Saturday, October 7, 2017

The 80s Redux: The Red Boot and the Midi Dress

This post is mostly about the boots, the delicious, red, pointy-toed boots. They were an incredibly trendy look in the 80s, and they're back, big time. I'm going to take you on a little trip down memory lane, and look at examples of this style from the 80s, and show you how they're being repeated today.

(A note: I apologize for the poor quality of these photos. Beau took them with my phone, just quickly and casually for Instagram, but I decided to make a little post with them.)

You'd have to have be wilfully blind and have absolutely no interest whatsoever in fashion to have missed the fact that pointy-toed, tomato-red, slouchy(ish) boots are absolutely everywhere this season. My September Vogue was dripping with them, and I was digging it.

I knew, on my sadly limited budget right now, I knew I wouldn't be able to afford them.

Debbie Harry in the 80s
But, at the ripe old age of (almost) 47, I also knew I'd seen them before. I'd seen them in a little decade called the 1980s.

So I knew, with a little perseverance, I could find a vintage pair, and I did. I found these leather beauties on Etsy for about $50, including shipping, a mere fraction of what I would have to pay for something similar new. 

I never owned a pair in the 80s. I was too poor and too disdainful of the mainstream for such a thing. But the fun thing about living long enough to see fashion trends return, is that you get to try things you didn't try the first time round.

If you remember these boots' first appearance on the fashion scene, you probably also remember that they were most often paired with midi-length skirts and dresses. 

Dress: Chaps; Sunglasses: Aldo; Boots, earrings, and purse: vintage
So it didn't take any particular effort for me to decide to do the same. 

Great minds (of a certain age) seem to think alike. The adorable Grown and Curvy Woman's mind was probably thinking in similar ways to mine when she put her outfit together. She's one of my favourite style bloggers. Her outfits always knock it out of the park, and she always buys the clothes that I really want but can't quite justify on my current, uncertain budget. Clothing envy runs strong when I peruse her blog.

(Note that the toes of her boots are more rounded than mine; this season has room for both styles, while, in the 80s, the toes got pointier as the decade progressed.)

But mine's not bad either, if I do say so myself. I was really very excited about them. People who tell me I'm too negative should remember that I can get all giddy over a pair of second hand boots, or a brooch, or a bird.

From an online feature on the trend from In Style
Just as red boots with midi-length skirts and dresses were everywhere in the 80s, they're everywhere again now. 

Red on red is the favoured combo as with this outfit by Valentino, which also adds pinks, a fairly daring combination I think.

This outfit by Fendi is one of my favourites. I already have a long, fire engine red coat a little bit like this one, and I'm looking forward to pairing it with my new-to-me boots. Red on red may be bold ... 

... but so am I.

If you look closely, you can see that this dress includes navy pinstripes. Given the current political climate in the States, I was in no mood to play up the blue and create a patriotic, American look.

Dress by Eloquii
My current fascination with red, white, and blue runs more along the lines of bold graphics, as with this dress ... 

... which I covet, so naturally, Grown and Curvy Woman already owns it.

To allude to my graphic, red white and blue obsession, I wore this bold brooch in my ponytail, another nod of the head ...

Alyssa Milano
... to the 80s ...

Demi Moore
... when we were all sticking various ornaments in our big hair, mostly to make it even bigger. 

Isabel Marant
But back to the boots and dress themselves. Not all 80s inspired, slouchy booted outfits en vogue right now are red on red. Mixing and matching is just fine.

And it was just fine in the 80s too. But do note the little pop of tomato red in the belt here. 

A pop of red is and was good too ...

... as with these 80s purses ... 

... or my purse ...

Bottega Vaneta
... or this purse from last spring.

I actually think mine is probably from the earlier 70s, but I like it so much, I didn't really care. The gold hardware ...

... is so fun ...

... and works well with another 80s staple: huge, bold earrings. Often geometric or vaguely shell-like in shape, they were generally made of bright plastic or enamel ...

... and were frequently paired with gold-tone metal. They're still very easy to find second hand. I got these for about three dollars. I actually own several pairs of 80s, gold and fire-engine red earrings in varying degrees of gaudiness.

