New Wave Fashion – 53 Outfit Ideas for Men & Women

The term “New Wave” was originally intended to describe a type of music popular in the 1970s and 1980s that was a poppier response to punk sounds. 

However, the term has been used outside of this original intention so often that it could refer to any new trend, especially if it has characteristics that make it different from what came before it.

When applied to fashion, New Wave generally refers to bold and colorful patterns that were popular in the 1980s. It may also be called “retro” or “vintage”. 

If you’re somebody who is drawn to this time period, here is an example of some of the most popular ways to incorporate a little bit of New Wave, or Nouvelle Vague, into your wardrobe.

New Wave Fashion Ideas For Men

1. Checked Outfits For Men

Gray Checkered Pants

Blue Chekered Coat

@thekedaarjiDuring the 1980s, checkerboard patterns became synonymous with the New Wave movement. These patterns often featured large checks of black alternated with a bright or even neon color. The checkerboard lives on in today’s fashion trends. In fact, even at their most subdued, these patterns still speak to a time of lively dance floors at discotheques. Try it in a blazer form for a look that is fresh and professional. 

2. Denim On Denim Outfits For Men

Denim On Denim New Wave Fashion

Denim on denim is not just for farmers (or hipsters). Believe it or this, this intentional clash was also a favorite outfit choice at the time of when New Wave was at its most bold. For the sake of differentiation, try finding a denim jacket that has patches, or add your own. Depending on your taste, it’s possible to match shades of denim or to pair two different shades with one another. If you can find any of these denim items at a vintage or thrift store, that’s an added bonus.

3. Graphic Tees Outfits For Men

Tees New Wave Fashion

Graphic tees were a huge part of 1980s male fashion — particularly band tees. While you don’t necessarily need to be a fan of the band that you are promoting on your tee shirt, it helps if you use this opportunity as a way to express your personal tastes. If you have an old band tee shirt that you haven’t touched since you were a teenager, you’re in luck. The more distressed and worn the shirt looks, the better, when it comes to style that pushes the envelope.

4. Leather Jacket Outfits For Men 

Punk Leather Jacket Fashion
Classic Leather Jacket Fashion
Model Leather Jacket Fashion

Leather jackets are a timeless wardrobe piece. Although they arguably got their start as street fashion, they have also traditionally been a big part of New Wave fashion trends, as well. In the 1980s, a type of leather jacket manufacturer called “Triple Fat Goose” was all the rage. Their style of outerwear was a puffy down-filled jacket made of leather. Today, many of the leather jackets that are on the market are not as thick and are intended more for fashion than function, That’s okay, though — they look great with a pair of skinny jeans.

5. Members Only Jacket Outfits For Men

Cool Jacket Fashion

If you haven’t heard of a “Members Only” jacket before, allow us to introduce you. Like “Triple Fat Goose”, “Members Only” actually refers to a brand of jackets that was very popular in the 1980s. They were distinguished by their thinly padded shoulders and slightly popped collar.

Whether you’ve been aware of it or not, you have more than likely come across a “Members Only” jacket before. Not only were they popular enough in their heyday to leave behind a strong legacy, but they have also made a compact in the past decade or so. They are available in a wide variety of colors to fit any taste.

6. Neon-Colored Outfits For Men

Hype Neon Jacket
Urban Cool Jacket
Neon Clothes Outfit

Earlier, we mentioned neon in passing, but it’s important that we properly articulate how important neon was during the time of New Wave fashion.

Greens, oranges, yellows, and pinks — if it’s available as a highlighter shade, chances are that there is some kind of New Wave fashion trend available in it. And neon outfits aren’t just for aerobics athletic clothing, either. These bright hues work surprisingly well as jackets, turtlenecks, and even shoes. Their effect is unexpected and masculine, and is sure to help you stand out in a crowd.

7. New Wave Hip-Hop Outfits For Men

Stylish Red Jacket
Rapper Cool Outfit
Afro Cool Outfit
Nice Hair Style Ouftfit
Sweat Pants Outfit
Black Man Ne Wave Outfit
Nice New Wave Spring Outfit
Awesome Vinyl Outfit

The 1980s were not only the birthplace of New Wave fashion — they were also a fantastic time for early hip hop, too. From Run D.M.C. to Public Enemy to the Beastie Boys, if there is a hip hop group that you hold as a classic today, chances are that they had their start in the birth years of Generation X. Some of the New Wave fashion elements that are borrowed from hip hop culture include gold chains, bright sneakers, sweatpants, and shades.

