The 1980s often get a bad rap for the over-the-top fashions. But, hiding among the shoulder pads and perms is some interesting history behind the styles. The early part of the decade was influenced by a style called “New Romantics”. This was characterized by Victorian-inspired clothing which featured lace and very feminine silhouettes.
This dress is a Gunne Sax by designer Jessica McClintok from the early 1980s. The bodice echoes the late 1800s with its high collar and leg-of-mutton style sleeves. This sleeve style describes a very full, puffy shoulder that tapers to a fitted cuff.
By the mid-1980s it was glam all the way. Dynasty was one of the most popular shows on television, and the bigger the shoulder pads the better. Historically, the 1940s featured exaggerated shoulders in both men’s and women’s garments. 1980s glam rock, when men wore makeup and had bigger hair than women also has historical roots. European high society, most famously the 1780s court of Louis XVI of France, featured men wearing clothing, makeup, and wigs as colorful and elaborate as the women’s.
Renee Booher wears a fully sequined glamorous gold dress with beaded fringe from the mid-1980s at Taste of Vintage 2011.
Samantha Bricker wears a royal blue elaborately beaded mid-1980s dress at the 2012 Taste of Vintage.
Gina Ardillo in a 1980s prom dress at Taste of Vintage 2012.
The bright colors, bold decorative elements and prints, and over-the-top designs continued through into the early 1990s. By the mid-1990s, an 80s backlash in the design world prompted a shift to minimalism, both in clothing silhouette and color palette that lasted until recently.
All items pictured in the blog are a part of Goodwill Industries of Akron’s Vintage Collection. For more information about renting or donating items to the vintage collection, please contact:
Tracy Keenan, Development and Events Manager
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 330-786-2573