The iconic eighties

What comes to your mind when I say fashion in the eighties?

Your answer might depend on who you are. If you are a millennial, you might say mom jeans. If you are of my generation, you might remember that sarkaari babus wore safaris, college girls sported some awkward midis and maxis, that bell bottoms were all the rage and that shoulder pads were so in!

“Ma! I got my nose pierced!!”, I messaged my mom, riding down the escalator of Huda Metro station.


“Sen pic”, my phone pinged in immediate response. Getting into my cab, I proceeded to take my first selfie ever, which I then sent to her. Obviously, she called immediately.

“Okay, you look traditional…”, she said. She always starts her sentences with okay when she has something negative to say, so I braced myself.

“Is it going to be a nine yards saree that you will sport next?”, she asked jokingly (read: mockingly). Do I detect….disapproval?
I wished then that we were WhatsApping instead, I wouldn’t have had to cut the call. I later pretended that the call dropped.
I looked up, I was almost home.

“Ma look, we’re twinning”, greeted my daughter as soon as I entered. She and Tara, her cousin, were both wearing an identical Nike Ensemble.

Twinning? Why, we were tripling and quadrupling back in the day, I thought.

I was reminded of our childhood, when our mother would buy metres of the same fabric, stitch us a frock each, much like in the Mario Miranda cartoons. We would cringe not because it was handmade, but because we didn’t want to look so similar. Sibling rivalry was a big thing.

This was of course, when mom was being magnanimous. On most occasions, it would simply be a one-size-fits-all dress handed down from the oldest sister to the middle one and then to poor little me. Looking back, I probably should have given more credit to my very own seamstress.

This got me thinking about the circular nature of fashion. I reached for my tea and settled down, thinking about the time I got my first pair of jeans when I was in my first year of BCom.

“I wish you had preserved your jeans, Mom”, said my daughter as if reading my mind. At my puzzled look, she explained that ‘vintage’ was a look now.

If I had known, I would have saved my wardrobe for my daughter and been a part of the sustainable fashion brigade. Oh, the fashion of the 80’s – those prim and proper midis and the ridiculous shoulder padded axis.

Meanwhile, my daughter wanted my attention (and my money, of course).

“You can’t buy a pair of vintage (read:used) Lee jeans from some random Insta site, T!”, I said in response to her request for a thousand rupees to be transferred to her account.

‘It’s unhygienic….um….you might get skin problems Tan”, I tried to reason with her.

“I’ll give it a good wash, Ma”, she said just as her phone pinged with the bank notification. I had transferred the amount and acknowledged that fashion had well and truly turned a full circle!
If only I could trade the ripped pairs for mom jeans! Is the barter system back in vogue yet?

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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