The Most Painfully '80s Celebrity Photos of All Time

We're all just material girls living in a material world.

The most painfully 80s pictures of celebrities.
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Nothing says "painfully '80s" like our favorite celebrities and their fashion choices of decades past. From the brightly colored pandex and leg warmers to the big hair and even bigger shoulder pads, celebrities helped to solidify the '80s as an iconic (albeit somewhat cringe) time for fashion.

Madonna changed the fashion game with her "Like a Virgin"-inspired ensemble, complete with layered necklaces, a messy ponytail, and lace accents. No one can forget the decade-defining, skin-tight workout wear which left little to the imagination (and often came with a whole lot of in-your-face color). Then there was the over-the-top makeup and gender-bending outfits that gave kids of the '80s the silent permission to play with fashion in a way very few had before.

A slew of iconic fashion moments and outfit inspiration came out of the '80s, giving us some of the truly most painfully '80s celebrity pictures of all time.

Roads? Where we're going—a trip down '80s cringe memory lane—we don't need roads.


Madonna at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1984.

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No one embodied the '80s like Madonna. From her layered necklaces to her big hair and "Like a Virgin" dress, Madonna's iconic fashion statements defined an entire generation, and for good reason—you can still see her fashion influence today.

Tina Turner

Tina Turner poses for a portrait backstage at the Joe Louis Arena during her "Private Dancer Tour" on August 18, 1985.

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You can't take a stroll down '80s memory lane without thinking about the Queen, Tina Turner. Turner's look included lots of sparkle and whole lot of leg, and came to define '80s rock 'n' roll in all its big-hair glory.

Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson attends the presentation of platinum records for her album "Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814" and two singles "Miss You Much" and "Rhythm Nation" on December 8, 1989.

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Rhythm Nation, stand up! Nothing screams '80s like Janet Jackson and her iconic "Rhythm Nation" ensemble.

Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston (1963 - 2012) at the American Music Awards, Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, 27th January 1986.

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Big hair, don't care! The late, great Whitney Houston defined the '80s with her incredible voice and breathtaking performances, both on the stage and on the big screen.

Boy George

Boy George of Culture Club performs on stage at Wembley Arena on December 17th, 1984.

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From the colorful wardrobe to the makeup to all that hair, Boy George ruled the '80s with his unapologetic style.

David Bowie

David Bowie performing on stage.

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The man, the myth, the legend. Simply put: There would be no '80s without Ziggy Stardust.

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson performs in concert circa 1986.

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Michael Jackson's leather jackets and singular glove came to define an entire fashion genre in the '80s. Honestly, we're still here for it.

Joan Jett

Joan Jett in 1981.

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Joan Jett's "whatever, forever" attitude became the national anthem for every punk rock '80s kid who said: "We're not gonna take it, anymore."

Billy Idol

Portrait of Billy Idol at a hotel in Tokyo, Japan, 1984.

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Billy Idol perfected the duck lips before duck lips were even a thing! There's certainly no shame in his mean muggin' game.

Christie Brinkley

Christie Brinkley works out in a pink spandex unitard and leg warmers.

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Holy big hair and pink spandex, batman! What says the '80s more than Christie Brinkley in leg warmers? (Hint: Nothing.)

Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox attends the 58th Annual Academy Awards on March 24, 1986.

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Gone are the days when men donned feathered hair, but we will always have Michael J. Fox and the '80s.

Matt Dillon 

Matt Dillon circa 1980 in New York City.

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Matt Dillon captured the hearts of an entire generation in his '80s classic film, The Outsiders:

Brooke Shields 

1984: Brooke Shields promotional photo for the ABC tv movie ''Wet Gold'

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Brooke Shields gave us big hair and even bigger shoulder pads, cementing herself as one of the fashion icons of the '80s.

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise during "The Color of Money" Los Angeles Premiere - October 14, 1986.

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It's the bolo tie for us. Tom Cruise's iconic film Top Gun premiered in 1986, cementing Cruise as a Hollywood legend and '80s "it boy."

Ralph Macchio

Ralph Macchio circa 1984 in New York City.

