The pre-acid house late ’80s

Looking at the new season collections, it’s like travelling back 23 years to 1987. The drainpipe jeans and smackhead-influenced rock “chic” of recent years has been replaced by something a little smarter. A look that harks back to an earlier time (1986-88), which in itself was referencing another era (1950s America).

Though barely remembered, by all but the most anorak-ish of fashion er, anoraks, this was a great time for clothes, as the picture above, taken from the brilliant new 80s Casual book, demonstrates. The scally look of the mid-’80s, with its slim-fitting silhouette was superseded by something altogether looser. Out went the Farahs and Shermans, in came chinos, baggy jumpers by brands like Armani, Chipie and Chevignon plastered with retro slogans, and jeans from Ball and C17. This probably explains why I started wearing a blue, nautical blazer by French Connection and trying to look serious in pictures (below).

Over the top of this new uniform. you couldn’t go far wrong with a chino-coloured cotton jacket, often bought from Next, a brand at its absolute zenith during this era. The look was topped off (literally) with a bouncing quiff, cut short around the sides for that Milan catwalk-meets-Elvis-on-holiday-in Capri look. And who rocked it better than anyone? That’ll be the chap below.

I remember going to Stoke away with Liverpool on a grimy, rain-sodden day in January 1988, dressed, as my mate’s dad said, looking like “an ice cream man” in the full chino garb. No longer was I a wannabe scally, looking to the terraces of Anfield for my sartorial inspiration, something else was calling.

I now knew there was a bigger world out there, one I’d seen on programmes like the peerless Rough Guides on BB2 and Channel 4’s Network 7. One in which posh girls of easy virtue were impressed with what you wore and people went to Milan to buy clothes, rather than St John’s Market in Liverpool. They all danced to weird Eurodisco and this strange, but infectious music called house. I liked the look of this world very much. I’d make it my business to get to know it better.


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