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The 1980's in Stranger Things: All 80's References and What It's Gotten Right

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I completely forgot about Johnny Depp in the original Nightmare on Elm Street, his first movie role  So young and so pretty,  But again, look at his hair.  This was 1984.

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Wow, those movie posters are very conservative hair for girls in high school in 1985, at least in Rhode Island. Girls in my high school in 1982-85 would have single-handedly kept Aqua Net in business!

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15 minutes ago, QuantumMechanic said:

Wow, those movie posters are very conservative hair for girls in high school in 1985, at least in Rhode Island. Girls in my high school in 1982-85 would have single-handedly kept Aqua Net in business!

The great tragedy of my adolescence was that my hair was always too thick and heavy/coarse/staight to get any height. It laughed in the face of mousse or AquaNet.

Meanwhile I felt like all the girls around me looked like:

glow-show.jpg?w=1000 

Edited by kieyra
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That's what I mean when I say the Midwest was always a little behind the trends.  I grew up in downstate Illinois and my hair didn't go that big until '87 or so.  Unfortunately, photographic evidence does exist.

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14 hours ago, methodwriter85 said:

The only reason I can think of is that they still wanted Will and Mike to look alike, but at this point the hair's the only thing making them look alike.

Why did they (the producers) even want them to look alike? To indicate some kind of 'brotherly' status? It was so confusing to me.  If that was the case, they could have at least chosen some less-goofy hairstyle. 

I really hope that by Season 4 there's a resolve of this, because it's too distracting. 

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OTOH, I do think most, if not of the fashions were pretty spot-on. I was more in my *mumble mumble* 30s in 1985, but I worked for a new-wave radio station and definitely remember the clothes. I find it funny that Hot Topic ads pops up on my FB feed occasionally, but they have a whole slew of ST items, including a shirt based on El's "shopping spree" romper. 

Screen Shot 2019-07-08 at 10.58.01 AM.png

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Everyone’s eighties accoutrements always look brand new. Stuff actually did get worn out, grubby and old in the eighties.

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On 7/5/2019 at 12:13 PM, kieyra said:

I didn't have a single male peer in elementary, middle or high school who had that horrific, thick, face-encircling bowl haircut. Maybe it was a regional thing? I would have been in south FL at the time, and they would have been ridiculed at my school(s). It drives me nuts on both Will and Mike, but especially Mike, who is bordering on Little Lord Fauntleroy. It's not the same retrospective ick factor as the mullets, it's just mega distracting and out of place (to my eyes).

So, I think that the bowl cuts were because they were nerds.  It's a way for the movie makers to indicate to the audience that they are not popular kids.  Only nerds/geeks/dweebs had bowl cuts when I was a teen in the 80's.  All the other guys had feathered hair.  

I also agree with the poster above who said they put too much lip color on Mike this season to the point that it's distracting.  At one point I looked up and exclaimed "Holy cow!  Did he just eat a cherry popsicle?"

Nancy's dress in the last episode (purple, with the teal-edged cutouts) was spot on too.  So were El's clothes and even Max's. The mothers' swimsuits were pretty accurate but, honestly, in the 80's they were even more high cut than featured in this show (we called that "French cut" if I recall correctly).  It got so you could hardly buy an otherwise conservative tank suit without the high-cut leg.  I blame the Solid Gold Dancers' leotards! :)  Oh--- and they featured Jazzercise!!  That was so big here in the 80's!!

Edited by Cowgirl
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41 minutes ago, Cowgirl said:

Nancy's dress in the last episode (purple, with the teal-edged cutouts) was spot on too.

My daughter (born in the mid-90's) swore to me that she had almost the same dress.  And I don't remember it at all!  I guess my mind has been wiped...

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59 minutes ago, Cowgirl said:

I didn't have a single male peer in elementary, middle or high school who had that horrific, thick, face-encircling bowl haircut

Speaking of haircuts, where the hell does Lucas get his hair cut? I refuse to believe it's Hawkins. (Unless it's his dad.)

Edited by AimingforYoko
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58 minutes ago, Cowgirl said:

So, I think that the bowl cuts were because they were nerds.  It's a way for the movie makers to indicate to the audience that they are not popular kids.  Only nerds/geeks had bowl cuts when I was a teen in the 80's.  All the other guys had feathered hair.  

I also agree with the poster above who said they put too much lip color on Mike this season to the point that it's distracting.  At one point I looked up and exclaimed "Holy cow!  Did he just eat a cherry popsicle?"

