Tuesday, June 10, 2014

6 Trends from the 80s That Should STAY DEAD

I have a terrible confession to make, Fashionable Reader. Terrible.

I embraced late 80's fashion.

What can I say? I was in junior high. It's what you do with fashion in junior high, believe that trendy = good. Little 11 year old me wasn't able to make a distinction between popular and stylish. I remember 80s trends that others seem to have forgotten (or were indigenous only to my corner of North America). There were those plastic charm necklaces, thick chain made of neon plastic onto which one clipped other neon plastic charms. Or stacking bracelets, the little thin anodize metal ones, I collected hundreds of them, stored them in tennis ball tubes, and would wear them all the way up one arm. Or sparkle jellies for beach wading.

Plastic charms

I realized recently that there are things I forgive the 80s and that I am, if not happy, at least indifferent to see return ~ shoulder pads in a more 1940's moderation, I don't mind. Not for me, but OK for others. Sweatshirts off the shoulder? Meh. The occasional crop top? I'm to old but let the young people have their fun. Color blocking can even be nice. Faded jeans? If you must. Even art prints when done more graphically are fine with me. And, frankly, I never gave up my love of studded leather, even studded white leather. (I know, I know.)

But there are 80s trends I remember with such disgust that I cannot accept their return. I just can't. It makes me sad in my soul to see them turn up again in NY or London or Paris. And I vow, here and now, that I myself will never revisit them.

"Our American ladies derive all their ideas of costume from France; and as New York rejoices in the most extensive and the most speedy intercourse with that land of taste and elegance, the French fashions always get there first."
~ The Ladies' Guide to True Politeness and Perfect Manners or, Miss Leslie's Behaviour Book by Eliza Leslie (American 1864) 

1. Mom Jeans

 In fashion: $70 Urban Outfitters 2014; 90210 in 1993

 Street style: Miley Cyrus in 2012; Street shot 1987 or so

Extra negative points if jeans are pleated in any way. Ever.

2. Leg Warmer Socks

3. Acid Wash Jean

vintage acid was jeans
Now, still not good.

4. Oversized T-shirts or Sweatshirts/Sweaters with Leggings

OK so this is more early 90s, but I conflate the late 80s early 90s because that was my age bracket for embracing this kind of thing. Mid high school I started into my goth phase, began thrifting and discovering vintage, became loyal to men's jeans (Levi's 515s) and gave up following trends to forge my own way. My window for being trendy was about 4 years – formative years, but brief. And it included the early 90s. Not yet grunge, but the beginning.

5. Camouflage


6. Little Socks with Heels or Sandals

Those are my particualr picks. How about you, fashionable reader? Anything that still makes you wince when you see it return to haunt us?

"It is true that women of enlarged minds, and really good taste, do not think it necessary to follow closely all the changes and follies of fashion, and to wear things that are inconvenient, uncomfortable, and unbecoming, merely because milliners, dress-makers, &c. have pronounced them "the last new style."
~ The Ladies' Guide to True Politeness and Perfect Manners or, Miss Leslie's Behaviour Book
by Eliza Leslie (1864) 

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.


  1. Rompers need to die. I fully admit being biased because I am too tall to fit into them, but seriously. Rompers need to die.

  2. I don't think I quite get the definition of "mom jeans" and as I am now mom-aged, I worry that my preference for straight legs over skinnies (which I do also wear) and boot cut (which I do not), and a mid-rise over low rise, puts me in that territory. In the original SNL skit, they showed those elastic waisted jeans that my mom's been wearing since the 80s (though since she is now now *in her* 80s, everything she does has become adorable), that made one's tummy and one's rear look the same size . . . I am filled with fear. Luckily there is a world of dresses and skirts to be worn instead . . .

  3. Maybe it's because I married a marine but I'm of the belief that you have to earn the right to wear camouflage, and when you're done put it away.

    Does anyone else remember Rocky Mountain Jeans? *shudder*

    Neon, is another that should never return and those sweatshirts that changed color when you sweated. Ew!

  4. I haven't thought of those plastic charms since I wore them! The pegged jeans, double layered slouchy socks with white LA Gear shoes, and the giant hairsprayed bangs. I haven't seen them on the runways, but if I do I'm done.

  5. I don't see what's so wrong with "mom jeans." It just means they have a waist that actually comes up to the waist and they sure are preferable to low riders.

    As long as they don't bring back Aquanet.

  6. Overalls . I do not miss them at all, despite having worn them in the 70's and 80's. And now they are coming back to be worn with high heels? No, I say no!

    1. Yes! No overalls. Ever. They only look good on toddlers, and even then it is a stretch.

    2. i had a bunch of those plastic charms. i don't think i actually wore them though.
      and i had a couple pairs of those jelly shoes (none of the sparkle ones though) i think jelly shoes made a come-back a couple of years ago.

      i also had a bunch of jelly bracelets (back before they had a different meaning) & the thing to do in my grade school was to make them into a chain & wear it like a necklace or belt.

  7. I think that you and I are of the same age, because I'm conflating late 80s-early 90s as well, but...Hammer pants. Never. Again.

    I mean, there's nothing wrong with wearing this stuff as kids. When you're that age, you're still sorting out your own style. You're going to make mistakes. (I did love jellies, though.)

  8. I was in a store last year and walked past the junior department--wow, they had all these cute clothes! I was excitedly flipping through the racks when I heard a mother and daughter talking.

    Teen said to her mom, "Ugh, I hate the clothes this year! They're like the stuff in the back of your closet that you bring out for date nights with Dad. Totally 80s."

    I paused and realized the very sweater I had my hand on was one that could have appeared in my high school yearbook photo. That's why I was so attracted to it--those pesky formative years.

    I backed away slowly and only allowed myself one longing glance.

  9. 70s colors were the worst. And the prints.

    I do miss long India-print dresses and bare feet. 18. All girls are beautiful at 18.


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