80s Shoulder Pads

There have been some serious fashions trends in the past, but nothing compares to 80s shoulder pads…except for maybe a football uniform.

Though shoulder pads were used for years in men’s suit jackets and women’s garments where heavier fabric needed some extra support, they came back in the 80s – and were bigger than ever.

Taking the fashion world by storm once again, 80s shoulder pads were essentially half-circles of foam padding covered with fabric. They were also the perfect accessory for anyone with sloping shoulders, giving them a fuller and more balanced look.

These pads were sewn into the shoulder portion of any garment, even bras. The only garment they seemed to be absent in was bathing suits. They were also sometimes secured with Velcro, making them removable and able to be worn in different outfits.

Depending on the design of the garment, shoulder pads could vary in both size and thickness. They could be as subtle or dramatic as the designer intended them to be. The biggest shoulder pads obviously created the most dramatic looks.

As they became more popular, they were available to buy in packages in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. They normally used a strip of Velcro to attach them to bra straps. They could be used with any top or dress to add shoulder pads that weren’t there or supplement the existing shoulder pads, should they be inadequate.

Using shoulder pads in clothing created an inverted triangle look – the same look bodybuilders try to achieve. Making the shoulders appear larger would instantly give the illusion of a smaller waist. Women were definitely pleased with this effect.

During the 80s, women started getting some pretty important and powerful jobs. With these new jobs came the need to dress accordingly. Men wore a suit and tie; women wore power suits – this was called power dressing. Whether it was a pantsuit, jacket and skirt, or conservative dress, shoulder pads were essential to the outfit.

In addition to power dressing, shoulder pads were in everything else. They were in dresses, dress shirts, sweaters, blazers, outerwear, even t-shirts. If you put on a dress shirt with shoulder pads, then a sweater with shoulder pads, then a jacket with shoulder pads, you had yourself some pretty broad shoulders.

Hollywood enabled this trend – the women of Dallas and Dynasty wore them with everything and looked great, so many women wanted to replicate the look.

Not only did shoulder pads provide the hottest look of the decade, but also they literally padded pinched and tired shoulders from carrying around heavy purses and bags. Some women even cut them out of their shirts to pad their bras.

As the shoulder pad trend slowed down after the 80s, it seemed that they would be gone forever, but history does repeat itself, and some big Hollywood stars have been spotted wearing them once again.

The silhouette that can be created by 80s shoulder pads can be as low key as in a suit coat or as funky as a rock star’s leather jacket.