Five Things I wore in the 80s which were a big mistake – even then

Blogger Idol – Week One – The 80s – I am not a big fan of following blog memes on the whole, but I thought this one might be a fun way of doing some illustrations I wouldn’t otherwise think to do based on a random theme.
So here is my thing about the 80s. Most of the great fashion crimes of my life occurred in the 80s and here are just a few:

The pink and banana yellow track-suit – Casual clothes day, Grade 6 – 1982. This was a hideous tracksuit which I had received as a gift from some misguided relative. I had recently moved from Adelaide to Melbourne and wore this to my first casual clothes day at my new private girls school. Up until this point I had absolutely no idea that the clothes you wore were at all important. Needless to say, I was teased mercilessly all day.

Baggy windcheater with belt, three quarter jeans with zips, court shoes, and big carved wooden parrot earrings. c1985. Need I say more? I thought I was really cool. I can clearly remember the kids across the road laughing at me.

Bright red leg warmers over ‘designer’ jeans c 1983. Designer jeans were made up of many, many panels of denim layered with seams and buckles. I had to squeeze my huge red leg warmers (a must for any post-Flashdance girl) over the top of them and the added effect made my legs look elephant like. This was my favourite outfit for going roller skating down the footpath out the front of our house.

Nouveau Hippy c1986; At some point around 1986 or 7 I started going to peace rallies and out to see all-age rock shows (TISM! Crowded House! et al) and I decided it was extremely cool to traipse around the city in bare feet. None of my friends thought any of these pastimes were a good idea let alone cool so I did most of this stuff on my own. I found my Great Uncle Warren’s old beaten up farm hat (“Uncle Wazza’s Hat”‘) on top of a wardrobe and thought that it was amazing and unique enough to become my signature accessory.

The dragon costume from St George and the Dragon neighbourhood play c1984. This was a pretty neat costume if I don’t say so myself. The head took me ages to make out of papier maché – it had ping pong balls for eyes and was sprayed with green metallic paint. The t-shirt was made out of a bright green satiny kind of fabric as was the tail which was huge and stuffed and sat around my waist on a thick band of elastic. I wore green nail polish and lurid green stockings to complete the effect. Our family photo albums are filled with great dragon / knight conflict scenes, the princess singing solos, the town crier reading proclamations… and my underpants. The afore mentioned satiny t-shirt insisted on nudging its way up to the wide elastic band in most of the dramatic scenes (I did my own stunts) to reveal dark underpants under lurid green stockings. Not a great look even in the 80s.

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29 Responses

  1. says:

    hehe : )

  2. says:

    That tracksuit wasn’t Yvonne Goolagong, was it? I had one very much like yours except in lavender, not pink. I also had some jeans that I “toned” myself by bleaching only the front half. I loved those jeans…at the time.

  3. Claire, I feel your pain. All through high school my theme was colour and lots of it – as in lime green suede skirt with purple tights, or purple Docs with orange socks, or, heaven help me, two clashing turtlenecks worn one over the other and then cuffed up at the sleeves to reveal the hideous colour combination. Needless to say, my wardrobe was mostly black all through university as repentance. Even now I have to think twice when purchasing something that is not in the grayscale…

  4. That’s so funny Roxy, as I did the exact same thing! 1990 saw the introduction of my short lived severe goth period — and colour is only now slowly creeping back into my wardrobe almost 15 years later. I am even contemplating a pair of red shoes which will be a first.

  5. Oh dear, oh dear… it’s all so tragically familiar. I’m sure we would have been great buddies as twelve-year-olds…

  6. that is so funny…i’m cry….you made my morning
    can you do little boys too? One with acid wash jeans, Adidas rome runners, and a pastel pink mohair jumper would be great. Oh and a haircut with a long fringe, and severe undercut at the back…

    and he’d be wearing big round glasses…

    of course I’m not describing anyone real….truely I’m not…..

  7. Too funny, you had to be there, didn’t you!
    I favoured a Miss Jean Brodie look in the mid-late 80’s – long, wide flared skirts, little boots, clinched waist jackets and big wide brimmed hats. Previous to this it was suede ankle boots and custom bleached denim jeans (I had re-sewn them so tight that it took me about 10 minutes of lying on the bed and swearing to get into them.) Before that it was pencil skirts (and carrying a needle and thread to school to deal with the inevitable splits) and court shoes.

