Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Parachute Pants

This month I'm participating in the A to Z Challenge. My theme is the 80s. Today's letter is:

Parachute pants are often associated with the 80s but in truth, they were only popular for a short period of time. These are parachute pants:

They're usually confused with the pants M.C. Hammer made famous in the very early 90s in his U Can't Touch This video.

Break dancing popularized parachute pants, which were tight synthetic nylon that felt just like a parachute to the touch.

Although they were around as early as the late 70s, Bugle Boy successfully marketed parachute pants to teenage boys, taking them to their height of popularity in 1984. Soon they were replaced by the new trend...two-toned jeans.

But parachute pants are forever doomed to be mistaken for Hammer pants. One more time, for the record...parachute pants:

Hammer pants:

Hammer time!

Friday, April 17, 2015

O is for Off-the-Shoulder Shirts

This month I'm participating in the A to Z Challenge. My theme is the 80s. Today's letter is:

In the days before the Kardashians inspired our nation's fashion choices, it only took one movie to kick off an international fashion craze. For fashionistas in 1983, that movie was Flashdance.

Jennifer Beals' off-the-shoulder sweatshirt can once again be seen in stores as fashion designers find new ways to reinvent the 80s.

Flashdance brought a little bit of rebellion to 80s fashion. At the time, much of what we were seeing was more straight-laced. Shoulder pads, silk, big bows in front...

Along came Flashdance and its tribute to urban street fashion. Its main character was a female welder in Philadelphia who dreams of being a ballerina. Her torn sweatshirt and jeans were revolutionary at the time. Teens loved it.

Jeans with torn knees became huge later in the 80s, by the way. Some people even drew on their knees. Madonna wore lace leggings under hers.

What do you know? Ripped jeans are in style yet again. It seems the Flashdance look will continue to resurface every couple of decades until we're all wearing unicolored futuristic spacesuits.

What's your favorite fashion decade?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

N is for New Coke

This month I'm participating in the A to Z Challenge. My theme is the 80s. Today's letter is:

The history of Coca-Cola takes us all the way back to 1863, when an entrepreneur invented Coca Wine. The beverage combined wine with cocaine.

An Atlanta pharmacist began serving a beverage based on Coca Wine. In 1886, Prohibition required him to replace the wine in his drink with a syrup that later evolved to what we now know as Coca Cola.

While the formula for Coca-Cola has changed slightly over the years (especially when cocaine was prohibited in 1914), customers have grown to expect a certain taste. So imagine the surprise in 1985 when this product was introduced:

The goal was to make it more competitive by giving the product a new taste. The product was in a major slump, with its market share having dropped to 24 percent, largely due to competition from Pepsi.

In blind taste tests, New Coke overwhelmingly beat both Coke and Pepsi. Customers said they loved the sweet taste but when asked if they'd drink it if it replaced Coca-Cola, most said they would, but it would take time to get used to it. A small percentage said replacing Coke would make them angry.

Coke proceeded...and people were angry. Not just "don't buy it" angry, either. A small but very vocal group of people with a lot of free time staged boycotts against the company.

Customers flooded the company's 1-800 lines, reportedly showing the same amount of grief they'd express at the loss of a family member. Coke switched back, spinning the whole mess into a campaign stating that now they're giving Americans more choice than ever. (Classic Coke or New Coke.)

To this day, some speculate that the entire thing was just a marketing ploy to bring Coke loyalists back.

What do you think? Was New Coke just a marketing ploy?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

M is for Malls

This month I'm participating in the A to Z Challenge. My theme is the 80s. Today's letter is:

If you know me, you know from the title of this post that I'm going to enjoy this one! I grew up in the 80s, which means that when I think of shopping, one thing comes to mind:

In the 80s, shopping malls were a little less high tech. And a lot more fun.

Photo: Michael Galinsky
The above picture was taken by Michael Galinsky, who traveled the country in the 80s, taking pictures inside shopping malls. The result is a look inside a brief period of time when indoor shopping malls were the place to be.

Photo: Michael Galinsky
The trend has now passed. Instead, today we have "lifestyle centers," which in theory allow you to park in front of the store and run right in.

In practice, however, you can't find a parking space and have to walk a half a mile in the cold, rain, or scorching heat, making you long for the days when you could shop comfortably, then stop by the food court for some yummy food.

But if you happen to be watching TV when Fast Times at Ridgemont High or Valley Girl comes on, you can catch some great shots of malls as they were in the 80s, especially in the opening credits.

Are there any good indoor malls left in your town? 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

L is for Live Aid

This month I'm participating in the A to Z Challenge. My theme is the 80s. Today's letter is:

In 1984, two musicians brought together some of the biggest stars in the world for a song. Recorded in just one day and released four days later, the song became this:

Proceeds from the sale of the Christmas song were used to help alleviate poverty in Ethiopia. Inspired by the success, producers set their sights on a summer concert to raise even more funds. On July 13, 1985, Live Aid was held in London and Philadelphia, as well as being televised worldwide. It was the most ambitious international satellite TV event ever at the time.

According to Joan Baez's memoir, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson were deliberately absent from the event, even attempting to start a boycott. I couldn't find information on why they were against it but that same year, they were both very much a part of this (notably much more diverse) project to benefit Africa:

USA for Africa is responsible for We Are the World, which sold 20 million copies worldwide. Only 15 songs have sold more than 15 million copies...EVER. Still today, it stands as a tribute to some of the best musical artists of our time. In a sense, it's a musical time capsule:

The trend seemed to have ended in the early 90s, when David Foster gave it one more try.

The song was designed to boost the morale of troops serving in Operation Desert Storm. It did fairly well, but all of the celebrity compilation songs inspired a parody by SNL. Perhaps that is what ended the trend?

Maybe the music industry should give this another try. What do you think?

Monday, April 13, 2015

K is for Kicks

This month I'm participating in the A to Z Challenge. My theme is the 80s. Today's letter is:

While the word "kicks" has long been a nickname for shoes, in the 80s it was used for athletic shoes. And in the 80s, we rocked the athletic shoe. There were colorful high tops.

And colorful canvas shoes.

And the checkered canvas shoes pictured on the cover of the Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack.

But we had some other cool shoes, as well. I remember having jelly shoes. I think these have been back in style at least once since the 80s.

There were also these cool suede ankle boots that I liked so much, I bought another pair when they came back in style in the 00s.

One of my favorite pairs of shoes was my jazz shoes. They were comfortable and went with the cool patterned pants that were so popular in the mid-80s. They had to be polished constantly, though...which may be why they haven't come back in style yet.

What's the best pair of "kicks" you've ever owned?