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Friday, October 8, 2010

Shoulders Back!

My daughter is celebrating “Spirit Week” at school, and a theme for one day is 1980’s work-out clothes. If you can remember Jennifer Beals and Flashdance with nostalgia, then read on baby, because, I’m about to bring up a topic that might make you laugh.


I was skeptical that we’d find what she was looking for as we shopped around the discount stores, on the hunt for fluorescent leggings, over-sized t-shirts, and leg-warmers. When it took us exactly two places to find everything on her list, I realized that current style is a spin-off from the decade that gave us Dallas and, be-still-my-beating heart, Magnum PI. My husband says that fashions return every thirty years and let me tell you, it’s pretty darn humbling when you realize you’ve been around long enough to anniversary yourself— even if you are minus the big hair.

The sorry part of this is, I recall loving the fashion of that period. At the time, I was convinced I’d never look at a picture taken during the decade and consider the style dated. And, though my wardrobe choices from then do look silly in photographs now, here’s something that wasn’t. The clothes were comfortable—and not just because I was a few (okay, okay, more than a few) pounds lighter. If we weren’t wearing sweats, then the stirrup pants we donned underneath long tunic tops had elastic waists. Why not? No one could see them under shirts that draped to our knees. They could however, see the leather flats with tuxedo-bows we slipped on our white-stockinged feet—as if that would dress up the entire ensemble.

The parachute pants we wore didn’t squeeze us to death; the flowing, floral print skirts were easy to walk in. We emulated Linda Evans on Dynasty and her princess styled dresses, and copied the trends depicted in—I confess I’m hyperventilating a little here—Miami Vice. Not only did I love the um, music from that show, I also adored—okay, here goes—the shoulder pads. Yep. As a bony, round-shouldered young woman, I still shivered in mortification when recalling the back-brace I was required to wear in sixth grade. That pre-teen humiliation dictated that I grow up despising all cardigans, T’s, oxford cloth or form fitting shirts. If it wasn’t bulky enough to hide my posture, or broad enough to make me look like a weightlifter, get rid of it.

But then jackets that fit linebackers became the rage. Forget how “hot”—to use the current vernacular—Don Johnson looked in his colossal outerwear; Sonny Crockett's wardrobe sense saved the day for me too. A blazer or a shoulder-enhanced sweater could fool the world into believing I carried myself like a dancer.

Well into the next decade, I couldn’t let go of big shoulders. For years after that particular fashion retired, I Velcroed shoulder pads to all my tops.  Then one day, the nylon teeth gave on one of those things at work. I spent a cringing day wondering where in the building I’d lost it, until with a gasp of relief I found it in my own desk drawer. After that, my daughter used the old blazers and the muscled-up tops for dress-up. One time her friend came over, yanked on one of my old favorites and said: “Look. I’m a football player.”

Over the ensuing years, I’ve been able to forgive myself for a lot of physical imperfections.  That said, if fashion is really going retro Flashdance, my hair is too short for the teased and sprayed look that was popular back then, and a pair of white socks with black patent leather shoes would cause me to howl at the mirror. Tunic tops, well, yea, they are forgiving after all, but I’m not sure a pair of stirrup pants will ever grace my not-so-girlish figure again.

But here’s the thing. In one of life’s little unfair tricks, no matter how many pounds have attached themselves onto my heretofor petite frame, nary a one has graced my shoulders. Hallelujah and praise the Lord if this 1980’s rerun becomes a total repeat. That bag of mismatched shoulder pads hiding at the back of my closet may receive a promotion to the front of the shelf.

It's Friday.  Let's have some fun.  Care to confess your fashion faux  pas?

14 comments:

Sharon said...

I'm still laughing, Liza. Just this morning I said, "I think it's time to get rid of my '80s wardrobe." How wrong could I have been! Visions of Linda Evans flash before me as I write this. In my youth, I was a shameless fashionista. Today, comfort is my primary driving force. Except for one guilty concession: I must have my hair coifed and my makeup on. Fun post. Thanks.

