For years, fashion has nursed a fascination with the grunge of the ’90s and the retro glamour of the ’70s. So it should come as no surprise that the next “it” decade is perfectly sandwiched between those two. That’s right, the ’80s are back, whether you’re ready or not (or even if you haven’t fully recovered from the last ’80s revival).
Designers from Balmain to Saint Laurent have fully embraced the ’80s aesthetic — but thankfully, today’s approach is a little more laid-back than in the past. You don’t need teased hair or major makeup to rock these looks — in fact, part of the fun is subverting big-’80s glamor with understated beauty, or mixing, say, a sequin dress with sneakers. Thanks to our generation’s knack for mixing high and low, you can fully embrace the trends below without looking overdone — that curse of the 1980s.
Scroll on to see how some of the biggest ’80s trends have changed — and which ones are just as over the top now as they were back then.
Thanks to shoulder pads, puffed sleeves, and oversized silhouettes, it was hard to not wear a shoulder-centric look during the Reagan era. Today, the look is easiest to find in thrift stores, but that’s changing quickly. Shoulders got a little extra attention on the runway this season (maybe as a reaction to all the off-shoulder tops this summer). Rodarte added ruffles on top of a leg-of-mutton sleeve for an all-out approach, while Giambattista Valli focused on volume, and Gucci added a ruffle wherever possible. Wear yours with an attitude worthy of Alexis Colby.
Belts are to the ’80s as shoes are to millennials … or so I’m led to believe based on my mother’s extensive collection from the ’80s. Beaded, sequined, made of coins — name any type of waist cincher, and my mom owned it. And it looks like this trend is making a comeback: Balenciaga and Balmain finished many recent runway looks with a cummerbund-sized belt, while other designers kept it a little subtler. Since this look is relatively new to our generation, experiment! Belts on coats are an easy way to start off, and before you know it you’ll have a collection to rival any Dynasty fan.
Door knocker earrings
The minimal jewelry trend has been fun, but who else is tired of trying to find grain-sized studs in the fur of their sheepskin rug? That’s one reason we love the door knocker earring revival. In the ’80s, no B-girl’s outfit was complete without a big gold pair (even better with a bamboo motif), but today’s door knockers are a little more experimental and abstract than your mother’s. Look for sleek, minimalist, oversized hoops, and don’t be afraid to try silver as well as classic gold. You can also try them mismatched — wear a single oversized earring, and give the other lobe the night off with a single stud.
Think ’80s Cher in an outrageously spangled, cutout Bob Mackie gown. That’s what came to mind when Nicolas Ghesquiere’s spring collection for Louis Vuitton wiggled down the runway, sparkling thanks to an all-over application of glitter and beaded crystals. The difference is all in the accessories and the attitude. When Cher wore this look, it was a look thanks to the accompanying headdress, matching jewelry, and heavy smoky eye. The Vuitton ladies wore it with leather boots, negative eyeliner, and a blasé attitude.“NBD, guys, it’s just a sparkly, see-through gown with cutouts.” Easy, right?
The asymmetrical, one-sleeved dress look was so huge in the ’80s, even demure Princess Diana rocked it on more than one occasion. Today, it’s back in more or less the same form — only with less makeup and hairspray. Gucci’s structured ruffles in cobalt blue, Saint Laurent’s gold lamé polka dots … these may have walked the runway in 2016, but they’d be equally at home at the prom circa 1987.
Tights with sneakers
The decade ruled by power suits and pantyhose also saw the explosion in popularity of a new workout phenomenon known as “jogging.” The cardio boom of the ’80s ushered in a mania for sneakers, which were combined with scrunchy socks in every color and bright tights. Today, Céline is sending models in black or red tights and white sneakers sauntering down the runway, and suddenly, the look is new again.
The puffer vest
In Back to the Future, everyone in the 1950s mistook Marty McFly’s puffer vest for a sailor’s life preserver — a running joke that highlighted how the ’80s took casual wear to then unheard-of levels. That trend has only continued into 2016 with athleisure and wearing sneakers with literally everything. Most recently, high-end designers like Balenciaga have become obsessed with the puffer vest, showing the utilitarian garment in every possible shape and color.