Everything Old is (Painfully) New Again

I'm horribly embarrassed by just about every picture taken of me between 1982 and 1988. So why are those fashions coming back?

The other night, my 11-year-old son informed me that one of the latest fashions amongst boys his age was to turn up the collars of their button down or Polo-type shirts. Like Dracula, he said, though the image that was brought to my mind was Zach from Saved by the Bell. He then informed me that the girls’ fashion, in his opinion, was even dumber, because they wore shirts with large neck holes that hung off of one shoulder so that their underlying tank top strap showed. Ack! Flashdance!

I took my daughter to Claire’s the other day, and they had a wide selection of leg warmers. LEG WARMERS!!! And net gloves. Neon shirts and skirts are everywhere. My daughter’s favorite brand of jeans is Jordache. Every time I look at purses, I am confronted with leather fringes and gold tones. When I went to get my hair fixed from my DIY attempt at a transition from blonde to brunette, the shampoo room smelled like that unmistakable odor of perms. Before I said anything, Ben Odom, hair artiste extraordinaire, mentioned that more and more people were coming in for perms. 

People, people: have we learned nothing from our experiences??? Do not all of us who were alive in the 80s have pictures in which the depiction of our horrible clothes and hair embarrass us more than if we had a past as an exotic dancer with a cocaine problem? 

I suppose this was inevitable. My generation, the original target audience for MTV (back when it actually played music videos) and the generation that coveted red leather jackets with a thousand zippers all over them, is now in charge. In our 40s, we are the marketing directors, the CEOs, the chairmen of the board, and the ones who get to decide what does and does not get manufactured and what does and does not get shelf space in stores. We are corporate. We are The Man. Just as our nostalgia fuels the sold out crowds at Duran Duran, Journey, and Bon Jovi concerts, I guess it controls the marketplace as well.

But really, it smells more like typical bullying behavior to me than nostalgia. We are all completely humiliated by pictures of us sporting the raccoon inspired eye makeup; acid washed jeans; NFL-sized shoulder pads; the permed hair teased so large it won’t all fit in the frame in our yearbook photos; and the neon lace that adorned our hair, got used as shoelaces in our Keds, and anything else we could think to do with it. We don’t have the stomach to throw out those pictures, but we still tell our kids we can’t find them because we don’t want them to know how horrible we looked. And so, just as a bully is usually someone who was picked on somewhere else, and just as fraternity hazing comes from a sense of “I lived through it and now so should you” we have inflicted our fashion embarrassment on our children. 

Not everything was awful, I guess. My son looks very handsome in his argyle sweaters. My daughter looks cute in neon green. Some fantastic movies came out in the 80s, and my kids even like them now: the Star Wars franchise, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Goonies, a Christmas Story. And now that I think of it, Silly Bandz are the modern incarnation of those rubber O-rings we used to buy from the hardware store to imitate Madonna back when all she tried to be was a pop singer. Sperry Top Siders are once again fashionable shoes. I have to say, I like them much better than platform ankle-breaker shoes. They are, generally speaking, foot-shaped, unlike most fashionable shoes, and are made of materials that don’t create instant blisters like the ‘jellies’ we used to wear.

I still have a pair of vintage 80s Sperry Top Siders. They were worn a LOT back in the day, but they are authentic and don’t have any holes in them. My kids won’t let me wear them now, because I am too painfully uncool to wear shoes like that.  I also have an original Swatch – dark grey band and face with blue and yellow pinstripes on the face. I think my husband still has a Member’s Only jacket in the closet. He’s not allowed to wear that one, either, for fear of embarrassing my children to such a degree that they spontaneously combust. So I guess I should sell them. Which means I should quit marketing them as survivors from the tackiest decade in fashion history. Instead, they are now rechristened as original pieces from the groundbreaking, joyful era that recreated the music industry and gave us pop culture icons that still entertain audiences today. Let’s start the bidding at $1,000.00. 