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Nothing says the '80s like Daniel LaRusso fighting the good fight in all three Karate Kid films. Wax on, wax off!

Lisa Bonet 

Lisa Bonet wearing a black sleeveless top, her right hand resting on a doorframe, May 1986.

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Lisa Bonet was the epitome of effortlessly cool in the '80s. (Hint: She's still effortlessly cool.)

Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore at the Youth in Film Awards.

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Drew Barrymore captured hearts and minds as a young Hollywood star trying to help E.T. get back home.

Oprah Winfrey 

Oprah Winfrey backstage at the Academy Awards Show, March 30, 1987.

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The big hair! The shoulder pads! The bedazzled everything! Oprah Winfrey is never to be outdone.

Whoopi Goldberg 

Whoopi Goldberg poses for a portrait sitting in a chair in Los Angeles, California, March 1986.

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The iconic movie Ghost premiered right at the tail end of the '80s, in 1990, solidifying Whoopi Goldberg as a star and leaving an entire generation obsessed with pottery.

Matthew Broderick 

Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller. Initial theatrical release June 11, 1986.

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Nobody embodied cool in the '80s like Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller, forever determined to skip school and have the best adventure day of all time.

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda poses for a portrait in 1985 in Los Angeles, California.

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Only Jane Fonda could make a bright yellow spandex leotard, big hair and yellow and purple leg warmers look this good.

Judd Nelson 

Judd Nelson at the Premiere of 'Old Gringo', Ziegfeld Theater, New York City.

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The ultimate bad boy from The Breakfast Club, Judd Nelson embodied the problematic '80s heartthrob you just couldn't help but love.

Molly Ringwald

1986: Actress Molly Ringwald poses for a portrait in Los Angeles, California.

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Whether she was stuck in school detention or just trying to enjoy her Sweet 16, Molly Ringwald was the ultimate '80s "it girl."

Rob Lowe 

Rob Lowe during Toxic Waste Benefit at MGM at MGM in Culver City, CA.

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It's the perfectly coifed hair and the glasses, for us. (Note: Rob Lowe has aged like a very fine wine, folks.)

George Clooney

George Clooney poses for a portrait session in Los Angeles, California, May 1985.

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Where's the petition to have George Clooney bring back his '80s hair, and where do we sign?!

Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah Jessica Parker in 1980.

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Material girl Sarah Jessica Parker is channeling her inner Madonna with this "Like a Virgin"-inspired look. Turns out, Parker's '80s fashion sense was a lot like Carrie Bradshaw's.

Val Kilmer

Actor Val Kilmer poses for the Tri Star Pictures movie "Real Genius" in 1985.

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The Iceman was forever serving us looks in the '80s.

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp during Johnny Depp File Photos - 1989,

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Johnny Depp first came on the scene in the 1984 horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street. What's not a nightmare? That hair and those cheek bones!

Lenny Kravitz

Portrait of Lenny Kravitz (1989).

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Before he was the King of the oversized scarf, iconic musician Lenny Kravitz was the King of the soul patch.


Cher at the Dreamgirls opening night after party inside. Taken in Los Angeles at the Shubert theater in Century City on March 20, 1983.

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Nothing says the '80s like big, loud hair and an off-the-shoulder shirt. When it came to fashion, nobody did it better than Cher.

Patrick Dempsey

Patrick Dempsey stars as Mike Damone in "Fast Times," a CBS television sitcom based on the theatrical movie: Fast Times at Ridgemont High, about life in and around high school. Premiere episode broadcast March 5, 1986.

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Doctor McDreamy has nothing on Patrick Dempsey in the '80s.

Anthony Michael Hall

Anthony Michael Hall poses for a portrait in circa 1984.

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When he wasn't building the perfect woman with his computer, Anthony Michael Hall was dancing his way into an entire generation's hearts with his awkward-but-lovable characters in hit John Hughes films like Weird Science and 16 Candles.

We forever stan an '80s icon.

Danielle Campoamor

Danielle Campoamor is an award-winning freelance writer covering mental health, reproductive justice, abortion access, maternal mental health, politics, and feminist issues. She has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, InStyle, Playboy, Teen Vogue, Glamour, The Daily Beast, and more.