DID I WEAR THAT? The Big Look and Big Shoulder Pads of the Eighties

The image above is from my upcoming "Comic Graphic Novel" about growing up as a baby boomer! See I do cartoons too!

Was it just me or did the eighties seem to have the word "big" stamped all over them? Big sunglasses, big jewelry, big money, big credit card debt, big crimped hair and especially big shoulders!

Every suit jacket and blouse came with shoulder pads built in. We owned several sets of foam rubber shoulder pads too - just in case the shoulder pads weren't big enough! If you looked down the street during the era of the Dynasty soap opera years you saw clones of Joan Collins and Linda Evans by the truck loads! If you were getting a view of the backside these clones looked like football players in drag, those big shoulders of fashion rivaled the shoulder pads worn by any quarterback of the day!

I was just as big an offender as anyone else when it came to the "big" look. Not only did I wear big jewelry in the eighties, I designed it! I developed and sold a line of paper jewelry throughout the U.S. and even internationally, adding to the epidemic. Mea Culpa, but it was very profitable. I loved the big hats too, hats are still a weakness of mine. I'm also ashamed to admit I crimped my hair!

My biggest offense, however, was the big shoulder. I would actually add foam pads to the ones sewn into my blouses and jackets. In my defense, it wasn't all a fashion choice, I have really sloping shoulders and shoulder purses were the bane of my existence until the advent of shoulder pads. I was always pulling my purse strap back over my shoulder and I've spent most of my life holding a purse strap in place. When shoulder pads came into fashion I experienced a sense of freedom and relief that is only rivaled by taking off five inch heels at the end of a long day!

The other thing I liked about shoulder pads was the fact they made my shoulders bigger than my hips! For once my hips and butt were not the widest part of my body! I was shameless with shoulder pads, I even put should pads into my tee shirts. I would have stuck them in pajamas too, if I thought anyone would have seen me in pajamas!

I guess you could have called me the Linebacker of Fashion Big in the eighties. Bring 'em back, bring 'em back! Sis Boom Bah. Shoulder Pads, Shoulder Pads, Rah, Rah, Rah!


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  1. Guilty as charged. I had it all - the big jewelry, sunglasses that covered half my face, big hats, and of course - big shoulder pads. (I don't recall ever crimping my hair though!). Unfortunately, I can't share your enthusiasm for bringing back the shoulder pads. I've seen pictures of myself from those days!

  2. Melodieann - Pssst, come closer let me whisper in your ear.....I still use some smaller foam shoulder pads! It really does keep my purse from falling off all the time! Shsssssh!

  3. Teri Dempski8:12 PM

    Oh, those were the years! I lived in California during the eighties, was a newlywed, had both my children, worked with doctors and partied like mad! I hate to admit, I still have some of the glam outfits hanging in my closet, shoulder pads intact!

    I recently looked at my old pictures and wonder about the glasses I wore then, too. How did I ever think I needed so much "glass" on my face? Those lenses covered half of my cheeks! Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

    The "other" Diva, Teri

  4. I just got rid of my "crimper" not that long ago, my daughter was a teen in the '80's and got me into doing that. Shoulder pads...they were REMOVED whenever possible, a petite in shoulder pads isn't a pretty picture. At least not on me:-)

    Looking forward to your book!! What a lot of fun!

  5. I have to say that I loved the eighties! I'm a big girl anyway (actually tall) but I blessed with a small head (limited crainia, I guess).
    Anyway, I balanced my pear shape with the biggest shoulder pads I could find, and poufed my hair out so large that I was finally in proportion. Wow--do I long for those blessed days. A real fashion bonanza for me!

  6. Teri - I too spent the 80s in California and, until I moved and sold my house, all my old clothes and shoes remained in my closet! Maybe I thought they'd come back in fashion and I'd save a buck or two, lol.

    But you know - not everything went to the Good Will or into oblivion - I kept 2 pairs of shoes and I still have them to this day!

    Claudia - I'm having a great time with the book - using some posts from this blog, drawing the illustrations - what a trip down my personal Memory Lane. Hoping to have it done and published by the first of the year (hoping!)

    Feisty - well, one thing for sure about the eighties - they weren't boring!

  7. Wonderful graphic, and great story.




  8. I still have a couple of "shoulder pad" dresses in my closet :) They're there because they are a reminder of the body someone has stolen!

  9. Sally - Thanks!

    Bev - LOL - reminder of the body "someone" has stolen - now just who would that culprit be????

  10. Your football analogies made me laugh because they are true. Whenever I think of the shoulder pad look, the women of "Dynasty" and 40s actresses like Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell come to mind.

  11. Malcolm - Yup, them women from Dynasty and Dallas and Bob Mackie were the culprits all right, lol!

    But I still say the big shoulders kept the eyes off a big butt!


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