I know, it's not earth shattering news to declare on a blog that the '80s looked so awful. I love the '80s; I really do. I came of age, so to speak, in the decade and I loved the music and seeing "technology" (aka Walkmans and VCRs) sprout at a rapid pace before our eyes. But believe it or not, it's only recently that I could appreciate just how flipping terrible our clothing and hair looked during this decade of decadence. Don't get me wrong or call me clueless -- I've known for a good 20 years now how bad we all looked back then. But what I'm trying to say is that at the time I was living through the era I was blissfully unaware of it all. I thought I looked GOOD.
I thought THIS looked good:
I thought THIS was cool:
I thought THIS was cute:
What were we all thinking at the time? Eighties fashion is now so laughable and regrettable that they now make Halloween costumes of it. And if you wore one to a party, there's no doubt everyone would know what moment in history you're from.
To be fair, the start of the decade wasn't so awful looking at all. Take a look at, for example, (and I know this is a really oddball choice) a movie like Caddyshack. OK, with all fairness it was filmed in 1979 and released in 1980, but for the first few years of the '80s, clothing was still pretty normal looking in my opinion. Yeah, it was filmed on a golf course, but the tees and shirts were still pretty mainstream. We had no inkling of the outlandish shoulder pads and bulky sweaters that were to come.
I remember that most of my clothing for the first two or three years of the '80s was pretty much the same as the '70s. I remember my now-former sister-in-law at the time giving me some of her three-quarter sleeved angora sweaters. I wore them to school with my Levis and felt sexy (even though I still really had no clue what the word meant) for the first time in my life.
We also had the preppy look which started early and continued into the decade. Seeing the "Bermuda bag" in this diagram was truly a flashback for me; I had one as well as both of my sisters.
I'd say it was about around 1984 when everything kind of fell apart...or exploded, depending upon your perspective. I'm no fashion historian or expert, so I don't know what was going on in Paris and New York that was driving some of these mid-80s looks. I can only guess that it was a reflection of the MTV craze and pop culture at the time, even though (ironically) we went through a phase in the '80s where the '50s look was big.
The following magazine cover below is from the Australian version of Vogue, circa 1985. Kinda says it all, really -- although I will admit I like the scarf (just not being worn on the head like that) and the funky earrings.
And speaking of neon lipstick, I had a bright hot pink sweatshirt that matched the lipstick above. Just like the sun, no one could risk looking directly into. I had the miles of thin rubber bracelets, the leg warmers, the parachute pants, a pair of hightop Reeboks, the jelly shoes, and several leggings covered with funky patterns that matched my ESPRIT sweaters. (I still think there's nothing wrong with wearing leggings today, as long as they're a solid, neutral color.
At least we can't say there wasn't any color in clothing during this time.
I had baggy sweaters with shoulder pads (cringe.) My mother and I recently got rid of several Vogue Knitting issues we'd been holding onto from the '80s. They weren't even worth scanning and poking fun at on this blog. Mostly sweaters that looked like Bill Cosby's, but for women. It's amazing -- you can find lots about '60s designs that you could wear today, and even some trends from the '70s if modified for the modern age. But the '80s knitting pattern books had to GO.
One of my favorite '80s staples that I did like were jumpsuits. Mine were actually pretty sleek and slim looking, not the baggy ones you often see in old catalog or pattern scans. I had a navy blue one from the Spiegel catalog made out of comfortable woven cotton jersey, and it had a drawstring and pockets. To this day I wish I still had it.
One small consolation to me is that the men didn't have it so easy, either.
And don't even get me started on the hair and makeup during this time. "Maybe she's born with it"? No, more like she speckled it on...
I'm just glad that the chances are good that we won't be seeing these fashion trends for a good long time; possibly never again, although some designers have tried unsuccessfully to bring back large shoulders and other details in recent years. Fortunately I don't think anyone is gullible enough to put up with this again. I guess the one good thing I can say about '80s fashion is that it was as unforgettable as it was regrettable.
Hi, I'm Pam - thanks for visiting Go Retro! If you've ever been called an old soul like I have, or you were lucky enough to actually live during the mid-20th century in America, then you're in the right place!
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