These ’80s-Inspired Mini Dresses Prove Shorter Hemlines Are Back

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As most women can attest, party clothes can be tricky. Sure, many of us experienced the bodycon bandage dress phase as well the recent slip look we stole from the ’90s. These days, however, designers are going even further back in time and embracing the ultra-glamorous ’80s mini dress.

When setting out for a night of cocktails, dinner or dancing (or all three!), it can be tough to navigate the perfect outfit. Should you play it cool with a silky camisole, jeans and heels? Or dial it up with a dressy number and dazzling jewels? Then there’s the party circuit that comes around every holiday season when festive attire is definitely essential. But how extravagant do you go? If the fall trends have anything to say about it (and they do), the answer lies in the nostalgic mini. We’re talking glitzy little get-ups done in bold patterns, vibrant hues and glittering sequins. And, yes, big ol’ sleeves are part of the equation, too.

The all-out glam look certainly has its time and place, but when the mood is a swanky one, an opulent above-the-knee dress is a key trend for fall and winter, as proven across designer runways from New York to Paris. “Isabel Marant, Saint Laurent, Gucci, Attico, and Alexander Wang all killed it with mini dresses on the runway,” says Caroline Maguire, fashion director at Shopbop, who is a fan of taking the abbreviated hem in a bold direction. “For fall, jewelry is all about the show-stopping, bling-bling diamante trend,” suggesting a glittering statement earring as the perfect punctuation to a high-shine mini. Razzle dazzle, indeed.

While voluminous shoulders and fancy fabrics sound a bit over the top, it’s because they are. But those not typically fanatical for flashy throwback attire can certainly rock the trend in a way that feels sophisticated without being outrageous. “My favorite way to approach the season’s hottest mini dress is to pair with sheer black hosiery á la Saint Laurent,” says Rachael Wang, stylist and brand consultant. “This adds a level of French sensuality and modesty if showing all that skin isn’t your thing. A vibrant red lip or sparkly statement earrings are a great way to balance an outfit focused on the lower half of the body.” Who doesn’t want to channel a Parisian-after-dark moment?

From shimmering wrap dresses to frilled one-shoulder cuts and ruched silhouettes, here, 20 high-wattage mini dresses á la the ‘80s for every budget, style and size.

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Wham, Glam!

Ease into ‘80s glamour with a trendy leopard-print dress and slouchy boots.

This dress calls for a disco-style stiletto.

Break from your color routine and go for a lively shade of green.

Puffy sleeves, ruching and lace-up detailing, oh my.

A blouson sleeve goes a long way.

Steal the spotlight in this asymmetric silhouette.

Feminine frills with throwback appeal.

Wear this with strappy sandals or sleek ankle boots.

For a metallic moment.

The '80s to a T.

It doesn't get more high-wattage than bold shoulders and purple paillettes.

What feels more ‘80s than bright green leopard?

Reveal your wild side in red-hot zebra stripes.

A graphic take with ample sleeves.

A ladylike take on the era, ruched velvet is at once playful and polished.

Talk about glamorous, this golden number fits sizes 18 and 20.

Between the one-shoulder and leopard motif, there's a lot to love here.

The LBD, but make it ‘80s.

If you’re not into sequins, how about a psychedelic pink and green jacquard pattern?

Really go for it in this anything-but-average sequin mini.