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Lori Duff March 01, 2013 at 04:28 PM
Remember that whooshy sound they made when you walked?
Amy March 01, 2013 at 05:39 PM
Le Sport Sac purses.
Lori Duff March 01, 2013 at 05:53 PM
oooh oooh oooh, and what were those, Gear Bags? They looked like rubber bath mats?
Péralte Paul (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 06:20 PM
I hope not. Once was enough for "Hammer Time." :-)
Lori Duff March 01, 2013 at 10:14 PM
r patton March 01, 2013 at 10:35 PM
Who can forget short shorts? Now they were Kool!
Edward March 02, 2013 at 03:46 AM
OMG!! I hated the short shorts for guys, they hurt in all the wrong places. I loved parachute pants, they were awesome when you were break dancing. Yeah, I bet Sharon and Crystal will get a chuckle out of this, I used to be a huge fan of break dancing and won a dormitory dancing competition in my, yeah you got it, parachute pants. John B, save them please, they will be worth millions some day....{{Edward day dreaming again}} LOL!!!!
Edward March 02, 2013 at 03:49 AM
And there goes Paul taking me way back to the "Hammer Time" "You Can't Touch This" day!!! Whoa!!!!!!! To be honest we dressed as freely as we spoke and sung...from the heart with depth and perception. The good ole 80's...hmmmm! Can't wait for my kids to willingly let me share those times.
Sharon Swanepoel March 02, 2013 at 03:51 AM
Edward, break dancing has to be considered serious artistic talent when compared to Gangnam Style and the Harlem Shake. Bring it back I say, bring it back - even in parachute pants!
David Binder March 02, 2013 at 04:37 AM
Lori check your Facebook messages. :-)
Kim Roberto March 02, 2013 at 12:04 PM
I dated a guy in college who was into sailing. (in the 70's) He had "money" and all sorts of nice stuff. He asked me to crew with him in a regatta once (I had never been on a sailboat) so of course I had to said yes! The main thing was that I had to get Sperry Topsiders to wear! HUH? Never heard of them. He explained the reason for the special bottoms of the shoes, so off I went to buy a pair. I didn't realize how EXPENSIVE they were on my college budget, so I ended up buying a brand called "Docksiders." Well.....you would have thought I bought K-mart sneakers or something equally poor quality, and uncool. But I wore them - and we came in 9th place (out of 10!!!) so I thought we did a great job - Docksiders and all. haha Needless to say, the relationship didn't last long after that. BUT- I loved the shoes, and have been wearing them ever since those college days. I can even afford Sperry's now!!
Liz Kennedy (Editor) March 02, 2013 at 12:51 PM
Kim, I love your story about the shoes! And Lori great blog and so love the picture of the lead singer of A Flock of Seagulls - "and I ran so far away..."
Good Grief Y'all March 02, 2013 at 03:38 PM
Faith Hill has braces, among other celebs. They're hardly visible these days, though.
Good Grief Y'all March 02, 2013 at 03:45 PM
The designers always make enough of a change to retro so the kids know the difference. Hated the shoulder pads, so I always cut them out. Liked the more comfy shoes. But, overall, the 80s were not a good look, especially the big over-processed hairdos. :p
Edward March 02, 2013 at 04:07 PM
Oh Sharon, please don't say that. Old men like me just don't know when almost 50 is no longer almost 20. My lovely wife has to carry the burden of marrying a moron like me. Went to a dear friends wedding and we (the guys) all between the ages of 43 and 54 started breaking, popping, locking etc. We were in the Plantation ball room at Sea Pines resort so we didn't have time limitations. A bunch of old men on the dance floor grooving. The next day none of us could walk straight. I needed help in the shower :). Break dancing is more casual these days Sharon, check this out... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXO-jKksQkM
Ann Anderson - mustbeamiracle March 03, 2013 at 05:30 AM
I loved them also Lori and still have a pair of Jordache and some other things I couldn't let go of. I would still get a perm if I could...TOTALLY ;) Good to see you here.
Ann Anderson - mustbeamiracle March 03, 2013 at 05:31 AM
Guys back in the day in parachute pants!! Woot!
Zooey Williams March 03, 2013 at 04:44 PM
My daughter, a junior at SCAD Savannah, has already raided my closet for "vintage" (geez ,pls give me a break) shoes,jackets, tops, scarfs etc So glad they got recycled within the family. PS she also took my striped workout leg warmers but left the unitards ( one piece workout body suits)
Sharon Swanepoel March 03, 2013 at 04:50 PM
Maybe they're just adjusting the pace so the "break dance" generation can keep up Edward.
Sharon Swanepoel March 03, 2013 at 04:52 PM
OK David, only Lori can see that picture? Where's our copy to feature here on Patch?
Cheryl Miller March 04, 2013 at 11:03 AM
I loved roller skating!
Cheryl Miller March 04, 2013 at 11:08 AM
And jellies! Those cool plastic shoes. Matched my Swatch Watch and Watch Guard perfectly!
Lori Duff March 04, 2013 at 05:50 PM
Kim -- nothing like the original. Great story! David -- you failed to mention that you had the Weird Al moustache as well :-)
Lori Duff March 04, 2013 at 05:51 PM
GGY -- I think he means suspenders, which I wore a lot of in the day. I think I still might have some of them.
Lori Duff March 04, 2013 at 05:52 PM
Just thinking about jellies gives me blisters, though.
Lori Duff March 04, 2013 at 08:25 PM
Seriously, Sharon, at least break dancing is something that requires a great deal of skill.
Lori Duff March 04, 2013 at 08:26 PM
Do your vintage Jordaches still fit? :-) If so, I'm very impressed.
Lori Duff March 04, 2013 at 08:26 PM
She didn't take your Jane Fonda workout videos, did she?
Good Grief Y'all March 04, 2013 at 09:15 PM
Ha! Lori, I learned something new. I don't get why they were called braces, but I remember them.
Good Grief Y'all March 04, 2013 at 09:17 PM
Some of the guys doing the Harlem Shake could use "braces".


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