Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I wish I'd known then...

What I know now about fashion. Man, the 80's were an interesting time in fashion. And since during that decade my parents had a clothing store and I ended up attending a fashion college, I feel like I can speak on this subject.

First, the trends:

The 80's were an exercise in excess and inconsistencies. Super short miniskirts worn with leggings or leg warmers. Religious jewelry draped over corsets and lingerie. Members Only jackets worn by everyone. Fingerless gloves. Giant shoulder pads, massive earrings, oversized tops and big belts. Parachute pants, either skin tight ala Miami Vice or actual parachute-sized ala MC Hammer. There was too much hair, too much make-up, too much jewelry...and that went for both sexes.

Then there were Units. Anyone remember this stellar attempt at fashion? I believe the line consisted of about 6 - 8 main pieces which could supposedly be combined in 100's of ways to make different outfits. Great idea, I guess, but not everyone can wear the same stretchy circle of fabric as a belt, miniskirt, tube top. In fact, we really don't want everyone to.

Having lived through that decade, I'd like to offer you some fashion advice that will carry you through the years:

1. If you don't love it, don't buy it. I don't care if it's on sale for $6.99 down from $75, if a piece of clothing doesn't look good on you, it's not a bargain. All you're doing by purchasing that crap is clogging up your closet with stuff you won't wear and wasting money that could go toward something really nice.

2. Spend big on classics, little on trends. Everyone likes to have the latest thing, and that's fine, just don't blow your budget there or next year, you're going to look last year. Instead, put your money into the stuff that lasts. Classic, tailored pieces like trousers and skirts in neutral colors, good jeans, a crisp white shirt, a little black dress, good black heels. Spend the most you can afford on those things because they will be around forever. Accessorize with the trends and you won't feel so bad ditching them five minutes later when they're no longer hot.

3. Less is more. Buy two $50 shirts instead of 10 for $10. The $50 shirts will be with you long after the $10 shirts have fallen apart in the wash, faded, pilled and started to unravel.

4. Neutrals are anything but. Pick a neutral you love (navy, black, brown, gray) and build from there. One of my favorite outfits is a little black dress with a leopard jacket. A neutral with a pop of color or pattern works every time.

5. Rule of Three. Stick to the rule of three when dressing and accessorizing and you'll never look over done. Take the little black dress and leopard jacket. That jacket is 1, then I add a pair of leopard mules - that's 2, then a leopard ring, that's 3. More leopard than that would be overkill. Apply that rule to evening wear: cocktail dress with (1) sparkly shoes, (2) shoulder-duster earrings and (3) a gold evening bag. You're done! Adding anything else would detract from the pieces you're already wearing.

Now, go forth and shop!


  1. How bad is it to admit that Dh has his Members Only wool jacket in the back of the closet?

  2. I still wear leg warmers. Of course, never outside of ballet class. LOL!

    Great fashion advice, Kristen!

  3. Ooooooh nice! Thanks for the advice.

    Ah, the 80's--what a fun flashback that was...LOL!

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  5. Fashion advice to live by!

    Love pairing the little black dress with color and leopard print. Just not at the same time. :)

  6. Ugh. When I think about that fluorescent yellow shaker knit sweater...ugh, can I stop now?

    I agree with everything you said. And even if it is "the thing" or "the color", if it makes you look like you have the flu, don't buy it.

  7. Jelly shoes. And obnoxious blazers, which we wore with the sleeves scrunched and the collar up.

    I also tinted my hair flourescent magenta... with beet juice.

    So I looked like an idiot and smelled like salad.

  8. I was watching a bunch of videos from 1984 the other day, and it reinforced two things I've always believed:

    1) new wave fashion was much more flattering to guys than to girls (including the hair); and

    2) 80's girls didn't have to dress "sexy" or show a lot of skin (or figure) to be in fashion. (So, unflattering though a lot of it was, I think it has its good points.)

    Oh, and one more thing: we might think a lot of 80's fashion was ugly, but it was a lot of fun to wear... On the other hand, look at what a lot of teens wear now, and it kind of all looks the same...

    (Hey, is my bias showing???) ;-)


  9. I had a few pairs of parachute pants myself.

  10. Oooh, jellies! I loved my jellies literally to pieces, even though the cut the heck out of my feet. I believe it was the first time I heard the expression "Beauty knows no pain" from my mother, as she shook her head in wonderment at my dogged insistence on wearing foot-damaging shoes.

  11. okay, I loved Units. there. I said it. They were like wearing fashionable sweats! Seriously, I rocked the Unit outfits I had. 2 pair of pants, 2 different shirts (one that hung off the shoulder...) and the tube belt that I wore as a skirt more often than not (much to my mother's chagrin) I rocked Units. Maybe I should start a Units revival? ok. maybe not.

  12. Who mentioned the fluorescent yellow top??? The season of Project Runway... can't remember which... with the Italian accented designer named Louisa (Oh, it was Project Catwalk from the UK, now that I think about it) anyway... they had a challenge to do make-overs for each other and someone put poor Louisa in a long yellow dress/top with black leggings. And I had THAT EXACT OUTFIT in the 80's. Sad times. Sad times.

  13. I wore that stupid fluorescent yellow sweater all the time. Ugh. Even my friends hated it.