During the summer I received an invite from my friend Tracy inviting my husband and I to her 50th birthday party. It was to be a “Back to the 80s” fancy dress party, to boot. Normally, I’m not a big fan of dressing up but it sounded really fun to relive memories of being a teenager in the 1980s. In 1981, I was 16 and pretty shy but by 1984 I had embraced the 1980s with fervour – I loved the big hair, the bright colours and the sexiness of the decade – and then by 1988, I swapped my blonde spiky big hair for a brunette perm and shiny tracksuits … (that part was a blip!) Make up was just as bright – and plenty of black eyeliner! I needed to get some ideas on what to wear for the party. First of all I looked at Amazon – the fancy dress outfits were mainly leg warmers, leotards and from the Flashdance film era; with a splattering of early Madonna outfits. They were very nice but wasn’t what I had once worn, so I decided to look back at some old photos to see if I could recreate my old looks.
1981 – My old bus pass aged 16! I was wearing a long black leather coat (my first purchase with my first wage packet!) and a black & gold glitter jumper.
1982 – I used to wear a lot of red and matched my outfits with red lipstick, red earrings, red handbag & red shoes! My hair was in the style of Lady Diana.
1984 – This was me aged 19 on a night out. The shirt was one of my favourites. I was wearing a faux black leather pencil knee length skirt.
1989 – perm! I kept this style until 1997 when I then had my hair cut short.
I remembered I used to love the strapless peplum dresses on a night out; my denim jacket used to take pride of place alongside my leather jacket; and if I was going to the local disco – my shiny black satin tight trousers with a yellow lace body and a yellow & black kimono style shirt; a winter’s date in the pub – fuchsia pink knitted dress with fishnets and high leg boots; or a rib knit purple maxi skirt with matching cardigan teamed with a fuchsia pink satin blouse….
In my wardrobe, I found my original denim jacket and a black string vest ….
Looking in my Bon Prix catalogue, I realised that a lot of the 1980s style were making a comeback – I found white slouchy boots, sling back shoes…
I found stirrup pants (used to be known then as ski pants); jeans with piping down the sides (I used to have a khaki pair with red piping); fishnets (haven’t really faded from the fashion scene); tight satin disco trousers and black faux leather skirts.
It was harder to recreate the make up but, not impossible. Having a pale matt foundation was no problem but I had to forego the subtle contouring or hint of blush that I favour today – in the 1980s blush was loud and proud! In 2017 I like a pale or nude lip gloss; me in 1984 favoured red or burgundy – it was really strange to wear such a bright colour. Even more embarrassing was that I found at the bottom of my make up drawer my original Charlie red lipstick….
When it came to my husband – he said he used to wear a rock band t shirt and jeans… not much different to today’s attire. He decided to join in the fun and become an iconic favourite of his in the 1980s – Axl Rose of Guns n Roses. He managed to get hold of a kilt, wig and bandana from Amazon.
In the end I got my outfit: blonde rockers wig (from Amazon); denim jacket; 80s red/black/white strapless satin dress from Envy Boutique; black fishnet faux stockings; black slingback shoes from Bon Prix.
The party was a big success… there were Baywatch star lookalikes, early Madonnas, Flashdancers, and even Slash from Guns n Roses too. We drank pimped up prosecco but I somehow thought babycham would have been great if it was still around…. then guess what I found on my supermarket shelf the other day….
What would you wear to an 80s party? Can you remember any favourite outfits from that era? Do share your stories …
All photographs are by Linda Hobden