Ten Music-Video Fashion Hits of the 1980s
The Magic of Crop Tops, Tube Socks, and One's Own Face Airbrushed on a T-Shirt
After attending one of Central Cinema's monthly 1980s music-video sing-alongs, I was so inspired by the swooshing spectacle of fashion wonderments, I combed the internet's vast collection of vintage music-video gems and captured the most appetizing looks, culling interview guidance from superstar Jason Miller (of JamWasMovin' Productions, who hosts, curates, and generally keeps the sing-alongs fun as all heck). Please enjoy these top 10 hit fashion moments, from Madonna's rhinestones to Paul Stanley's brittle perm, and remember: More is more.
Scandal, "The Warrior"
Scandal's "The Warrior" occurs in a futuristic sci-fi dystopia outfitted with dry ice, industrialness, and flesh-colored leotards. In her fiercest style moment, frontwoman Patty Smyth wears kimono sleeves inlaid with red and yellow sashes, which recall bike handlebar streamers, which recall the potent joy of freedom. Also, she has eye shadow on her chin and her hair is upside down.
Worth noting: The weirdly intense lyric "Your eyes touch me physically."
Madonna, "Into the Groove"
Desperately Seeking Susan's most precious scene appears in "Into the Groove," inspiring viewers everywhere to sexify their public armpit-maintenance rituals with a bonanza of pink mesh and striped suspenders.
Worth noting: "My sister broke so many hand dryers trying to copy Madonna. It doesn't work. That metal jet won't flip around. Once she pulled one so hard, it came off. An employee spotted her and kicked her out of Burger King," says Miller.
In "Girlfriend," Pebbles throws moist, insistent expressions as she breaks down her pal's boyfriend's general piece-of-shit-ness. Pebbles cycles through elaborate hairstyles, wears a single giant earring, and cinches her ordinary sweatpants with a steeply elegant belt—all being symbolic attempts to resolve duality.
Worth noting: From the floaty vocals to the bendy synthesizers, Paula Abdul's "Cold Hearted" is basically the same song, though "Cold Hearted" came out after and was way more popular.
The Weather Girls, "It's Raining Men"
In "It's Raining Men" by the Weather Girls, barren sets contain cityscapes plainly made from cardboard, and foil-wrapped stars dangle from visible strings. At just about half past ten, the unfathomable becomes real as an assortment of skimpily appareled hunks begins falling like feathers from the sky.
Worth noting: Lightly scrunched tube socks paired with work boots and no pants bring ensembles a nice blend of sass and approachability.
Dead or Alive, "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)"
A twirling beat, a twirling disco ball-these items embody the turmoil of frantic yearning in Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)."
Worth noting: Pete Burns evinces the durability of glamour when a gold ribbon coils his body, transforming the shape into a stack of bulbed velvet wads. Suddenly tubiform, Burns writhes and wiggles, as if sprouting up from a genie bottle. How can you compete with that?
(Answer: You can't, bitches.)
Kiss, "Reason to Live"
You don't see a lot of smiles in "Reason to Live" by Kiss. Just long, poofy hair. Alone, a girl flings her seminaked body around an apartment. Hands encased in fingerless exercise gloves reach out slowly, drifting over faces. Paul Stanley knows he can't love you no more, and he's powerless to stop it.
Worth noting: Stanley also wears pizzazzy handwear in "Tears Are Falling"! Spangled and neon, their fringe jiggles wildly—as if shaken by turbulent winds.
Prince, "When Doves Cry"
It's steamy in here. Prince's lust hangs heavy in the night air. In the video for "When Doves Cry," a crisp white scarf falls against his chest. How it got there, I don't know.
Worth noting: My friend says Prince appeared at her aunt's door in Minneapolis several years ago. He was returning the family's lost cat. He held it in his arms, she says. He wore "a sweatshirt and jeans."
Van Halen, "Panama"
For a whimsical effect, Van Halen's David Lee Roth layers bold-tone underpants over spandex tights, and he swirls his hips and genitalia suggestively. Beyond some concert footage and slow-motion high kicks, not much else happens in Panama.
Worth noting: Roth also wears a towel-wrap skirt sensibly offset with cowboy boots, a T-shirt airbrushed with an image of his own face, and a shredded tank with one shoulder slung low, revealing a bra strap dyed the jettest of black.
Culture Club, "It's a Miracle"
Crop tops are (a) the hallmark of male sensuality, (b) the correct attire for maxin' and relaxin', (c) the champion garment of Culture Club's "It's a Miracle," and (d) best enjoyed while savoring a banana-and-Coca-Cola Slurpee.
Worth noting: Miller discovered the aforementioned Slurpee combination following a chance experiment, and now he's hooked. "I do an equal-parts ratio. It's delicious," he says.
Tina Turner, "Private Dancer"
A chilling narrative unfolds in "Private Dancer." It begins when Tina Turner catches sight of her cheerless face in the mirror, and it concludes as she's crying in the arms of a total stranger.
Worth noting: In reference to its angularity and aggressive precision, fashion historians refer to Turner's glitz-slathered gown with sculptural shoulder plates as the Zip-Zap Zamboni Attack.