Menswear dressing in the 1980s typically did not mean menswear-inspired dressing, it meant suit, tie, button-up shirt — especially the tie. It meant wearing actual menswear, just sized and shaped for women, though the tie did not present any size or shape issue. Wearing a tie was an integral part of the power-dressing uniform, which as a head-to-toe look often left much to be desired fashion-wise, but broken into pieces could be a lot of fun.
I loved a good tie in the mid-1980s. I’d find them in thrift shops — loud, vintage silk numbers dating back to the late-’60s and early ’70s. Wide ties were the best, in textured brocades, paisley prints, unholy colour combinations. I’d pair them with bright white oversize shirts buttoned to the neck, and wear them with black leggings or stirrup pants. There was something about wearing a tie that made me walk taller, feel important — like a man without being mannish. I know it’s not the most progressive or feminist sentiment, but at the time, as an ’80s junior high fashion junkie, it was the truth.
Tying a tie was another matter. I never did perfect it and to this day I usually have to fail once or twice before getting it right (though never perfect). That my tie-tying skills were sub-par was of no mind, I liked my ties a little loose and haphazard, like I just threw it on and fashion be damned even though the fashion of it all was everything.
1. Esprit, Seventeen, August 1983.
2. Evan-Picone, Mademoiselle, September 1984.
3. Chris Grout-Smith for Look Now, February 1986.
4. Paolo Roversi for Mademoiselle, September 1984. Clothing by Perry Ellis.
5. Rob Latour for ‘Teen, August 1984.
6. Mondi, Elle, September 1987.
7. Fiorucci, i-D, October 1984. Photograph by Oliviero Toscani.
8. Gilles Bensimon for Elle, July 1988.
9. L’Oréal, Seventeen, September 1984.