Nancy's dress in the last episode (purple, with the teal-edged cutouts) was spot on too.  So were El's clothes and even Max's. The mothers' swimsuits were pretty accurate but, honestly, in the 80's they were even more high cut than featured in this show (we called that "French cut" if I recall correctly).  It got so you could hardly buy an otherwise conservative tank suit without the high-cut leg.  I blame the Solid Gold Dancers' leotards! 🙂 Oh--- and they featured Jazzercise!!  That was so big here in the 80's!!

I think Finn Wolfhard is very pale in most interviews and clips we see so far. Not against pale people because I am fair as well, but I think Season 3 did not give him any good makeup so far. Which is strange when you noticed how pale looking Noah is here and it looks like they giving Finn the full makeup treatment.

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This isn’t exactly an 80s reference, but I noticed that when Dustin came back from camp, his mom said something about him being gone for a month...which means that either the school year ends really early in Hawkins, or that he missed some school to go to camp (which would be weird). I know from some online American friends that their school year ends in the middle of May and starts at the beginning of August, but they’re mostly in Oklahoma, Texas, and Arizona. I live in Ontario, Canada, and our school year starts the day after Labour Day and ends the last Wednesday or Thursday in June.

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2 hours ago, Cowgirl said:

I also agree with the poster above who said they put too much lip color on Mike this season to the point that it's distracting.  At one point I looked up and exclaimed "Holy cow!  Did he just eat a cherry popsicle?"

That was me. I even loaded the same scene (when the boys are caught by the girls outside the mall) on a different device (a newish iPad that should have good color calibration, I guess) to make sure I wasn't losing my mind. 

On the one hand I've sometimes wondered if they were trying to do some slightly subversive gender stuff by initially casting a little girl who (with a shaved head) could pass for a boy, and a boy with very 'pretty' features (Mike), but again, it becomes distracting when I'm trying to figure out why he seems to be wearing lip stain without any obvious context. And why he has a vintage Dorothy Hamill haircut. 

(I'm gonna drop this soon. I swear. Maybe. I've been too busy to actually complete season three, so I only have time for this superficial snarkery.)

Here, I'll add some non-snark: I had the same Trapper Keeper that Nancy had in season one. Same color. 

I also appreciate the way they have created Billy as a perfect love child of Rob Lowe in St Elmo's fire and Jason Patric in Lost Boys, down to the earring. He favors Rob Lowe a bit more than Jason Patric, but only just:

51Z4jPUEoOL.jpg

Edited by kieyra
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6 hours ago, littlecatsfeet said:

Why did they (the producers) even want them to look alike? To indicate some kind of 'brotherly' status? It was so confusing to me.  If that was the case, they could have at least chosen some less-goofy hairstyle. 

I really hope that by Season 4 there's a resolve of this, because it's too distracting. 

I wish they would steal Michael J. Fox’s hair style from Back to the Future for Will.     Something has to change next season.  A kid towering over Winona Ryder with a bowl cut is beyond silly.

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49 minutes ago, ch1 said:

I wish they would steal Michael J. Fox’s hair style from Back to the Future for Will.     Something has to change next season.  A kid towering over Winona Ryder with a bowl cut is beyond silly.

Story-wise, this would definitely be an appropriate point for Will to show up back in Hawkins with a new and more flamboyant sense of style.

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Finn Wolfhard is appearing in a YSL campaign this year. He reminds me of Ric Ocasek (from the band The Cars) in, appropriately enough, the mid-1980s.

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3 hours ago, Capricasix said:

This isn’t exactly an 80s reference, but I noticed that when Dustin came back from camp, his mom said something about him being gone for a month...which means that either the school year ends really early in Hawkins, or that he missed some school to go to camp (which would be weird). I know from some online American friends that their school year ends in the middle of May and starts at the beginning of August, but they’re mostly in Oklahoma, Texas, and Arizona. I live in Ontario, Canada, and our school year starts the day after Labour Day and ends the last Wednesday or Thursday in June.

They're in Indiana.  I grew up in neighboring Illinois and even now my Midwestern nieces and nephews are done with school before Memorial Day, sometimes by mid May if they haven't burned many snow days that year.  Here on the East Coast, we're sweating it out until the later part of June.  So  if Dustin left for science camp right after the end of school, it's doable.

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22 minutes ago, Capricasix said:

Finn Wolfhard is appearing in a YSL campaign this year. He reminds me of Ric Ocasek (from the band The Cars) in, appropriately enough, the mid-1980s.

Really? I thought he closely resembled a young Howard Stern to me.

