Laura Serino still bears the mental scars caused by an ’80s scrunchie.
“These are the most pointless pieces of embellishment our coifs have ever seen,” said Serino, 29, co-founder of a Portland-based fashion blog called “Fore Front Fashion.” “I have a vivid memory of wearing one, and my cousin’s dog thought it was a chew toy. Needless to say I was dragged by my hair, so perhaps my disdain comes from that memory.”
But for fashion-minded folks like Serino, personal pain is not the only reason to hope most ’80s fashion trends never make a comeback. Just looking at much of it – stirrup pants, mesh shirts, Members Only jackets – is pretty painful.
“I definitely don’t want to see the fanny pack come back under any circumstances,” said Ashley Lauren Kerr, a Scarborough designer of evening wear whose company is called ASHLEYLauren. “The craziest ones were the ones with six pockets. They stuck out so far, they just hit everything as you walked by. I don’t think they ever worked. Ever.”
Say ” ’80s fashion” to anyone who cares about fashion, and you’ll get a laundry list of over-the-top crazy styles and accessories that are at once forgettable yet impossible to burn out of your brain.
The next paragraph may make folks with refined tastes a little squeamish, so be prepared.
Here are a just a few of the best-remembered and best-forgotten ’80s fashion trends: Stirrup pants; neon; mesh shirts; tights used as headbands; crimped hair; perms; big puffy sneakers; acid-washed jeans matched with an acid-washed jacket; big honking shoulder pads; the “Miami Vice” look melding pastel T-shirts and sport coats with the sleeves rolled up; Izod shirts with the collars turned up; pleated jeans; two-toned jeans; leg warmers for all occasions; and thong leotards over shorts.
And that’s probably just scratching the surface. Give a fashion fan some time, and she could write you a book.
It only took Serino the length of a workday break to come up with specific details on her most-hated ’80s trends. Besides the scrunchie debacle, here are thoughts on three other fashion mistakes history should never repeat:
• Stirrups – “My most hated item of clothing from the ’80s. I hate to admit that I was guilty of rocking these with an oversized sweatshirt in my youth. The thing about stirrups is not only are they completely uncomfortable, but they make your legs look like upside-down triangles. Not the most flattering pants.”
• Pirate shirts – “I don’t know if this is an actual term, but remember when all those male musicians wore frilly, ruffled blouses in the ’80s? Just Google ‘Boy George,’ and you’ll see what I mean. They all dressed like feminine pirates, and I don’t know why anyone ever thought that was OK.”
• Dancewear as “actual clothing” – “I blame Olivia Newton-John for this. Women should never leave the house in a leotard and leg warmers. Even the thought of wearing that to a gym makes me uneasy.”
Even fans of ’80s culture and fashion don’t want everything from the ’80s to return. Meg Hall is a social worker who loves to get dressed up in period garb and go to the famed ’80s nights at Bubba’s Sulky Lounge in Portland. In fact, she once won $1,000 in a costume contest for dressing up as Newton-John in her “Physical” phase.
But you’ll never catch her going to work dressed as Alexis Carrington, Joan Collins’ character on the ’80s soap “Dynasty,” who looked as if she could have played linebacker on the side.
“I would not wear those big shoulder pads. It doesn’t work for me, so that’s one I probably hope never comes back,” said Hall, 37. “And those very puffy bangs. That was never something I was into.”
Kerr’s own ’80s childhood includes a memory of wearing acid-washed jeans and a scrunchie in her hair as she danced to the tunes of Paula Abdul. In a strange twist in her life as a professional designer, Kerr has actually “dressed” Abdul, providing the singer with an outfit for an event she attended not long ago.
Kerr says some ’80s fashions are coming back that she’s OK with, like Ray-Ban sunglasses and lace, which Madonna made popular in several of her early looks.
But the one trend Kerr hopes stays stuck in the ’80s is the big, poofy, artificial-looking perm.
“I know the higher the hair the closer to God, but those perms,” said Kerr. “Those don’t need to come back.”
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: