My husband gets the Wall Street Journal (because he’s smart and we are old fashioned and love newspapers) and sometimes he hands over the style section to me and says: “here, read this.” One morning, as usual, he handed over the only section of the paper I understand, let alone really can pay attention to longer than just the headline, and I was very instantly intrigued. I read it, start to finish, and then had a…moment. OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS. I LOVE 80’s STYLE. I need another minute to process.
Let’s back up. I have always, ALWAYS been drawn to the 60’s and the 70’s. The bright colors, the shift dresses, the bell bottoms…these have always been my favorites. I also love the feminine style of the 50’s house dresses, the lingerie (I wear it as outerwear rather than underwear, but you get my drift), and the lovely ornate styles that preceded this era as well. The 90’s had the awesome plaid flannels and the Doc Martens and Claire Danes in My So Called Life (never was allowed to watch the show, but I sure as heck memorized the photos I saw from it). The early 2000’s had the Juicy tracksuits which I adore, and even the greatest hits that were really more like “misses…like the hideous stiletto construction boots that had a moment on JLo, give me a little chuckle and make me feel all warm and tingly inside. But the 80’s? As far as I’ve been concerned, that era can just go to heck. I mean…I really honestly didn’t think I had ANY love lost on the whole decade.
Here’s the deal. Up to this point, when you said “1980’s”, here’s what I saw. Shoulder pads. Giant fluffy side ponytails with scrunchies. Ruffles, leggings shorts with lace on them in lime green with high top sneakers tied with three pairs of laces. I saw asymmetrical jewelry and bad bright blue eyeshadow in a fuzzy glamour shot taken at the mall. None of these things hold any appeal to me. At all. And then, I took another look.
After reading this article, I realized something. Eras are not defined by one style. Take the 1960’s for example. The fashion that was taking place on the west coast was decidedly different from what was happening in New York. Just like now (although I do feel that the style differences are much wider nowadays), not everyone chose to embrace every style. That being said, I feel that I have falsely accused the 80’s of being one specific style that did happen during that time period. And now, I have learned that I actually LOVE some of the 80’s styles!
In case you’re like me, here’s a few tips to NOT writing off an era completely like I did! (Sorry Madonna).
1. Learn about the decade. Sometimes in order to appreciate what was happening fashion-wise at a time in history, we need to understand what the culture was. Was the economy good or bad? They say hemlines coordinate with the economy, so this is something to pay attention to! Was there a war going on? What was happening in the lives of women at that time…were they at home primarily or were they making strides in the workplace? Who were the “stars” (whether it’s celebrities or models or political figures) of that time period? All these things give you a backdrop to help appreciate the styles that were popular.
2. Watch movies from or about that time period. Watch what the different classes were wearing. I learned a lot about the early 60’s while watching Mad Men. You see that there were different styles happening in different places all at the same time! You may think you don’t identify with the 60’s at all, but the hippie 60’s of the West Coast is much different than the 60’s of New York and the East Coast. To be quite honest, watching The Goldbergs has given me a newfound love for the 80’s and it’s sometimes hideous fashions.
3. Look at the era preceding/following it. This is what I think really got me hooked. I realized in reading this article, that some of the stuff I have been identifying as 70’s fashion is ACTUALLY straight from the 80’s. Like horse bit loafers or herringbone pants…these style are reminiscent of the 70’s, but weren’t “in” until the following decade.
4. Realize it’s okay to mix decades. I often find an 80’s shirt at the thrift store (I always cut the shoulder pads out…that’s a giveaway for an 80’s piece!) and pair it with bell bottoms. That way, I’m kind of manipulating how a piece looks and not, like, pairing it with L.A Gear sneakers.
Here’s my take on the 80’s. I love the whole “80’s workwear” vibe the WSJ was talking about, so I took this oversized (shoulder pads removed) blouse and paired it with a tan pair of trousers. The 80’s was all about excess, so I added a shiny scarf because this adds to the working girl vibe. And the loafers, of course.
I think I’ve known for a while that I didn’t actually HATE the 80’s. I just hadn’t admitted it to myself. And admitting it is the first step :)
Grab your scissors and start removing shoulder pads. It’s a fashion revolution!