Bride Magazine 1987

Modern Bride

December/January 1974/75 (v26 n6)-December/January 2009 (v61 n6). Bi-monthly American upmarket bridal magazine. Offers slightly more upscale fashions than Bride’s

Sears Catalog 1981

Sears Catalog

store catalog 1960-Spring/Summer 1993. Semi-annual microfilm: 1888-1993 (Earlier issues available in Special Collections) A chain department store that sells mid-range apparel, accessories, home décor and furnishings, appliances, electronics and more. Catalog now available online only

Simplicity Counter Pattern Catalog

Simplicity Counter Pattern Catalog

March 1978-October 1984. 8x per year Pattern book, mostly womenswear

Sportswear Jeans International

Sportswear Jeans International

trade publication 1983 (v2 n6)-1983 (v2 n12) U.S. edition of German publication. Magazine for casual sportswear and activewear with a focus on jeans

Vogue [American]

Vogue [American]

April -June 1927; Jan-Mar 1928; Jan 1933-Current (with gaps). Monthly Vogue Archive: all issues (FIT username and password required for access) (Earlier issues available in Special Collections) Widely-regarded as the most influential American fashion magazine; features articles and images by leading fashion critics, photographers, stylists, illustrators, designers and models

Women's Wear Daily 1981

WWD Archive

covers fashion and business news. The library's subscription covers 1910 to 6 months ago.

Archival Sources from the 80s

FITDIL   Gaultier 1984

SPARC digital   Antonio Lopez Drawing 1987


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