Model Brooke Shields was an icon of the time, and the late 80's marked the beginning of the age of the supermodel. There were more women of mixed, or non-European ethnic and racial backgrounds portrayed in the media, than ever before (Although still not nearly in proportion to the population). Women step into the spotlight as the career-woman was "born", and power-dressing became exceedingly popular. This was an "age of excess", which was easily translated into fashion. In general, the bigger and bolder, the better. It was the decade of big hair, big shoulders, and over-the-top makeup.
The 1980's woman was a fresh faced "all american girl" with a wholesome figure. The aerobics obsession of the 80's continued to emphasize fitness for women, and the female body was expected to maintain a certain weight, but still appear toned, all without being too muscular. Although the ideal size was fuller than the 90's and the early 2000's, all these body restrictions still caused eating disorders to skyrocket throughout the decade. Between cropped football player shirts and shiny spandex leggings (that was just a few of the typical trends that was considered sexy), the body was very much on display. At this point in history, being sexy was an acceptable and expected thing for most young people.
The silhouette was oversized, high-waisted, cropped and cut off. Floral patterns, neon and pastel colors, puffy sleeves and skirts, shoulder pads, ripped sweatshirts, fanny packs, stone-washed straight legged jeans, big earrings, lace and pearls, were hot commodities. Oversized gold jewelry were used by both men and women, and tracksuits worn even when not exercising.
The beauty ideal was somewhere between overdone and unkempt, and natural makeup was uncommon.
The ideal woman had bold "virgin" eyebrows, wore blue eyeshadow or eyeliner matched with shiny pink lips. Nose jobs was on the rise and the beauty spot's was the "it" thing to have.
Many styles from the late 70's remained fashionable in the early 80s, but soon both men and women began wearing looser shirts and tight, close-fitting trousers.
In the mid 80's, Madonna and Cyndi Lauper became fashion icons for young women with their "street urchin" look, which popularized the heavy makeup with vibrant neon colors and intentionally messed-up and off-colored hair, short skirts worn over leggings, brassieres worn as outer clothing, crucifix jewelry, and fishnet gloves. Michael Jackson sported the "jheri curl" (a sparkling wet-looking, heavily processed version of the Afro), and some middle-class teen-agers adapted the punk-influenced spiked hairstyle.
Androgyny was also an important look of the 80's, from Boy George, to Sinead O'Connor's shaved head, to the Glam rock, Goth fashion and Heavy Metal bands, with their makeup and wild, long and dyed hair. There are only two words to describe 80's hair: big and bigger, with multiple cans of aerosol hairspray in it. The choices were wild, crimped, permed, dyed or sun bleached. It was the beginning of hip hop, the golden age of "the mullet" and "the rat tail".
In opposition to these trends, a new romantic or neoconservative "preppy" look was also in, popularizing traditional short hairstyles for men and women, and not to forget the "New Romantic", "Yuppie" or "The Miami Vice style".
Many of the iconic beauty ideals of the 80's might have been unconventional and extreme, but it was due to the fact that the true ideal was to make an impact and create attention. It certainly made it's impact on fashion history as the infamous 80's look has paved the way for any fashion related extreme form of self-expression ever since.
ICONS OF THE 80s
Brooke Shields, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Madonna, Demi Moore, Princess Diana, Meg Ryan, Joan Collins, Lea Thompson, Daryl Hannah, Lisa Whelchel, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tawny Kitaen, Jennifer Grey, Kathleen Turner, Carrie Fisher, Ally Sheedy, Claudia Schiffer, Paula Abdul, Kim Basinger, Grace Jones, Sharon Stone, Melanie Griffith, Jamie Lee Curtis, Stephanie Seymour, Christy Turlington, Helena Christensen, Iman, Linda Evangelista, Linda Evans, Whitney Houston and Cyndi Lauper.
DID YOU MISS THE FOUR OTHER POSTS IN THE BEAUTY IDEAL OVER THE DECADES SERIES? CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW.
"The Beauty Ideal Over The Decades", is a big subject. I divided the different eras into a series, looking at themany different ideals that has been considered as beautiful and attractive in the past.
The next post is: BEAUTY IDEAL OVER THE DECADES part 6 : THE 70's
(Photos in this post are random pictures from Tumbler or Pinterest or borrowed from Google. Unknown source.
Information collected from several sources including Wikipedia, Thefashionspot.com and diet-blog.com, historicalideals.tumblr.com, http://comn4725blog.wordpress.com, dailymail.co.uk, uni-regensburg.de/Fakultaeten/phil_Fak_II/Psychologie/Psy_II/beautycheck/english/figur/figur.htm, http://www.thefashionspot.com/beauty/171133-beauty-ideals-throughout-the-ages/#/slide/8)
2/5/2014 12:28:45 am
Great work on this. Keep it up.
18/8/2014 02:30:35 am
Thank you so much, David.
28/11/2017 07:37:33 am
This was so helpful, my research paper is gonna be magic! don't wrry i cited you :)
28/11/2017 08:24:37 am
Hi, Mirisa! I'm so glad this was helpful. The best of luck to you on you research paper!
14/12/2021 09:08:04 am
Hi I am using this for my research paper and cant find the authors name if you can help me! This was really interesting and helped me for my paper on body images throughout the decades!
3/9/2022 10:17:11 pm
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