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Questionable Comebacks In 80’s Fashion


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From the Outside Looking In

I will admit, comfort and practicality reign supreme in my humble fashion style, but there is something to be said about finding an outfit that not only flatters our unique figure but inspires confidence no matter our gender, orientation, or sense of style. Fashion true to ourselves, tailored to our physique, magnifies who we are. Perhaps those of you who struggle to understand fashion, this will resonate with you. I’m one of those who stood jaw dropped at my peers’ desire to blend in with the most expensive or popular trends. Fashion, to me, is meant to be the expression of art like a window to our soul. Warning: call me a cynic, that’s fine, but in my unfashionable opinion, the eighties were hot mess of unflattering fashion.

From An Average, Simple-fashioned Gal, JUST WHY?

Please tell me why “mom jeans”, rompers, mullets, and shoulder pads returned? High wasted jeans paired with a form fitting top is better than the PTSD-photo-album triggers I have treasured. However, they never were comfortable. They inspire claustrophobia, encourage wedgies, and draw attention to the horrid lower “ponch.” For the life of me, I can’t understand why anyone would want to wear them. I will concede, the 2021 version like any retro fashion is much improved. Moving on to shoulder pads, these were a bad attempt to equalize women and men. In my house, they were removed along with the tags after purchase. Next when comfort is concerned, rompers were the way to go. According to, “Vintage style is great when you update a past style with a new take on fabrics.” With a little tailoring and simple change of the fabric, rompers have become runway chic.

When Eras Collide, Magic Doesn’t Always Happen

The trend to throw on the most comfortable thing and go is timeless. As a young mom I chased my kids in yoga pants. Last year as a covid remote worker my work wardrobe consisted mostly of stretchy pants. However, the saying you can dress up comfort, does not always apply. When David Koma marched his model dressed in a red blazer and matching bike shorts down the runway, my mind had a mini stroke. Granted, he definitely improved Madonna’s version. I might be able to pull off the top and the boots, but not the shorts. The first thing that comes to my mind is, “Honey, where are my pants?” (Lego Movie) Madonna may have created this style for a concert tour, but Madonna is “artivist.” Madonna’s fashion pushed boundaries—and in some cases created unforgettable memories in style—as evident with her iconic cone bra that still makes improvised interpretational appearances from the lay public on Saturday nights in the auto part section of Walmart stores across America.

Business In the Front & Party In the Back

Mullets never died but thank goodness the feathered “mall” bangs did. The men’s ever popular mullet never really disappeared. It has quietly thrived a long life due to country music artists, Seinfeld, and Duck Dynasty stars. Feathered bangs, however, were literally banned. In a vintage throw back to 80’s fashion, reported, “Indeed, 1987’s combined sales for hair sprays and spritzes hovered between $600 million and $700 million, with the category’s hottest single product, Faberge’s Aqua Net, accounting for $100 million of that all by itself.” Taking into consideration how cheap hairspray was in the eighties, that’s an insane amount of chemicals. Thanks to Berkley professors, Mario Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland, their environment studies proved CFC’s were destroying our ozone at an absorbent rate. While hair spray hasn’t died, without those the liquid-nail-strength CFC’s, today’s hairspray cannot hold like it once did. We will never have to spend hours breathing in CFC toxins just to get ‘em taller.

Photo Joan Cusack ‘Cyn’ in Working girl (1988)

Not All 80’s fashion Were Impractical or Terrible 

For most of those who wore the original 80’s styles, they will forever remain buried in hope chests collecting dust. However, there are a few classic gems worth resurrecting. During the pinnacle of spandex, leg warmers, mullets and feathered bangs, Cindy Crawford, sported a classy casual fashion. The supermodel turned into a household name, took James Dean’s iconic look and crossed gender barriers. According to Zeitgeist the classic leather jacket, blue jeans, and white T-shirt is here to stay. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. From the fifties, through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s to today, it looks the same, no fabric switcheroo needed.

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