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80s fashion redux, part 9: Polka dots hit the spot in the 80s

(This is the ninth in my series of posts on 80s fashion trends and the impact they are having on current fashion. If you'd like to read from the beginning, please start with my blog of July 23.)

The intrigue of bright pattern mixing photographed by the inimitable Toscani in 1986, clothes by Missoni and Fendi

I didn't mention this in my post from 2006, but this is personal. I wore so many polka dots in the 80s that my standard line for people who asked me about this was "why yes, I do shop at Circus Surplus!" I loved mixing patterns and I loved brights.

80s patterns, I salute you!

Originally posted May 6, 2006:

OK, polka dots were not the only PATTERN/COLOR in the 1980s, but they were a riotous favorite, in every color and every size...often all at once! Stripes came in a close second, and many bold patterns found their place in the sun.

Colors, too, were often loud and clear, from the top of the head, to the tip of the toe.

Striped thigh highs, Betsey Johnson. Shoes, Charles David designed by Nathalie M.

Christian Lacroix

KenzoSweater by Bennetton. Skirt, Street Life. Boots, Koss by Diego Della Valle. Blanket, KenzoCardigan by Moschino. Bag, Tony Bryant Designs

Skirts by Moschino. Shoes, left to right, Mario Valentino, Nina Footwear and Fratelli Rossetti for Geoffrey Beene
Update August 10, 2009:

For fall 2009, designers have continued a recent trend toward highlighter brights, with the purest form in the hands of Michael Kors:

Distinctly 80s-looking bright patterns were seen on Marc Jacobs and Marc Jacobs' Louis Vuitton runways:

Dots were suavely mixed by Esteban Cortazar for Ungaro, and look, he's even pulled out the 80s pouf skirt to keep them company!

Dolce & Gabbana again, this time with a bright pink party frock and polka dots that would not have looked out of place in the 80s. Spot on!



80s fashion redux

This is an 80s moment in fashion.

It has been coming for some time: First there was a shoulder pad or two, then some neon brights and outgoing prints. Now, for fall 2009, there is a veritable cavalcade of designers working with 80s themes. Of course, designers working in the 80s successfully mined previous eras' themes too, so even in that sense the 80s helped set the stage for current trends.

At the beginning of the 80s we were coming out of a recession and there seemed to be twin needs for classic quality and ebullient excess. Likewise, we are starting to see the first glimmer of light at the end of our current recessionary tunnel. Designers seem torn between responding to a woman's need to get and keep work, with quality work-worthy wear, and society's need to just forget about it all for a little while in a flight of sartorial fancy.

Gaultier for Hermès, 2009 and Louis Dell'Olio for Anne Klein II, 1986

80s Lacroix and 2009 Marc Jacobs

Several years ago I showed some of my clippings from the 80s and described my favorite trends of the 80s. Some of these are so relevant now that I am compelled to repost these, hoping not too many current readers of my blog will have already seen these.

I am adding a few new notes and photos to my previous posts.

Starting with my post of April 8, 2006:

I want to show you some images that I clipped as favorites in the 1980s, almost all from Elle Magazine, which had a heyday in the 80s. The black and white images are from the inspiring book Vogue Modern Style - How to Achieve It by Charlotte Du Cann, 1988.

I sorted my clippings into these topics, to be covered slowly but surely:

The Emergence of Gaultier
Japanese style
Non-traditional beauty
Outgoing jewelry
Vintage inspirations

ATHLETICISM was the look of well-exercised models, exuding health and fitness, even power. There was a huge uptick in stretch fabric development and use, lending an athletic fit to so many garments. Athletic looks were mixed with traditional clothing in eclectic combinations. Sporty stripes were everywhere, as were leggings and stretch pants.

July 23, 2009:

I'm sure we've all witnessed the return of leggings over the past several years, and for fall, many designers are leaning on, well, lean. A particularly 80s feel is achieved by Alexander Wang in his Ready-to-Wear collection, such as with this outfit's geared-up narrow pants and bolero jacket.