I’ve been invited to a birthday party this evening with an 80s theme. How ironic to have a party with a retro theme, the night before Mars turns retrograde in Leo, the party sign that loves flash and glitter.
What’s more, Mars is opposite Jupiter, lord of everything big and over-the-top. That pretty much sums up fashion in the 80s … which, as I recently discovered, has made a dreaded comeback.
I searched for some astrological reason that we might be returning to the years of Ronald Reagan, supply side economics, Big Oil, and big hair. Maybe Jupiter conjunct Neptune? Beats me. I did find out that Mars in Leo was opposed to Jupiter in Aquarius in 1985. The opposition was exact at 11 degrees on August 11, with Mars direct and Jupiter retrograde. Could that be significant? I’ll have to think about it, after I’ve figured out what to wear tonight.
Part of the deal is that everyone has to come in 80s attire. Never mind that the birthday girl is turning 30 and probably doesn’t remember much of the 80s.
Then, neither do I. In an attempt to keep my life simple and uncluttered, I have not saved a single item of clothing from the 80s. Heck, I barely remember what I wore back then. As a 20-something, I should have been following all the latest trends. I can say with certainty that I never owned a pair of leg warmers, fishnet stockings, or jewelry with crosses. I did, however, wear large earrings and gargantuan shoulder pads (they balanced out my wide butt), and I was thoroughly guilty of big hair and blue eye shadow.
Since that was what actually what I wore, I decided to start there for my party costume. My first stop was Granny’s Attic, the place to shop on Vashon, where we’ve got this recycle thing down. There are two shops on Vashon where you can buy new clothing and three thrift shops. On any given Saturday, Granny’s has a long line at the cash register, which isn’t true for most retail stores these days.
For $5.50, I found a warm-up jacket in pale yellow parachute silk with big, puffy shoulder pads. I put it on and howled. It just screams 80s. I came home all smug and happy … until I started thinking about what to wear with it. It probably came with matching parachute pants, and the original buyer might have dressed it up with heels or down with Reeboks.
Reeboks! Yes, I had a pair of those, the high-tops with the Velcro straps. They still make them, and you can buy them online. I ordered a pair and kept my fingers crossed that they’d arrive on time and would fit. You know, Mercury in shadow, Mars about to go retrograde. It’s enough to make an astrologer bite off all her nails before painting them torrid fuchsia.
I envisioned leggings and a short jean skirt to cover my hips. Since the 80s are allegedly back, I figured I could just walk into Nordstrom and find legwarmers. Meanwhile, I researched the hair and makeup. For that, I Googled Dallas, Dynasty, Madonna, and Cyndi Lauper. Flame red spikes are out of the question, but a couple of twisted bandanas and a lot of mousse and hairspray should do the trick. Oh, and I’ll need an eye shadow duo in blue and orange, and “wet look” lip gloss.
With my list in hand, I ventured into the city. There wasn’t a pair of legwarmers to be had anywhere. No skirt, either. Lots of leggings. I tried them on alone. No, no, no. After three hours of shopping and a four-hour roundtrip commute, I came home with a pair of large leopard-print hoop earrings and a couple of bracelets.
A week went by, and I was starting to panic. Rather than leggings and a skirt, I thought about a Plan B: tapered jeans and slouch socks. I ventured into the city again. Two hours and two dozen pairs of jeans later, I found a pair that fit. Almost. They’re too short, but I’ll just roll them up and show off my vintage shoes.
Legs and butt covered, I shifted to cosmetics. In the past two years, I’ve bought a couple of eyeliner pencils and some Burt’s Bees colored lip balm. All of the makeup I own fits into a four-by-six-inch pouch. I went to three separate stores, none of which had exactly what I needed. Exasperated, eyes glazed over, I had to make a decision or I’d miss the last bus to the ferry.
It was late when I got home, but I just had to see how everything looked together. As I was pushing back the elasticized sleeves on the jacket, I heard a rip. The fragile fabric was torn in two spots near the elbow, and when I inspected it more closely, discovered that the fabric casing over the elastic was disintegrating!
I spent part of yesterday back at our thrift stores, looking for alternatives, but nothing worked. So, I told myself, I will go the party with a disintegrating jacket, and that’s that. I’ll bet no one even will notice.
I also told myself that there was a lesson here and even more irony. The 80s were about rabid consumption. Like everyone else in that era, I spent money freely and carelessly. I had more stuff than space to put it. I worked long hours and wrecked my health to make money so I could buy even more stuff. Life was cluttered and complicated. It’s no wonder that 80s fashion reflected that.
To accessorize my $5 “bargain” jacket, I’d spent nearly $150, even though I was very selective and bought everything on sale.
I took a deep breath and made sure I wrote my abundance check when I got home. I also vowed that, after the party, I will give the extraneous makeup to some friend’s teenagers and donate my unwanted clothes to Granny’s, which gives the proceeds to the health center to help cover the costs of treating uninsured residents. This is a much better economic model, and one that I can feel good about supporting.
Wishing you a holiday season full of all the things that really matter,
P.S. Photos on Monday!
Image: What I won’t be wearing! But, hey, if I’d started searching early enough, I could have ordered a pair online. There’s nothing you can’t get on the Internet. These go for $16 from American Apparel.