Let’s say you’re coming up with costumes for your new film set in the 1980s. What will your characters wear? If all you’re going by are hot takes on the Internet, it’ll be a lot of leg warmers, jackets with shoulder pads, and garish, graphical shirts in neon colors. And every teenager dressed like Duckie from Sixteen Candles or Pat Benatar from her Love is a Battlefield video (shudder). Because as everyone knows, the 1980s were a wasteland for taste.
Except, that’s not true. For one, regular people didn’t dress as casually wacky as characters on TV or music videos. Yes, leg warmers and shoulder pads were a thing — but the 1980s was actually a dynamic and creative moment in fashion. In fact, the looks and trends of the 1980s continue to influence our fashion today. As Vogue points out, even a silly TV show like Saved by the Bell, which is a prime example of apparently terrible 1980s fashion, was ahead of its time in terms of trends.
And as The New York Times points out, like it or not, many of the signature 1980s fashion notes are now influencing designers around the world. Even big shoulders, long considered a classic 1980s faux pas, have become a signal of elevated design taste. It’s time to stop assuming the 1980s were a crisis of mall fashion and admit that plenty of timeless design was created in that decade.