Lydia Kang said...

How funny is it when those big shoulder pads come back into fashion, or bellbottoms, or whatever. Makes you think you should never throw anything away!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think I spent most of the 80's in t-shirts and jeans. Pretty much what I wear now! (Okay, lounge pants for around the house.)

Robyn Campbell said...

Bell-bottoms (showing my age here.) And ACK, shoulder pads.

I laughed at this fun post, Liza. (And I needed the laugh.) *she runs to attic to retrieve her bell-bottom jeans*

jbchicoine said...

Ha! that's soooo funny! Yikes! I still hang onto a couple pairs of shoulder pad just in case...and I do so miss my leggings...

Helen Ginger said...

I had forgotten stirrup pants with elastic waists. Now that's one fashion that should come back in style. I'm glad hot pants are not in style again, although I've seen shorter "hot pants" on girls on TV. Remember jeans worn with a wide white belt?

glnroz said...

I "confess". It is still faded old bluejeans and L.L. Bean "jungle" shirts, although i now have some neon colors..I did iron them back then though....

Robin said...

Along with the leggings, there were the neon or flourescent colors that were popular in the 80s (aack), and girls wearing ties. Do you remember that? The huge bangs were awful. I never embraced that one. Thank God. Deck shoes. Izod shirts. Jeans went through phases. Calvin Klein. Guess. Who could keep up? Loved stirrup pants. Oversized shirts. Shoulder pads. Clothes in the 80s were very forgiving in lots of ways. If you had long hair the clip hair bow was your best friend for those bad hair days!

Liza said...

Oh Robin, yes, I remember the ties! I used to wear the short ones, and I had a friend at work who would tie them for me in the A.M, because I could never do it right.

Sharon, Alex, I wear the same pair of blue jeans several days a week now, because they are the only thing that feels good.

Robin C. and Lydia, I swore I'd never wear bell bottoms again...but then flaired legs came back. Yikes.

Helen, yup, the stirrups sure were comfortable.

Glen, the jeans and LL Bean are just perfect.

Bridget, you make me feel good about the shoulder pads...I'm not the only one?

Bish Denham said...

I've been watching trends from the 60s and 70s for the past 5 or 6 years now. When bell bottoms (flairs) came back into style I just had to laugh! It all comes back to haunt you.

Ann Best said...

I can get misty eyed and nostalgic about Magnum PI but not about clothes. I'm too small (I weighed 80 pounds when I was 12, and at age 70 I only weight 89!) so I have to struggle to find anything outside of the children's department to fit me! But I had fun reading your post, your writing is so vivid. Just the other day my daughter, whom I stayed with for a few days on my much needed break told me I ought to get shoulder pads!! And I do remember them from my dim, distant past.
Ann

frumpfactor said...

I still insist on believing that everybody on Miami Vice looked GREAT. Of course, I refuse to watch old reruns of the show, because I don't want to shatter the illusion.

You made me laugh, because I, too, remember thinking that the '80's look would hold up so much better than '60's & '70's looks. Flashdance revivals aside, I think I was wrong!

Arlee Bird said...

I recall that my wife at that time and my sister were really into the Jane Fonda workout tapes and would dress in the workout appropriate wardrobe.

Me? I think I pretty much dress the same as I did when I was a kid. I went through the 70s and 80s wearing work boots most of the time, but that was about as extreme as I ever got.

Lee
Tossing It Out

'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

Sorry I missed this fun post on Friday. Thanks for visiting my blog via Robin over at YOUR DAILY DOSE. I was 15 when the 80's ended, but I did wear the long button down shirts over tank tops with keds that had no laces through middle school. Little did I know my worst fashion moments were yet to come: when I got chunky and refused to wear plus sizes. Thank goodness I have recently remedied that by choosing to get rid of the chunk...