Oh, the 1980s. Some of us at YKYLF remember them quite well and haven’t quite let that bodacious decade fade. Thanks to Netflix, my television is currently stuck in a serious 80s loop and the fashions I spy are absolutely scintillating! The sequins, the colours, unabashed use of pleats — those years look like they were designed by Vanna White and the drag queen cast of “A Chorus Line”.
Since many YKYLFers adore the 1980s, I figured it was time we paid tribute to some of the most choice (and bogus) examples of television fashion from that excessive, flashy era.
1. The Facts of Life
Blair. Jo. Natalie. Tootie. Probably the only girls who made sharing a room between 4 people look remotely attractive. Seriously, how many plot twists did they come up with to keep those kids together? Sneaking into a bar underage? Beating up a cop? Starting a gourmet food shop *and* a fashion boutique?
NOTE: all of these actually happened. While the girls learned many, many facts of life (which apparently meant never seeing your parents again), they did so looking totally radical.
Honestly, who didn’t want to be friends with them? Or Mrs. Garrett, who may I add, was no stranger to the trends of the 80s herself. Sure, the hair stayed the same from start to finish, but that salty old broad knew how to work a garment.
2. Family Ties
What happens when hippie parents raise a tubular material girl and a Reganomics loving son? Oh, right, they had a third kid. Um… and a fairly agreeable tomboy who had a few good one-liners each season? Yes, you have The Keatons — America’s favourite debate between counterculture and materialism. Also, it introduced us to Michael J. Fox, who fully lived up to his surname back in those days.
Looks like The Keatons also held a torch for fashion along with their morals and values. Mallory and Jennifer are serving some *serious* 1980s realness with those coifs. Especially Jennifer, what with the teased out, sprayed down, nest of bangs resting on her forehead. Elyse is keeping it simple, but you know they got it from their mama. Steven and Alex P. look quite at odds with dad in plaid, and son in… well, does anything rhyme with flecked business suit? Andrew, the youngest Keaton, looks like a Cabbage Patch Kid. I wasn’t a fan of his.
3. 21 Jump Street
Perhaps the originator of the “very special episode” format, although they weren’t quite as preachy as Blossom. This lil’ show brought us Johnny Depp and Holly Robinson Peete (before the Peete), along with that clydesdale of a man, Richard Greico as Detective Dennis Booker. I’m sure most of you have seen the updated movie with Channing Tatum, but let me ask you this: could he have rocked an acid-washed denim vest and Harley Davidson bandanna better than Depp? I think not.
This crew nailed the bad boy/girl look of the 1980s every week. The boys are living in their oversized dress shirts, biker leather, shit kicking boots, and lets never forget Johnny’s ripped jeans. Holly Robinson, aka Sergeant Judy Hoffs, was the epitome of sleek and chic. With her mini skirts, lacey tops and ankle boots, girl knew how throw down with the boys. Bonus points for the female flat top – very Grace Jones.
I mean, how do you pick one and not the other? If you mention the words “primetime” and “soap” together, I guarantee anyone over the age of 25 will instantly think of these shows. I can thank Dynasty and Dallas for my penchant of settling all my fights in water fountains or pools, as well as my quiet acceptance of shoulder pads. Some of the gowns looked like they were made of foil, but on top of the make-up and hair, you just accepted it for what it was.
Both soaps revolved around oil-rich families from the west, though Dynasty always seemed a little more high fashion than their Texan counterparts. However, you have to give credit to the cast of Dallas for introducing country swag to the world before “swag” was even a thing. Hands up if you’ve ever sat around with your friends and a box of wine on a Saturday night YouTubing Dynasty cat fights – anyone? For the record, I’m Team Alexis, always and forever.
5. Designing Women
Oh yes, I couldn’t forget my Southern belles. The tales of Sugarbakers and Associates has instilled in me a need to visit Atlanta in my lifetime. I hear there are other fabulous things there, but I just want to be in the city where Julia, Suzanne, Charlene (pronounced with a hard “ch” and not a soft “sh”), and of course, Mary Jo, made their mark as the most fashionable and sophisticated ladies of Atlanta.
Julia looked like she always draped in something elegant, while Mary Jo and Charlene kept it simple for most occasions. Suzanne, a former Miss Georgia World, never failed to delivery Pageant Realness, whether she was going to the Piggly Wiggly or attending an awards ceremony. Those stories of gay bars in the 80s playing the audio tracks of Julia’s “Terminator” speeches? They’re true. I’ve asked. Damn, those were glorious years.
Honourable Mention: The Golden Girls
Oh right, like I was going to leave Dorothy, Rose, Sophia and Blanche out of this! I wanted to place them on the list, but I couldn’t for two reasons:
1. The Golden Girls are so damn fabulous they don’t need to confined to a list
2. They’re always at the top for me, no matter what anyone says
Plus, they’re one of the few television shows I know of that’s repeated wardrobe through multiple seasons, as if the characters were real people! I leave this photo without comment because if you’ve seen me at a drag show, or follow me on Twitter, you know exactly what I think of their style.