The 1980’s was a mixed decade for fashion, the early part of the decade was a difficult economic period and led to low cost imaginative street styling led by students. As the decade progressed and by the mid eighties the economy was more buoyant the financial capitals of the world noticed a surge of interest in designer labels, shoes, bags and jewellery. Designers like Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Donna Karan led the way. Hip hop music and the night club scene began the passion for all things bling including watches, gold chains, medallions and rings. Sportswear became fashionable club wear with leading brands like Nike trainers and track suits becoming the latest must have items. Denim was fashioned into every kind of garment and the eighties saw the start of the designer jean creation led by Calvin Klein.
Menswear influenced much of women’s styling during the period with oversized wide shouldered suit jackets, belted in waists and peg topped trousers worn with brogues or flat lace up Dr Martens. Men’s shirts with fat and long ties. Hats were often berets or flat caps. Androgynous looking women with short cropped hair like Annie Lennox and Grace Jones became fashion icons. Armani’s mastery of soft tailoring perfectly suited this women’s styling of the period and he became a major force in the world of fashion. Betty Jackson also led the way with her use of riotous colours and tartan. Wide cinch belts creating a curvaceous silhouette came back into fashion.
The television programme Dynasty promoted the power suit consisting of a fitted tailored jacket worn over a neat knee length skirt. A number of designers became famous for creating this look including Thierry Mugler’s, New York designers husband and wife team Richard Tyler and Lisa Trafficante and by the late eighties Christian Dior and Bruce Oldfield were producing their own versions. Dynasty was also partially to blame for women with big hair, heavy make up, glittering sequinned suits and opulent evening gowns and of course shoulder pads.
Music had its influence on fashion in the eighties as Punk was replaced by the New Romantics with bands like Visage led by Steve Strange. It gave the followers of this new music an opportunity to escape the economic realities of Britain in recession. Male New Romantics often dressed in almost what would be described as a Dandy style often wearing cosmetics and caricaturally androgynous outfits.