The Thatcher Crisis Years

1980s politics blog from TV historian Tony McMahon

Turn to the back pages of the music papers in the late 1970s and you were assailed by classified ads catering for every style genre going. Mod Revival, Rockabilly, 2Tone, post-punk, cowpunk, New Romantic, NWOBHM, etc, etc. All the clothes styles a young person needed to choose from in 1979. Once you decided if you needed Bowie trousers or punk leggings with loads of zips – you sent off your postal order and waited for the clothes to arrive.

Many of these fashion statements were so ridiculous that they only stood up to a couple of wearings before your mates pleaded for you to abandon the 16-pleat Bowie trousers. And then it was either the bottom of the drawer or the bin for them. That said, with less disposable income back in those days, young people often held on to their purchases for a lot longer than any teenager would today. I was still wearing a punk-era mohair jumper bought in 1979 way into the early 1980s.

Interesting to see pleats are coming back in these days for men’s trousers after a long rule by flat fronted pants. Peg trousers that started voluminous and ended narrow at the ankles were very much a part of the late 1970s and 1980s look. Though you had to be tall to pull it off. No man under five foot eight should ever wear pleats!

Looking at the ads below – West German NATO jackets were a thing at the turn of the decade. I bought one in Liverpool just after starting university in the city. Being genuine army surplus, it saw me through to the mid-1980s before inexplicably disappearing.

Peg Trousers
Peg Trousers
Jam jacket
Jam jacket
New Wave look
New Wave look

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