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15 Fashions People Were Rocking in 1983

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Urban Bush Babes

A Members Only guide to dressing in the decade of excess.

1. Off-the-Shoulder Sweatshirts

You didn’t need to know how to weld or work a stripper pole in order to get into the comfy casual slouchy sweatshirt look popularized by Jennifer Beals in 1983’s Flashdance (top). And since it really was just a sweatshirt, it worked for fashionistas of all ages. And it still works today (spend an afternoon crafting one at home).

2. Members Only Jackets

Photo courtesy of Filmyr

The cost of membership into the legion of kids wearing these utterly plain coats—which proudly displayed your Members Only status on the chest—was just a few sawbucks. Introduced to America in 1980, the coats were produced in a variety of colors and materials (leather was the crème de la crème) and promised in their ads that “when you put it on, something happens.”

3. Hawaiian Shirts

Photo courtesy of Among Men

Young boys and old men had man-crushes on Tom Selleck, who played Hawaii’s sexiest private investigator, Thomas Magnum, a.k.a. Magnum P.I., from 1980 to 1988. While his sweet Ferrari was out of financial reach for most of the decade’s youth, two of Magnum’s looks were rather easy—and inexpensive—to emulate: that iconic mustache (check out these tips for growing your own) and a bright red Hawaiian shirt. Sales of the beachwear staple skyrocketed during the show’s run, with Magnum’s original “Jungle Bird” Aloha Shirt widely considered the holy grail of Selleck-inspired button-downs. 

4. Big Shoulders

Photo courtesy of Sophie Grumble

From no shoulders to big shoulders! On shows like Dallas and Dynasty, a woman’s power could be measured by the height of her shoulder pads. Translation: the bigger the better. Dynasty stars Joan Collins and Linda Evans were the poster women for the trend, which was popular in both high schools and boardrooms. The most versatile of padded shirts and blazers were equipped with a Velcro strip on the inside of the shoulder, which allowed women to swap out the size of the pad, depending on the day and/or occasion. 

5. Popped Collars

Photo courtesy of DVDActive

In the 1980s, collars were meant to be turned upward. Particularly if that collar belonged to a preppy wearing a polo shirt. Stripes were in, particularly those of the candy-colored variety, and an Izod alligator emblem was the epitome of high style; it even received a shout-out in Lisa Birnbach’s now-classic The Official Preppy Handbook

6. Baracuta Jackets

Photo courtesy of J. Crew

Eagle-eyed viewers of the “Popped Collars” photo above (a still from 1983’s Valley Girl) may have spotted what was Members Only’s fiercest competitor in the 1980s: Baracuta. Imported from England, the Baracuta G9—whose solid colored exteriors belied the plaid madness happening in the lining—was first popularized by Elvis Presley in the late 1950s, when he wore one in King Creole. Ryan O’Neal wore one on Peyton Place as did Christopher Reeve in Superman; Steve McQueen, Frank Sinatra, and 1980s preppies were fans, too. Earlier this month, Baracuta introduced a new website dedicated to the jacket’s history of cool (with options to buy, of course). 

7. Exercise Gear

Photo courtesy of Wendi Aarons

Jennifer Beals and Olivia Newton-John weren’t the only ’80s trendsetters turning exercise gear into streetwear. Fashion-forward gals were taking attire typically reserved for aerobics and dance classes into classrooms, malls, and even the workplace. Among the “Let’s Get Physical”-inspired accoutrements were headbands, leg warmers, spandex, slouchy socks, and leotards with matching tights (the shinier the better).

8. Guess Jeans

The designer jean trend is still raging on, and we owe that to the 1980s, when Calvin Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Jordache were among the biggest names in denim. But no logo defined 1983 better than the Guess triangle, sewn firmly into the back right pocket. (And yes, occasionally that was sewn firmly into the back right pocket of a pair of stone-washed jeans.)

9. Parachute Pants

Photo courtesy of Regalo.com

If you were breakdancing in the ’80s, you probably noticed that your backspins and windmills were much improved when you were wearing a pair of parachute pants. Not to be confused with the parachute pants of the late 1980s (the balloon-like variety preferred by M.C. Hammer), the earlier incarnation was made of nylon (ripstop nylon was particularly popular), often brightly colored, and littered with zippers.

