Fashion Era Challenge: 80's Avant Garde

This should have been a cakewalk, given that I have so much vintage in my closet. In fact, it was harder than I thought it would be because I wanted to put together an authentically 80's outfit that would work today.

The coat is a classic Issey Miyake design for Vogue Patterns from the middle of the decade. I had one in brown when I was at university, so I can say without doubt that this is something I would have worn back then. I made this one about five years ago, some time before loose fitting draped coats started trending again, when the original pattern was reissued.

Nothing else in my outfit existed then, but all of it could have done. Lace up dress boots (I wore them), baggy pants with asymmetric fastening (my too cool for school friend wore them) and batwing sleeves (everybody wore them).

It all feels very contemporary, but also very much like old friends. What do you think?

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • replied 6 years ago

    I remember that IM pattern! I used to get the Vogue pattern catalogues regularly then (before internet took over) You totally nailed the authentic look!

  • shevia replied 6 years ago

    Love! Agree you look just as current as you do 80s - interesting how that works. Also your hair looks fab!

  • puppycat replied 6 years ago

    Your outfit looks wonderful and very much of the era.  I was a teenager in the 80s so I know it well.

    Side note--I sewed this coat when I was at grad school in 2001!! I remember at the
    time, everyone commenting on how unusual it was because it was so roomy
    and voluminous.  I didn't care--I loved it and wore it all around San
    Francisco.  I actually sewed one piece wrong way out but with all the
    folds, who would notice?  Thanks for the flashback.

  • jackiec replied 6 years ago

    Nailed it. I love it.

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    WOOOHOOOOO. There you are. I missed you, Rio. Hoped you would do an '80s rendition. 

    Killer look. Very wearable today. In the '80s, we'd have piled on the shoulder pads - so good job keeping them off for 2015. 

    Greg wore pants and shoes like that in the '80s actually. 

  • AM replied 6 years ago

    Chic beyond chic. Love the drama in that fluid coat. Glad to see you.

  • rabbit replied 6 years ago

    LOVE IT!  It works really well for both eras (the Annie Lennox hair and lipstick also is a natural advantage ;) ).   Echoing Angie that Mr. Rabbit wore those boots and baggy pants in the early 90's too.   That coat is awesome and made for striding.

  • citygirldc replied 6 years ago

    Totally 80s rendition.  Like totally awesome!

  • Diana replied 6 years ago

    Awesome! I think you are right about this look being very current as well as vintage. It's funny - I'm not a fan of 80s style in general but I could do a pretty good approximation of this look with my current closet.

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    Thanks all! It's good to be back. I think I'm destined to be an on-off contributor here, but I'll try to be more present this week. There's a bit more 80's vintage to come, so I might do another submission in this challenge (spoiler: there may be another mix tape). Angie, is that allowed?

    Diane G: yeps, I think this model has to be some sort of icon of home sewing. I still see them around from time to time. puppycat: that's very cool! nice to know I have a sometime coat twin ;)

    shevia, Diana: my pet theory is that this era's fashion is more relevant than ever thanks to all the 80's kids now heading up the haute couture brands.

    Angie, rabbit: my lace up boots would have been more of a "granny boot" style back then, and probably not worn with these pants by women, so I guess my 80's authenticity breaks down right there. Still, good to know the reference holds up as menswear. 

    Thanks again everyone!

  • catgirl replied 6 years ago

    Swashbuckling fantasticness!

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    YES. Of course. It's all allowed, Rio. Don't hold back. 

    *passes the shoulder pads*

  • Deb replied 6 years ago

    OMG....Sensationally 80's, totally cool! You know I am a big fan of your style.

  • harmonica replied 6 years ago

    Fantastic!! This is so awesome!

  • rachylou replied 6 years ago

    The coat is fantastic :) Very '80s.

  • CocoLion replied 6 years ago

    This is awesome in so many ways.  And I feel privileged to know that this style of drape-y wrap coat or sweater comes from Issey Miyake in the 80s!  Did not know this.  I feel the design stayed avant garde in the 80s but now has been co-opted into the mainstream.  Check out this Bobeau topper.

  • Caro in Oz replied 6 years ago

    Fun, I had this coat too - love your modern rendition.

  • tulle replied 6 years ago

    Whoa, Approprio--good for you, bringing out the Japanese design, and wearing it with such flair!  Your  modern version is very chic, too.  I would have drowned in that Miyake coat, but it's making me homesick for my 1980s Norma Kamali deep red sweatshirting tunic coat:  football shoulder pads, batwing sleeves, cozy as a blanket, and with a diagonal line of silver snaps from the hem to the top of the hood/cowl neckline--all in a size Petite, and so perfectly proportioned for me.  Probably my single all-time favorite garment, an impulse buy I never regretted.

  • Sal replied 6 years ago

    very cool indeed.
    I did not have enough class to wear this look in the 1980s as I was more a Cyndi Lauper/Madonna/Bananarama wanna-bee!!

  • Greyscale replied 6 years ago


  • Aubergine replied 6 years ago

    That coat's so cool-looking!

    I hadn't known that's where that style of draping came from either.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    This is fabulous! I love it, both as a tribute to the era and as a wearable outfit. You look fantastic in that dramatic grey coat with the stomping boots. And rabbit's right -- the Annie Lennox hair helps! 

    This outfit proves what Angie often says -- avant garde doesn't really date, or not much. It's timeless in the way that the classics are timeless. You might have to adjust a shoulder pad here or there, but the overall look remains great. 

  • Firecracker replied 6 years ago

    What a stunning look! My thought on photo 1: You look like a model! (I mean that as a compliment, in case there's any doubt.) You are right, the voluminous drape is back again (or did it ever really leave?) and you look so current as well as very 80s--a sophisticated side of that era. Wonderfully creative and chic, Approprio.

  • Sharon replied 6 years ago

    This is so, so fabulous. I love it for the 80's references and I love it just for how modern and interesting it looks today.

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    wow thanks again everyone! *blushes*

    Suz: that wouldn't be the first time someone's remarked on the Annie Lennox nature of my hair. :P And you're so right about the avant-garde. It's something I always try to keep in mind, particularly when sewing, because there's nothing more frustrating than investing time in a project and have it loose its relevance almost immediately. Downside is that it can be mighty hard to wear!

    Firecracker, CocoLion, Aubergine: the voluminous drape is very much back with a vengeance now isn't it? But I think it's one of those 80's innovations that really took hold. I don't think there was much of it in Western fashion before then. 

    And tulle I bet you could wear that Norma Kamali this year no problem. Didn't those cocoon coats come roaring back! 

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