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Men’s Fashion Through the Decades: the 1980′s and 1990′s

Welcome once again, Artvictus community, we’re glad to have you back! In our previous installments of this four part series about men’s fashion through the decades we’ve looked at what went down during the 1940’s and 1950’s, then we looked at the 1960’s and 1970’s. In this post we continue with the 1980’s and 90’s and we expect some of what we talk about will be more than a little familiar.

A look at men's fashion and the things that influence it through the decades: the 1980's and 1990's.

What was Happening in the World

As the 1960’s and 70’s were defined by social and political movements, the 1980s and 1990’s could be defined by the evolution of computer technology.Sony's Walkman was one of the most iconic pieces of technology from the 1980's

In 1981, IBM released its first PC, a model 5150. It sold for $1,565 which would value at about $4,000 in today’s world. Walkman personal cassette players and boom boxes, which were actually invented in the late 1970’s, gained popularity and had a profound impact on music and youth culture. Nintendo released their first 8-bit console, which became the best-selling console of all time. The world was introduced to Mario and Luigi, Bowser, Goomba’s and the Hammer Brothers!

The World Wide Web (www) exploded in popularity in the early 1990’s and through the decade internet based technologies like email and online instant messaging (ICQ, anyone?). Although giant by today’s standards, mobile phones became popular and if you went to highschool during the 90’s and didn’t have a pager you simply weren’t popular!

On August 9, 1988 the sports world was rocked when Wayne Gretzky was traded fromGame 6 of the 1993 World Series - Blue Jays Joe Carter hit the series winning homerun off Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings. This is one of those rare times in life when you’ll always remember where you were when Gretzky, the greatest hockey player ever and product of nearby Brantford, ON, was traded. Everyone remembers the post-trade press conference when Gretzky broke down in tears.

And of course, we wouldn’t be proud Canadian if we didn’t mention back-to-back World Series championships won by the Toronto Blue Jays, culminating in Joe Carter’s series winning homerun of Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams of the Philadelphia Phillies on October 23, 1993.


On the Entertainment Scene

Michael J. Fox debuted as Marty McFly in Back to the FutureThe 1980’s and 90’s saw the debut of some timeless and epic movies. The Star Wars trilogy, which debuted in 1977, continued with the release of The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). We met a young Elliott who befriended an extra-terrestrial, E.T., and they stole our hearts on their journey to get E.T. home. We also saw Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, Leonardo DiCaprio and his stowaway journey on the Titanic, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as a cyborg from the future before he became the Governor of California.

On the music scene, two of music’s all-time greats rose to stardom in Michael Jackson and Madonna. In 1982, Jackson released Thriller which is currently the bestselling album of all time. Pop music with heavy keyboard synthesizers and drum machines became popular through the 1980’s, and the 90’s saw the emergence of grunge rock and hip hop.


Men’s Fashion Trends

Acid washed jean, denim jackets and big hair were all staples of the 1980'sJeans dominated the 1980’s, with skin tight acid washed jeans, ripped jeans and jean jackets becoming the fashion choice of many. And what goes perfectly with acid washed jeans and a denim jacket?  Neon t-shirts, of course! And what could possibly top a sweet denim jacket? How about the emergence of the mullet, big hair held up by cans and cans of hair spray and of course the classic Jheri curl!

The 1990’s saw some interesting fashion trends, too. The emergence of grunge rock influenced the younger generation to wear flannel shirts. Preppy clothing was quite popular – hands up those who were guilty of sporting a popped collar Polo shirt? Hands up those who could pull of a double-popped collar?

As the hip hop culture became more popular so did baggy jeans worn low around the hips and oversized jackets of sports team, especially Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls.


Fashion Icons of the Time

Will Smith dominated the billboard charts, our TV sets and the big screen through the 1980's and 1990'sMichael Jackson not only dominated the pop charts but also set fashion trends. His red leather zippered jackets, first worn in his “Beat It” video but more popularly worn in his “Thriller” video, was widely copied.

Will Smith was a fashion icon of the 90’s because of his popularity as a musician, as the title character in the Fresh Prince of Belair and later in leading roles in box office successes Bad Boys, Independence Day and Men in Black. Smith was always a sharp dresser and could easily sport a sideways turned baseball cap with a baggy pair of jeans by day and switch seamlessly to a two-piece suit with tailored dress shirt for a movie premiere.


The Final Word

The 1980’s and 90’s were times that many of us remember, so remembering things like Sony Walkman’s, the original Nintendo, acid washed jeans and mullets probably bring back some nostalgic feelings. But equally, they might bring back memories of lesser happier memories like mullets and pagers!

Check back on October 27 for our fourth and final installment of this look at men’s fashion through the decades when we remember the 2000’s and current day 2010’s!

Be well, Artvictus community!

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