    Does anyone else remember wearing gold, pink and blue eyeshadow all together? Oh the horror!

  8. says:

    Aah! We would have looked great together, you in your pink and yellow tracksuit and me in my yellow “Grasshopper” jeans and pink skivvy/turtleneck. Even my Mum laughed at me when I wore that outfit! She called me “musk sticks” all day (because you could get packs of musk sticks with yellow ones along-side the usual pink ones). Then there were my “fruit salad” pants. Black and white checked with bright coloured fruit printed on top of the check. Loud and definitely my favourites circa 1986. Great entry! Great illustrations!

  9. somehow, with the colorful illustrations those clothes look a lot less heinous than i’m sure they do on any human body. but seriously, i saw a girl with leg warmers on not that long ago and admired her style and ability to make them look not at all as stupid as i know they would look on myself.

  10. Those are fantastic. Nice to know I’m not the only one who wore red leg warmers over my jeans and owned a pink and yellow banana track-suit.

  11. Claire,Did you see Crowded House at the Farewell To The World Concert?

  12. hehe, looks like we both have the same memories of the 80’s – except that you have illustrations to really drive the point home! very cool,

  13. Your first outfit story is the same as mine, if you substitute your tracksuit for my most tragic outfit of a lurid rainbow-coloured jumpsuit. Kids are mean!

  14. says:

    Oh, the joys (?) of being blisfully unaware of fashion! When I was 8, the family went on a long, long car trip from Brisvegas to Sydney. Each member of the family had their own polyester trackie (which we all wore with desert boots!). Mine? Tic-tac orange and hooded, to which my mother sewed a cloth patch bought at each country town we stopped at on the way. You get the picture?

  15. I found this blog courtesy of an article printed in the Pratical Internet Web Designer magazine here in the UK, and I’m glad I did. This ‘fashion disaster’ post had me weeping like a good’un. Keep up the good work!

  16. I really enjoyed this series of illustrations. It probably wasn’t as bad as you remember – but it IS hard to look back without cringing!

  17. Claire these are priceless.
    My most disastrous outfit, worn to my first sleepover party, c1985:
    Tight pink capri pants, a pink button-down shirt with graffiti and road signs on it, a telephone wire clip belt around my waist –over the shirt–purple “pumps” on my feet and a pink comb in my hair that held ALL of it to the left side of my face. Look out Miami Vice. My entrance to the party was welcomed with a questionable, “um, you look–nice there, Katie.

    I too turned to goth for support later, in high school. Gotta love black crushed velvet.

  18. says:

    Claie … you have clearly forgotten you silver, sand paper textured, mini-tennis dress c.1989 which you wore once and then very thoughtfully handed-down to me! Admittedly, I then wore the very same dress to a party at your house the following year! Ah well … Thanks for the memories!

  19. and yet, all these outfits look gorgeous in your drawings 🙂

  20. says:

    Oh the pain of high school! I remember going through my goth period but when you have to wear a Catholic school uniform and weren’t allowed to wear make up, going goth meant putting a black rinse in your hair and being in a bad mood for about a year and a half.

  21. Loobylu, I’m almost in tears remembering some of my 80’s outfits. Oh, man…I probably have a few pictures around that I could post. I really enjoy your illustrations, too. 🙂 🙂

  22. What a great post! You are a very talented artist. I included you in my “top five” picks for this round:

  23. Love the hat! That’s a great bit of accessorizing…and lovely illustrations.

  24. Just one more..great post! Love your design! 🙂

  25. You made my top picks!

  26. I dunno. I think outfit number 2 looks kind of really cool and non-fashion-crimey, based on the illustration. I guess I’d have to see it in person to understand the true horror. I mean, if it was a horror. or something. Anyway, I like it.

  27. says:

    I love your drawings! My worst 80’s experience had to be my haircut.

  28. I *like* some of those outfits! Nouveau hippy is adorable, and full marks to young Claire for going ahead even though her friends didn’t get it. And the leg warmer and jeans thing sounds liberatingly comfortable. But… er… it was the eighties so it must have been awful really.