Nostalgia: Looking Good Never Goes Out of Style — 1980s

Liv Combe, Editor-in-Chief

Here you have it: a fashion column about the Obies of yesteryear! Picking back up from where we left off last year, we finally come to the 1980s, the first decade that a few current students were actually alive for.

With the explosion of MTV onto the youth scene in 1981, pop culture was changed forever. Now that the latest musicians and actors were more accessible than they had ever been — the click of a button was all it took to catch a Brat Pack movie or watch Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” music video — it meant that everyday people could be as up-to-date on trends as the stars who were setting them.

For the young, hip crowd, like these Obies perched on Wilder Porch, fashion was at their fingertips. From workout wear to punk style, preppy to over-the-top shoulder pads, the possibilities were endless, innovative and entirely altered from what had been popular only a few years before.

The 1970s were all about loose fits on the bottom and tighter ones on top; in the ’80s, this was completely reversed. Leggings, tights and stirrup pants (who else wore those as a kid?) made from LYCRA®, Spandex or cotton were all the rage, balanced out by oversized tops. When Flashdance was released in 1983, women and men everywhere were suddenly wearing large Champion sweatshirts, with DIY cut-off collars. This look was just one of many from the dancewear craze that featured Jane Fonda and Olivia Newton John at the forefront, stepping and sweating away in leotards and legwarmers.

Other standout trends were turtlenecks, Members Only jackets, shoulder pads à la Joan Collins in her Dynastydays, Ray-Ban Wayfarers (which soared in sales after movie-goers got one look at Tom Cruise in Risky Business), acid-washed denim jackets with matching jeans and various looks from Miami Vice, particularly t-shirts worn under suit jackets.

If there was one thing more important than clothes in the ’80s, it was the hair. One maxim held true: the bigger, the better. Lots of daily back-combing, mousse and hair spray went into perfecting the sought-after amount of frizzy volume, which could also be attained with a poodle perm. Women accessorized with colorful fabric scrunchies and headbands. For men, hair was usually straight, feathery and medium length (except when it wasn’t, and then it was a mullet). And as ratings forMagnum, P.I. grew, so did the number of men who began growing thick Tom Selleck mustaches.

When it came to footwear, the casual shoe was the most prevalent among college students. Converse Chuck Taylors, Air Jordans and Adidas Hi Tops were especially popular, with PVC rubber Jellies popping up as an occasional craze. Along with legwarmers, slouch socks were everywhere, usually with pants tucked in.

As with many trends of past decades, elements of the ’80s make frequent reappearances in current fashions. For anyone who’s looking to entirely recreate the ’80s look with leggings, cut-up sweatshirts and colors never seen in nature, there’s always American Apparel.