I didn’t buy Glamour magazine every month in the 1980s — not like I did with Vogue and, when I was in my early teens, Seventeen. Glamour, along with its slightly sassier and fun cousin, Mademoiselle, were once-in-a-while newsstand purchases. Looking back at old issues now, I completely remember why. Glamour, to me, skewed a little trashy. Not in a full-on way like Cosmopolitan, but there the sex-article-to-fashion ratio definitely swung the wrong way for me. I liked that the fashion there was generally was more affordable and accessible than the style in Vogue, but Glamour was always one of those magazines that made me feel bad, like I needed to get a makeover, lose weight (or tone up at the very least), be more sexy and have more sex with a better boyfriend. Rather than the content being aspirational or motivating, I found it depressing.
I haven’t done as much as peek between the covers of a copy of Glamour since, well, I don’t remember, but it was probably the 1990s when I wrote a monthly newspaper column about magazines. So revisiting the November 1984 issue of the magazine was trippy, and yes, still a little depressing — especially after seeing the cover lines of the current issue of the magazine. Thirty years on, it’s still the same-old women’s magazine cover lines. The stories really could be interchangeable. 1984 headlines like “How to Live Diet-Free,” “Sharp Ways to Boost Your Work Look,” and “”Your Sexual Skills: Can You Be Too Good in Bed?” could easily be swapped for today’s “Body Confidence: 1001 Women of All Sizes Reveal Their Biggest Issues,” “Secrets of Success,” and “Newsflash: Men Like Ambitious Women.”
Glamour, as I always understood it, was supposed to be for the young, working woman. That’s all great, except for the part where you’re constantly trying to undermine her confidence. This makes the task of working through the pages of Glamour, November 1984, decidedly less fun and light-hearted than my usual Thirty-Year Flashbacks. There’s nothing in the editorial content that’s amusing or triggers any wistful ’80s nostalgia. Even the fashion pages, with the exception of a spread featuring lace shot by Alex Chatelain, is uninspiring.
The ads, however, are good ’80s entertainment.
Because Glamour’s demographic wasn’t has highfalutin as Vogue’s, there were often more ads for brands than designers and it’s always a delight to find oddities like full-page TV adverts and spots for the cheap acrylic sweaters that were an ’80s fashion staple for so many. As for trends, the Glamour girl of 30 years ago was wearing oversize sweaters in layers and pleated jeans. She wore pantsuits with coloured blazers (preferably in a royal blue or magenta), white silk blouses and black slacks (100 percent slacks and not pants or trousers). By night, she was predictably sexy, with low-cut fronts and bare backs, in velvet, satin and lace.
I was never one of Glamour’s girls — the content, the fashion, there was never any real connection to my life — and after going back through the pages of the November 1984 issue, I can’t say I missed out on anything at all.
All images originally appeared in the November 1984 issue of Glamour:
1. Cover model Christie Brinkley photographed by Patrick Demarchelier.
3. Sebastian International.
5. Coat by Norma Kamali. Photograph by Alex Chatelain.
7. Ninja by Parfums de Coeur.
Thirty-Year Flashback is a monthly feature on periodicult.com.