Saturday, November 10, 2012

Were We Smokin' or What: 80s "Fashion"


HALLIE EPHRON: Recently I put the call out on Facebook: Imagine it's 1985 and you are arriving at LAX. Your 30-something-year-old sister is meeting you at the gate (remember when you could meet people at the gate?) What is she wearing?

I got so many great answers. Sweatshirt with a torn neck. Leggings. Parachute jump suit -- I had one in turquoise. And, how could I have forgotten, shoulder pads. (I have a collection of them just in case they come back.)

Was it an amazing decade or what? At one extreme we had Jennifer Beals in "Flash Dance," and at the other Joan Collins in Dynasty. AND we had hair. Serious Farrah Fawcett hair. Mullets! Rat tails!

Line your Smurfs up there on the kitchen counter and dish: What are your 80s memories. Was there ever a decade to match it in terms of ridiculous styles?

LUCY BURDETTE: Shoulder pads, that's what I remember. Layers and layers of them so you ended up looking like you might take off at any moment. That was the decade I moved from graduate school to working world, so I went from overalls to shoulder pads. Here's the only dress I seem to have kept--Christmas party attire:).

JAN BROGAN:
And we had a lot of perms.  I already have wavy hair that curls pretty easily, but no, I had to blast it with chemicals to make sure it was curly, large and a little bit frizzy.  And it smelled bad, at least for  the first couple of days.  I remember wearing a lot of purple.  I had purple overalls and actually wore them. Also, big long tops with tights and those leg sweater things that are making a comeback today.

Since I was a business reporter at the time, I also wore a lot of business suits. I actually have a couple that were so beautiful that I've kept them preserved, but I also had some ones with boxy shoulder pads and one with a long slit on the side that I can't believe I actually wore to a job interview.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Oh, I have to tell you--I literally just asked myself--when were the 80's? And then I burst out laughing. But I was well into my TV career at that point, and I was all about POWER SUITS. (Is that when power suits were?) I'm sure my shoulders were aeronautic (do I mean pneumatic?) and I loved the shoulder pads, because they made your waist look small. I had some gorgeous suits--one of which I wore last year to CrimeBake as a COSTUME to be Harriet Vane. Which shows you.

As for hair. I went to a stylist in Washington DC once and he said--"there's this fabulous new style you should try--called a Farrah Fawcett." Sadly, readers, I did, and it took my hair YEARS to recover. But wasn't that the 70's? In the 80's, my hair was HUGE and PUFFY.

This photo is me at the 1988 Democratic convention. I love that jacket! Note the massive shoulders. Chunky earrings. Runner's watch. And like I said, puffy hair. 

RHYS BOWEN: Was there ever a decade to match it in terms of ridiculous styles? Well, there were the sixties when I had a Vidal Sassoon geometric haircut and Mary Quant clothes with skirts so short that they almost showed everything and white shiny boots. There were the seventies when I had a tie died khaftan. So I think the eighties were pretty modest for me.

But I do remember the shoulder pads. AND I had a fabulous jump suit that I wore on a plane to England. When I went to the bathroom I found that I couldn't get the top down because the bathroom was too narrow. Lots of swearing, knocking on the walls and contortions while really needing to pee badly. Never again!

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Oh, Hallie, how funny!  I had the jumpsuit, too, only it was purple with a black pattern. I LOVED it, wore it everywhere, including on the plane, where, like Rhys, I couldn't get if off in the bathroom. 

And yes, jackets with huge shoulder pads. I have very square shoulders anyway (would have been well suited for off the shoulder gowns of some previous period) so looked like a tiny linebacker. My daughter and I had matching Laura Ashley dresses, one of my favorite memories of that decade (although probably not hers...)

But the worst--perms.  God-awful smelly perms that turned my hair a weird color. And then you were stuck, because they looked so horrible growing out that you'd have to have it done again. Under no circumstances am I posting a photo of the absolutely dowdiest phase of my life...

And again, the guys had it better. Think William Petersen in Manhunter or To Live and Die in LA. Or Miami Vice, which still looks gorgeous. The women looked horrible, the guys looked great. I'm telling ya, it's a conspiracy.

ROSEMARY HARRIS: Wasn't Farrah 70's? I seem to remember baggy pants that tapered at the ankle. Very flattering. I bought three pairs at Reminiscence in the West Village.(Bruce claims he fell in love with me because of the black and yellow CHECKERED pair. I also had them in pink and black and can only think that this was my "clown" period.)

I wore - until it was filthy because no dry cleaner would touch it - a pink suede jacket. Think Desperately Seeking Susan. In my own defense I will say I never wore the ponytail on the side of the head or fingerless gloves.

HALLIE: So, fashion-forward Reds, what were you wearing in the 80s and do you hope any of it will come back?

14 comments:

Joan Emerson said...

Shoulder pads: check . . . short skirts: check . . . hair: well . . . I might have thought about it, but perms gave my hair nothing but frizz and [much to my chagrin] I was never, ever going to have anything other than fine, stick-straight tresses ---
[I was instantly green at Jan’s “I already have wavy hair that curls pretty easily”] . . . .