Recent pic

Edited by Robert Lynch
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3 hours ago, Capricasix said:

This isn’t exactly an 80s reference, but I noticed that when Dustin came back from camp, his mom said something about him being gone for a month...which means that either the school year ends really early in Hawkins, or that he missed some school to go to camp (which would be weird). I know from some online American friends that their school year ends in the middle of May and starts at the beginning of August, but they’re mostly in Oklahoma, Texas, and Arizona. I live in Ontario, Canada, and our school year starts the day after Labour Day and ends the last Wednesday or Thursday in June.

Depends where you are in the US.  In RI in the 70s and 80s (and I believe all the way to today) the school year started a day or two after Labor Day and ended in mid to late June (depending on how many snow days there end up being).

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38 minutes ago, nodorothyparker said:

They're in Indiana.  I grew up in neighboring Illinois and even now my Midwestern nieces and nephews are done with school before Memorial Day, sometimes by mid May if they haven't burned many snow days that year.  Here on the East Coast, we're sweating it out until the later part of June.  So  if Dustin left for science camp right after the end of school, it's doable.

That makes sense.

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6 hours ago, Capricasix said:

This isn’t exactly an 80s reference, but I noticed that when Dustin came back from camp, his mom said something about him being gone for a month...which means that either the school year ends really early in Hawkins, or that he missed some school to go to camp (which would be weird). I know from some online American friends that their school year ends in the middle of May and starts at the beginning of August, but they’re mostly in Oklahoma, Texas, and Arizona. I live in Ontario, Canada, and our school year starts the day after Labour Day and ends the last Wednesday or Thursday in June.

Yeah, it really just depends on what part of the country you're in.  Here in Arkansas school lets out about the third week of May and starts back up again about the third week of August.  Plus the final week is pretty much optional if your grades are good enough that you don't have to take any kind of semester tests.  Dustin being at camp for the entire month of June is not unbelievable at all.

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16 hours ago, Capricasix said:

This isn’t exactly an 80s reference, but I noticed that when Dustin came back from camp, his mom said something about him being gone for a month...which means that either the school year ends really early in Hawkins, or that he missed some school to go to camp (which would be weird). I know from some online American friends that their school year ends in the middle of May and starts at the beginning of August, but they’re mostly in Oklahoma, Texas, and Arizona. I live in Ontario, Canada, and our school year starts the day after Labour Day and ends the last Wednesday or Thursday in June.

Grew up in Indiana in the 80s, school started late August and were done the very end of May, so would have been about a month he was gone if he left right after school was out. 

Its different now.  They start early August, not sure when they are done

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I was wondering if the showrunners think the bowl cut on the boys make them look young?

I was a teenager in the 70's so I can't comment on the clothes but I agree with the names. I was pregnant in 1980 with my daughter and was thinking of names like Jennifer, Nancy, Elizabeth but went with a Charlie's Angels name, Tiffany because it was new and different.

Wow, that's incredible about the Mall they used being the dead wing they brought to life. Well done!

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2 hours ago, foxfreakinmulder said:

Wow, that's incredible about the Mall they used being the dead wing they brought to life. Well done!

I wonder if they fixed it back up and left it that way.  That mall could make a fortune just charging admission to tour the dead wing!  Can you imagine renting it for an 80's party?  So much fun!

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31 minutes ago, domina89 said:

I wonder if they fixed it back up and left it that way.  That mall could make a fortune just charging admission to tour the dead wing!  Can you imagine renting it for an 80's party?  So much fun!

Absolutely! Especially if they did a Stranger Things theme, even if they couldn't use the name with the popularity of the show it would be a big money maker.

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On 7/8/2019 at 5:43 PM, kieyra said:

I also appreciate the way they have created Billy as a perfect love child of Rob Lowe in St Elmo's fire and Jason Patric in Lost Boys, down to the earring. He favors Rob Lowe a bit more than Jason Patric, but only just:

OMG -- THANK YOU!!  I got the Rob Lowe hair reference when I was watching, but couldn't figure out who else he reminded me of.  Jason Patrick in Lost Boys is IT!!  

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that purple dress with the cut outs? I had a shirt in that same material so all I was thinking was, "GOD, I'd hate to have iron that!"

Also, I recognized the Tiny Village paper set in front of Will and I actually screamed. Scared my husband and son LOL I had Tiny Village, Tiny Town, and Tiny Circus.

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On 7/6/2019 at 4:31 PM, Armchair Critic said:

I agree with you about the bowl cuts, nobody over 5 years old wore their hair like that then. Most guys sort of feathered their hair back, Mike would be wearing his hair more like Ralph Macchio or Rick Springfield.

