The '80s return, if you didn't shop for yourself then

When I read, "Right Round, Baby" by Guy Trebay in in Thursday, August 20's New York Times Style Section, I paused to channel wardrobe in those days: clubbing in a padded-shoulder Kamali jumpsuit, Fiorucci pink leopard print rockabilly skirt, or lace-trimmed scoopneck sweatshirt; my work clothes, more sedate Armani, Calvin Klein and Perry Ellis ensembles.
(Note: This link will expire, to find the article after August 20, search the title.)

The 1980s were the last decade when I was able (and in fact considered it noble) to blow two weeks' pay on an outfit. Nearly thirty years later, I can recall most of the contents of my stuffed and glitzy closet, yet only one item, a custom-made chrome-yellow leather padded-shoulder tee shirt, endures as a souvenir.

Am I happy to see this era revived? Let another generation will have fun discovering shoulder pads the size of stuffed animals, black rubber bangles and wide elastic belts. I'm also reminded, tha
nks to the article's quote from Germain Greer about Princess Diana ("(she) looked like a TV anchorwoman, but with dreadful hats"), that a subset of '80s dressing was terribly stiff and matchy.

This Emmanuelle Khanh jacket is listed on eBay for $65. I might have killed for it 25 years ago; the moment has passed for me.

If I had to dress in an earlier era, I'd pick '30s and '40s glamour over '80s exaggeration.

But one gelled fan, at a recent Pat Benatar concert, is having a blast.

If your Mom dressed you in the '80s, it might be fun to buy yourself some flash and funk and boogie on!

Since I committed some of those fashion crimes myself, back in the day, I'll leave this era out of my current closet.


dana said…
And what if you were in your most insecure middle school and daffy high school years? What then? Yes, I was buying my own clothes. I'm thinking I can give some of it a go, maybe pass on the leggings. This is quite a tough one. Now I'm leaning toward some 80s shapes, but in the dark neutrals. And I am dying for some Arche Archette boots in silver. Are they worth $400?
LPC said…
In the '80s I was in my twenties. And the hair. Don't forget the hair.
Susan B said…
Like LPC, I was also in my twenties during the 80's. I wore the big shoulder pads and the lime green Reebok hi-tops. So I'll take a pass, except for maybe a whisper of shoulder padding, which helps give my rounded shoulders some definition.
mette said…
How funny/sad, but I don´t remember the 80´s at all. I know I was there then, but my main interest was to get nice clothes for my first born daughter and stable rugs for the horses. Most probably I wore jeans, still do, and I remember Calvin Klein jeans-no tummy rolls with them on! I have not saved anything from the past decades; I really don´t like vintage and am very selective with antiques too ( although I live in a 102 year old house). Luckily as the past decades cycle in fashion and design, there always is something new added. I´m hopeful.
Duchesse said…
dana: re the Archette boots, I think Arche is worth it, especially in nubuck styles, which you can wash. Those are beautiful.

LPC: Do you mean teased to a fury, gelled into immobile spikes, or the umbrella perm?

Pseu: lime green hi-tops, with... the mind boggles. Mine were mauve.

metscan: Sounds like you came out ahead!
Oh in the 80s I had Flock of Seagulls hair at one stage, shoulder pads to rival any gridiron player and some tube skirt matched with winklepickers that I could barely walk in.

I may go for a small shoulderpad or some of the new peaked shoulder detail, other than that I'll be leaving many of the fashions well alone!
Frugal Scholar said…
Well, I kind of missed the 80s because I was in school still. But I loved those shoulder pads!

I can just see all your long-donated treasures at various vintage shops all over the hemisphere.
Northmoon said…
For me it was a big career dressing era, not the clubbing so much. I never went for the really big shoulder pads, since I am short and square shouldered to start with! That being said in the 80's I had some jackets I loved, one Armani I remember well, and some independent designer suits that were beautiful. They all had shoulder pads.

It looks to me like the shoulders today are not as wide and sloping as the 80's version? they seem to be built up rather than out, or have some sleeve detail, which would perhaps work better for the short statured? However, I'm not running out to buy any right away. These days I'm thinking retirement wardrobe, not business!
Someone said…
I'm a little younger than LPC, and never went WAY out with some of the uglier 80s stuff, but I did have a black cotton jumpsuit with self obi that looked really flattering strangely enough (worn with black Asian-y gladiator-y flat sandals, I think they were Vittadini or something?), and also a vest-like top in dark pink with black leopard spots that had a deep V buttoned in the back. I dislike animal prints 'cause they're so cliché, but that item, once again, actually looked good. Of course I was only 19 and wore an edgy short hair style complete with rattail. LOL.

So anyway, this is the thing - how long is this 80s thing going to last? I wouldn't spend a whole lot on anything that is likely to be pronounced dead next year. They're already pushing 90s grunge (like we didn't see that coming). So I say, thrift stores are your friend.
Duchesse said…
Frugal: Actually saw one of my Goodwill-donated items reappearing in hip vintage shops.

Imogen: Oh no, FoS hair- that's back, too! Couldn't we have a great '80s party?

Northmoon: The Armani suits were the pinnacle of power dressing and I remember them as very comfortable, too.

Someone: Jumpsuits were so '80s, felt hip in mine- now you couldn't pay me enough to wear one. Still have not seen an '80's-style garment I would pay for.
CompassRose said…
I was in my teens in the eighties. I had random hair that I shaved/razored myself, and eyeliner drawn into spiderwebs across half my face.

Like northmoon, the 80s shoulderpads were Worst Mistake Ever on me, and even then I had the brains to cut the biggest ones out. But I loved leggings, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Honestly, though, the 80s I'm reviving is the doom'n'gloom baggy Japanese monochrome one.

And I've been having the WEIRDEST urge lately to perm my hair into a huge 80s Cher-like spiral poof. That's the one bit of 80s I haven't yet seen back, the poodle hair. Right now I'm making a film with a little grade 10 student assisting as grip, and she has the very same short crop with fluffy long New Wave Boy Bangs that I sported before I went into the wild, along with baggy T-shirts, tight purple jeans, and Converse decorated with Sharpie art. Every day is a flashback to the past!
Duchesse said…
CompassRose: I quite liked the height of Cher's gypsy 90s look, only request a photo if you do it! Must be quite an experience to work with a student who looks like you back then.
Duchesse said…
CompassRose: oops- meant '80s! Then realized Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves was even earlier- 70s!
I believe Cher actually is part Gypsy/Armenian, and also part Amerindian. Yes, it was a tacky song, but it addressed racial prejudice way back then.

I loathed the 1980s. It was as if everything we fought for in the 1960s and 70s fell apart. A friend and I had a collection of shoulder pads we had removed from garments back then. And then, there was the little matter of AIDS.

Leggings are great, but UNDER other garments, not as skanky trousers. Especially great on a bicycle in our climate.

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