Remember How Chic We Looked in the 80’s? Neither do I.



Searching for my worst fashion moment in my bottomless pile of photos, I knew exactly which years to look through. For me, there was no time like the 80’s for bad style. It could be argued that the 70’s were worse, what with disco, polyester, blue eye shadow and more, but since I was in high school in the  late 70’s I could get away with just about anything, as could most girls at the age of 17.


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The 80’s, though, were just one long stretch of ugly stuff. And not just for me. I bet you looked pretty bad back then, too. In fact, I dare you to go dig out a picture of yourself from the late 80’s and tell me you looked good, because I’m guessing you didn’t. No offense.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

In retrospect, this mortifying photo of me is not as bad is it could be, because look at that smile. That was a very happy time in my life. It was the spring of 1989, and I was engaged, preparing for my wedding…

Did you find your picture? See, I told you so.

So back to me and my fashion sense. Can you believe that hair? A permed mullet – it doesn’t get much worse, does it?

Nope. It doesn’t.

What about the rest of it? Pretty awful too. See those acid-washed jeans? They probably buttoned somewhere up around my belly button, and made my butt look like it was 3 feet long. That crew neck t-shirt doesn’t do me any favors – can you say matronly?  No doubt I had acrylic nails that were very long and very red. And what’s with all the pearls? Who did I think I was, Barbara Bush?

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How about the horizontal striped sweater? That’s a no-no in any decade.


But do you see how happy I look? 

I know, I know, it doesn’t matter. I still look like a “before” on “What Not to Wear.”

That was the last perm I ever had. For good reason.

I looked a lot better at my wedding. Although, we should probably talk about those poofy sleeves…

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34 Responses to Remember How Chic We Looked in the 80’s? Neither do I.
  1. Ally Bean
    January 7, 2013 | 4:54 am

    I don’t know how I found your blog, but this post resonants with me. I had a sweater [in pink] very similar to the one you’re wearing, but I had a curly [frizzy] wedge haircut that made me look like a blonde stalk of broccoli. I looked awful, but didn’t know it.

    Please tell me that 80s fashion isn’t going to make a comeback. I don’t think that I could take it twice in one lifetime.
    Ally Bean recently posted..In Which I Decide On A Word Of The Year. Finally.My Profile

  2. Ginger Kay
    January 7, 2013 | 8:24 am

    Sharon, you looked great. Acid wash was an undeniably stupid mistake, but, really, your hair doesn’t look bad – especially not compared to the rest of our permed heads. About the sweater: it’s not the stripes; it’s the dropped shoulders. I wish I’d figured that one out decades ago.
    Ginger Kay recently posted..Making up the rules as we go alongMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      January 7, 2013 | 10:51 am

      Good point about the sweater. I still try to avoid horizontal stripes, though!

  3. Itty Bitty Boomer
    January 7, 2013 | 8:36 am

    I loved growing up in the 60’s …. Living on the west coast, I was a surfer (and dressed as the classic surfer girl), a beatle lover (so dressed as a mod? or was it a rocker?) …. a flower child so dressed as a hippy …. as the mood struck me … thank goodness it all involved long, straight hair and bangs! lol! At least until I cut my hair in August of 1967 into a Twiggy cut! loved it … all of it!
    Itty Bitty Boomer recently posted..2012 = Habits vs 2013 = IntentionsMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      January 7, 2013 | 3:29 pm

      The 60’s were way cooler than the 70’s, 80’s, or even the 90’s, for that matter. I bet you were adorable!

  4. sue
    January 7, 2013 | 8:45 am

    I was in the corporate world back then wearing shoulder pads I think, wasn’t that in style in the 80s? I had fun hopping around looking at all the old styles.
    sue recently posted..English Country Cotswold CottageMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      January 7, 2013 | 10:51 am

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! BTW I was wearing shoulder pads, too…just not that day.

  5. Lois Alter Mark
    January 7, 2013 | 9:33 am

    The big hair, the big poufy sleeves — all of it is overshadowed by that big beautiful smile! Love it!
    Lois Alter Mark recently posted..My Worst Hairstyle. Ever.My Profile

  6. Julie Danis
    January 7, 2013 | 10:29 am

    Princess Di is to blame/credit for those sleeves on your wedding dress. Now, who do we blame for those pants that we both wore!
    Julie Danis recently posted..Fashion Faux Pas or Face Plant?My Profile

  7. Marci Rich
    January 7, 2013 | 10:30 am

    What in the name of Barbara Bush is with all the pearls and perms?! I’m wearing them in my photo, too. And a word to the kids out there: if you already have naturally curly hair, do NOT get a perm thinking it will tame your unruly locks. You’ll just be adding fire to the flame. For those like Sharon and Anne, who have straight hair, a perm can be forgiven. But never a mullet. No, never ever a mullet. Sorry Sharon, had I been there when you were settling into that chair in the salon I would have yanked you out so fast your hair would have curled on its own. Your post is once again spot-on—the 70s and 80s were, by and large, nightmares in fashion. But here’s the paradox: those decades also brought us the gorgeous fashion photography of Francesco Scavullo and Richard Avedon. Is there a lesson here? Maybe we thought what we were seeing at the time was indeed beautiful. But the styles did not age well at all. I think what was missing was a timeless classicism. Silhouettes like Audrey Hepburn’s, for example, will always captivate us. The mullet, permed or otherwise, not so much.
    Marci Rich recently posted..Don’t Look: She’s Not Who You Think She IsMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      January 7, 2013 | 10:53 am

      Thankfully we currently seem to be in a more classic period of fashion. A pair of boots, a pair of jeans, a sweater, a scarf…it’s easy-peasy.

