Home Pop Culture Fashion Sweatbands


More than a number one song from Olivia Newton-John, her tribute to the aerobics craze extended into the workout arena. Olivia’s high-profile role in the movie Xanadu (1980) and her pop star status helped to propel the sweatband from workout studio accessory to mainstream fashion.

Originally a functional terry cloth band worn around the head that prevented sweat from dripping into the eyes, the sweatband became a fashionable unisex accessory outside the basketball courts or the roller rink.

Men preferred the masculine terry cloth band, as seen on Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon or in Dire Straits singer/guitarist Mark Knopfler’s matching headband/wristband set.

An alternative to the sweatband was printed handkerchiefs (concert ones like Ozzy or Van Halen) rolled and wrapped around the noggin. This fashion died a hard death with the heavy metal fans, but it still resurfaces time and again.

Women opted for fancy braided bands intertwined with gold metallic cord that was best framed by a sporty side ponytail.

Whether wearing a cut-off sweatshirt and legwarmers or a silver-studded jumpsuit, no early 80s outfit was complete without the forehead fashion.