Not missing this fashion decade since I disliked the shoulder pads, despised the leggings, and my preference has always been to long skirts rather than to short, although to be fair there were some long skirts around then . . . . Today, I’m all about the comfort rather than the trends/styles of the moment . . . .

Hallie Ephron said...

So funny, I'm at the Crime Bake this weekend, and yesterday before I gave my master class I overheard 4 different conversations between women of middlish age talking about the challenge of finding truly comfortable shoes... another blog.

Anonymous said...

I also still have a couple sets of foam shoulder pads, just in case. Hank, that was exactly why I wore them, because they made my waist look smaller. Paper bag waist pants, now known as mom jeans, were big, but that was also when kids started wearing their pants pulled down from their real waistlines, too, a look started by soccer players.

Surprised no one mentioned track suits, which were huge then, even though they were awful, and usually shiny.

My oldest daughter graduated from high school in 1989. She and her girlfriends spent five or six years of the 80's creating what I called "hair fantasies". First, the frizzy perm, then tons of teasing, then half a bottle of spray laquer to hold it all out to there, especially the bangs. It was an especially fetching look when they wore big, dangly earrings with their zits and braces.

Karen in OH said...

I also still have a couple sets of foam shoulder pads, just in case. Hank, that was exactly why I wore them, because they made my waist look smaller. Paper bag waist pants, now known as mom jeans, were big, but that was also when kids started wearing their pants pulled down from their real waistlines, too, a look started by soccer players.

Surprised no one mentioned track suits, which were huge then, even though they were awful, and usually shiny.

My oldest daughter graduated from high school in 1989. She and her girlfriends spent five or six years of the 80's creating what I called "hair fantasies". First, the frizzy perm, then tons of teasing, then half a bottle of spray laquer to hold it all out to there, especially the bangs. It was an especially fetching look when they wore big, dangly earrings with their zits and braces.

Deb said...

Does anyone still get perms?

Rosemary Harris said...

Deb,...I'm afraid people still do get perms although they've called waves, American waves, body treatments, beachy waves, etc. But if they use chemicals they are all still the dreaded perm.

Leslie Budewitz said...

Ok, some of those shoulder pads did have lives of their own, but I did love some of my suits: the navy silk with the subtle red and yellow lines, not quite a plaid; the fabulous Evan Picone cream & gray, sort of a houndstooth check with a collarless, V-neck jacket -- I still miss it. And my first red jacket -- such a big moment in a young professional woman's life, in those Dress for Success days: black houndstooth check on bright red, a round collarless neck, big black buttons, and a narrow black skirt. Loved it, loved it!

Oh, and the sky blue silk jacket with the blue and white striped blouse and pleated skirt, and a checked sweater for a casual look. (Never noticed the checks theme -- or was that just me?)

Wasn't the jumpsuit thing earlier? I remember one in the late 1970s, in h.s. and early college.

Deb said...

All this has made me want to find a copy of Working Girl:-)

Deb Romano said...

I don't remember short skirts in the 80s (seems like they were a lot shorter in the mid to late 60s and early 70s), but I DO remember shapeless jackets with shoulder pads that made me look as though I left my neck somewhere. For far too long I wore my hair in a short curly perm - and I look AWFUL in short hair as well as with curls! Never again!
I am on a mission to destroy all photos of myself with that hair! Whenever one of hem surfaces, I cringe. Sometimes I don't recognize myself in one of those photos.

Deb Crombie: I know only one person who still gets perms, but I don't know if she does it herself or goes to a salon. (Do hair salons still do them?)

(We weren't plagued by captcha in the 80s, were we?)

Kaye Barley said...

15 daOrange Jumpsuit. Loved it! Halloween orange. NOT a good color for me, but I wore it everywhere. Which was really really dumb because I drank a lot of beer back then . . . .

Was this when we were wearing our jeans tucked into our boots? I loved that and I'm loving it again. (everything old is new again, right?! So watch out - those shoulder pads will be back one of these days).

Darlene Ryan said...

Jumpsuits. What was I thinking?

Deb said...

Kaye, shoulder pads--Nooooo!!! Never again!!!

But you're right about the jeans tucked into the boots, which I love.

But what is the deal with the really short skirts now and the ankle boot high heels?? I've just watched last Monday's episode of The Voice, and almost every single girl wore those. Not a good look.

Shizuka said...

So many bad outfits. But some so comfortable, I wish I had them for lounging around the house.

I remember a turquoise jumpsuit in t-shirt material. I loved it because it was officially within my school's dresscode -- no outer seams or outer pockets. (I think my principal couldn't conceive of jeans that didn't have either, but I found several paris that didn't). A lime green top tunic with a drawstring that I wore with purple leggings and high top sneakers. Thigh high black boots. Gray boots with black buckles. Wow, I really miss all my 80s boots!

cblynn said...

I worked at a conservative consulting/accounting firm and the women had to wear those silly-looking (at least looking back) women's bow ties! I even had one made of silk that looked like a gift bow on a present and pinned to the placket above the first button on my shirt.