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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 June 2007, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
Fashion and music
Punks in the 80s
It wasn't all New Romantic...
The Magazine is compiling a people's history of modern Britain - featuring your written memories and photos. We started with the 1950s, the 1960s and the 1970s and continue this week with the 80s.

It was the decade of Thatcher, yuppies, chunky mobile phones and BMX bikes.

And huge social changes took place as the British love affair with credit, cash and conspicuous consumption took hold - and has never loosened its grip since.

But among the hundreds of written memories you e-mailed to us, many of you thought first about less weighty matters, the music and fashion.

Here is a selection of your comments.


Stephanie Le Tissier
Music is my main memory. Although I grew up with music all around me due to the fact that my brother was a DJ, by the time that I was hitting my teenage years, music was becoming more a focal point in my life.
Stephanie Le Tissier
The music scene was changing from disco and punk to new wave and new romantics and newer bands were emerging creating fantastic music and noise by the use of synthesizes. I was hooked on this type of music and I am still today. A great number of bands came from this decade and in particular my favourite group
Stephanie Le Tissier
of all time OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) and in fact that they are again touring this year helps me to relive the great moments of my teenage years.
Stephanie Le Tissier (right, in 1982, 1986 and 2007), St Sampson, Guernsey

Going into the sixth form as a mouse of a teenager and over two years emerging as a new romantic/punk maverick. Discovered that boys made far better mates than any girls. Long summer afternoons, anticipating a bit of romance with that certain person who made your heart beat faster. Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Visage and spending an age on your make-up to produce almost a picture. The bad memories of a brother being away in the Falklands war, yet the pride in Maggie Thatcher as an uneducated teenager on the ways of politics. CD players and fancier video machines. Being more different than anyone else was the coolest thing you could do!
Poppy, Leeds

Janna Jacobs
I have clear memories of my prized legwarmers....like two German Shepherds strapped round my ankles. Now that was class!
Janna Jacobs, Brisbane

The start of the decade brought Two-Tone and skinheads and rude boys. I was a pre-teen skin living on a council estate in Cardiff and remember it being quite a violent time. I wanted a Striker, then a Grifter, then an Atari then a Spectrum, but didn't get them all. I played out and made dens and was very conscious of stranger danger. I ate splicers that gave me mouth ulcers, snickers were marathons and starbursts were Opal Fruits. We bought our council house for not very much and sold it in the subsequent property boom and moved somewhere nicer. Casuals replaced New Romantics as working class lads dressed up as middle aged golfers. Greed was good, free enterprise reigned and comedy became alternative. The decade gave little to rival the previous two in the musical stakes. It finished with young people dancing in fields and clubs and hugging each other.
Jason Addicott, Was Cardiff now London

We always looked theatrical. Or at least, we thought we did. My boyfriend at the time, with his hair slicked back and beautifully made-up face, looked like a 1930s film star. He was often stopped and asked to be in photographs. I always wore ballet shoes. I'm amazed my feet didn't have to be amputated due to frost bite, especially after a New Years Eve blizzard. The music I listened to made me feel creative. I was so wrapped up in Bowie, the Andy Warhol revival and reading Scott Fitzgerald, Maggie Thatcher's Go And Conquer Britain, almost passed me by. I now live in the North East. The 80s here were different.
Jeannie, Durham

OTHER 80s MEMORIES
The 1980s. My teenage years. T-bag shirts, T-shirts saying "Frankie says NO" leg warmers, ra-ra skirts, shoulder pads, big jewellery. Music wise we had Adam and the Ants (I was a huge fan,) Shakin' Stevens, Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet. I got my first record player. I could do the Rubik's cube in just under two minutes. I remember Live Aid being broadcast. My mum was decorating the kitchen and I was supposed to be helping but all I wanted to do was watch the great acts appearing on TV. Dr Who suffered a "hiatus" and was later cancelled in 1989. Later, I got my first job, first boyfriends and in 1987 started going out with my now husband. What a fantastic decade it was; if the 70s are remembered as being dull the 80s were colourful and bright.
Janet Adkins, Bedford

