ode to the 80s

If you’ve read about me, you’ll have gotten at least the general impression that I like the 80s.

In truth, it would not be inaccurate to say that, as an aesthetic and musical phenomenon, I love the 80s.

Hm. Here is one Halloween (long ago!) as an 80s aerobics instructor, which has been to date the greatest dancing outfit ever. Fear not, there were leg warmers.


149101_773255048521_7798540_nActually I think I was too conservative in some of my choices here. Loving the big eyebrows, though.

A girlfriend going to an 80s party asked me recently, “What were the 80s, exactly?”

To which I replied something along the lines of, “I’m so glad you asked…”

The Vietnam war is over, the tense political and economic atmosphere has dissipated somewhat, especially for the generation that grew up in its shadow and perhaps never fully understood or engaged in the war. The economy is looking better, Wall Street suits begin to make more money than they can spend, the dollar is strong. Racism is still an issue (obviously, still is) but much improved from the 70s, and there is a lot more cultural exchange. Feminism also an issue (also obviously, and still) but these are the daughters and granddaughters of the revolutionaries of the 60s, often raised by feminists, gifted more confidence and more opportunities. The children have come of age, they have disposable income, they want color and they want to have fun, just like Cyndi Lauper says. Really, they want to dance.

The 80s are all about being too much. Too loud, too bright, over the top. Garish, tacky. Fun. They are a big eye AND a big lip. And too much blush. Big earrings AND a big necklace. And all the bracelets you own. Accessories are key.

Bright prints mixed with bright solids, bright prints mixed with other bright prints. Garish prints. Geometric prints. Clothes are either really tight or over-sized, or a combination of both. The off-the-shoulder sweatshirt à la Flashdance. Bright leggings. Crop tops. Shoulder pads.

The miniskirt is born. Neon as a fashion option is born. Hip hop is the new thing. Wedding and prom dresses have never been so big and so festooned, and are likely never to be so big again. Madonna is queen, Michael Jackson is king (with David Bowie, that pioneer, still a strong influence). MTV rules over all.

Big, curly hair, side ponytails, crimpled hair. Ostentatious hair accessories. The scrunchie. High tops, leg warmers. Jane Fonda’s workout video is all the rage. Everybody loves music. Sunglasses acceptable at all hours of the day. People dress to make a statement, to be seen. Everything is like a parody of itself, a cartoon.

Nothing is too much.

73742_773258955691_7506927_nWhat’s not to love?