10. Jellies

Photo courtesy of Pip Pip Hooray

Don’t be alarmed if you have a pair of jelly shoes in your closet right now, because they’ve made a comeback in recent years. (Even BuzzFeed says so.) But it’s impossible to talk about fashions of the decade and not make mention of these PVC shoes, which came in rainbow of colors and cutout patterns, some of them heeled, some of the filled with glitter, and many of them retailing for $1 or less. (Nope, that’s not a typo—one dollar!) 

11. Lace With an Edge

Photo courtesy of Mirror80

It’s hard to know where to begin with the number of trends for which Madonna is singlehandedly responsible: Crop tops, big ribbon hairbands, mesh shirts, crop tops, and lace gloves are just a few of the now-iconic looks she debuted in her videos for “Holiday” and “Lucky Star” in 1983. Fortunately, it would be a while before her Boy Toy belt buckle became a thing. 

12. Swatches

Photo courtesy of Swatch

Swiss timepieces took a turn for the brightly-colored and slightly cheesy when Swatch debuted its line of plastic watches (the name Swatch is a contraction of “second watch,” referring to their somewhat disposable nature) in 1983. Their fun styles and inexpensive price tags led many fans of the brand to wear several of them at once.

13. Ray-Ban Sunglasses

Photo courtesy of TomCruise.com

Ray-Ban owes a huge debt of gratitude to Tom Cruise, who made their Wayfarers the sunglasses of choice for other wannabe teen pimps following 1983’s Risky Business. Two years later, he donned their Aviator shades for Top Gun… and sales jumped 40 percent.

14. Calvin Klein Underwear

Photo courtesy of Esquire

Calvin Klein has been the first name in men’s underwear for more than 30 years for a reason: He was the first designer to want to make guys care about what came between them and their Calvins. He launched an ad campaign that could not be ignored, as this billboard attests. Even today, men’s underwear still makes up a large percentage of the company’s annual income. 

15. Kangol Hats

Photo courtesy of The Fashion Bomb

A signature chapeau of the hip-hop industry, Kangol hats are most often associated with Run-D.M.C., LL Cool J, and The Notorious B.I.G., but Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were some of the brand’s earliest adopters, as evidenced by the cover image of their hit single, “The Message.”

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15 Facts About Franz Marc's Yellow Cow
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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

To gaze upon German Expressionist Franz Marc's Yellow Cow is to take in a surreal and spirited painting, alive with color. But within its bold brush strokes and envelope-pushing aesthetic lies the unexpected story of a complicated love between two artists, and the path that led them together.

1. YELLOW COW IS WILDLY DIFFERENT FROM FRANZ MARC'S EARLY WORKS.

Philosophy student-turned-painter Franz Marc attended the Munich Academy of Art during the turn of the 20th century. There, he studied natural realism, striving to capture his subjects in portraits true to dimension, gesture, and color. In 1902, he created Portrait of the Artist's Mother, which immortalized homemaker and devout Calvinist Sophie Marc. Sitting in profile, she leans over a book, reading by the light of an unseen lantern. Though Marc would become known for his vibrant color choices, here he favored darker shades that gave the painting a flat appearance, and a somber mood.

2. YELLOW COW'S CREATION WAS INSPIRED BY GERMAN NUDISTS.

In the early 20th century, Germany was in the midst of a back-to-nature movement, which saw several new artist collectives and nudist colonies pop up around the country. This celebration of the glory of the land and its natural inhabitants spoke to Marc, who later explained, "People with their lack of piety, especially men, never touched my true feelings. But animals with their virginal sense of life awakened all that was good in me."

3. HE VIEWED ANIMALS AS GOD-LIKE CREATURES.

Like the naturalists, Marc came to value the rural wonders of the country. He abandoned the bustle and urban intellectualism of Munich, and sought the spirituality and peace he believed could be found in living simply, as animals do. He began to think of them as having a "god-like presence and power." In a 1908 letter, Marc attempted to detail how this belief was informing his work, writing, "I am trying to intensify my ability to sense the organic rhythm that beats in all things, to develop a pantheistic sympathy for the trembling flow of blood in nature, in trees, in animals, in air—I am trying to make a picture of it … with colors which make a mockery of the old kind of studio picture."

