What 80’s Style Means To Me – Anything John Hughes

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5ootYPtGJCCDpNfRvcZ8uLMmTcg In just 2 short months I turn 38 years old, and have now lived long enough to see a decade I grew up in, chosen as a theme for an upcoming event.  A decade doesn’t get chosen for an event theme unless it’s long gone passed for a while now. I mean, no one’s really holding 90’s themed events yet, are they? At any rate, the 80’s are the decade I remember the most, because during that time is when I started to form my own tastes in music and clothes. Culling my own style happened towards the latter part of the decade, when I entered middle school, and you know that at that age, impressions form fiercely and shape the person you’ll be for the next several years. In my case, there was an intense love for Morrissey, plenty of moody tween angst, and regular scouring of local thrift stores, in search of the perfect vest to wear with my first pair of 8 hole lace-up Doc Martens.  In between boyish cardigans and boots, I mixed in a lot of feminine florals and patent leather.  Actually, my style leanings were very similar, albeit much more refined, to what they are now as a grown woman. A good mix of boyish, loose gender neutral looks, with a lot of soft girlie touches thrown in. pretty_in_pink1 One thing my style was decidedly not though, was what we now come to think of as typical 80’s fashion.  No fish net gloves, or lacy skirts and headbands.  Nothing resembling a deranged jazzercise instructor or Madonna or anything and anyone pop in fact, and surprisingly enough, no neon.  While I recall going through a brief pegged leg jean moment, and even did the layered scrunchy sock thing, it was definitely before middle school, when my mom was still picking out my clothes.  Once I felt like I had more of a say, or at least once I felt like I had more of an opinion about my style, I bucked the traditional 80’s trend items, and leaned towards anything you’d see in a John Hughes film.  Molly Ringwald was my style idol and icon, and all throughout 7th and 8th grade, I had the cut and (attempted) color to prove it. My love and admiration for Molly’s style was only slightly trumped when I saw Uncle Buck for the first time, and drooled over bitchy Tia’s wardrobe.  I can recall with distinct clarity the longing I had to replicate her bundled up looks.   ub7 So while many recall visions of neon and teased bangs and pop-star worthy looks, I just recall anything relating to John Hughes and his films during that decade.  I think because I was so impressionable at the time, and his films had the biggest impact on me emotionally, it was natural that the wardrobe styling would in turn define style for me in the 80’s.  The dress code for the upcoming event isn’t specified, so I’m assuming I could go dressed up or casual.  At this point I can’t decide which way to go, but realistically something dressy would probably best translate as 80’s.  If I showed up wearing something like what Molly Ringwald wore in The Breakfast Club, I may just end up looking like a slightly off version of what we’d wear today.  Like I belong in this decade, but not quite.  And people would probably look at me like all, “I don’t get it.”  It’s a look I got quite familiar with during that time period.  tumblr_msbl8chunG1sx2zfgo1_1280 Let’s have a look at some of the John Hughes’ films that had the greatest style impact on me during the 80’s.  It’s not what we typically think of when we hear 80’s, but no one can deny that these looks are anything but 80’s.  2

