1980s Puff-Sleeved Accessory Dress


So much of who we are, who we feel we are, or who we portray ourselves to be is based on small choices we make. Not limited to paths or lifestyles, but on a smaller scale, the reactionary experiences we take part in and the ways we do or don’t choose to grow.


When I look at this strange 1980s dress, awash with a whimsical accessory print and abstract geometric designs, it looks nothing like me. I’m drawn to little more than the colors and the oddity that it is on a whole. But what it does feel like is a representation of choices made in the mad rush of life: colorful and soft, harsh and bewildering all at once.

White, indigo, magenta, and bright red are the standout colors of this dress’s details. These shades make up the printed accessories, which include a number of handbags, big hats, belts, and ballet slipper flats. Unlike something that has, say, a decked-out collar that would make a necklace redundant, this piece is practically begging for its motif to be brought to life and exaggerated. Like the decade itself, the dress seems to scream, “bigger and better.”

The lightweight fabric of the dress, perhaps rayon, is well-suited to playing dress-up, and heavier accessories help to balance it out.

The pale aquamarine hue is the perfect template for a series of mismatched patterns: grids, circles, and a textured blocking reminiscent–or predictive–of a 90s computer text/shape-fill option. In fact, the origin of this geometrics-heavy aesthetic can be traced to the Memphis Group, a design firm based in Italy.

Clearly, the look is still inspiring, as such design choices prompt me to take on the role of a puffy-sleeved arm chair philosopher.


When I put on a vintage dress, I am perhaps communicating that I enjoy fashion, have an appreciation for old things, and don’t (at my most secure) mind not fitting in.

But the physical hat I choose to wear is far less important than the metaphorical one: who will I be and how will I respond when a circumstance isn’t ideal? Can I choose to see patterns in my own behavior and move toward a more kind and productive way of being? Is there rhyme or reason to the way things pop up and fade out–on this wacky dress or in life?

In wearing vintage, in blogging about it, I must say that I have come to understand something about definitions. That is, that many of them may constantly be altered and added to. From mixing decades–a 40s purse here, a 50s cropped jacket there, even a 60s hat thrown in–to being fully present in a shoot to collaborating with my husband, I am not defined by one choice or reaction, but how I choose to move into the next situation. It is trial and error. It is mismatched and cluttered. It is a series of costume changes and additions, things that work and things that don’t. Somehow, I must conclude that I wouldn’t have it any other way.


One thought on “1980s Puff-Sleeved Accessory Dress

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s