Whether you’ve gone back to fashion school with me or not, you likely know that finding those black boots from 1985’s Desperately Seeking Susan is a tough task. Not now! Well, at least not if you are a size 6. You can buy them here!
This post is inspired in part by those annoying commercials for brown “chocolate” diamonds (yuck!) and the passing of Liz Taylor. Too many people, in my real world, still only remember Liz from her White Diamonds perfume commercials. Yes, that means they recall the old Liz, the “fat” Liz, but they also are thinking of her in terms of the large more gaudy jewelry too.
When Liz launched White Diamonds, it was the end of 80s — and big hair still ruled. At least for the ruling class, the rich and mighty as shown on the small screen in shows like Dynasty. Big jewelry was required to balance out that hair and to show the opulence. But that is not the imagery I have in my mind of Liz…
No, I recall the more elegant Elizabeth Taylor. One who’s jewelry was more refined, simple, and was in proportion not only to her hair, her wardrobe, her figure, but her person. She was the exquisite stone to be set off — not covered-up — by what she wore. It’s what we’d call a more classical look.
The great news about this is that with such demure proportions, nearly any fashionista, going for vintage glamour or not, can afford to have diamonds like Elizabeth Taylor.
And you just know that with all of Liz’s glamour, she’s wearing sweet little diamond drop earrings or diamond studs — even if we can’t see them!
This mod mini in grey wool is everything to love about the 60’s and yet completely wearable today. The only bad thing about it (aside from the normal problems of finding vintage in your size) is that it’s likely to be a workplace distraction — heck, this dress is so fab, it will garner attention wherever you wear it!
If you love black velvet, but you consider yourself more of a sex kitten, a la Pam Grier or Raquel Welch, how about jumpsuits in black velvet?
Foxy mommas, check out this retro black velvet jumpsuit with sexy fishnet insets and a rockin’ mod buckle at the waist.
Or play the coquette in this vintage Edith Phillips of Hollywood black velvet jumpsuit with black satin trim.
I had spotted this fashion shopping spread in that Elle‘s Women In Hollywood Issue, and the minute I saw it I was confused.
“Break out the jelly platforms, biker shorts, neon bouclé and juicy bangles for a totally rad ensemble,” it says — for Valley Girl?! That’s not the way I remembered the fashions in the film. So, jumping the que in our NetFlix account, I got Valley Girl (1983) to refresh my memory.
Valley Girl stars Nicolas Cage and Deborah Foreman in the ultimate 80’s Romeo and Juliet story — with a much better ending, as no one dies. *wink* It has sat in my memory all these years as a great film in terms of capturing and expressing the look and feel of the times presented — not just the decade, but those teen years — projecting it all onto a screen then, and preserving it for us now. (I’m not the only one who feels this way either.)
To be honest, Kleph has an excellent review of the film; I found it while Googling for photos and insist that you read it because I probably couldn’t say it better or add anything, really. Plus, this post is about other things about the film: the fashions in the film. So let’s get to it.
Like I said, I could have been wrong recalling the fashions in the film, so I watched it again to be sure… But I wasn’t wrong. Valley Girl is not full of jelly & neon.
This was a period of bright colors, but not neon; think hot pink, turquoise, and yellow, not day-glo colors. The 80’s also had a strong punk influence — black, red, and more black.
Overall, bright solids, stripes and blocks of color were predominant. Collars were ‘up’. Patterns and stripes were bold, clear & crisp, not the colorful cluttered-on-black zippered things Elle shows.
And Julie also wore quite a bit of the that romantic lacy look that I can best describe as Gunne Sax — not just in her prom dress (or the prom dresses of others), but lacy tops with long sleeves with plenty of buttons.
Julie doesn’t just wear these clothes for the cinematic conveyance of her difference, her ties to her hippie parents, her romantic side, or her nervousness dressing for a party (when her friend has to help her button those buttons on her sleeves); these fashions were strong in the 80’s. I owned and wore several of these sorts of blouses — and my prom dresses were all Gunne Sax.
I didn’t live in Southern California, but my friends and I dressed a lot like this (the ‘trickle to the heartland’ theory of fashion); one of the reasons that this movie spoke to us all then — and is fondly remembered now.
That Elle might get the fashions wrong is sad… It’s not just that I want the staff to be old enough to remember Valley Girl (though that would be nice!), fashion was a huge part of the film. As Kleph wrote:
That’s partly because Coolidge understood the distinction was a fallacy to begin with. The valley kids define themselves through what they buy while the Hollywood kids do it by what they don’t – but they still show their allegiances via what they wear. And it’s important that, in Valley Girl, when Julie and Randy first see each other – first become interested in each other – it’s at the beach when they are not in the usual garb of their tribes. It’s also no accident the film starts inside a mall but ends outside it.
Valley Girl is an iconic film which preserves fashions of the time as much as it uses them for a point, yet in pushing the return of such retro 80s fashions, Elle gets it all wrong. For the fashion mag to get the fashions so wrong isn’t ironic; it’s a tragedy.
It’s impossible to avoid the return of 1980’s fashions. From the latest shots of Kim Cattrall & Sarah Jessica Parker 80’s re-do in the filming of the next Sex And The City film…
To the coverage of retro English punk in the November issue of Marie Claire…
(It’s interesting to note that as American’s jumped into the punk scene, they dropped the more dramatic graphic of the English flag — I say it’s a better fashion graphic and offer the fact that it was not replaced with the US flag as proof of my statement — and the term “Punk” was replaced with New Wave.)
As the spread of retro 80’s fashions comes ever-closer, I now will get off my arse and look to see what few items I saved from the 80’s have survived the various downsizings with each household move. (You know how you desperately dry to lighten and compact those boxes!) If I find anything worth noting, I will share it here. Threat or promise? *wink*
The trouble with girls & young women today is they just don’t know enough about fashion history.
Overheard at the mall (and no, dear daughter, I wasn’t listening to you & your friends; I heard this while waiting in the food court for you), a group of teens discussing the 80’s fashion comeback. They apparently, if my teen-to-adult translator was working right, were disappointed to find that stores weren’t selling “classic 80’s Madonna, like from her Desperately Seeking Susan days.”
“Where,” they snarkily commented, rather than asked, “are the short skirts, the wild boots?” — “That stuff was rad original and iconic!”
Clearly these girls didn’t know that Madonna had ripped-off — or borrowed — from Joan Crawford, so how could I tell them that pretty much everything from Madonna’s “rad original & iconic look” (save for the neon colors – ugh) was the vamp revamping past fashions?
Sure, they might have guessed that the “granny booties” were a version of antique boots or Victorian shoes — daringly paired with short skirts. But clearly they didn’t have a clue that this had been done before too. And with cuffed (decorated, even!), slouch, calf-height boots yet.
Even the disheveled hosiery can be traced back to someone else… Now that’s old school!
If those teenagers would have listened to the creepy old lady who rambled to them at the mall — or if they visited here and read this post — and got back to fashion schooled, can you imagine the “No way!”s? *wink*