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Shoulder Pads Revival


To me, I relate shoulder pads to my past teachers, who seemingly had no fashion sense what so ever, and seem to combine the falling apart blazer with usually high shoulder pads with the unflattering hanging pleated skirt.

I even caught my own mother with fashion faux pas in her wardrobe, one being a very long mustard coat, perfect for a detective of some sort, with enlarged padded shoulders.
But my how the revival of power dressing and large padded shoulders on blazers, and even tunics and tops have fed their way into the must have style of the season.

But why do we find them such a hard style to bear? Is it the stigma attached to them? Or is it far too masculine to want to broaden our shoulders, after a feminine floral infested summer?

Shoulder pads first emerged around the 1930s, when fashion designer ‘Elsa Schiaparelli' included them in some of her designs in that year, traditionally using wool or sawdust to stuff the small triangular shapes and position them on the top of the sleeve to extend the shoulder line.

But during WWII, materials were scarce, and women took a more masculine role to help win the fight, working in factories where their husbands once laboured, their clothing took upon a more practical and structured appearance, with more prominent padding and the first introduction of it being used in dresses.

The 1950s and 1960s saw the liberation of women opting for a more feminine look after trivial times, so the power dressing style was out, and a softer look ensued.

Barbara Hulanici and her label Biba, tried to revive the power dressing style in the 60s, using the 1930s as inspiration, but this was short lived as it did not reach the popularity it was once thought.

Ask anyone about shoulder pads and they will think straight away of the 1980s. It was a time when women were seeking to break the glass ceiling in the corporate world, and power dressing was at an all time high. The padding materials were replaced with foam and held Velcro so the wearer could enable how much padding was desired, and were once again relived through the long jumpers, jackets and coats, which rivalled against other styles on the arm such as ‘batwing sleeves'. The emergence of popular culture, and music videos heightened the popularity of large shoulder padding even more, which enabled the style to carry on through the early 90s.


But the fashion conscious market opted for a new craze. The once popular style was then ‘shunned' and was now considered embarrassing to be seen sporting the look.

This extreme turnaround has since then categorized the shoulder padding and power dressing as one to shock the fashion police, and the only exception to wear it seemed an 80s fancy dress party.

Maybe that is what contributed to my dislike towards the shoulder pads, as we consider people wearing them as completely lost in the fashion field. A lot of years had passed since their height in the 80s, and we see shoulder pads as something ‘our parents' used to wear, so therefore completely inexcusable to be seen wearing.

But my how times change. In true fashion form, they have yes, made a comeback. Most autumn/winter 09 catwalks were lost without shoulder pads being their statement piece. Kate Moss, the avid fan of a jacket and jean combination has been spotted numerous times with the power dressing style, not forgetting the shoulder pads. Victoria Beckham and Lady Gaga have also been spotted flaunting the style. Designers and the high street have been flocking their collections with the updated shoulders. 



The jackets spotted on the catwalk were once again structured, masculine, and the shapes of the shoulders took an updated upturned look.

After much convincing from the latest shows, celebrities embracing the female power dressing look with the important shoulder pads, I fail to hate the outdated look anymore, because like most styles out there, we are not going to be able to ignore probably the biggest trend of next season, so I almost admire the once out of style teachers for their adamant protest that shoulder pads are fashionable, and will be here to stay.






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