8. New Wave Punk Outfits For Men 

Vintage New Wave Fashion
Post Punk New Wave Fashion

If there is one genre of music that is synonymous with New Wave culture, it’s sure to be punk. Even if the punk of the 1980s was seen as a more tame answer to the rambunctious 1970s, there were still major moves being made, especially when it came to the wardrobes of the youth.

If you want to achieve that punk New Wave look, you’re going to need a lot of black clothing, and maybe some chains. Those who are looking to fully embrace this avant-garde style can even consider dying their hair — blues and greens were a favorite choice of the time.

9. Tokyo’s New Wave Goth Outfits For Men

Glam Goth Fashion
New Wave Goth Punk Fashion
Punk Goth Style Outfit

We often hear about a lot of New Wave culture coming from the clubs of London, New York, and even Berlin, but Tokyo deserves some credit as another epicenter of cultural revolution. New Wave was such a big thing for the residents of Tokyo that there is a style associated with this time period of the city even today.

In the 1980s, there was a strong sense of counterculture that emerged in response to the preppy fashion styles that were popular in the city. If you’re a fan of things like multiple buckles or an oversized t-shirt, you likely have one of the world’s largest metropolises to thank for that.

10. Turtleneck Outfits For Men

Coat New Wave Fashion Outfit

Turtlenecks have a bit of a reputation as something that you would just wear to the library, but they actually were an important part of youth fashion in the 1980s. Also known as a polo neck, turtlenecks provide a sophisticated but memorable look and work great when paired with an additional form of outerwear, like a leather jacket or a faux fur.

11. Vinyl Jacket Outfits For Men

Casual Vinyl Jacket Outfit

When you hear the word “vinyl” associated with the 80s, we’re not only talking about the thing you play on a record player (by the mid-80s, cassettes had all but taken over, anyway).

Vinyl, of course, also refers to a type of fabric that was popularly used as a type of jacket in many New Wave styles. Vinyl is a versatile and dynamic abric, and also happens to be low cost, which means that it is a viable option for those who are on a tight budget but still want to achieve an edgy look.


New Wave Fashion Ideas for Women

1. Leather Jacket Outfits For Women

Retro New Wave Fashion

Leather jackets don’t only hit the mark for men — they make a great choice for a feminine wardrobe, as well. Leather jackets likely became a popular outerwear choice for women in the 1970s and 1980s.

Before that, they were mostly only worn by women who were fighter pilots in the World Wars, and they were mostly known as “bomber jackets”. No matter their origins, they are a popular choice for women today, and it’s easy to see why. Pairing a leather jacket with a pair of skinny jeans or a dress results in an instant chic.

2. Checkered Outfits For Women

Mono Graphic New Wave Fashion

The classic checker pattern has made a splash in female fashion over the years, as well. Whether materialized as a skirt, dress, or even pantsuit, a checker pattern offers an homage to the unconventional styles of years past, all the while maintaining a fashion-forward approach that almost comes full circle by giving off futuristic vibes.

3. Corset Belts Outfits For Women

Island Style New Wave Fashion

A corset belt is a type of belt or tie that is meant to be used on loose fitting outfits to define a waist line and add shape. Although they are most often worn over dresses, a corset belt could theoretically be worn over any type of outfit. Corset belts are available in a variety of fabric types and colors, although ones that are designed with New Wave fashion in mind are often fashioned out of leather.

4. Denim on Denim Outfits For Women

Amazing Denim Jacket And Pants
Country Style New Wave Fashion

The fact that denim on denim looks stylish is perhaps one of fashion’s greatest contradictions, but it’s a conundrum that we are more than a little okay with. Although you can use any type of denim to achieve this look in a New Wave style, using acid wash jeans are a way to be very on the mark. For a look that screams 1980s, sneak a graphic tee underneath your jean jacket.

5. Graphic Tees Outfits For Women

Catch The Style Fashion
Ripped Denim Pants Outfit

Speaking of graphic tees, these fun t-shirt styles are just as important to women’s New Wave fashion as they were to men’s. However, if the slender cut of a woman’s t-shirt is not your style, you can wear a men’s or a unisex tee to achieve a desirable blocky effect. These shirts look great if they’re tucked — or at least french tucked — into a pair of jeans or khakis.

6. High-Waisted Jeans Outfits For Women

Black Nice Sexy Outfit

Are you a fan of high-waisted jeans? In recent years, they have made a strong comeback, and can now be found in most women’s wardrobes. If you own a pair (or three), you have New Wave fashion trends of the 1980s to thank for that.

It wasn’t only denim that got the high-waisted treatment at this time. It was also common to see high-waisted cuts made out of fabric such as cotton, polyester, and even faux-snakeskin.

