Eighties footwear was a mishmash of preceding decades influence on design however two styles of shoe dominated the decade – the court shoe for ladies and the trainer for men. The rounded off point toe court shoe was a hybrid of the forties and fifties shape and came in countless patterns. My mother’s wardrobe was bursting with treats throughout the decade and I hold her personally responsible for my obsession with footwear as she regularly brought home boxes encasing the most delightful contents. I distinctly remember the excitement I would feel when I slipped on her Pinet sparklers, aghast at their beauty as the light bounced off them! Other names to look out for in the world of eighties court shoes are Roland Cartier, Joan & David, Charles Jourdan and Gina – not forgetting Clarks who were still considered a major player in the footwear world.
Several American hip-hop artists sparked the trend for trainers, wearing them as a fashion statement rather than a necessity in the gym. Public Enemy, Run DMC and Cypress Hill endorsed brands giving Le Coq, Reebok, Addidas and Nike an opportunity to market their advertising to a much wider audience and encouraged flamboyant designs. It is somewhat ironic that Dunlop, considered the poor relative during the decade became much more desired as a mainstream retro trainer in recent years.
Jelly shoes first emerged as a practical source of footwear preventing beach lovers cutting their feet to pieces on jagged rocks but were soon tweaked into fashion statements containing adornments in the heels. The only real problem with rubber shoes in the summer was the relentless chaffing which would lead to enormous blisters! Wedged moccasins were the sensible alternative but considered more suited to the slightly older and less fashionable lady of the day.
Jack Sparrow would without question have been in his element mid-eighties when the Pirate boot sat at the pinnacle of the winter style stakes. The slouchy boot was teamed with everything from leggings to dresses and like the court, came in a variety of colours and designs. They looked particularly good with the New Romantic flouncy blouses and shirts and drainpipe skinny jeans. Red or Dead had totally revived the combat boot by the late eighties, giving it new life in girlie gingham, floral and neon in addition to the more masqueline styles and shades.
Deck shoes were also a firm favourite of the trendy gent with Turtles establishing themselves as a leading brand, advertising alongside the likes of the cutting edge Halian liquid metal loafer in GQ magazine. The creeper crept back into our lives temporarily however popularity of the blue suede shoe was shadowed by dancing on the ceiling in the white slip on loafer – meanwhile, business types remained consistent in their choice for lace up brogues.
Headwear was regaining its status after becoming largely redundant in Seventies fashion. Princess Diana was the nation’s sweetheart and along with her penchant for court shoes, she ignited a passion for fabulous millinery. Philip Treacy was then and is now regarded as a master milliner creating designs for the rich and famous but headwear wasn’t all about the price tag. Many eighties elements determined accessory trends with movies, celebrities and pop stars responsible for both our triumphs and faux pas!
Finally, it is important that one item of headwear is given merit – the snood. Now, I have a personal affection for the ‘scarf come hood’ as it doubled as a sick bag for a certain family member during a cringe-worthy night out circa 1986 however aside from this impromptu use, in my opinion, it was possibly the best hat/neck wear ever to be invented. First seen in and around the 1940s, it was propelled to fashion heights again in the eighties - worn by both men and women. It saw life again in Winter 2010 collections and no doubt will fall in and out of fashion for years to come. I shall be wearing one with retro pride once again this year!