4. ANIMALS BECAME A SIGNATURE MOTIF FOR MARC.

This is an image of Dog Lying in the Snow by Franz Marc
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

By 1907, Marc was focusing his work on capturing the spiritualism found in animals. Other notable works in the vein include The Fox, Dog Lying In The Snow, The Little Blue Horses, The Red Bull, Little Monkey, Monkey Frieze, Wild Boars in the Water, and The Tiger.

5. YELLOW COW IS A VERY LARGE PAINTING.

Measuring 55 3/8 by 74 1/2 inches, it's nearly 5 by 6 feet wide.

6. MARC DEVELOPED HIS OWN COLOR SYMBOLISM.

This is an image of Self-portrait by August Macke.
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Colors would recur in Marc's work and speak to different emotions or themes. In 1910, he explained his use of color in a letter to friend and colleague, artist August Macke. Marc wrote, "Blue is the male principle, astringent and spiritual. Yellow is the female principle, gentle, gay, and spiritual. Red is matter, brutal and heavy and always the color to be opposed and overcome by the other two."

7. YELLOW COW MIGHT BE AN UNCONVENTIONAL WEDDING PORTRAIT.

Exploring the painter's works and statements on his use of color, art historian Mark Rosenthal declared that the frolicking cow is actually a veiled depiction of Marc's second wife Maria Franck, while the distant blue mountains are meant to represent the painter himself. Painted the same year the couple were married, it times out to potentially be representative of their nuptials. The blending of the blue into the cow's spots suggests the joining of masculine and feminine.

8. FRANCK WAS A RECURRING MUSE FOR HER LOVER.

In 1906, before they were married, Marc had sketched a more traditional portrait of his wife-to-be, titled simply Mädchenkopf, which translates—rather unsentimentally—to "girl's head." That same year, he captured Franck in the abstract painting Two Women on the Hillside. Later, he created Maria Franck in a White Cap.

9. MARC AND FRANCK HAD A COMPLICATED ROMANCE.

An artist in her own right, Franck met Marc at a costume ball in Schwabing, Germany. The pair hit it off, and also befriended illustrator Marie Schnür, resulting in a shared Bavarian summer of creativity (and rumored three-way trysts). Schnür was the other woman who modeled for Two Women on the Hillside, as well as the other woman captured in a NSFW photo from their formative season in the sun. Marc ended up marrying both women, starting with Schnür.

Theirs was a marriage of convenience, meant to aid her in securing custody of her bastard baby boy, whom she had with another man. Details on this marriage are scant beyond that it was brief, lasting from 1907 to 1908. However, because Schnür accused Marc of infidelity, he was barred from remarrying until a special dispensation was granted, which took years. So while Marc and Franck had tried to wed in 1911, their official "I do" didn't come until June 3, 1913, in Munich.

10. TWO WOMEN ON THE HILLSIDE WAS A SIGN OF MARC'S TRANSITION TO HIS SIGNATURE STYLE.

This is an image of Two Women on the Hillside by Franz Marc.
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Looking back on 1906's Two Women on the Hillside, it seems to foretell Yellow Cow. Depicting the two women who, in their own ways, would inspire Yellow Cow, Marc moved away from the German realist art he studied in college. Instead, looser brush strokes speak to Post-Impressionist interests, and the willful abstractness of its subjects predicts the evolving German expressionism movement of which he would become a part. It also shows repetition in the lines—of the woman's hip to the hill beyond—that would be revisited in Yellow Cow, whose haunches mirror the rise and fall of the mountains behind her.

11. YELLOW COW WAS A PART OF THE DER BLAUE REITER ART MOVEMENT.

Named for a Wassily Kandinsky painting, this movement boasted members like Kandinsky, Marc, Macke, Alexej von Jawlensky, Marianne von Werefkin, and Gabriele Münter. Der Blaue Reiter (translating to The Blue Rider) had no hard manifesto, but its members shared a common urge to express spiritualism through their work, and often specifically through color. Turned away from exhibitions, they toured with their own, and published an almanac that celebrated contemporary, primitive, and folk art, along with children's paintings.

