Subtlety Not Included: a glimpse at 80s film fashions…

It’s natural at this time of year to make resolutions, and to look back over the previous year. To be honest, though – and despite the many lovely folks I’ve met in the blogging world – I’m glad that 2010 is over. I have no real desire to glance back wistfully over such a tough year. No, if nostalgia is the game, then I’m playing it properly…

I have a ridiculous collection of naff-yet-brilliant 80s films, and they are an endless source of comfort and amusement to me. What heart can’t be warmed by the sentiment and swingy soundtrack of Batteries Not Included? Hands up those who wanted to be part of the Breakfast Club! And who fantasised about running off with the Goblin King of Labyrinth (I hope it wasn’t just me…)? Of course, our favourite childhood films don’t always hold up to the scrutiny of our adult selves, and it’s a bonus if you find something else to appreciate about them in later life (watching Tom Selleck discover his paternal side in Three Men and a Baby tugs on the heartstrings of broody ol’ me). Rewatching many of my old faves over the holidays, I decided I had to share some of the fashions with you – forgive the screen-grab quality. Amazingly, there isn’t a legwarmer in sight… 

First up – the film that started it all…Uncle Buck. I couldn’t keep this frankly astounding outfit from you...


Not enough people team their champagne satin blouses with mock-croc skirt/waistcoat combos, in my opinion. What’s that you said? “Please can we have a close up of that headband, Mrs B?” Go on then…

Phew – glad she added the fur coat. It was missing something…

The 80s’ fascination with hair continued unabated in my viewing marathon, varying from the subtle, as demonstrated by a younger SJP’s purple streak in Flight of the Navigator


…to this bizarre offering from Pretty in Pink:


In case you’re wondering: yes, her hair IS long at the back.

In Overboard, Goldie Hawn managed to combine a scary ‘do with terrifying epaulettes:

I’m a benevolent woman, so will spare you images of the infamous thong swimsuit.

But it wasn’t all about the hair, oh no. Silly hats also got a look-in (thanks, Kim Basinger):


My Stepmother is an Alien

And have you seen Troop Beverly Hills? If not, you really must – Shelley Long is wonderful as the fashion-obsessed but kind-hearted Wilderness Girls group leader (incidentally, the girl who played her daughter grew up to be Jenny Lewis of Watson Twins fame. Album highly recommended):

Only the tip of the iceberg – get thee on Amazon, forthwith!

Daryl Hannah did better than most, managing to look lovely in Roxanne despite all the sleeveless denim jackets and lumberjack shirts in other scenes…

It wouldn’t be an 80s film fest without a bit of Molly Ringwald, so I’ll stick this in just so you can reiterate your cries of, “Molly, what did you do with that dress?!”

Pretty in Pink
Finally, a few inevitable shots of Mannequin – just because I love Kim Cattrall, and think we’re missing a bit of luxuriousness:

And you’ve still got it, Kim.

Which era of films do you like to look back on? 
And which have the most outrageous fashions?!




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32 thoughts on “Subtlety Not Included: a glimpse at 80s film fashions…

  1. Brilliant post, Mrs B! I’m not a huge 1980’s fashion fan but those film stills sure took me back to my youth. I loved Pretty In Pink.
    Me, I’m more of a early 1970’s fan. The BBC’s Good Life night had me in a state of ecstacy over Margo’s frocks. xxx
    PS A bar boot sale? How fabulous! My taste’s dodgy enough, I can only imagine the madness I’d be buying if there was alcohol involved. x

    • Oh, I’m with you on Margo’s frocks, Vix. They rely on a far more statuesque figure than mine though, unfortunately… I can’t say I’m awash with admiration for 80s fashion myself after watching this little selection – but you can’t deny the entertainment value!

      I have made some – cough – interesting sartorial choices after a cocktail or two…

  2. For most of the 80’s I wore my hair in a waist length braid…and was totally unpersuaded by film looks. The main thing I’m remembering about 80’s fashion would be Barbara Bush’s pearls.

  3. I saw my baby crying hard as babe could cry, what could I do oo oo, for all my love had gone and left by baby blue oo no body knew, what kind of magic spell to use, frogs and snails and puppy dog tails, but baby said, dance magic, dance magic, dance magic, dance magic…………. one fact not many people know, I can recite the entire Labrith film including the entire sound track 😉 You can’t beat the costumes either, a bit of Bowie crotch he he he! I also loved the Goonies and stole my mums cardigan as it looked like the letterman one Andie wears in it. x

  4. i am so 80s its not even funny……the music videos! yes please, can I be ola ray in thriller? perhaps madonna with her lace and cone bras? cyndi lauper with her crazzzzy hair? you and I are >>>here<<< with our love of that fun decade 😀

  5. Hehe, I used to love Uncle Buck. And it still makes me weep to see that dress Molly wore to her prom. Destroying two prefectly good dresses for that monstrosity! She also wear some pretty awful things in Betsy’s Wedding.

  6. I’ve had to refresh 4 times but finally Disqus loaded! Yay!
    Whenever I watch ’80s movies, I ask my mother, “Did you dress like that?!” Sometimes she says “yes.” Eek!

    My favorite film era is the ’90s, it reminds me of my childhood 🙂

    • Well I admire your persistence, Leia! Sorry about that…

      I remember my mum dressing a little like the first picture, particularly when she owned a designer dress agency… But yes, I’ll always be fond of the 90s, too – watched My So Called Life recently and missed my Doc Marten/tea dress combos…

    • Thank you, that’s a lovely thing to say!

      I love how people keep reminding me about other 80s films – how could I have forgotten Pretty Woman, and that polkadot dress?! Kim was stunning in Mannequin – she has such grace, such beautiful bone structure…

  7. I definitely have to catch up loads on my film knowledge– D & I are doing a book-film ‘transfusion’ with each other! Looking at this selection of 80s film fashion you’ve wittily presented is enjoyable! Kim Cattrall’s luxe-ness is so droolworthy!

    • I think I may be a little obsessed with her… if you haven’t watched Mannequin, you really must – aside from anything else, the window displays sate one’s thirst for fashion!

  8. Love a bit of Goldie Hawn. Where is Working Girl on this list though? That’s one for 80s fashions, the hair is BAD!

  9. Goes to show – you can make even pretty women look strange if you truss them up oddly enough – brilliant selection JC xx

  10. This post cracks me up. And no, you aren’t the only one who wanted to run off with Jareth. Labyrinth was very formative for me — Sarah’s dress-up medieval maiden dress, her masquerade ball ensemble, and her actually quite chic vest, loose white shirt, jeans, beaded bracelet, and long smooth dark hair. I did that myself in high school from time to time, although I wasn’t remotely as pretty. I *still* do that look sometimes, minus the vest, and the shirt will be more fitted.

    Crocodile Dundee comes to mind as a 1980s fashion explosion, and Working Girl with Melanie Griffith.

    • Yes, that’s the second mention of Working Girl – it was most remiss of me!

      I’m laughing to myself at your calling him ‘Jareth’ – he really stuck in our
      psyches, didn’t he?!

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