October 11, 2019 5 min read
The decade of big hair, bright colours, and bold styles defined much of the 80's fashion. It was a time when there was no limit to how high your hair could reasonably go, or how ridiculously bright your clothes can be. For some, it is an era of great nostalgia; pre-instagram discussions and hoping that 2015 would bring rise to the hover-board like in Back to the Future, but unfortunately it's almost 2020 and all we have is that board with two-wheels and bright lights.
Fashion has been slower on taking inspiration from this decade, however, over the course of time and multiple runway shows, designers have heavily implemented silhouettes, colours, and subtle-themes that take you back to the heyday. Some of you may wonder why a period would ever come back? Most of what you see in terms of fashion choices of that time can easily be seen as tacky, non-cohesive, or just plain odd (think full-neon spandex leotard and intense eyeshadows & lipstick while exercising). You're not alone.
Taking a look back at what defined this fascinating era could reveal the answer to our topic question of why 80's fashion is coming back.
We see the rise of not only women's equality both in the workplace & out, which was also prominent in the 80's, but has also emphasized gender-neutrality or genderless expressions. Believe it or not, conversation around acceptance of people's differences was also prominent in the 80's, of course not to the degree that social media plays in our current society, but icons of the time like Prince who was flamboyant in his own right, broke the rules, opened the doors and were the ones leading the conversations.
The term 'yuppies' in the 80's which is described as a young professional working in the city began to emerge. Individuals who are fashionable and financially driven with business success in mind could perfectly describe the technology driven, freelance-entrepreneurs of today.
Princess Diana: There may be lots of talk around influencers & bloggers of today, but there will be one lady that is arguably considered the most iconic fashion figure of the 20th century. Princess Diana had influence and taste that went far beyond her time. She wore everything from colourful power-suits, polka-dot shoulder padded dresses, and her iconic pearl accessories. She was loved by the world, and rightfully so. Look around today and you'll see a plethora of styling influences (cycling shorts & oversized sweaters anyone?), all thanks to The People's Princess.
Grace Jones: A multi-talented Jamaican-American, Grace Jones pushed the boundaries in more ways than one. She was known for not only modelling for top designers in Paris, she went on to become an actress, singer, and songwriter. Her look was undeniably a perfect androgynous muse of the 80's that continues to be a source of influence for top designers and styling creatives.
Molly Ringwald: For those unfamiliar with this iconic name, Molly Ringwald is your classic 'girl next door' actress whose played in timeless movies like Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, and The Breakfast Club. Her signature flowing red hair, angry or sweet pout, and her love for florals instantly made her the teen sensation of the 80's. Off-screen, Molly was often fashioning indie, effortless-cool outfits, consisting of silk blouses, masculine blazers with a feminine touch of accessories.
The release of MTV, a television network channel that aired music videos in August 1981 quickly saw a new kind of medium that connected listeners to music artist. This began the rise of music celebrities who would influence the fashion world, opening the doors to more audiences that may not have followed designers. Many of these celebrities continue to be a fashion figure even today.
Madonna: The era wouldn't be without the original Material Girl. Known for her creative and 'borderline' excessive outfits (think Gaultier's cone-bra) she was admired for her risqué attitude & stage performances which today still resonate. It may have been that Madonna knowingly was tapping into a moment where people wanted to see change, and she was just that.
Michael Jackson: If Madonna was the Queen, MJ was definitely the King of Pop. Not only did his timeless dance moves pave the way for other artist to follow pursuit like Justin Timberlake or Bruno Mars, but his fashion choices was also unmistakably iconic. Shoulder-padded military jackets with lots (and I mean lots) of embroidery, sporting black or red leather jackets, and of course the signature white gloves & black fedora are all too memorable.
David Bowie: David and his stage alter-ego Ziggy Stardust should be proudly applauded for the birth of androgyny, changing menswear and ultimately fashion in itself, breaking the rules of men's & womenswear. His fashion choices consisted of glam-rock inspirations and often used eccentric makeup to further his androgynous look. Unlike the two above, David Bowie has been revolutionizing fashion through his work since the 70's that successfully spanned throughout the 80's.
Do you find yourself admiring the heavy eye-shadow of the 80's or how sequin was the norm? When it comes to style inspirations from that decade, taking the exact look from a fashion icon of the time is ill-advised, not to mention may come off like a costume opposed to style. Instead use what the fashion figures have created from the past and make it your own.
Today, the prominent colours of the 80's is definitely seen as outdated, but that only leaves room for a new approach to bold colours. Mixing & matching bold prints was of the norm back in the day, but continues to be a trend that brands and stylist are exploring around with. Beige plaid skirt, socks & heels, topped with a jet black leather coat. Maybe it's the liberating feeling of maximalism-fashion that contradicts minimalism, which has dominated the fashion scene for some time now.
For men, bold print shirts, logos, and phrases were all the rage which has also seen a resurgence in today's menswear attire. This shouldn't be a problem incorporating into the wardrobe as (most men) have plenty of neutral-tone pieces at their disposal.
The silhouette of the 80's is easily described in two words, super-shoulders. Everywhere you turned, you could find emphasized shoulders in coats, jackets, and even dresses. This was further highlighted by cinching the waist with a stylish belt overtop of the piece. You can find contemporary items that are much softer and relaxed in comparison.
80's menswear saw a rise in sports attire as a common casual-option for styling (sound familiar yet?) along with relaxed suits, and of course, baggy-denim. Being spotted wearing a chic tracksuit, graphic-tee, and chunky sneakers today would surely be an accepted fashionable statement.
Accessories of the 80's is a hit or miss. Many stylish individuals of today wouldn't want to be caught wearing multiple rubber bracelets or neon-leg warmers. However, there are some accessories that are becoming an essential in the fashion scene now. Statement earrings in luxe materials, eye-catching necklaces, and versatile fanny-packs are all too common presently.
So, why is 80's fashion back? Well, trends in terms of fashion, have a habit of bringing back old-gold and turning it into something new. This rule can also be applied to other industries such as movies and television shows that are becoming rising to incredible fame like Netflix's television series Stranger Things. It could be that the ones running the industries are most likely Generation X cohort, longing for a time they remember all too well. Luckily today, we have a massive online presence that allows us to research and identify what we like & dislike from what is trending. Let us know what you think about the 80's and why it might be coming back!