The 80s were a blissful time. It’s a time of uncertainty thanks to the Cold War but if you brush aside the numerous socio-economic problems, there’s a certain culture developed in this time period. A culture that heavily relies on individuality of oneself. That culture is the main drive behind the fashion trends, behind the clothes that they wear, behind how they want to be perceived by people.
Wowzers, that’s heavy stuff. Let’s tone it down by stating that the fashion in this period is unique. Period. Everyone expresses themselves in various ways that shows the person’s true self. Disregarding the quote, unquote “laws of fashion.” Because people want to have fun with fashion and how they look.
Ironic considering if you want to replicate the uninhibited fashion of this tubular period, there exist a guideline of sorts that is authentic with how your dad or your mom looked when they were in their early 20s. Things like what hairstyle you should go for, the usage of color matching, what jacket you should wear, even stuff like accessories is accounted for.
Fashion is mostly influenced by the global situation as mentioned earlier and some people who acts as a beacon or key figures in making the trends of fashion. Each figure has a unique style that reflects what they do for a living, what environment they grew up in and et cetera.
One of them is a certain UK princess that heavily influences the style trends of the 80s for women. She is Princess Diana.
The former Princess of Wales is a staple fashion icon in the 80s. Her ways of incorporating existing trends and venturing it out further with her own style, her own twist is something that not everyone can do. One thing to note is that she has a certain goal when she dresses up. If she’s going on overseas tours, then she would wear a regal and elegant gown to convey diplomatic purposes.
Contrary when she’s going to a more informal event, she would choose outfits that radiate friendliness and warmth to people. In one instance when she’s visiting the Bolton Hospital, she’s wearing a pink power suit overlapping a matching skirt and as usual she doesn’t wear gloves as is stated in the royal protocol because she simply liked direct contact when shaking or holding hands. She’s also abandoned the hat because she once said “You can’t cuddle a child in a hat.”
For men’s fashion, you don’t have to look far to find the role model. That man is the one and only, Michael Joseph Jackson.
Michael Jackson is a world renowned pop star, dubbed King of Pop. Born in Gary, Indiana, he would create hits after hits, with the most popular of them all Billie Jean with over 10 million sold just in the US. Alongside his songs, the clothes that he wears are also iconic. Elaborate military jacket with a smart trouser and a pair of Florsheim loafers.
He is not alone however as he is helped by a man called Michael Bush, he met Jackson in a trailer for the movie Captain EO and he was assigned as his dresser. He would continue to do so till the day Jackson died.
The Trend Makers
The various clothing from this era doesn’t just come out of thin air like a fairy would, it comes from the minds of designers and sewn by a seamstress delicate hands. They have the power to create trends or evolve them with their own creative take on it.
The big designers of this era include such names as Gianni Versace, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, Yohji Yamamoto and many more that I don’t have the time or space left to write. Each with varying styles and looks.
Gianni Versace designs clothes that exude eroticism and sexual power. His signature clothing involves the colors red, yellow and purple with a golden head of Medusa as his emblem. Mainly the preferred brand for women but men who are looking for a little hint of sexiness will also be happy with the clothes that are offered.
Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren are mostly the same but are just used for different occasions. For the formal and business in nature, then there’s no other choice but Giorgio Armani. The suits that the brand produces ooze power and money that an 80s CEO would have. Meanwhile you have Ralph Lauren for the young CEO who preferred a business casual look. Pair the polo shirts with a pair of jeans and some boots and you’re ready to do business outside.
On the experimental/avant-garde side you have designers such as Vivienne Westwood who first started the trend of New Romantics which is historical clothing but is designed to be more flamboyant and is best done in her catwalk show ‘Pirate’ in 1981. Yohji Yamamoto takes that flamboyant idea to 11 with pieces that drape your body and give a flow impression to your figure. The fashion magazine Vogue calls this style Oblique Chic.
The Trend Pieces
The pieces that are usually worn in the 80s are denim jackets, denim pants, slogan tees, pastel shirts, basically everything that is not denim is a colorful or decorated piece. Bomber jackets are all the rage in the 80s, famously popularized by Tom Cruise in the movie Top Gun. Leather jackets too, especially a red one like in the MV for Thriller by Michael Jackson.
Animal print clothes are popular among the ladies because they emit an exotic aura that can be sexy and appealing. In contrast to the crop tops that were rampant in the 90s, you got high-waist jeans instead. For accessories, there are the iconic Ray Ban sunglasses, tons and tons of bracelets and necklaces, huge and prominent earrings and top it off with some Swatch watches.
The Trend User
That’s you, that’s me, that’s us. For most of us who are not world stars or famous designers, all we can do is look for inspiration from fashion icons and apply that to our wardrobe. Even if it’s not similar, don’t feel uncomfortable wearing it because as Inès de La Fressange, a French supermodel and Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1998, put it “The secret of great style is to feel good in what you wear”
So, go out there and experiment. Don’t just make outfits in front of the mirror, take it out to the street and have a date or two because when you’re complimented on how good you look in your 80s-inspired outfit, trust me it feels damn good.
Nuruddin Ihsan Affandi