What 1980s theme night doesn’t have a large contingency of people dressed in leg warmers, pastels, parachute pants (oh, MC Hammer you have a lot to answer for) and Dallas/Dynasty jackets with oversized shoulder pads à la Joan Collins and Victoria Principal?
An original ’80s costume idea isn’t always easy… looking like a Rubik’s Cube or a Cabbage Patch doll is near impossible. But here are five concepts you (and your family) might like to try on for size.
1. Girl dancers, Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love”
You may or may not be old enough to remember this ’80s classic, where soulful UK singer Palmer stayed smooth while his all-girl “backing band” rocked it out in the background. The styling here is simple: the girls all wore round-necked, long-sleeved, tight-fitting short black dresses, with sheer black tights and black stilettos. Slicked-back hair, dark eye shadow and bright-red lipstick completed the look. As for those white guitars, they’re nothing that two pieces of white A3 cardboard, a black marker, a hole puncher and a long piece of string wouldn’t solve. See the look here.
2. Dustin Hoffman, Tootsie
Not only easy to achieve, but an option for both sexes! Dustin Hoffman’s gender-bending turn as Dorothy Michaels in this 1982 classic film involved a wardrobe full of matronly 1980s dresses, tie-neck blouses and A-line skirts in shades of lilac, purple and maroon – all should be reasonably easy to find at an op-shop, or raid your auntie’s or nana’s wardrobe. An oversized pair of spectacles and a softly curled wig will complete the look. (Two-day growth optional.)
3. Hoges and Strop, The Paul Hogan Show
This duo, aka Paul Hogan and John Cornell, ruled 1980s Australian television with a look that was distinctly ocker. To emulate Hoges, cut out the sleeves of a blue-and-white checked cotton shirt (leave it mostly unbuttoned), add a pair of tiny black shorts, a pair of footy socks and work boots. Strop’s “uniform” was a lifesaver’s cap, either a plain white or faux-tux T-shirt and a foam stubby holder marked “Strop” hanging around his neck. You may need to practice his trademark side smirk.
4. A member of Bananarama
The three British girls in this band nailed the era’s Zeitgeist with their hotchpotch fashion sense. But which look to go for? You could opt for the shirt-under-the-overalls styling of “Cruel Summer”, remembering the 50s-style headscarf; the checked lumberjack shirt, grey trousers and pair of suspenders seen in “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”; or the baggy, checked double-breasted jackets of “Hotline to Heaven”. Messy oversized hair with blonde tips and streaks is an essential part of the look.
5. Andie and Duckie, Pretty in Pink
Portrayed by Molly Ringwald and Jon Cryer, these two embodied everything that was bad about 1980s fashion. But what a perfect pair for a theme-night-loving couple to emulate. For Andie, there are two trademark looks: either a pink synthetic prom dress with lace accents, or a black hat (decorated with a pink floral scarf), pink cardigan, black patterned vest, pink flowery shirt and cream skirt. And find a red wig. For Duckie, it’s a black hat (tipped back on the head), John Lennon sunglasses, a ‘50s-style, subtly checked suit jacket, a checked vest, lightly patterned white shirt and a “bolo” (cowboy tie). Here’s a taster.