There is a distinct chill in the air in Sydney, and so a few days ago I decide it is finally time to wear tick tights beneath a knee-length skirt.
As I reach for the matte black Wolfords, I realise they are just about the only trend from the 1980s that hasn’t made a comeback.
The eighties are back, especially with the age group that never had to wear it. Think Kim Kardashian in revolting double denim, the proliferation of fluoro, or the return of big shoulders, oversize jackets, white pumps, gold dresses, cuffed pants and glitzy sequins. It’s everywhere.
Sadly, black tights — about the only thing I like about that horrible decade — are nowhere to be seen. They’re always acceptable, they’re sometimes a necessity, but they are most definitely not “in”.
Most fashionistas prefer to be bare legged. And cold. Young girls wear them under cut off jeans shorts, sure. But in the late 80s, they were the bomb. Every woman wore them.
I recall all those cheerful, energetic Arthur Elgort shoots in Vogue, with bright coloured mini skirts and Chanel style jackets, brightly clashing shoes and Greek fisherman’s caps. There were high kicking legs for days, mostly Linda’s and Christy’s, rocking the matte black Wolford.
Black tights are such a wardrobe bonus – they’re warm, they make your legs look slimmer, they cover up all types of skin imperfections and your lack of a tan. They are snag resistant, and a cost-per-wear bargain. So of course they’re not “in”. Why would fashion be kind enough to be so practical?
They are about the only 80s trend I can abide. You won’t find me hurtling toward the 80s section of the vintage store, rifling through Diane Fries polyester dresses anytime soon. That decade sends shivers down my spine, style wise. I hate almost everything I wore back then, except maybe the eyeliner and my boyfriend’s oversized black leather jacket.
I feel the same way about the 80s as I do about Las Vegas – I find it hard to even appreciate the irony. Fluoro, shoulder pads, stretch mini skirts, headbands, paper bag waists, polyester lace, bleeeuuch.
Every time I look back at photos from the time, I am shocked by how ugly my hair and makeup was. I’m a person who loves a lot of products, but dear god talk about how to add 20 years in one makeup application.
I mostly recall the high camp of it all. The Dynasty dresses, the huge, teased hairdos, wake me up before you go go faux-active horribleness complete with a bad hat and hot pink lipstick.
Or my wardrobe mistakes. They would include a purple silk knee-length dress with a full skirt and puffy sleeves, and a lurid fuchsia blazer, which I wore with a black and white, striped stretch skirt and gold button earrings. But I watched Hannah and Her Sisters again recently, released in 1986, and was gob smacked by how wonderful Diane Weist looked. She was the epitome of perfect 80s style.
When you really pull it apart, some of the elements were gorgeous – diamante and paste jewellery, berets, tweed, brooches, oversized man style coats, socks and loafers, fake pearls, pale denim. I came upon a great photo of on-the-way-to-fame Madonna taken in the street in NY, in what looks an entire thrift store look that is just fabulous.
I feel like men maybe got a better deal. Combing through my husband’s wardrobe the other day, I came upon some of his old suits (he throws nothing away, much to the excitement of my sons who are now raiding his closet for 80s injections).
A pale pink Miami Vice linen suit. A red suit jacket with black embroidered lightning bolts down the sleeves. A leather Perfecto jacket.
Meanwhile, I’m left with my black tights — that nobody likes.