The Braless Eighties

Bra-burning began 50 years ago among protesters of the Miss America pageant, an emblem of radical feminism. Having not been alive 50 years ago, I cannot fully comprehend their behavior. I imagine most of these women would have been svelte, small-bosomed ladies like my mom and most of my friend’s mommies. Today, however, those who are fuller figured and into the C and D cups, who spend over $50 per bra, wouldn’t dare burn them. Not even for political gain.

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Of my generation, I never knew anyone to go braless, though we did see Baby Boomer women who did, and we did witness the jiggly antics of Chrissy Snow on “Three’s Company.” This was not something we wanted to emulate. So when I see braless pics in the pages of my new (but old) 80’s Vogues, I assume it was purely for fashion reasons.

It started out subtle.

Jan 84

In the most androgynous of ways.

It presented a united front.

Apr 84

Then it got scary.

And then it took a turn into the new career woman’s ensembles.¬†What working woman would be caught dead sans camisole, with a V nearly to her naval? And what’s with that belt? High fashion indeed.

It would have been impossible to saunter into an office and ask folks not to stare. It’s like J. Lo in her green dress. Too much liberation, with risk of escape!

One thing I do know for sure is that they sold bras in the 80s. The problem was, save for Jane Russell’s Cross Your Heart Playtex bra, they nearly all look like training bras for middle schoolers. No underwire, no support. And little cooing doves on the cups made them posilutely silly.

I can’t imagine a grown woman wearing this. I can’t imagine a bra that you could crumple up into your hand. Many of today’s top-selling bras are minimizing, taking you one cup down, having wide straps that don’t leave indentions in your shoulders, and they’d never fit in one hand. Then again, we are in an obesity epidemic. If you’re lucky enough to be able to find function in that duet brassiere, thank your lucky stars. Your back thanks you as well. You are spared the burden.

So, ladies, whether your bosom is a Dolly Parton or a Kelly Ripa, one thing is for sure: our country sure has a love/hate relationship with them.

Swimsuits of ’84

Summer is on the horizon. Time to suit up and hit the waves. If you’re unsure as to what suits you, please find inspiration in swimwear from these January-June 1984 Vogues.

Could this be any more 80s? The overdone eyeliner, the one huge earring (because who doesn’t wear dangle earrings to the beach?), the low-cut animal print, and tousled hair. Perfect!

Are they feathers or surfboards? The 80s was all about colorful geometric prints.

This ad got right to the point. Wear Robby Len or nothing at all. And for some reason, one girl chose nothing.

This next one has a very aerobics vibe, with the shorn locks of a Benatar, a Jett, or even Jamie Lee Curtis. My concern is with the two buttons on her side. Avoid the downward dog!

The next Christian Dior ad is over-the-top and ridiculous. Here we see the bosom of Kelly LeBrock as it nearly spills out of her plunging neckline. Don’t hate me because I’m heavenly!

God bless America.

This next one is all about the color blocking in Crayola hues.

And lastly, we’ve got Footloose‘s Lori Singer with Aqua-Netted hair “fried, died, and shoved to the side,” as my queens used to say, holding a wailing infant (clearly upset with the quality of her pearls), while seagulls hover above. Has there ever been an image that captures the tranquility and beauty of the ocean more than this?

Doing Science To See If You’re Expecting

Vogue Jan 84

Evidently, you had to do science 35 years ago to determine if you were in the family way. I’ve asked several Baby Boomer friends of mine, but none of them recall this particular pregnancy test kit, or ever using test tubes for results.

45 minutes? That’s a lot of waiting. You can eat dinner and watch a sitcom in that amount of time. And God forbid you dropped a tube, and it shattered. Anyway, times have surely changed for the better.

Casual Ways I Pose In My Downtime

Vogue 4/86

I just got my hands on a heap of 80s Vogues, and thought I’d share some of the fun images I encountered in the following 1986 mags. Fashion models aren’t known for their realistic poses, but these are some doozies.

Looking fierce with those slim hips.


Rocking a baby, but backwards.

Oh, pardon me!

The statuesque Paulina.

Jan 86

Take the picture already. I have to pee!

March 86

The strut every woman makes when she walks into work. She’s so professional, her skirt buttons can’t stay fastened.

Feb 86

Most women like to dress up in haute couture and then plop on the floor like basic hounds, one arm awkwardly forced behind our backs. Is she on a cruise ship? Oh, Christy.

Feb 86

And lastly, the demure tribal bonfire pose.

Apr 86

Early predecessor to the culturally-appropriating fashionista Kim K.


Ebony magazine
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