If the '80s left us anything, it was a melange of bad fashion that made us all wonder what we were thinking. Crimped hair. Lace gloves. Blue eye makeup. I wish I could say that we've never revisited the clothing atrocities of that era, but lately, some nuts have put on the leggings, leg warmers, and off-the-shoulder tops. Crazy kids! Many of us, however, still consider the '80s to be a decade of bad taste and temporary, wide-spread insanity.
That being said, the mistakes of the '80s also hold a heck of a lot of nostalgia. We love replicating those times at Halloween, and we talk fondly, if not embarrassingly, about our fashion forays. Many of the decade's disasters came from music and videos, but cinema also added its two cents (especially in 1985), whipping up its own fashion frenzies and regrettable outfits. With the Flashdance Collector's Edition DVD out today, here's a list of cinematic trendsetters that helped feed the fires of bad fashion.
Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985)
One of the big trendsetting characters of the eighties was, believe it or not, Helen Hunt. As Lynne Stone, she taught young girls everywhere about the splendor of hair spray, and even more importantly -- Velcro. By day, she was the rabble-rousing student at the local Catholic girls' school. But once the bell rang, the rip of Velcro would echo, and Lynne would turn her uniform inside-out to reveal sleeveless shirts, vests, and black leather miniskirts. Man, I was so jealous of her. She might have been an absolute fashion train wreck, but she was oh, so cool.
Risky Business (1983)
Most fashion trends strike the hearts of young girls, but once in a while, the guys get their shot. While this isn't a fashion trend to wear on the street, young boys everywhere stripped down to their tighty whities, threw on a long, button-down shirt, and sung about the old time rock 'n' roll. Lip-synching contests everywhere had boys mimicking Tom Cruise -- if only they knew where the path would lead them -- couch jumping, platform shoes, and Scientological craziness.
Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)
No one impacted the closets of girls everywhere like Madonna, and with her starring role in Desperately Seeking Susan, she further spread her fashion influence. As Susan, she ran around in her infamous lace gloves, teased, root-showing hair, bows, black rolled pants, and lace bustiers. Older girls mimicked her for real, and younger girls tried to recreate her during playtime and for Halloween.
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Where other films influenced girls to put together the looks of their actresses, Dirty Dancing did it for them. For a short time, youngins didn't have to try to recreate their beloved character's outfits with a small fraction of the original budget. I'll never forget the time I walked into K-Mart and saw a whole movie fashion line full of jean shorts and retro fashions. Gals might not have had the Johnny Castle to lift them towards the sky, but at least they could look like Baby.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Molly Ringwald can't be left out of '80s fashion, but instead of reveling in Pretty in Pink, I've picked The Breakfast Club for it's multiple fashion impacts. Beyond Ringwald, there is of course, the worst makeover ever with Ally Sheedy, and then the one bit of fashion that became an act of epic love -- subverting the normal customs of men giving women jewelry. When Clare hands Bender one of her diamond earrings, lone studs became more than just a stereotypical indicator of sexuality, they became a symbol of hot, teenage lurve.
Way before Jennifer Beals delighted in the many L words, she was a welding dancer. Grey sweats became sexy if they hung off the shoulder, holey jeans became girly, and, of course, black leotards and leg-warmers that were pulled over the heel became all the rage. While I'm not sure how many female welders came out of the wake of Flashdance, Alex Owen's wardrobe did influence closets everywhere, and films yet to come.
She's Out of Control (1989)
The era was almost over, and the '80s fads were getting ready to make way for the plaid flannel of grunge, but as a last hurrah, there was Ami Dolenz. At the start, she was a nerdy girl with bottle glasses and braces, who donned leggings and tried her best to channel Flashdance. But with the help of her father's girlfriend, she shed the awkward and made herself the object of teen affection and a model for young-girl fashion. When she walked down those stairs, transformed, I know I wasn't the only one wondering where I could get thigh-high tights and short skirts.