The first time I remember noticing fashion was around the age of five or six. What I started noticing was that I was born in the wrong decade. At that tender age I remember being baffled by modern fashion, and later, all through high school, I felt slightly embarrassed to have been born in such a garish time-finding the neon colors and shoulder pads of the era distasteful and revolting. Who the hell wants to have larger shoulders? In proper high-school fashion, I had already decided my shoulders were too big (because you have to pick yourself to pieces at that age in as many ways as you can). To me, the only thing worse than the styles of the 1980's was the complete fashion yawn that was the early 1990's (my high school decade), but boredom at least was safe. Bangles and dinosaur earrings were insanity.
But what I noticed first was the hair. Short haircuts on girls of 1980's tended to look like men's haircuts, and long hair was inevitably fried and poofed within and inch of its life. I had seen photos of the 1970's and 1950's (although I couldn't yet distinguish one decade from another) and wondered why women no longer wore their hair long, healthy and strait, or softly curled and neatly tucked under fabulous hats. It was years later when I discovered the true genius of the 1950's short hairstyles thanks to Audrey Hepburn, but even at a very young age, my mind was already starting to think about hair and envying styles of the past. The present was just too tragic.
I thought that the 1980's had nothing to offer me, and it wasn't until my adult fascination with fashion took hold that I finally started to realize the error of my ways. Here is what I did not yet know about my birth decade: The 80's had a love affair with both the 1940's and the 1920's, and they honored those time periods fantastically well.
While I was seeing shoulder pads, I was missing sequins and silk. The 80's may have been all about crazy clothes and neon for the teenagers, but it was all about glamour and drama for the adults. At least, the fashionable ones. While we have always borrowed fashion from other decades and made it our own, the 1980's was not content to simply reproduce. They took what they liked, and distinctly 80's-it-up in wonderful and powerful ways.
These days I can even see the fun of hot pink leg warmers and off-the shoulder-over-sized tops. What a fun decade it must have been for people old enough to pick out their own clothes! I have to be honest and say that I still can't look past the hair (I just don't get it to this day!) but I have come to realize that the 1980's should be praised for both it's ability to borrow from the past and make it their own, and also the fact that the 80's fashionista was doing and wearing thing that would have been unheard of in decades past. It was a unique, experimental decade.
Some examples of 80's does 20's (all can be found for sale on Etsy):