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13News Now Vault: Back-to-school fashions of the 1980s and 1990s

Finding the perfect first-day look is a back-to-school tradition for many students, and it’s a tradition we’ve covered for decades at 13News Now.

NORFOLK, Va. — When it comes to heading back to school, getting that perfect look can be a make-or-break moment for a lot of kids.

Few decades captured that excitement like the 1980s, one of the trendiest and flashiest times in fashion. It was all about big and bright, from high-top sneakers to hot pink shades, striped polo shirts, flipped-up brims, and baggy jean jackets.

But online shopping wasn’t a thing back then, so in Hampton Roads places like Janaf Shopping Center in Norfolk and Lynnhaven Mall in Virginia Beach handled a surge of back-to-school shoppers every year.

Some rules on how students dress were different back in the ’80s also. In 1985, Hampton City Schools banned students from wearing shorts, which ended up being an unpopular decision that didn’t last long.

Like it or not, the ’80s were a time when fashion couldn’t be contained. Tacky? Over the top? Sure. But 40 years later, we can appreciate how much fun it must have been.

But if the 1980s were all about flash and frill, the 1990s would balance things out with a darker and edgier fashion movement.

Plastic dresses and skirts were having a moment in the early to mid-1990s, while the goth style of the 80s led to a new grunge style, with rock bands like Nirvana popularizing a more disheveled look. Who could forget those beyond-baggy jeans and the rise of skate shoes like Airwalks?

Then there were status symbols like Starter jackets and Air Jordan sneakers sparking a costly trend that Hampton school leaders wanted to get ahead of in 1993. They floated the idea of school uniforms, which, to no surprise, was an unpopular one for students.

Luckily for them, it was just an idea, not a policy, and the dream of the 1990s lived on for seven more years.

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