Of all the recent decades, one would be hard-pressed to come up with good reasons to revive 1980s fashion.
Neon, for instance, does not look good on anyone — even when you have a tan and are drunk in a tropical climate. Parachute pants? They are best reserved for skydiving. And shoulder pads on which a cup of coffee can balance don’t make wide hips look narrow; they just make everyone resemble linebackers.
Sure, people reminisce about how wonderful past fashions were — someday people might look wistfully at super low-rise jeans with animal-print thongs peeking out — but let’s not kid ourselves.
The decade, though, is worth reflecting on as National Geographic Channel does over six hours across three consecutive nights in “The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us,” beginning Sunday, April 14.
It reminds us that men’s underwear ads did not always grace Times Square billboards, and it took Calvin Klein to reinvent skivvies.
“I will make the underwear,” Klein says. “I’ll put my stamp on it, as I did with the jeans — to make them look sexier, hotter.”
The ’80s also brought the advent of the supermodel. “That certain group of models … we gave them a label,” Klein says. “They started having managers and agents represent them, not just model agencies.”
As with any decade, there’s no one definitive look, but Madonna-inspired outfits come pretty close.
No one would accuse the “Madonnabes” — the women who copied the pop star — of being demure. While Madonna looked like other young women in the early 1980s, who looked as though they rummaged through East Village secondhand stores (they weren’t yet called vintage shops), her look became mass-produced. The results were this blue bustier paired with the lace, layered skirt and high side ponytails worked on over-processed hair.
Nothing screams 1980s — and there is no way to whisper when one leg is chartreuse and the other is electric robin’s-egg blue — louder than two-tone tights with hot-pink leg warmers. OK, maybe acid-washed jeans do.
If you danced to Rick Springfield at your prom, chances are your dress had massive ruffles and resembled this confection. A softer shade of pink would not do the puffy sleeves justice. Add the gigantic purple scrunchie and netting tied around as a bracelet, accented with huge hot-pink earrings, and it you can’t help but start singing “Jessie’s Girl.”
Maybe it would be a better world if we were all on wheels. A strapless romper with a white belt and puka beads pretty much mandates roller skates as footwear.
Eighties fashion will forever be to thank, or curse, for taking exercise gear out of the gym and into the world. Chartreuse and hot pink, a color combination we can only hope never is revived, somehow looks even more retina-scarring in bike shorts. If for whatever reason — and please let it be an ’80s costume party — you find yourself wearing this, accessorize with the terry sweatband and totally tubular socks.