Starting in chronological order, let’s look at Sixteen Candles.  While Sam’s wardrobe wasn’t distinctly memorable for me, I do recall with vivid accuracy her bridesmaid confection of a dress, and pink.  Lots of pink. And of course who could forget Jake Ryan’s sweater vest, and his drunk girlfriend’s poofy sleeved lavender taffeta prom dress. jake-ryan1 Maybe I should go with this look?  Untitled-1 After Sixteen Candles, came The Breakfast Club, and dude, I can’t recall how many times I watched this movie.  Claire, and the entire crew, wore the same outfits throughout the entire movie, which not only helped highlight each character’s decisively different personalities and backgrounds, but also made each outfit stand out that much more.  Claire’s riding boots and too-sophisticated for high-school paisley wrap skirt were style personified for me, and then the dusty rose crossover blouse, gah, it was all too much to handle!  On a side note, I truly can’t express how much of an impact John Hughes’ movies had on me at the time, but perhaps this will help – in high school drama club, my group reenacted the lipstick scene from this movie.  I was Claire, and in front of my whole high school I stuck a tube of lipstick in between my tiny teeny breasts, and applied away.  breakfast-club The other pinnacle high-school drama of that decade, was of course Pretty In Pink.  The (literally) poor misfit Andie falls for the rich guy, and her fashion choices make her stick out more than that the fact that she is actually from the wrong side of the tracks.  While her style was a little out there, even for me, there were key looks that I loved, including the huge floral over sized skirt, and the many vests. tumblr_mgboyrIOt21rmq1pto1_500 Because Andie was an aspiring designer made her fashion choices all the more relevant to the movie, and the pinnacle point of the movie is when she shows up to prom, with the bolo-tie sporting Duckie on her arm, wearing the “pink” handmade recreation of  her mother’s dress, who had sadly abandoned her years prior.  pretty-in-pink-prom Let’s get a close-up of that neckline, shall we? pretty-in-pink-original And that hair! Shit that hair is fierce!  And probably my favorite look of the whole movie is this ensemble below.  Take note of the leggings and the wrestling style high-top Adidas.  My big brother, who I looked up to, was a high school wrestler at the time and had these same shoes.  I thought that was totally awesome! protectedimage After Pretty In Pink, John Hughes made Matthew Broderick famous in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and all the girls I knew added a white fringe leather jacket to their Christmas wish-list. ferris_bueller___art_gallery_by_darianknight-d2xtn5z Again with the vests, this time on a boy.  And pleated pants.  Taking notes for Art’s ensemble, because I have to dress the both of us, you know. ferris2 While we both hated and felt sorry for Ferris’ sister, I had nothing but love for the funky and quirky outfit she wore throughout the entire movie.  Over sized cardigan, suspender leggings, and more of the same high-top lace-up wresting shoes, although you can’t see them in this photo.  Shades of rose pink all around! jennifer_grey_jeanie_ferris_buellers_day_off ferris-buellers-day-off-genie-shawna Charlie Sheen is totally winning. UB-T4 One of the last films John Hughes made in the 80’s was Uncle Buck, a box office hit, but one of the more obscure teenage type movies.  Tia’s wardrobe throughout was as fierce as her glare, and her stockinged legs and short knit skirts made me long to live somewhere cold, in particular Chicago.  Uncle-Buck-john-candy-30055647-1909-1074 I was 13 when this movie came out, and probably close to 14 when I finally saw it on VHS at home.  I was experiencing all the drama and turmoil that is typical of a high school freshman, and I just remember thinking if I had her wardrobe, life would be better.  Back when you thought the right wardrobe and hair style could solve all your troubles.

The characters in these movies personify 80’s fashion and style for me, and while it’s entertaining to see a younger generation try to pull off the style of the decade, it often winds up being a silly caricature of what it actually was.  Those of us who grew up in it are often guilty of the same.  While it’s fun to exaggerate the trends of the decade, it also misrepresents what the average girl was wearing at the time, because we weren’t all walking around looking like a pop star. enhanced-buzz-13424-1338481269-17

So I’m curious, what does 80’s style mean to you, and how do you interpret it?  Is it loud and boisterous, with layers of lace and an arm full of black rubber bracelets?  Or is it a little more laid back and loose, with some big shoulder pads to top it off?

Whichever way I end up going – dressy or casual – I do know that I can probably find what I need at Forever 21.



