It’s sometimes cruelly seen as the decade that fashion forgot. The 1980s – when perms, faded denim and leather were the order of the day and even neon parachute pants wouldn’t raise so much as an eyebrow. And yet, while it may be remembered by those who lived through it as a particularly cringe-inducing period where fashion is concerned, it was perhaps one of the most liberal and diverse decades when it came to women’s clothing options.
Indeed, not everyone remembers the decade with disdain. One reddit user in particular looks back on her youth in the 80s with great fondness, and better yet, she compiled an album of images showing her experience of growing up.
Suzie – or suzepie as she’s known on reddit – grew up in Seattle and went through a whole host of questionable fashion choices during the 1980s. Thankfully, though, she’s not averse to sharing them with the world.
In July 2016 Suzie posted a link to her imgur album on reddit. Originally compiled in 2013, the extensive collection of photographs has since been added to by her, with each photo showing her in a different, crazy outfit during the decade.
This picture, for instance, was taken in 1982 when Suzie was 16 years old. She writes that, at the time, she was “in love with Adam Ant.” And it’s not difficult to see how the British singer influenced her style, from the ruffled pirate shirt to the stripe of face paint.
A year later, Suzie posed in a dress sewn together by her mom. Again wearing her musical influences loud and proud, she modeled her look, she wrote, on the wardrobe of Bow Wow Wow lead singer Annabella Lwin.
On her 17th birthday, Suzie donned moccasin boots – a fashion that found its way back into style in the new millennium. Back then, though, the footwear items were generally the reserve of the “freakers,” or the heavy metal crowd.
Suzie’s senior prom dress was vintage, but it still set her back $35 – which was, as she described it, “a s***load of money” back then. She wrote that her wardrobe pretty much consisted entirely of second-hand clothes back in the day.
The 1980s saw a significant rise in the anti-fur movement, though that didn’t stop Suzie from wearing a fur-collared cardigan to her high-school graduation in 1984. “Vintage/used fur struck me as being A-OK to wear,” she argued.
In another photo taken later that year, Suzie can be seen with her boyfriend as they celebrate getting his new motorbike. She notes that the only jeans she had at the time were Levi’s 501 Shrink-To-Fit, which she’d wear wet, allowing them to dry on her body for a perfect fit. This peculiar practice is still advocated by Levi’s today.
One of the more iconic fashion trends of the 1980s was attaching studs to every visible surface. The style was actually a byproduct of the punk explosion, and Suzie’s boyfriend here flaunts a denim jacket with studs along the bottom, covering a Clash T-shirt.
One of the more timeless examples of 1980s fashion is band T-shirts – a mainstay for music-lovers for decades. Suzie was no stranger to them, either, sporting a tee of post-punk group Bolshoi on Brighton beach in 1987 while studying in England.
In 1987 Guns N’ Roses’ seminal album Appetite for Destruction arrived, causing waves in the music industry and among young people everywhere. And the band’s influence on Suzie is obvious, too; just look at that Axl Rose-inspired head scarf.
Of course, growing up in the 1980s wasn’t all punk rock and rebellion; work had to be done too. That meant high collars and shoulder pads, the latter of which symbolized power-dressing in the corporate world – a fashion statement defined in part by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
In late 1987, at 21 years old, Suzie dressed in an outfit she considered ridiculous even at the time. The outfit was cobbled together from a mixture of her and her boyfriend’s clothes, including leather leggings patched together from the sleeves of what became the vest. Still, the ensemble never saw the light of day, as she insists she “did not leave the house this way.”
While the fur debate raged on, animal clothing became a secondary point of contention. The solution? Animal-print clothing – like the leopard-print coat Suzie donned in 1988. In fact, such garb was a major mark of the 1980s fashion world, with anyone who was anyone boasting an animal-print garment of some kind in their wardrobe.
Suzie’s all grown up today, having reached the milestone of her 50th birthday in 2016. Her fashion choices haven’t changed much, however: she’s still sporting leather pants and pointed boots. It seems as though the 1980s had more than a lasting impact on her lifestyle.
It’s no surprise, then, that Suzie has such fond memories of her youth. As she wrote on reddit, “Like most people, I think my era was the best… We had so much freedom and the media was such a small part of our lives. Much more of it was spent just living in the world. Doing and being.”
Yet, like everyone else, Suzie also endured the typical trials and insecurities of youth. “For a long time, I did try too hard to be ‘cool.’ I tried on quite a few faces to find one that felt right,” she posted on reddit. “I never felt like I fit in, though. Always felt like an alien. Like a weirdo.”
While kids of today will also no doubt look back upon their youth with mixed feelings, there’s no denying that growing up in the 1980s was a unique experience for many. Considering everything from the fashion to the culture, there might never be anything quite like it again.