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the occasions lady and

Iconic '80s Fashion
by Audrey Poff, illustration by Brittney Guest

As fall fashion trends for 2019 continue to emerge this season, there’s a definite nod to the ’80s in this year’s lineup.

I attended high school and college in the ’80s. Those were good times. For a little perspective, President Ronald Reagan took office in January 1981 and MTV was launched a few months later. We rocked permed hair, boxy blazers, neon colors, parachute pants, leather jackets and high-waisted jeans in the ’80s, and a boombox was never too far away.

Two of my favorite trends during that era, however, were in denim and sneakers, and both are poised to make a return this fall.

As the demand for “dad” sneakers continues among millennials, it is apparently driving a surge in classic sneakers, causing companies to rerelease and (remix) more of their designs from the ’80s and ’90s.

My favorite sneakers of the ’80s were Reeboks. I still remember the first pair of Reeboks I saw. I was in high school but was enrolled in a college class at night. I don’t remember what class I was taking at the time, but I do remember the first pair of classic white leather Reeboks I saw in that class. A young man stationed at Eaker Air Force Base was in the class with me. He was wearing a spotless pair of white Reeboks with the original British flag logo. It was a brand I had never seen before. When I finally worked up the courage to ask him about his shoes, he said he had purchased them while stationed in Germany. I was in love with those shoes, but of course it would be a while before they made their way to the stores in Blytheville.

A few years later, Reebok released its iconic black high-top Freestyle sneaker while I was attending A-State. I saw them for the first time while shopping with my mom at Goldsmith’s in Memphis and pleaded with her to buy a pair for me. There’s no telling how many miles I logged across the A-State campus in those black high-tops, but part of me wishes I still had them. They still represent some of my favorite memories of life as a college kid in the ’80s.

Like sneakers, denim was pretty dull before the ’80s. I remember buying a pair of pinstriped, pleated jeans in high school that were a little different than the rest. That was about as edgy as jeans got at that point. It wasn’t until my college days at A-State that acid-wash jeans emerged. Whether they were paired with my favorite pair of red pumps or my black high-top Reeboks, acid wash jeans were one of my favorite trends of the mid-’80s. The idea of wearing a bleached out pair of jeans was fairly radical then, but that was long before ripped jeans with holes in them were on-trend.

I won’t be rushing out to buy a crop top to go with a pair of voluminous, high-waisted pants for fall, but I’m excited to see how some of the iconic trends from my past are incorporated into today’s fashions. So, pack up your neon, an oversized jacket, your acid-wash jeans and vintage sneakers. Looks like we’ll be taking a trip back to the ’80s this fall.