I lived in the village of Prestwood as a teenager in the 80s, our nearest town was High Wycombe. I remember wearing really tight trousers that were hard to get on over your feet - anything else was classed as flairs and people teased you about it, we wore leggings and legwarmers, suede boots called tucker boots, loafers, pencil skirts with splits up the back (which the headmaster banned from school,) stilettos, fishnet tights, I begged my Mum and was finally allowed permed hair which I backcombed, went to the village discos each month where they played chart music, Adam and the Ants, New Romantic music (we wore frilly white shirts), there was Madness, ska music and two-tone fashion, Dr Martens, fingerless gloves, video recorders and being able to rent films, EastEnders and Casualty began, The Young Ones, buying singles (records) in Tesco for half-price when they went out of the charts, the start of morning TV - critics said it would make everyone late for school and work!
Angie, Aylesbury

"Frankie Says RELAX!" T-shirts, spiky haircuts, Wham!, Bros, being a teenager, hanging out with my mates at the local youth club on Wednesday nights, leggings, Walkmans, me and my sister fighting over the TV remote when Doctor Who was on at the same time as Coronation Street... ah, those were the days...
LH, Tyne & Wear, UK

I was born in 1981 and my lasting memories of the 80s are wearing cycle shorts with day-glo pink stripes down the side of them and thinking we looked so cool!
Lhora Campbell, Edinburgh
When I think of the 80s I think of shell suits. Whole families at airports in matching shell suits! Remember trainers that you wore with the tongue out, along with your dodgy 'screwball' perm!
Rebecca Gardner, Bolton

1980s saw me in London working and living. 'Glam' was the in-thing influencing everyday life. There was the 'yuppie', 'minkie' and digital watches. Politics was Thatcher era hell-bent on privatization of everything. Power dressing for both sexes was in, in fact many men were prettier than the women. Credit cards paid for everything, nightclubs were the place to be seen socialising. Princess Diana was the huge fashion icon for women and brought The Royal Family to the people. Leg warmers and mini-skirts, shoulder pads and Calvin Klein became the label to go for even in underwear for both sexes. Hawaiian shirts were acceptable, Dallas on the TV and Flashdance in the cinema. The 80s certainly was the New Romantic era and greed and consumerism flourished with credence as an acceptable trait.
Tim McMahon, Pennar/Wales

Diana, Princess of Wales
The fashion icon of the 1980s
I remember watching Prince Charles and Lady Diana getting married, and wanting to have a dress just like hers (now it seems a bit "big" and fussy. I also loved the music (Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran & Adam and the Ants. I remember going to parties trying to emulate Madonna in lace fingerless gloves and ripped fishnets (after getting changed at a friend's house as my mother would have never let me out of the house like that). We all had "big hair" and one of those diffuser things which meant you had to stand holding your head upside down to dry your hair to get maximum volume. Fashion was padded shoulders and bright neon colours, short tight black skirts with bright padded shoulder jackets, jumpers with big patterns, stonewashed denim jeans and jackets and jumpsuits. In 1983 I earned 13.50 for working all day Saturday in a shop. Later in the 80s I bought my first flat at the grand old age of 21 just before double tax relief was abolished. Mobile phones were like bricks and only traders in the city had them and the Sony Music Centre was the coolest thing to have in your bedroom because it could play records and tapes. We read Smash Hits magazine and NME and Jackie Collins and Jilly Cooper and blushed at the rude bits. I don't remember it being an unhappy time at all, but then as a teenager I probably wasn't too interested in anything outside my own little world!!
Lesley Johnson, Kent