  8. Sharon Greenthal
    January 7, 2013 | 10:50 am

    Yes, let’s find those people and make them wear those clothes again…although most of them were probably men.

  9. Helene Bludman
    January 7, 2013 | 12:25 pm

    My mother told me very early on to avoid horizontal stripes, and to this day I still do. BTW, I had that same pair of jeans. Funny!
    Helene Bludman recently posted..Crowning Glory? More Like Crown of ThornsMy Profile

  10. Jane Gassner (@MidLifeBloggers)
    January 7, 2013 | 3:00 pm

    I relate to Itty Bitty Boomer. Did the ’60s give us more options? And we liked ourselves better?
    Jane Gassner (@MidLifeBloggers) recently posted..Hyde Park on Hudson: The Movie & the GiveawayMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      January 7, 2013 | 3:30 pm

      The sixties were just better all the way around, fashion wise.

  11. Bonnie
    January 7, 2013 | 3:21 pm

    Oh my goodness…Sharon, I didn’t even know that was YOU. I’m reading the comments and wondering why you are responding to everyone!!!

    I absolutely loved your hair styles! I had the same mullet, and then the feathered hair you have in your wedding picture.

    So sweet that all you can see in that picture is your happiness!
    Bonnie recently posted..Smokin’ Hot: A Complete Fashion DisasterMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      January 7, 2013 | 3:30 pm

      So funny that you didn’t know it was me! The great thing about perms was how terrific your hair could look when it was styled well. I just didn’t really know how to do that!

  12. Haralee
    January 7, 2013 | 3:37 pm

    I like the pearls but you didn’t wear them for your wedding?
    Haralee recently posted..WelcomeMy Profile

  13. D. A. Wolf
    January 7, 2013 | 3:54 pm

    Can’t help it. I still like my old 80s perm. (It was soooooo much easier to deal with.) But the spandex? The headbands? The poofy sleeves?

    We’ll say no more.

    May we all now resurrect our Richard Simmons videotapes, and don our headbands and scrunchies for a few squat thrusts…
    D. A. Wolf recently posted..The Search for Self Through Wearable PelfMy Profile

  14. Joy Weese Moll
    January 7, 2013 | 4:15 pm

    My best professional dress in the mid-80s was horizontal stripes from turtleneck to mid-calf. My goodness. No pictures survive.

    You look like a princess in your wedding dress!
    Joy Weese Moll recently posted..It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?My Profile

  15. Raquel
    January 7, 2013 | 4:23 pm

    Oh the acid washed jeans were so cool! Gotta love the poufy sleeves on your wedding dress too! Uh-oh I am wearing horizontal stripes today – at least I am not wearing the acid-washed jeans! :)
    Raquel recently posted..My Biggest Fashion MistakeMy Profile

  16. Donna Highfill
    January 7, 2013 | 4:41 pm

    So many of us had those exact same sleeves on our wedding dresses. And the perms. But the part that made me laugh out loud was the butt looking 3 feet long. SO TRUE!!

  17. Kate
    January 7, 2013 | 4:44 pm

    I cringe too when I see old pix of me, not just the ones from the 80’s. I believe that 20 years from now I’ll cringe at the pix taken of me today. We all try to look our best utilizing the fashions of the day. Back in the 80’s, I thought I was dressing great. Today I think I’m dressing great. It’s all relative. I can’t get too upset about the way I used to dress. All I can do is smile at my old style and move along to tomorrow’s fashions.
    Kate recently posted..Top 10 Destinations of 2012My Profile

  18. Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs
    January 7, 2013 | 6:45 pm

    Oh, how I loved my acid-washed jeans! With the pleats in front, of course. You look so darn happy though, it’s easy to forgive the fashion faux pas.
    Lisa @ Grandma’s Briefs recently posted..The Saturday Post: Best friends editionMy Profile

  19. Janie Emaus
    January 7, 2013 | 7:11 pm

    Got to love those pearls!

  20. Carpool Goddess
    January 8, 2013 | 7:57 am

    Oh the puffy sleeves on the wedding dress look VERY familiar! The pearls too. What were we thinking?! At least we were all in this together.

  21. Sarah@afterhood
    January 9, 2013 | 12:22 pm

    I think fashion has a certain cycle, in four parts. First there is the Coming Into Fashion phase, and the “I will never been seen in those (insert cargo pants, low rise hipsters, Uggs, yoga pants” belief. Second phase, In Fashion – yes we are so cool, hot, groovy… Third, Out of Fashion, with mini phases of five or so years each: ‘just old’, ‘no one ever wears that anymore’, and ‘OMG how could we have?’ Given enough time, those painful fashion choices often age into something historic, which designers might even want to reclaim and recycle. 50’s shirtwaists? 60’s minis? There will come another time for curly hair…
    Sarah@afterhood recently posted..The Tree is a MemoryMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      January 9, 2013 | 4:31 pm

      This is true – and in 20 years we’ll look back on what we’re wearing now and say “what were we thinking?”

  22. Darryle
    January 14, 2013 | 10:46 pm

    I’ve been married twice, but after reading this, I’m kind of glad neither wedding took place in the era of Princess Diana.
    Darryle recently posted..A fashion disaster averts a Disney disasterMy Profile

  23. […] horizontal striped sweater? Thats a no-no in any decade,” says Sharon Greenthal on her blog Empty House, Full Mind. “That was [also] the last perm I ever had. For good reason.” ‘Smokin’ Hot: […]

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