12. DER BLAUE REITER WAS DEVASTATED BY WORLD WAR I.

The Blue Rider movement only lasted from 1911 to 1914, in large part because the tensions growing between nations chased Russian artists back to their homeland, while Germans, including Marc and Macke, were conscripted into military service. As these artistic colleagues scattered, their movement faded. But it proved fundamental to the evolving Expressionism, and its works would remain.

13. MARC DID NOT LIVE TO SEE HIS LEGACY SECURED.

Marc's animal paintings would go on to awe viewers for decades to come. They'd become coveted by collectors and museums. And a plaque would be placed on the Munich home where he was born, remembering him as a founder of Der Blaue Reiter. But Marc was killed on March 4, 1916, during the Battle of Verdun. He was 36 years old.

14. FRANCK SAW TO IT THAT HIS WORKS WOULD BE PRESERVED.

This is an image of art historian, Klaus Lankheit.
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Marc's widow gave records of his life and writing to German art historian Klaus Lankheit. She called on German writer/gallery owner Herwarth Walden to exhibit her late husband's works in a posthumous show in October of 1916. While continuing to create and exhibit her own work, she collected Marc's letters from the war's front, and in 1920 had them published in a two-volume book called Briefe, Aufzeichnungen und Aphorismen (translating to Letters, Records, and Aphorisms). According to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, where a copy of each is preserved, "The first volume contains letters written from September 1914 to March 1916 as well as records alongside color plates, and the second presents the artist’s sketchbook." Franck preserved Marc's legacy in whatever way she could, and in doing so, gave him to the world.

15. YELLOW COW IS REMEMBERED AS A JOYFUL MASTERPIECE.

While it might not sound complimentary to compare your wife to a cow, the consensus on Yellow Cow is that it signifies the happiness and bliss Marc's bond with Franck brought to his life. The bovine's bright colors are jubilant and yet the colors of her body jibe with those in her environment. She belongs here. Her pose is enthusiastic and bold—almost dance-like. If you look closely, you can even see a small smile play across her lips. It's an unusual love letter, but one that's outlived its lovers, and now hangs on the walls of the Guggenheim in New York City, to inspire many more.

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Courtesy Sotheby's
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You Can Buy the Oldest Surviving Photo of a U.S. President
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Courtesy Sotheby's

The descendent of a 19th-century U.S. Congressman has discovered a previously unknown presidential portrait that is likely the oldest surviving photograph of a U.S. president, The New York Times reports.

Previously, two 1843 portraits of John Quincy Adams were thought to be the oldest photographs of a president still around. Currently hanging in the National Portrait Gallery, one of them was found on sale at an antique shop in 1970 for a mere 50 cents. Now, an even older photo of the sixth president has been uncovered, and it’ll cost you more than 50 cents to buy it.

Adams sat for dozens of photographs throughout his life, so it’s not entirely surprising that a few more surviving portraits would be uncovered. At the time this newly discovered half-plate daguerreotype was taken in March 1843, Adams had already served out his term as president and had returned to Congress as a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts. The photo was taken by Philip Haas, who in August of that same year would take other daguerreotypes that we previously thought were the oldest surviving photos. (Despite his apparent willingness to be photographed, Adams called them “all hideous.”)

John Quincy Adams sits in a portrait studio in 1843.
Courtesy Sotheby's

After having three daguerreotypes taken that day in March, Adams gave one of them to his friend and fellow Congressman Horace Everett, inscribing it with both their names. Everett’s great-great-grandson eventually found it in his family’s belongings and is now putting it up for sale through Sotheby’s.

It isn't the oldest picture of a U.S. president ever taken, though. The first-ever was actually a portrait of William Henry Harrison made in 1841, but unlike this one, the original has not survived. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art owns a copy of it, which was made in 1850.)

The head of the Sotheby’s department for photographs, Emily Bierman, told The New York Times that the newly discovered image is “without a doubt the most important historical photo portrait to be offered at auction in the last 20 years.” (She also noted that the former POTUS is wearing “cute socks” in it.)

The daguerreotype will be on sale as part of a photography auction at Sotheby’s in October and is expected to sell for an estimated $150,000 to $250,000. Start saving.

[h/t The New York Times]

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