Dance-hall Jamaican Fashion From 1980s Till Now

Dance-hall music in Jamaica has drastically influenced the fashion and street style in its home country and around the world. The bold colors, minimal pieces, and exaggerated party ensembles mimic the style of music and dance that goes with the genre.

Dancehall is the mother of hip hop and owes its name to the spaces in which popular Jamaican recordings were aired by local sound systems and readily consumed by its “set-to-party” patronage; commonly referred to as “dance halls”. Dancehall, the musical genre, is long considered to be the creation of Henry “Junjo” Lawes in 1979. The production of dancehall music was further refined by King Jammy in the early 80s, during the transition from dub to dancehall, and original attempts to digitize “hooks” to “toast” over by Jamaican deejays.




Separates were very important. A sweater could be swapped for a blouse; jackets could be worn with skirts or pants and large overcoats could on top of anything.

Dancehall is a polular  type of  music originated in the late 70s in Jamaica, as a result of varying political and socio-economic factors. It is also known as bashment.


Even though most of the fashion style being worn in Jamaica are influence by dancehall and reggae music, most Fashion guru across the world consider them as a fashion originated from the ska era. At one point the more x-rated the suite, the better the ratings and hype.

Trends in the Dancehall and Fashion World.


Bell Foot Pants, Afro Hair Style, Platform Shoes.


Big Heel Shoes, Linen Pants and Long Sleeves Blouse and Shirt.


Tailor made Pants (gun mouth), Stone Wash Jeans, Acid Wash Jeans, Chinese Bump Hairstyle and Tall Fade.


Mushroom cut colored wigs, Fishnet stockings, leather clogs, Jersey hair style also the ‘Kid N Play’.

The nineties also saw the change in the fashion culture. Jamaicans started wearing more American name brands.

Levi Jeans, Tommy Hilfiger, Travel fox shoes and Patrick Ewing Sneakers are just a few.

Thanks to Shabba Ranks the Americans were adopting some of our fashion “The Famous Baggy Pants”.


Resort clothing, also known as summer wear, was quite popular in 1983. Light-colored slacks and Hawaiian shirts were a common leisure outfit.


Many woman completed the look by cutting their hair short. It was bold, risky, and very much in style.

Dancehall is characterized by a deejay singing and toasting (or rapping) over danceable music riddims. The rhythm in dancehall is much faster than in traditional reggae, sometimes with drum machines replacing acoustic sets. In the early years of dancehall, some found its lyrics rude or of its sexual tones. Like its reggae predecessor, dancehall eventually made inroads onto the world

music scene.

Bright colored accessories like sunglasses, bangles and hoop earrings were a necessity. Teased hair, loud makeup and neon were an important part of this style. This style was obviously more popular with the younger crowd.


Designers did what they could to try to please women. They opted for choice. Hemlines bounced up and down and there was no prescribed length — day or night. Shapes ranged from slim to extremely full and blousons returned.



Denim jeans were hugely popular and corduroy also enjoyed some success. Popular pants manufacturers included Lee, Levi’s, Wrangler, among many others.

The rule in 1981 was a lack of rules. Hemline length was now completely up to the wearer’s preferences. Some women wanted short, some wanted long, but most ended up somewhere in the middle.

Gold, copper, brass and other metals appeared on blouses and skirts. Accessories such as handbags, shoes and belts sparkled. Leather was also quite popular in 1981, with new processes making some leather as soft as silk.

Major Stitch selecting at a Youth Promotion dance at Sugar Minot’s House on Robert Crescent.

Of course, a counter-trend developed. Some women rejected the new look and instead opted for very tight clothing that left little to the imagination.

(L-R) Ashley Mingot, Idia Aisien and Chante Guy model in Made by Soka, a fashion line by St. Vincent-born fashion designer Karen De Freitas Fraser, on June 8, 2014 in New York, NY. Photo Credit: Tanisia Morris

By the fall of 1984, searing hot colors like pink, chartreuse and citron yellow began to appear in dresses, suits and coats.

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