I am VERY pleased to welcome Julia Forster to the blog today talking about 80’s fashion faux pas – as someone who lived her teenage years in the 80’s I LOVED this….
1980s Fashion Faux Pas – Julia Forster
Anyone who lived through the 1980s will recall how fashion seemed to short circuit. This was the era which saw little spongy pads add inches to women’s shoulders, when it was de rigueur to couple denim with denim and when Madonna donned a conical bra while Bros were all bravado in their black leather bomber jackets.
What a Way to Go is set in 1988. When I created the fictional world for my twelve year-old protagonist, Harper, I set the colour palette at off-the-scale neon. The fabrics on show are also mainly flammable. Frankly, if I were a character in the book, I would have a pair of sunglasses glued to my face (Aviators, natch) and a miniature fire extinguisher tucked away in my jelly bag in case anyone’s apparel combusted into a spontaneous ball of flames.
Here’s Harper, in a scene where she is kissed by her boyfriend, Craig, on a kerb-side in Coventry. Incidentally, Craig is wearing a CND T-shirt:
“I look down at what I’m wearing: yellow leg warmers, thick black tights, a red and white polka-dot ra-ra skirt, an orange T-shirt and matching fingerless gloves.”
Well. If only I had had the nerve to dress like that myself.
In truth, it’s not just the crazy clothes in which I attire my twelve year-old narrator that I enjoyed imagining, I also gave Harper other qualities that I wish I’d possessed in that era, such as a strong awareness of political issues including nuclear war, socialism and feminism. After all, I figured, if I was travelling back in time to re-create the era that fashion forgot, I would also use the benefit of hindsight to consider how it wasn’t just women’s waists that were cinched – our household incomes were too, as interest rates rose to an eye-watering fifteen per cent in the late 1980s.
It is no accident, then, that I have an advertising agency CEO in the book who is a woman called Joanna. She commands that much awe that she never leaves her office: we just hear her direct her staff from behind the crinkled glass on her office door. It is Joanna who gives Harper’s Mum a break when she needs it most.
Despite adding centimetres to their shoulders, I think women in the eighties struggled to be seen for who they really were, and to have their views heard. Perhaps that was the motivation for Annie Lennox when she cross-dressed as Elvis Presley in 1984 at the Grammys and sang the brooding ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made as This)’? [LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pISsAndOLmA] Clothes, then, become a shorthand for our political stance. That was certainly my intention for the wardrobe in What a Way to Go, albeit one that is not so easy on the eye…
What a Way to Go is published by Atlantic Books, Paperback £12.99 and eBook.
About the Book:
1988. 12-year-old Harper Richardson’s parents are divorced. Her mum got custody of her, the Mini, and five hundred tins of baked beans. Her dad got a mouldering cottage in a Midlands backwater village and default membership of the Lone Rangers single parents’ club. Harper got questionable dress sense, a zest for life, two gerbils, and her Chambers dictionary, and the responsibility of fixing her parents’ broken hearts. Set against a backdrop of high hairdos and higher interest rates, pop music and puberty, divorce and death, What a Way to Go is a warm, wise and witty tale of one girl tackling the business of growing up while those around her try not to fall apart.
Find out more here: http://www.julia-forster.com/whatawaytogo/
Follow Julia on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/WriterForster
Purchase Information: Click Here
Follow the Tour!
Happy Reading Folks!