I loved the 80s as I left school in 81 so feel that the 80s was 'my' decade. I loved the music, well most of it anyway. I wore a lot of the fashions, a Relax T-shirt for one. I bought a puffball skirt but never wore it! I loved going out clubbing in the 80s because men and women had to dress up or wouldn't get in so it seemed like more of an occasion. I was a member of a group called 18 plus for a few years and we were out at social or charity events nearly every night, I had some great friends there. I met and married my first husband in 85 and 88. My wedding dress was lovely, off the shoulder ivory silk with a layered train. The day was the hottest of the year. There were good times and bad times but I look upon the 80s as the best time of my life, although they are pretty good at present!
Debbie Thomas, Stamford UK

1981 I left home to study at Bangor University. Many hot, sweaty nights spent in the Union bar dancing to The Human League and Kraftwerk. Watched the Falklands War in the common room with a load of noisy freshers. Did impressions of Bodey and Doyle from the Professionals over the chairs and tables. Got into Lou Reed and early Bowie by listening to mix tapes on little radio cassette players. Spent hours downloading basic programmes onto a ZX spectrum and then playing the first computer games.....all night !
David Evans, Newcastle under Lyme
Quite apart from the depressing spectacle of the seemingly unbeatable Thatcher/Reagan (a true 'axis of evil' if ever there was one!), my abiding memory of that ghastly decade was feeling completely cheated by the music. As a teenager I should have been looking forward to my generation's own Beatles/Stones/Who/Zeppelin/Sex Pistols, but instead what did we get? Spandau Ballet and Wham. Not Mohicans and bondage trousers, but poodle hair and Pringle jumpers. Truly the decade that taste forgot.
Andrew Whiteside, London

I was in my teenage 'hey-day' in the early 80s. I remember the music more than anything else. Latter-day punk moving into the New Romantics - what a time that was. The first concert I ever went to was Adam and the Ants; Prince Charming Tour. It was amazing and set a precedent for attending gigs that is still prevalent now I'm into my 40s. Live Aid was also a big factor in that it really got the ball rolling on the 'Celebrities doing Charity' that is so much a par for the course these days. And yes, I was there!! It was a gig wasn't it? Just a very big one! Music is such an amazing medium for memories and I am back to being 15 again whenever I hear certain songs on the radio. Interestingly, the songs that I loathed back then now bring a little smile to my face when I hear them. Just goes to show how much things change. However, put on Wham, Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, ABC, Japan, Depeche Mode (I could go on for much longer here.....!!) and I'm singing along as though it was only yesterday when I last heard them. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!
Donna Chisholm, Staffordshire

David Brown and friends
Roll up the sleeves, boys...
"Careless Whisper" by George Michael for the slow set in the school disco. "Don't you forget about me" by Simple Minds to shake things up. Teenage movies like The Breakfast Club and Weird Science. Good bless John Hughes! Girls wearing bat sleeve jumpers, bubble skirts, MTV, Pat Sharpe, hair gel and mousse, Coca Cola ads on TV in the sunshine, long hot summers until 1985, and the end of school in 1989. The music was trashy and invokes a feeling of nostalgia rather than saying what great music it was. The world was still innocent to a 15-year-old.
Edward Corr, Mornington in Ireland

I remember the plastic pop music Stock, Aiken & Waterman made with numbers from Rick Astley, Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue. Frankie Says Relax T-Shirts. Wham! and Bros. They don't make hits like them any more (thank god!)
Jo Tomlinson, Romford, Essex

Having being born in 79 I can't really remember much up until the late 80s. I can remember going to my aunties for a community party, having a great time but not knowing what it was for until quite a few years later realising it was to celebrate the wedding of Prince Andrew and Fergie in 86. 1988 was the year I started getting into the music, my first album was the greatest hits of 88 and with the likes of Salt'n'Pepa and Yazoo I had a great time listening to them and dancing around the room singing (with my parents telling me to be quite and to "turn that rubbish off!"). However the best thing I remember doing is sunbathing on an old cover in the garden, getting very red and listening to New Kids on the Block - they were god's!!!!!
Vicki, Middlesbrough

