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17.3.12

1980s Shoulder Pads

Jason Donovan of Neighbours and Stock, Aitken and Waterman fame sports some very big and lovely shoulder pads. And a mullet.

Ah, shoulder pads! Ah, the 1980s! So where's the link? As if we didn't know! Studying fashion via vintage mail order catalogues and fashion shop ads in my local newspaper archive is where I began my work of learning the realities about popular clothing of various decades.

By this, I don't mean the ultra sophisticated garb of the super rich, as seen on the posh fashion show catwalks (very Jan Howard!).

No, I mean what Sharon and Gary (or you and me) were wearing down at the "local", and which pop or TV stars they (or us) had been inspired by.


So, what about those shoulder pads? Well, '80s shoulder pads actually began as a chic retro revival. They were first around in the 1930s and 1940s. 

Of course, the 1980s had bigger ones!

If you watch a TV programme from 1980, you will note the very ordinary-looking shoulders of the good folk on-screen. Shortly after this, small shoulder pads became prevalent. But, by the mid-1980s, COLOSSAL shoulder pads were everywhere. Nowadays, they make very amusing viewing.

It's tremendous fun to view several seasons of an '80s era American soap and watch those shoulders grow over the years!

Joan Collins of Dynasty fame was partly responsible, and where Dynasty flew, the rival American soaps followed as the female cast members howled for higher costume budgets and more "stylish" gear!

Shoulder pads became a required part of the power dressing image for women, and men also cottoned on to the trend. Well, those kindly pads tended to detract from a beer belly!

1940s shoulder pads had often been big. 1980s shoulder pads were usually bigger.

Sometimes absurdly so.

The era of the truly massive shoulder pad began around 1982/1983 and stretched on into the early 1990s.

Personally, I used to like them in a nice pastel linen jacket, with the sleeves pushed up.

Unashamedly an '80s fashion victim!

And why not?

The '80s are sometimes called "The Style Decade". But the trouble was the styles were often too brash, too "in your face". A lot of us were "dead common" back then. And a lot of the styles - like those oh-so-stylish shoulder pads were horrendously OTT!

Fun, though...

Kate (Susan St James) of the American sit com Kate And Allie wears very clearly defined and MASSIVE shoulder pads. Very smart indeed!

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