Totally 80s School Supplies and Styles


With back to school season in full swing, it’s time to start grabbing those last-minute supplies and clothes for brand spanking new school year.

And now that those of us who were raised in the 80s are sending our kids off to school, we can’t help but get a little nostalgic about the days when our summers were coming to a close. In honor of these great memories, here’s a list of totally 80s school supplies and styles that we recall from the “gnarly” good ol’ days.  If you’re looking to buy or even sell some of these items, be sure to check out eBay – you’d be surprised at how much your Lisa Frank binders are worth.

Trapper Keeper:
Serving as both fashion and function, Trapper Keepers were THE preferred school binders of the 80s. Available in a variety of “tubular” designs or popular themes such as favorite cartoons, television shows or video games, it took a major “dweeb” to go back to school (in the 80s) without one of these Velcro enclosed beauties.

 Trapper Keeper

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Radical Hair:
Perhaps the 1980s can be best defined by its iconic hair. Whether you chose to go with a tightly wound perm or mile-high bangs, students would dedicate hours to making sure their hair was the tightest, crunchiest and the most “radical” style that chemicals could create.

Radical Hair


Popped Collar:
Once your hair was “like totally perfect,” there was only one thing left to do before walking out the door: Pop the collar. This was more vital to the morning routine than even brushing your teeth. According to the 80s, you were never fully dressed without a smile and a popped collar.

Popped Collar

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Pee Chee Folders

Neck and neck with the Trapper Keeper for the most iconic school supplies of the 80s was the slightly more modest brother, the Pee Chee folder. These were an absolute staple on every school supply list and kids were psyched to doodle on them throughout the year.

Pee Chee Folders


Parachute Pants:
Love them or hate them, parachute pants were a must-have for any 80s kid aiming to look cool on their first day back to school. They may gag you with a spoon now, but back then, they were bad to the bone.

Parachute Pants

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Rolled-Up Jeans:
Of course, if swishy parachute pants grossed you out because you were more of a blue jean baby queen, then there’s zero doubt that you wore button-fly Levi’s, Guess or E S P R I T jeans as a part of your back to school ensemble (which were both high waisted and rolled-up at the bottoms, in true 80s fashion).

Rolled Up Jeans

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Lisa Frank School Supplies:
Every young girl returning back to school in the 80s (and a couple of brave boys) surely sported a Lisa Frank school supply at one time or another. Known for her ultra colorful and whimsical images, getting one of these binders/folders for the school year was a no-brainer.

Lisa Frank's School Supplies

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Members-Only Jacket:
Even though the first day of school was likely a warm August or September day, you still had to rock that bodacious Members-Only jacket that you saved all summer to buy. Back to school is all about looking good and it was just too cool not to wear.

Members Only

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Hypercolor Tops:
Another 80s classic that was sure to turn some heads as you walked down the school hallway was the notorious hypercolor shirt. Whether or not the “hypercolor” technology was still functioning after its first trip through the washer is a whole other story.

Hypercolor Tops
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Jellies (and other shoes):
They say you can tell a lot about a man by his shoes. When it came to back-to-school footwear, you really just had two fashion choices—sneakers or loafers. To refresh your memory, it was likely a pair of BK’s (British Knights), Keds or Jellies for the chill kids and a shiny pair of penny loafers for the preppy ones.

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Any of These 80s Accessories:

Last but not least, we figured it would be fun to simply list a number of popular 80s accessories that frequented the hallways of Any School USA as iconic back to school staples. Any of these ring a bell?

Hair Scrunchies
Leg Warmers
Neon Sunglasses
Slap Bracelets
Large Hoop Earrings
Side Ponytails
Tootoos + Leggings
Swatch Watches
Jelly Bracelets
Scholastic Readers
Garbage Pail Kids
Fingerless Gloves

We’ve come a long way since those days, but in the end, back to school prep really hasn’t changed all that much. The trends have changed, yes. But still, it’s all about the supplies you carry and the styles you wear—and how much cool you can get for your buck.