They too were everywhere. 

The cast of Fame
Notice that eight of the people in this photo are wearing at least a little red. But Miss Grant's outfit - flaming red, full skirt, with pointy-toed slouch boots - points to yet another popular variation on today's outfit: grey and red. 

What do you know? There it is on the runway now. 

A 1980s advertisement for boots 
Sometimes you've just got to ask yourself if fashion is ever new, or if it's always ...

Victoria Beckham
... teetering dangerously close to theft.

At any rate, slouch boots and fire engine red were ubiquitous in the 80s. 

Janet Jackson
Some of it was thanks to Janet Jackson's brother. You all remember how he dressed: a lot like his sister is dressed here, though he most often paired red with black.

He was largely responsible for the quasi military use of bright red with black in the 80s. 

Dolce and Gabbana
And, not surprisingly, black with red is in now ...

Remember these shockingly sexist Virginia Slims ads that billed themselves as feminist?! I'm happy to say that we've come an even longer way since then.
... as it was in then. 

Thus my great big, Ray-ban inspired, black sunglasses ...

... a la Corey Hart, who even wore them at night! I don't know how popular Corey Hart was elsewhere, but, in Canada in the 80s, he was it.

Blair Warner on Facts of Life
Midi-dress, black and red: for young ...

Mrs. Garrett on Facts of Life
... and for old, then ...

... and now, here ...

Isabel Marant
... and there. 

Sonia Rykiel
You can add stripes too, if you'd like. 

If you're well endowed in the chest, and the stripes are horizontal, they can help draw attention away from your pain face if you have one, like I do here ...

... or from your goofy smile, like mine here. Beau loves it when I smile like this. He calls it my "square smile." He gives the oddest compliments. The other day he said I'm cute like a muffin.

And speaking of looking like a muffin, in the 80s, the striped skirts on midi-dresses tended to tilt in toward each other, to minimize hips and emphasize the waist, a nice little trick indeed.

Now just mix and match it all! 

Because, obviously, there is no uniform now and there was no uniform then. You could wear your slouch boots with pants ... 

Anni-Frid Lyngstad, circa late 70s or early 80s
... then ...

... and now. I'm looking forward to it. 

Tina Turner
Or you could go more rock and roll and mix it up with a mini skirt or short dress. Back in the day, that was what the tough women did.

And the men played with the style too. While they were busy trying to impress by stuffing their pants... 

Pat Benatar
... some women dispensed with pants altogether.

David Lee Roth
Honestly though, who pulled off the sexy better? The men? 

Debbie Harry
Or the women. I know who I'm voting for! Wow! Just, oh wow.

Marc Jacobs
If you don't want to be quite so bold in showing off what God gave you, you can still wear this look a little shorter without feeling overly exposed.

Or you can go more demure like I did. I'm no Debbie Harry, and my back hurts way too much lately for me to mess around with making sure my undies aren't showing as I hobble along. So demure it is, at least for now.

So there you have it: your little trip down memory lane, your little bit of time travel. 

Are you going to give it a whirl?

(I'm sharing this with Style Crone, Style NudgeModish Matrons on In The Writer's ClosetNot Dressed as Lamb, Elegantly Dressed and Stylish, High Latitude Style, and Not Dead Yet.)


  1. I really enjoyed your article a lot. I also have red boots and you've given me so much inspiration! Thank you!

  2. Oh yes those red boots!! Great job scouting them out, and you look terrific wearing them. I wore "power suits" in the 80's, ugh. xox


  3. I missed it in the 80’s, and would have missed it again this time - Thank you for helping us decoding the trends! I like fashion and know no one else who writes so interestingly about it.

  4. Thanks for linking up to Top of the World Style. These red boots are so cool!

  5. I love the boots and what a great ETSY fine. I wore a lot of red in the 80's too: sunglasses, shoes, bags and a little trim on clothes. Thank you for linking up. It is always wonderful to find another "slow fashion" enthusiast. Love the historical thing you did, what a lot of work!

  6. Absolutely smashing in head-to-toe red! Now I have to keep my eyes open for red boots!
    Lots of love, dear!