Michaella Antony, Contributor
Ah yes, the 80s. Most notable for stereotypical aerobics instructor Halloween outfits, “big” (we all know it was just frizzy) hair, and shoulder pads. It is the decade known for launching a thousand neon spandex clad ships and a time that, to the gratitude of our parents, wasn’t over documented on social media. Always remember: the higher the hair/shoulder pads, the closer to Jesus.
This past Wednesday I was fortunate enough to attend the “Focus: Perfection – Robert Mapplethorpe” exhibit hosted by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. To get attendees into the 80s and Mapplethorpe spirit, the museum was offering a free drink to anyone bold enough to revive a trend from the 80s. I promptly stationed myself near the entrance to get the best outfit views. My overly optimistic mindset dwindled as museum-goers poured in. A total of zero people arrived dressed up in the first hour and a half. With anxiety creeping in, my mind began to race. How would I be able to write an article if no one came dressed up? Was that woman’s hair intentionally “80s big” or the result of a long and hard day? After waiting patiently for an hour and a half I noticed, to my excitement, people were finally arriving in “costume.”
Key highlights included: a puffy sleeve blouse over a black dress and a high ponytail slightly off to the side; a white frilly tutu with black liquid leggings; a denim vest, t shirt, cuffed jeans, and Converse; a leather jacket, greased up hair, and tight jeans. However, my personal favorite look featured self fashioned braces – this in itself should have guaranteed them two free drinks – glasses, massive hair, a band t-shirt, pins on jacket lapels, blue leather boots, and layers of pearls. The outfit was a masterpiece that rivaled the Mapplethorpe works inside.
These were the stereotypical outfits I was here for. The ghosts of bad fashion choices past, championing what it was like to live in a world where you had to pull the antenna out of the cell phone to get a signal. They were here to remind us that yes, people dressed like this, and yes, it was widely accepted. It’s funny to think that one day our trends could be considered “bad” fashion choices.
But fashion is always changing and definitely follows cyclical patterns. Therefore, even “every day garb” can be influenced by the era of tinted neon spandex. While I was waiting for my knight in shining shoulder padded armour, others styled subtle, nuanced pieces of the 80s. For example: leather jackets were central to the punk subculture that flourished in the 80s and are now everywhere again. This also applies to the football casual style (varsity bomber), preppy accessories trends (Gucci loafer appreciation moment) and skater chic (literally every guy at TRH bar). Take a minute and appreciate how we can look back. We can see how far we’ve come, and maybe where we will be going in this crazy, “hot one minute, not the next” world called “fashion.”