Fashion Era Challenge: 80s Power Suit

I have a shameless love for the 80's power suit. I had a mental one in tomato red wool gabardine with black and gold buttons. It was beautiful, full of lady attitude. I wore it well into the 90's. 

It has a bad rap of course because of Joan Collins and Dynasty, but done right it calls to a very subtle kind of feminine power, which is all about looking tough and ladylike at the same time. A woman in a power suit takes no crap from anyone. 

I was pretty thrilled when I found this vintage Escada jacket while shopping with a friend last summer. I'd been looking for a long black blazer, and this was a definite wild card with its big shoulders, shocking pink revers and red lining. She warned me that the jacket was like a bad boyfriend - the one you know you shouldn't love but you do. I ignored her and bought it anyway.

The Bad Boyfriend, it turns out, is a bit of a workhorse for going out in the evening, when I style it with a printed tee and skinny pants. But this is the first time I've tried to take it back to its 80's power roots, with pleated tailored pants and pumps.

The shoes gave me pause, as I spent far too long in front of the mirror asking myself what Grace Jones or Tina Chow would have done. Still not convinced these flat pumps were the right choice, and I'm pretty sure the Pants Length Police will be along any moment to slap me in cuffs. Diamante cuffs, of course. 

Sadly, I don't have any spectacular plastic earrings anymore, but I do have a giant perspex ring and a mix tape full of 80s power pop. Enjoy!

  1. Culture Club - Do You Really Want to Hurt me?
  2. Queen - I Want to Break Free
  3. Eurythmics - There Must Be an Angel
  4. Kajagoogoo - Too Shy
  5. Aha - Take On Me
  6. Duran Duran - Rio
  7. Simple Minds - Don't You Forget About Me
  8. Tears for Fears - Everybody Wants to Rule the World
  9. Pet Shop Boys - West End Girls
  10. The The - Uncertain Smile
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  • jackiec replied 6 years ago

    LOVE it. Nailed it again, approprio. OMG the mixed tape bag is fab, but the playlist is the best. My kinda stuff. Love the jacket. And I love your friend's description of it as a bad boyfriend.

  • shevia replied 6 years ago

    I have seen more than my share of vintage Margaretha Ley Escada jackets and this may be the most fabulous. Great catch despite surrounding skeptics. I think the flats work here - you are showing enough ankle and are tall. Your 80s mix tape is definitive!

  • citygirldc replied 6 years ago

    Wow. Now that's an homage to the 80s suit.

    Love me some Tear For Fears.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    This is a beautiful jacket! If that is a bad boyfriend, I want one, too! And what a great refresher on power suit style. 

    You look amazing in this outfit. I think the flats work due to your height.

    The mixed tape is so much fun. I love the way people have been adding inspiration pics, music, and even video to make each era come alive! 

    Happy sigh. This fashion challenge is fun and instructive at the same time. 

  • Angie replied 6 years ago


    Killer to the power of Killer. I LOVE Bad Boyfriend. It's entirely too Dynasty delicious for words. Of course it's your workhorse - only YOU could make that happen. It speaks to your '80s id. I soooo get that. 

    The flat pumps were a great idea. (Big white sneakers would have worked too - remember that movie Working Girl?). And the pant length is very authentic actually. Loads of high waters in the '70s and'80s - on men too.  

    (And I sooo approve of the music. Wish I had kept my big white plastic earrings). 

    WELL DONE. I'm much impressed. 

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    I forgot to add my WOOHOOOOOO. 

    I get very excited, you see. 

  • Meredith replied 6 years ago

    Amazing!  This outfit just makes me happy.  Also, thanks for the playlist of the day.

  • replied 6 years ago

    Oh, Angie, we have to have the Wooohoooo! :D

    You've been and gone and done it again haven't you Approprio? The suit is Dallas-tastic too! Though I loved Dynasty just as much. Gotta love Joan Collins.

     ( BTW I used to do a darned good impersonation of JR saying "Sue Ellen, you're a tramp, a drunk and an unfit mother"... Imagine a Texas drawl :)). Isn't the lining just wonderful and those lapels and cuff detail too! I can imagine it with a cool tee and skinnies as you mentioned, as well.

    Loving the mix tape BTW!

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    Thanks all!

    Meredith, Suz, jackiec, citygirldc:
     glad you're all enjoying today's mixtape. It was a great era for music as well as fashion. 

    shevia: there is indeed some good, bad and indifferent 80's Escada knocking about. It's a good brand to buy vintage because the quality is generally excellent, but the styling can be excessive. Interesting that you have experience with the label. I'd be curious to know more. 

    Angie: Good to know the pants length works. I was pretty sure it was authentic for the 80's look, but I probably need to revisit the hemline if I want to wear these pants this summer. And you're so right. This is fashion for my lizard brain. 

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    Oh yes Diane G wasn't that just the Dallas quote? But I'll hear no shaming of Sue Ellen for loving a tipple. JR was a terrible husband. 

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    I want to hear that JR impression, Diane. I'll do that notorious bottom lip Sue-Ellen quiver when you do. (I have vivid memories of Pamela saying, " Bobby! I love you!" in a very high pitched voice with lots of cleavage and big hair). 

    Alas, Rio. A five to seven inch chop might be in order if you war to wear those trousers in 2015. PLP, over and out. 

  • catgirl replied 6 years ago

    As an IT shoulder pads were my sworn enemy and the. 80s power suit was not my thing. But wow, did you get this right- and Grace Jones rules! Fantastic and well played!

  • rachylou replied 6 years ago

    Oh man! I'm feelin' it :D

  • AM replied 6 years ago

    Love this. Could this also have a little disco vibe to it? Can you tell that I am not a student of fashion in this decade or any other... But this is wonderful.

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    Angie: I'm thinking about 5" worked into a cuff to preserve the shape of the leg. Then again, I may just roll them up. :P

    alaskagirl: I'm also an IT, but I love a padded shoulder. Sometimes the counter-intuitive solution just works, y'know?

    AM: disco? Why, that was the 70s! But Michael Jackson and Prince will be lined up for the next mix. 

  • rachylou replied 6 years ago

    The playlist is brilliant and the Boy George vid hilarious... Watching him get kicked out of clubs thru all the fashion eras...

  • AM replied 6 years ago

    Maybe it is the black with the pink and red?? Put that over some swishy wide leg silk pants and platforms. Throw on a pink scarf. Would it not be just a little disco? Can you tell that I'm really trying??

  • Style Fan replied 6 years ago

    Love the bad boyfriend.  A workhorse indeed.  And I love the playlist.  You do it well.

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    The PLP approves of the 5 inch hack. 

    I'm leaving you with this '80s video because I don't want the fashion era challenge to end:

  • rabbit replied 6 years ago

    Thanks approprio and Angie for putting all those songs in my head!   I'm now flashing back to doing aerobics in my dorm room with my roommate to our nostalgia music. :)

    That jacket is something else on you, something really wonderful and perfect and timeless -- it gets you -- as is the pairing with the mixtape bag and pants.  I also love the sunglasses and incredible rings and belt.

  • donnat replied 6 years ago

    I love that jacket! I do have a thing for escada though.

  • Caro in Oz replied 6 years ago

    This is fantastic The jacket is a "good" bad boyfriend. I love Grace & Tina too. This is also my favourite tape yet. Also loved how they had to bring back Bobby - it WAS all a dream :)

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