For pretty much the entirety of the eighties it was fashionable for women (and men to a certain extent) to wear clothes with shoulder pads in. Initially this trend was mainly confined to suit jackets, but before long it was not unusual to find shoulder pads added to blouses, jumpers and overcoats too.
The fad was so popular that even if you bought an item of clothing that didn’t have shoulder pads (say a T-Shirt, although even this humble item of clothing could find itself with added shoulderiness) you could always slip a pair of detachable shoulder pads in to give you that American Footballer look. These pads could be attached with velcro to the bra straps or straight into the item itself.
Some garments even came with a choice of interchangeable shoulder pads so you could have merely accentuated shoulders or go for the whole Star Trek Romulan look if that was what took your fancy.
The reason behind this fashion trend was primarily due to the rising number of women working in office settings. The eighties were a decade where women found themselves with more choice in how they wanted to live their lives than they perhaps had previously, even in the seventies. In a bid to be treated in the same way as men, the rise of the so-called Power Dressing phenomenon came about, with smart business suits the order of the day. Shoulder pads soon became a staple part of any high flying female’s wardrobe.
Another reason why the shoulder pad fad really took hold was down to the stars of US soap operas such as Dallas and Dynasty. These shows featured wealthy successful women portrayed by actresses such as Joan Collins and Linda Evans, and guess what they wore whilst being extremely catty to one another. Yup, you’ve guessed it, big old shoulder pads.
So popular was the trend it even stuck around for the first few years of the nineties, but clothing manufacturers soon started to slowly reduce the size of the pads they used until they were really only left in items such as suit jackets. As with most fashions though, we might look back and snigger at it now, but apparently it seems we should be wary, as the shoulder pad may just be sneakily making a return to women’s fashion.