Posted by: Godfångst | February 16, 2009

History Repeats Itself

You read it here, almost first. The rumor that shoulder pads are “back” has been given yet more credence at New York’s Fashion Week.

The reason is clear–everyone is so freakin’ young now that the majority doesn’t remember how ugly they were.

Here’s a reminder:

Linda EvansBehold, the lovely Miss Linda Evans, who manages to look crazy/notbeautiful in this dress–and it can’t all be attributed to the hair.

Like pegged jeans, like overalls, like plastic bracelets, risky articles of clothing should not be worn by all–or even, sometimes, by anyone. Yes, I know we all have the right to wear what we want. No one can stop you from wearing pleated tapered trousers. Go ahead. Trinny and Susannah will be after you, rest assured. But can’t we think critically about what certain fashion trends signify? Who’s truly nostalgic for the 1980s?

Liz Jones in the Daily Mail was bright enough to notice that not only has this trend occurred before (at least three times, the latest time being the marvellous 1980s, the worst fashion era EVER) but that we are being served up the same old hash at ten times the price.

Fashion designers, whether they’re on American cable television or not, should remember that a shitty fashion trend shouldn’t be resurrected just because it’s 30 years later. If Linda Evans, a tall, healthy, Norwegian-American TV actress with great cheekbones can’t make them fly, no one can.

Why these sorts of things were ever invented in the first place is beyond me. I’ve heard it said that there’s an anti-woman conspiracy in the fashion world (“Let’s make the bitches look ugly!”) But no. It’s the economy, stupid, just like everything else in the world. The “fashionistas” can and will never stop recycling metallics, androgyne chic, animal prints, and blunt-cut bangs and pretending like it’s fresh. There’s just too much money in it all, and the collective memory in the fashion world is shorter than it is in the political world, evidently.

Fashion consumers of the world, unite. Reject this trend. I, for one, refuse to be reminded of the Reagan years every time I leave the house. I’d prefer a return of heroin chic, whalebone corsets, or Brylcreem in men’s hair. Oops–all of those have come back too.

Doesn’t anyone remember the 1980s? Apparently not. It was an era in which even Johnny Depp managed to look pedestrian:


I remember parachute pants, skinny jeans with zippers (or rolled), Converse Chuck Taylor high-tops, rubber bracelets, bad highlights, ratted/teased hair, lots of neon, plastic “jelly” shoes, Flashdance-chic, and a lot of other things that would be best forgotten, like Ronald Reagan himself.

But no one can sell us a bill of goods we won’t buy. When newspapers and magazines say that something is “back,” the truth is that it’s only back as long as we TAKE it back. Shoulder pads have no more place in the fashion palette of the year than do acid-wash jeans and fringe jackets–worn separately or together.


Shoulder pads were originally worn by those who wished to make thick midsections look slimmer by widening their silhouette at the top. If you don’t have excessively slender, sloping shoulders or you aren’t playing hockey, lacrosse, or football, just don’t.

Every time I see shoulder pads, I’m reminded of Iran Contra. Of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Of the first time I heard the word “recession.” These are genuinely traumatic memories of horrible events. And so, as we learned from Iran Contra and our dealings with Islamic extremists, let us learn from fashion mistakes of the past.

We elders must teach the youth of today that the 1980s “revival,” which they don’t even recognize as a revival, must never happen. No fashion regurgitation can happen unless consumers suck it up like hungry baby birds.

So say NO to Members Only jackets, acid wash jeans, mullets (unless you actually are a country singer or a hockey player), and heavily teased hair. Say no to turtlenecks under polo shirts. Say “no” to anyone who tells you that anything truly ugly is “back.” Say “no” to bringing back bad 1980s music along with the fashion:

  • NO to Toto
  • NO to Air Supply
  • NO to Wang Chung
  • NO to Milli Vanilli
  • NO to junk bonds, Islamic revolutions, and government officials who lie about where ill-gotten weapons were, are, have been or will be
  • NO to any further 8-year stretches of Republican hypocrisy
  • NO to shoulder pads

History repeats itself like a bad enchilada.


  1. Please no!
    I’m still mad about the skinny-jeans and fluorescent high-tops making their come-back.

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