Eighties has been voted the worst fashion and
style decade of recent times in a survey for UKTV
Gold. But was it really so awful? Here actress
and 1980s pop sensation Toyah Willcox tells
CAROLINE IGGULDEN what was great about the
may be in the minority, but I certainly
dont cringe with embarrassment when I look
back at the 1980s.
And I feel no shame about
my fashion sense.
I certainly didnt
fit into the blueprint of the Farrah Fawcett
lookalike that was so popular in the 1970s. Back
then, women who werent over 5ft 2in
didnt have a chance of getting noticed
because Farrahs long-limbed, wavy-haired
look was so popular.
Then the 1980s came along
and freed me. The decade was all about
individuality and singers like myself, Kim Wilde,
Carol Decker and Siouxsie Sioux really pushed the
boundaries of music and fashion.
In the 1980s women
didnt have to fit into some perfect mould
of what men found attractive. You could create
your own look.
And it certainly
wasnt like nowadays, when everyone wears
the same fashions from Primark or Topshop. We
took immense pride in making our hairstyles and
make-up different from everyone
During the decade I shared
a dressmaker with Bananarama who made me some
very strange, geometric clothing.
I also loved the
high-waisted trousers of the Eighties, which were
cut off at the calf. I loved the way they drew
attention to the bottom, which seemed very risque
and sexy back then.
In the 1980s the only
place where breasts were celebrated was on The
Suns Page 3. People didnt really show
cleavage, they covered up more. Jordan would have
seemed like a porn star back then.
Power dressing was also a
brilliant trend to come out of the Eighties. I
thought Joan Collins looked extraordinary, and
apparently shoulder pads are making a
It is easy to laugh, but
if you had a small waist and narrow hips, they
gave a terrific silhouette.
The Eighties was a time of
self-promotion, which is now seen as slightly
ugly, but it certainly didnt do women any
harm. Some very successful businesswomen came out
of the power-dressing decade, such as Jacqueline
Gold, chief executive of Ann Summers.
And it was the decade in
which women took over the music industry
In the 1970s I would say
the music business was made up of 70 per cent
men. By 1982 it was 80 per cent women it
started with artists and spread to the
The Eighties also saw the
birth of the pop video, which revolutionised the
industry. You couldnt release a song unless
it had the video people wanted to see
their pop idols.
It made us all
competitive, we all had to outdo our own image
and were under pressure to be more and more
outlandish with our fashions.
I remember I used to
create a new look at least every three
I went through a number of
phases, from a David Bowie-ish look in the early
Eighties, to New Romantic styles, right through
to wearing high-street ra-ra skirts.
It was fabulous that
fashions changed all the time. Madonna was
obviously the queen of reinvention. In the early
Eighties she brought in a very New York look,
lacy tights and lots of layers on top of each
But by the end of the
decade she had not only reinvented her look but
also her body shape, showcasing her sculpted,
chiselled look in the video for Vogue.
The most memorable outfit
I wore during the 1980s was a black rubber dress
for the video of Dont Fall In Love, in
1985. I have never felt so sexy in anything
since. It came with a price though, as it made me
As for mens
fashions, I dont believe there has ever
been a decade quite like it. Men were peacocks
who preened themselves in public.
While women slipped into
mens chairs in the boardroom, men were
slipping into womens seats in front of the
dressing table mirror.
But the Eighties were
owned by Duran Duran. They were great, boys in
make-up with coiffured hair. And they have
survived too they are the 1980s version of
It is easy for people in
the Noughties to look back and mock the Eighties.
But what really defines the 1990s or the
Noughties? No obvious looks or images spring to
mind. I would like to see people nowadays take a
leaf out of our book and take more risks with the
way they dress.
The hoodie has become a
kind of uniform for teenagers today, but that
style is all about anonymity and blending in.In
the 1980s everyone wanted to stand out and
they werent afraid to use neon colours to
There is nothing from my
Eighties wardrobe I would want to wear now and I
dont think I could ever bring myself to put
on a shoulder pad.
But that doesnt mean
I look back and cringe in fact, I
wouldnt change a thing.
I think it is brilliant
that you can watch old episodes of Dynasty or
Dallas and have a good laugh. To people watching
today, the fashions and styles seem so alien that
you might as well be watching something from the
Yes, you can accuse the
Eighties of being bold, bright and even
ridiculous . . . but you certainly cant
call them boring."
25th April 2008