Fashion in the 80s

EightiesLike the fashion of all modern decades, 1980s fashion in popular culture incorporated distinct trends from different eras. This helped form a cultivating movement of style. The most conservative, more masculine fashion look that was most indicative of the 1980s was the wide use of shoulder pads.

While in the 1970s, the silhouette of fashion tended to be characterized by close fitting clothes on top with wider, looser clothes on the bottom, this trend completely reversed itself in the early 1980s as both men and women began to wear looser shirts and tight, close-fitting pants. Men wore power suits as a result of the greater tendency for people to display their wealth. Brand names became increasingly important in this decade, making Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein household names.

In the United States, Madonna was titled the “Material Girl” and many teenage girls looked to her for fashion statements. The rising pop star proved to be very influential to female fashions. She first emerged on the dance music scene with her “street urchin” look—short skirts over leggings, necklaces, rubber bracelets, fishnet gloves, hairbows, long layered strings of beads, bleached, untidy hair with dark roots, head bands, and lace ribbons. In her “Like a Virgin” phase, millions of teenage girls emulated her fashion example that included brassieres worn as outerwear, huge crucifix jewellery, lace gloves, tulle skirts, and boytoy belts. Gloves, sometimes lace and/or fingerless, were popularized by Madonna, as well as fishnet stockings and layers of beaded necklaces. Short, tight Lycra or leather mini-skirts and tubular dresses were also worn, as were cropped, bolero-style jackets. Black was the preferred colour. Another club fashion for women was lingerie as outerwear. Prior to the mid-1980s it had been taboo to show a slip or a bra strap in public. A visible undergarment had been a sign of social ineptness. In the new fad’s most extreme forms, young women would forego conventional outer-garments for vintage-style bustiers with lacy slips and several large crucifixes. This was both an assertion of sexual freedom and a conscious rejection of prevailing androgynous fashions.madonna

The Thriller look was inspired by Michael Jackson’s record breaking album Thriller. Teenagers would attempt to replicate the look of Jackson, which included matching red/black leather pants and jackets, one glove, sunglasses, and jheri curl. Leather jackets popularized by Michael Jackson and films like The Lost Boys were often studded and left undone to create a messier look. Oversized, slouch shouldered faded leather jackets with puffy sleeves from Europe caught on. Gloves, sometimes fingerless, would also accompany the jacket. Late in the decade plain brown aviator jackets made a comeback, styled after World War II fighter pilot jackets. Already popular aviators were joined by other forms of sunglasses. It was not unusual for sunglasses or shades as they were known, to be worn at night (I Wear My Sunglasses At Night).

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1 Comment

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One response to “Fashion in the 80s

  1. I’m glad you’re enjoying my new work (it’s definitely unique . . .). I’m having a lot of fun with it as well. I’m also very glad that you’re having fun with the Ricoh. I think mastering a manual camera gives one a very unique sense of accomplishment. The camera immediately feels like a tool in your hand, a feeling it can take years to cultivate with a more “sophisticated” camera. Did you develop the black and white yourself, or shoot something like 400CN that you could have developed in C-41 chemistry?

    As for lenses, it depends. How do you feel about the lens you’re using now? Do you feel like you’d like to go wider to capture buildings, landscapes, and other
    “big” things? If so, look for a wide angle (28mm is the most abundant focal length for these). If you want a lens that will put you “closer” to faraway things, look at telephoto lenses (135mm lenses were very common in the manual focus era, though shorter and longer lenses definitely exist). If you want to focus very close and take pictures of very small things, look into a macro lens (expensive but fun).

    If you really like your Ricoh lens but feel like the f/2 minimum aperture is limiting you (you’d like to be able to shoot handheld in lower light or would like even shallower depth of field for artistic effects), or if you need more sharpness (unlikely- that should be a very sharp lens) or better build quality (again, a luxury for those of us who aren’t beating up our gear as professionals, but still nice to have), look at something like the Pentax SMC M (or A, it’s just a little more expensive) 50mm f/1.4. It’s one of the sharpest and optically best lenses available (and it’s over thirty years old!).

    You could also get a zoom lens, but you will lose a lot of speed and optical quality compared to your little Ricoh prime (going from f/2 to f/4.5 maximum aperture is not fun). I don’t use zooms at all (I can’t afford the good ones, which are unimaginably expensive) because primes (fixed focal length) lenses offer better image quality and a lot more speed for less money.

    So, I answer your question with a question: If you could change anything you wanted about your current lens, what would it be?

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