It’s been nearly a year-and-a-half since I started digging out my old ’80s fashion magazines, scanning ads and editorials and uploading them to the periodicult Tumblr site. The process is tedious at times, and akin to a archaeological fashion adventure at others. After flipping through thousands of images it comes as no surprise to me that certain constants emerge. Some are not-so-surprising: the big hair, the strong photography, and of course a healthy dose of cheese — particularly in the teen magazines. But a handful of trends I’ve noticed looking back on this time have definitely been a surprise.
Perhaps the most unexpected thing has been the number of times an image has stopped me and my first thought is that I want to wear the fashion in the photo. It’s remarkable that amongst the shoulder pads and bubble skirts there are so very many looks that seem relevant today, three decades on.
Immersing myself in this project I’ve found myself missing layered knits and drapey ’80s rayon dresses. I miss the graphic boldness of the cuts and prints. Most of all I miss the colours, from brights to jewel tones to pastels. There was a confidence and individuality in dressing that was often expressed in colour. Even for those of us who wore mostly black throughout the ’80s, there were always hits of colour. The rayon dresses I wore with my chunky blank ankle boots may have had a black background, but they had a colourful print.
I’m not sure if I could give up my uniform of blacks and greys that I wear today, but maybe — just maybe — revisiting 1980s style will be enough to push me back into wearing the occasional colour.
1. Wayne Maser for Vogue, January 1988. Clothing by Gianni Versace.
2. Bill King for Vogue, January 1984. Clothing by Oscar de la Renta.
3. Echo Scarves, Glamour, September 1983.
4. Ferragamo, Vogue, March 1982.
5. Nipon Boutique, Vogue, March 1982.
6. Sheila Metzner for Vogue, January 1986. Clothing by Gianni Versace.
7. Anne Klein, Vogue, March 1989. Photograph by Arthur Elgort.
8. Gilles Bensimon for Elle, April 1988.
9. Terry McGee for Vogue, January 1984. Clothing by Rachel Auburn.