Frilly shirts and Knickerbockers, hair gel and hairspray galore, we didn't care about the ozone layer then! New Romantic music. I tried to go to as many concerts as I could and saw ABC, Culture Club (I swear Boy George smiled right at me), Yazoo, Depeche Mode in a tiny venue above the Playhouse, we could touch them on stage. Simple Minds, U2 and many more. Taping the charts off the radio with my new tape recorder. Vinyl picture discs. I also remember there being loadsa money in the 80s, I bought my first flat, drank champagne at every opportunity and worked in the very pretentious environment of advertising, big shoulder pads which made you look like an American footballer and Dallas. Live Aid and holidays abroad for the first time ever! I'd only been as far as Blackpool before.
Ginny Malone, Edinburgh
I was going into my teenage years in the 80s and this is what I remember: Spandau Ballet, Boy George, Madonna, The Bangles, taping the top 40 every Sunday night, jelly shoes, puffball skirts and perms. The Brighton bombing and Margaret Thatcher's poll tax years. Rubik Cube, Pacman and Commodore 64. Being able to walk the streets after being out with your mates without worrying. The local disco was your weekend hangout. Having martini or Cinzano with lemonade and thinking I was very grown up. Favourite ads were the Cinzano ads with Leonard Rossiter. These were the days when you went out a night out without fear of being glassed or stabbed. Roland Rat and Fraggle Rock and the Young Ones are all icons of that era. What a great time it was!
Sharon Hyslop, Edinburgh, Scotland

Bright colours. Anything that didn't go was fashion! Writing to Jim'll Fix It hundreds of times to meet Duran Duran and never receiving a reply. Day trips to Towyn and Rhyl Sun Centre and the funfair. Thinking Boy George was the most outrageously dressed bloke ever. Being glued to Top of the Pops every week with Dave Lee Travis and Peter Powell. Saturday Superstore and those fab prizes. And sitting indoors in 80 degrees heat to watch Live Aid!!
Trace, Liverpool

Paula Dear
Sadly I was fully into the big hair and bows thing in the 80s. I think this perm had to be re-done at one stage because all the curls fell out within a week. I remember that used to happen to people a lot! The most vivid memory I have when I look at this picture is sitting at my white MFI dressing table teasing the curls apart with an afro comb to make the 'do' as large as possible. Swimming classes became something to avoid after one had a perm. The school tie had to be tied upside down so the fat bit could be tucked inside my shirt. Very important. Out of school I would have been wearing skin-tight bleached jeans, white pointy 'court' shoes and some kind of garishly-coloured t-shirt and cardie ensemble, probably bought from Tammy Girl. Plastic beads and earrings were always purchased to match the outfit, and a hair bow of course.
Paula Dear (right, aged 14), then Dunfermline, now London

Since the 80s music was so woefully dire - when sartorial naffness definitely took precedence: all big hair, Phil Collins jackets, white socks, long black trenchcoats... a more radical alternative was needed in the form of The Jesus and Mary Chain whose feedback, VU leanings, shades and leather ensured they were the antiheroes of the decade and my generation's equivalent of The 'Pistols. An 80s memory. I remember taking a copy of the Melody Maker with The JAMC on the front cover (circa Sept 1987) and requesting a haircut just like Jim Reid's.
Humphrey Fordham , SE London

So many memories - Margaret Thatcher - the decade of the power women - big hair, shoulder pads and lots of make-up (see Dallas and Dynasty). Margaret Thatcher actually did nothing herself to promote women, but the fact that she was the first female prime minister for Britain seemed to be the inspiration for women to push new boundaries - particularly in the workplace. The Young Ones had a profound effect on my teenage years - a comedy my parents didn't like me watching. As for music, it was more about the fashion than anything (kind of glam rock 80s style) Adam Ant, Duran Duran. But who could forget Live Aid - superb, especially Freddie Mercury and Queen who were at their very best! It was a time of real opportunity and I remember the 80s with fondness.
Joanne, Essex, UK





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