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The 10 Shoe Styles of the 80s

By Christian Roemer

The 80s were a magical time. Hair metal reigned supreme, hip hop was just starting to gain popularity, people discovered spandex, and for whatever reason, bangs were a good hairstyle. Another magical thing happened in the 80s: shoe proliferation. The styles got wackier, the trends more extreme, and some classic styles made their debuts. Shoe fashion was all over the place.

These are the top 10 styles of shoes from the 80s. I’ll admit that I might have rocked some these in my day.


Reebok Pumps

It never got better than these shoes. Designed for basketball, you were supposed to pump air into these shoes for extra ankle support if you needed it. I had a pair of these, and I’ll contend that these were the coolest shoes of all time.


Air Jordans

Air Jordans basically created what is today referred to as the sneaker market. These shoes were first worn by Michael Jordan himself, and three decades later, Air Jordan is now its own brand. Still in production today, you’ll find sneakerheads and fashionistas alike rocking this classic silhouette.


Doc Martens

Big, beefy boots, Doc Martens were the footwear du jour of angsty teenagers. Usually fans of the Cure, these boots became infamous in the proto-emo scene.


Saucony Jazz

This casual sneaker is still available today in a range of colors. It’s a great shoe for lounging, walking, and matching your feet to your outfit.



For girls only, jellies were just sandals made out of a strange, translucent gummy material. I’m not sure if they were comfortable or not, but I’ll be darned if every girl in my 1st grade class didn’t wear them.


Vans Classic Slip Ons

In the 80s, Sean Penn started his acting career as a stoner in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. In this movie, he wore Vans classic checkered slip-ons, and they become ultra-popular in the alternative, skater, and stoner crowd.



I don’t really remember this trend, but apparently it existed. Moccasins are leather shoes inspired by the minimalist designs of Native Americans. Some have fur, some are just suede, but they were the cat’s pajamas.


Adidas Campus

This casual shoe is another that was released in the 80s but still adorns feet to this day. Consisting of a suede upper on a classic white rubber sole, this shoe boasts the classic three stripes down the side, so that you know it’s Adidas.



These shoes are a mix between a casual sandal and a shoe, and they were all the rage with the Miami Vice crowd. Because they were basically sandals, they were great for hot weather, but since they were leather, you could wear them with linen pants and not look like The Dude. They were a great compromise.


Air Force 1s

Yes, Nelly wrote a song about these shoes in the 2000s, but they were first invented in the 80s under a different name. These classic white sneakers became the go-to for the hip hop crowd. I tried to pull off a pair of these guys, but I just couldn’t make it happen. You win some and you lose some.

The 80s were a time of shoewear revolution. While some styles like the jellies faded into obscurity, others are still popular today.


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