1980s Power Dressing

1980s women's work fashion collage

Bright colors. Polka dots. Kitschy phrases. Flowers. Mixed prints.

1980s power dressing by Moschino
These fun looks as seen in the suit dress above are not what you would normally imagine powerhouse women wearing when they entered the 1980s boardrooms dressed to impress. However, designer Jeremy Scott at Moschino offered a fresh spin on 1980s era power dressing for the modern woman in his Resort 2021 collection. 

1980s power dressing by Moschino
Pattern plays were used throughout the collection, as seen here with polka dots and vibrant colors playfully juxtaposed against the backdrop of a traditional pant suit. 

During the 1970s and 1980s, women were entering the 9 to 5 workforce into the previously male dominated offices and roles. Fashion supported women’s transition by providing suits and silhouettes that communicated authority and power. With designers like Ralph Lauren and Georgio Armami at the forefront of this wardrobe shift, a woman could select a suit to support her role as a professional equal, rather than emphasize her feminine or nurturing qualities.

1980s women's fashion on Dynasty
Dynasty's leading ladies embodied the idea of 1980s glamour with furs, heels and glittering jewels.

By the late 1980s shows like Dynasty gave women a new model of power dressing. Big hair and big shoulders were all the rage, with plenty of glitz and glamour. And so the more modest forms of workwear embodied by the likes of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher with pinstripes, tweeds and conservative colors were infused with new options that included pops of color, polka dots and bows. As in the picture above, the ladies of Dynasty showcased the power of a good dress and bold jewelry to communicate their position and authority.

1980s women's work fashion on Dynasty
The silky blue dress of this Dynasty leading lady got reimagined as a silky backdrop to a mixed print skirt suit. 
80s women's work fashion by Moschino

The Moschino suits speak to this more glamorous and fun era of 1980s power suits and women's work fashion. The suits and dresses seen in the collection combine traditional elements of power dressing like blazers, tailored dresses and blouses with feminine bows, prints and colors. And in the spirit of Dynasty, Moschino featured plenty of gold accessories to add a splash of glamour.

80s women's work fashion by Moschino
Conflicting patterns like opposing polka dots seen above mimicked Heather Locklear's mixed animal prints worn on the show. 
1980s women's work fashion on Dynasty

But the surprises come in the mixing of prints like yellow polka dots juxtaposed with orange polka dots of a different size or the mix of blue, green and white polka dot prints. This is a bit like Heather Locklear’s character in Dynasty with her mixing of various animal prints pictured above. What first appears to be a clashing of prints is actually what makes the style statement. 

80s women's work fashion by Moschino

If the mixing of prints feels like too much, you can embrace a loud print in your accessories. That's the technique seen with the pink suit above. There is the splash of a polka dot handbag with a more conservative suit in the style of Chanel. 

1980s women's power dressing on Dynasty
The classic black and white combo is elevated with jewelry pieces and a statement hat. 

With lots of gold chain details, heavy Moschino necklaces and dangling hoop earrings, the shimmering metals quickly bring to mind the heavy metal ornamentation of the wealthy ladies on Dynasty. 

80s women's work fashion by Moschino

Whether you’re ready to dress for success in a playful printed pant suit or keep it chic in a little black dress, the options for modern power dressing are endless--with or without a splash of 1980s flair.  

Runway photos: Photographed by Giampaolo Sgura for Moschino via Vogue

Dynasty photos: ABC/Photofest via Wonderwall