The return of 80s fashion

I try to do most of my shopping close to home, preferably within the bounds of Chenango County. I figure money spent locally is money well spent, since it helps support local businesses and local jobs.

But sometimes it’s necessary to venture outside. Like when you are in search of the perfect pair of shoes to wear for a special occasion. Such as, say, the SPCA’s 6th Annual Valentine Fur Ball this weekend.

It was such a desire for fabulous footwear (to wear to that equally fabulous event) which prompted me to brave the wilds of the Carousel Center in Syracuse this past weekend. Not sure if I was up to the challenge on my own (or if I could even find the place, since it had been so long since I’d been there) I brought reinforcements – my mom and her friend Sue.

We had spent an hour or so wandering in and out of shops, when I started having a touch of deja vu. It took me a couple of more stores before I could put my finger on it. But then, as I flipped casually through a rack of what I at first thought to be normal trousers, it hit me.

The garments before me weren’t normal pants. Having lived through the 80s, I was able to identify then for what they really were: stirrup pants. Yes, stirrup pants. The scourge of my generation.

I guess you could say that strip of black elastic, designed to keep leggings anchored to your feet (as if Lycra didn’t do a good enough job keeping them in place), helped snap it all into perspective. Because as I stood staring in disgust and disbelief at the offensive garments, I knew I could no longer deny that my worst nightmare had become a reality.

The 80s are back.

I know, I know. It made me want to run screaming, too. It is, after all, the end of civilization as we know it. But it’s important to stay calm.

As my old yoga instructor might advise: Deep breaths, Melissa. Deep, cleansing breaths.

When I could think more clearly, I realized that this shouldn’t have come as such a shock to me. I mean, the signs were all around me. What with skinny jeans and leggings making a comeback, not to mention all that talk about a Footloose remake. But until now, I’ve been able to convince myself that those were just flukes. Because, really, who in their right minds would want to revisit that sordid little period in fashion history?

Fashion designers, that’s who. (Although the jury is still out on the “right minds” thing.)

The idea of the fashion nightmares which plagued me in the 80s returning is enough to make me out in hives. Because you know the leggings, the skinny denim and the - gag me now - stirrup pants are just the tip of the fashion catastrophe iceberg.

There’s the big hair and the even bigger shoulder pads. Not to mention the acid wash jeans, paint splattered fabrics, parachute pants, sweater dresses, polka dots, leg warmers, jumpsuits, superfluous zippers, metal studs, hobo bags, neon colors ...

Uggh. Does anyone else feel nauseous? Because I certainly do.

The worst part about it is that most of these styles aren’t even flattering. I mean, let’s face it, no Caucasian looks good in Day Glo anything. And for the rest of them, God forbid you have any curves. Take skinny jeans, for example. Sure, they look good when your legs are stick thin, but mine aren’t. Clad them in tapered stretch denim and they look like tree trunks. Top off the ensemble with one of those shapeless, slouchy tops (think Flashdance), and I’ll look like I’ve added 50 pounds. Gahhhh. And just when I’ve started going to the gym regularly.

My only hope is that all those extra zippers and studs will create enough of a distraction that no one will notice.

Always the voice of wisdom, my mother reminded me that I reacted similarly when bellbottom jeans first made their comeback in the late 90s. Apparently, I swore I’d never wear them. Now I consider their “boot cut” and “flare” cousins some of my oldest and dearest friends.

I guess I’ll need to accept this 80s flashback reunion at some point. I mean, it’s already pretty much all pervasive. Just look at the fashion rags, or any of those celebrity watch sites clogging the blogosphere (my fav is These insidious fashions have already weaseled their way onto the runway and into celebrity closets the world over.

Heck, one jewelry designer is even featuring Joan Collins in the ad campaign for his 2010 line. It’s all very Dynasty revisited.

Luckily, I was able to drown some of my fashion sorrows with a trip to the Macy’s shoe department where, with the help of my dear mother and Sue, I was able to find the perfect shoes to go with my dress for the Fur Ball.

It’s amazing how a pair of plum colored Steve Madden platforms can make the world – even one filled with 80s fashion flashbacks –- a better place. In fact, they’ve inspired me to keep more of an open mind about all this.

But I swear if I hear that body suits and fanny packs come back, I’m going to cry.

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunmelissa.

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