Andrea Howe

Andrea is the founder of For The Love Of, a lifestyle blog dedicated to approachable, modern living. She writes about style, her love of DIY, and living a healthier life through wholesome, nutritious cooking. She is also a regular contributor at Babble. Get in touch: Facebook, Twitter You can find Andrea on Instagram @andreavhowe and @gwynethmademedoit

  • Jeanne says:

    Let me just say it was better to be in middle school in the 80s than working in a law firm and dressing up everyday in your 20s and 30s like I was. Big suit jackets (think David Byrne Talking Heads big)with shoulder pads, skirts that were a hideous length cutting you in the calf at the fattest part, queer pumps, cream colored nurse stockings, farah fawcett type hair and worse yet perms to achieve it,and more ugliness. . The photo of the girls in workout clothes and flashdance tops and lots of pink totally nail the gym vibe. I wore all that stuff to aerobics with my high cut leotard and tights underneath + leg warmers and high top reeboks. Thank god the next era was the opposite and we were introduced to that book series about dressing simple and chic and the era of the work “uniform” was ushered in. white Ts, jeans, navy blazers, cashmere sweaters, classic cardigans, knee length skirts, simple hair (no more “hair-dos”), etc. Here’s the sad part–people of my age spent a good junk of our best years in hideous clothing! The pictures are awful. You can look back on seeing yourself iwht your kids wearing cool clothes and looking good. We look back and see oversized jumpers, pleated clown pants, lots of gharish colors, etc. At least I had my daughter so late in life (40s)that family pics look decent. This all sounds very shallow, but you are a fashion girl, so I trust you can appreciate the rant on the 80s. And in the house it was colorful chintz, and a bunch of crap all over the place–further extension of the ugly period. . . perfect for halloween/theme party! Have fun with it.

  • Danielle says:

    Interesting post! I was born in 1980, so my style was more in the 90’s, which I feel the picture with the college girls above REALLY is.

  • […] 80′s style wasn’t all neon, remember? […]

  • Julie says:

    Ah, great post, thanks for the memories! I was born in ’72 and started college in 1990 so the 80s were all my middle and HS years! The best and worst of times! :D

  • Loryn says:

    I think I managed to wear all the worst of the 80s. I started middle school in 1986. My favorite outfit was a giant neon sweatshirt, to my knees, with the neck cut out, worn over white pedal pushers with neon flowers printed on them. I wore three pair of different colored socks, with giant LA Gear high tops with neon green laces. My favorite earrings were three hoops in pink, purple, and blue and hung to my shoulders. And to top it all off, a bright vintage silk scarf tied like a headband, with a huge bow on top that stood at least 6″ from the top of my head.

    It was interesting, to say the least. It took me well into the 90s before I figured out how to buy clothing that actually fit!

    • Jasi says:

      LA Gears were great sneakers- except you needed a packaging engineer and a seasoned sailor to properly lace those things. Put 46 hours into that dumb weave pattern with barrel knots.

  • Jasi says:

    I vaguely remember a shit ton of turtlenecks and vests, deck shoes and french cuffs stuffed into layers of Wigwams. Wayfarer sunnies. Champion sweatshirts. Liz Claiborne handbags. Umbro shorts and giant v neck tshirts. Adidas soccer shoes. (I didn’t play soccer.) Thick banded layered neon skirts. “Don’t worry, Be happy” on everything. Marbleized Z.Cavariccis. Jellies. BLAZERS. Oh the blazers. I had a black blazer with blue pinstripe lining and huuuuge shoulder pads. I was 12.

    While I still love some 80’s music, I’m okay leaving the fashion scene behind.

  • Maggie says:

    Actually, I think those college girls are dressed like CHILDREN were in the 80’s!

  • Melissa says:

    I’m 19, and when I think of the 80’s, I think of the Cosby Show. Denise inspires me. :) I loved this post.

  • Lyn says:

    I had those wrestling shoes. Oh yes I did.

  • Karina says:

    Awsome post, being 38 myself I can totally relate. I wore it all! The good and the bad, the brown and the neon, but looking back I’m glad I did, there is some great memories and looking at kids now pretending to dress like we did makes me thankful there was no social media and no cell phones with cameras then. That way the memories stay as that, just good old memories.

  • […] 80′s style wasn’t all neon, remember? […]

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