No matter which style you are wearing your high-waisted pants in, one thing is certain — they are highly flattering on all different types of body types, and what more could we ask for out of a pant?

7. Jumpsuits Outfits For Women

Pink Cool Jump Suit Fashion
Nice All Pink New Wave Fashion
Brown Jump Suit New Wave Fashion

Jumpsuits are making a comeback in recent years, and we could not be more thrilled. Whether they are in the style of shorts (also known as rompers) or pants, jumpsuits are feminine, off-beat, and always on trend.

Jumpsuits come in virtually any color or pattern, but the ones that truly scream 1980s New Wave to us come in silk, velour, or breathable synthetic fabrics. An added bonus to jumpsuits is that they’re super comfortable, too.

8. Ladies Suits Outfits For Women

Nice Cute New Wave Outfit

Oh, the 1980s — the decade of the women’s suit. We’re not just talking about the business suit that was filling office buildings either, although we have a soft spot for that kind of suit as well.

New Wave women’s suits are more casual, and tend to be more loose-fitting, although they are truly up to each individual’s interpretation. A great place to find a vintage ladies’ suit is at a thrift or vintage store.

9. New Wave Punk Outfits For Women

Post Punk Rock Fashion
Punk Rock Outfit
Vintage Mid Skirt Fashion

Punk style manifests itself in many ways when it comes to women, and often features forms of flannel, checker patterns, and unconventional pairings. However, it does not need to feature any of these items — as long as a woman is feeling bold and rebellious in what she is wearing, the case for a punk outfit could be argued.

A very popular boot in the 1980s was the Doc Martens, which continue to be a classic wardrobe item for droves of consumers who are drawn to the punk aesthetic.

10. Off-The-Shoulder Outfits For Women

Black Woman New Wave Style

It’s often hard to find fashion trends that are geared towards women who are looking for sultry wardrobe outfits that don’t compromise style for sex appeal. An off-the-shoulder top is the perfect answer to this. For a New Wave twist, try looking for one that is all black or one with a geometric pattern.

11. Pristine Leather Jacket Outfits For Women 

Rock And Roll Fashion Style

A “pristine leather jacket” refers to a type of light outerwear that is free from scuffs or modifications. They act as a solid wardrobe piece, as they can be paired with a variety of outfits from jeans to skirts and more.

12. Shoulder Pads Blazer Outfits For Women

Pink Retro Fashion
@shoulder pads blazer outfit

Before shoulder pads became somewhat of a joke punchline, they were common across nearly all women’s blazers and cardigans. Their original intention was twofold: to give the illusion that one’s shoulders did not slouch and to also give the impression that one’s shoulders were more broad than they were in reality.

Although shoulder pads were usually existent in more formal or high-end clothing, they became so widespread in the 1980s that they were an expected feature of any wardrobe piece. It may seem bizarre now, but shoulder pads are actually making a comeback in a big way — good news for those who believe their best asset is their shoulders.

13. Tokyo’s New Wave Goth Outfits For Women

Dark Vintage Fashion
Alternative Grunge Girl Fashion
Goth Girl New Wave Fashion

Tokyo New Wave outfits for women include eclectic wardrobe pieces like platform shoes, all-black attire, and fishnet stockings. In the 1980s, Tokyo was well-known for its boundary-pushing fashion for women that often included vibrant fabrics and a mixture of fabric textures. For a quick ode to this expressive time in fashion, try wearing a pair of stockings underneath a pair of shorts.

14. Turtleneck Outfits For Women

Style Goddess New Wave Fashion
Stripe New Wave Fashion
Retro Vintage Style Fashion

There are few wardrobe pieces that are as versatile as the turtleneck. What other type of top can say that it was beloved by 1950s housewives, 1960s hippies, 1970s disco-goers and 1980s New Wave fans? On women, turtlenecks can be chunky or form-fitting, and can come in an assortment of shades and patterns. For something different, consider trying on a turtleneck that cuts off at your midriff or pairing your turtleneck with shorts.

15. Vinyl Jacket Outfits For Women

Rain Or Shine Style Fashion
Red Hot New Wave Fashion Style
Red Bag Bootie Fashion Style

Vinyl is an unexpected and notable fabric type, and is renowned for its shiny finish. One of the most popular styles of vinyl jackets for women is the long trench coat. The detailing of these jackets can vary, but they can either have full-length sleeves or ¾ sleeves. They also often either button up or come with a matching belt.

Although they may be offering more fashion than function — most vinyl jackets won’t keep you that warm in plummeting temperatures — what they might lack in warmth they make up for in pure style.

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