Phew! I thought I was the only one who thought this! Some folks in another thread tried to explain it as being due to the Mid-west setting and behind the times in fashion, but even factoring a fashion lag, seriously, NO TEEN BOY in the mid-80's would be caught dead with those pudding bowl haircuts - they look ridiculous! Billy and Steve also have silly hair, but it's at least age/time-period appropriate.

The best explanation I read was that the boys had grown so much in between seasons, that the show's stylists may have decided to keep their "kid" hair-cuts so they'd still be recognizable to the viewing audience. I hope they change them for next season, because the sheer awfulness of their hair is actually distracting and taking me out of the show.

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8 hours ago, Cheezwiz said:

Phew! I thought I was the only one who thought this! Some folks in another thread tried to explain it as being due to the Mid-west setting and behind the times in fashion, but even factoring a fashion lag, seriously, NO TEEN BOY in the mid-80's would be caught dead with those pudding bowl haircuts - they look ridiculous! Billy and Steve also have silly hair, but it's at least age/time-period appropriate.

The best explanation I read was that the boys had grown so much in between seasons, that the show's stylists may have decided to keep their "kid" hair-cuts so they'd still be recognizable to the viewing audience. I hope they change them for next season, because the sheer awfulness of their hair is actually distracting and taking me out of the show.

I hope they do. I hope the stylist changes them at least. It looks silly on kid ages between 15-17! 1984....maybe. But 1985....never!

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I really hope the show jumps to 1987 for season 4 because asking us to pretend these kids are just out of middle school is going to be too much for me.

Mike's bowl didn't bother me as much as Will's did, because Mike's hair is real whereas they had stuck a wig on Noah's perfectly acceptable for 1985 hairstyle.

I mean, really- you could put him in actual 1985 with this hair and he wouldn't look weird at all.

Edited by methodwriter85
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8 hours ago, bettername2come said:

I just noticed something rewatching the first episode. They pan over El's room - we see a Corey Hart tape, a Bryan Adams tape, and a Sweet Valley High Book.

I'm glad that even though she still isn't in school, she was being exposed to things like Sweet Valley High. No wonder she took to the mall so well. All those detailed descriptions of Jessica and Elizabeth's outfits must have inspired her!

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While I agree with everyone about Will's bowl haircut being awful and certainly not something that a boy in 1984 would be sporting, I can accept it from one viewpoint: Socio-economic status. Compared to the other families, Joyce is obviously struggling financially. It's possible that she is saving money by still cutting Will's hair instead of having him go to a barber/stylist for haircuts. It might quite literally be a "bowl haircut, " with Joyce putting a bowl on the poor kid's head and trimming around the bowl.

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On 11/9/2017 at 7:30 PM, methodwriter85 said:

The thing that I learned while studying 1980's yearbooks is that for most of that decade, styles were actually pretty conservative, at least for high school kids. It's pretty much preppy, preppy, and preppy. What we think of as the outrageous 80's style is really more like 1988-1991.

I was in HS from 79 to 83 midwest. I still remember the first guy to have spiked hair. I was so impressed, I actually got the nerve up to wear my mini-skirt. 

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The early 80s seems to be mostly fluffy sweaters, designer jeans, and plaid/flannel shirts or long skirts. And lots of earth-toned vests and blazers. Loafers or running shoes for footwear. No flip-flops or high heels, unless it was on a pair of calf length boots.

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On 7/16/2019 at 9:10 AM, ProudMary said:

While I agree with everyone about Will's bowl haircut being awful and certainly not something that a boy in 1984 would be sporting, I can accept it from one viewpoint: Socio-economic status. Compared to the other families, Joyce is obviously struggling financially. It's possible that she is saving money by still cutting Will's hair instead of having him go to a barber/stylist for haircuts. It might quite literally be a "bowl haircut, " with Joyce putting a bowl on the poor kid's head and trimming around the bowl.

I agree.  It also lends itself to him being deemed an uncool nerd. 

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On 7/8/2019 at 6:30 PM, Capricasix said:

This isn’t exactly an 80s reference, but I noticed that when Dustin came back from camp, his mom said something about him being gone for a month...which means that either the school year ends really early in Hawkins, or that he missed some school to go to camp (which would be weird). I know from some online American friends that their school year ends in the middle of May and starts at the beginning of August, but they’re mostly in Oklahoma, Texas, and Arizona. I live in Ontario, Canada, and our school year starts the day after Labour Day and ends the last Wednesday or Thursday in June.

Graduated from a SE Michigan high School in 1986. Last day of school that year was June 6th. And as far as I remember, last day of school was always in the first week of June.

First day of school was usually the day after Labor Day. I remember feeling like I was actually missing out due to the holiday coming BEFORE school started. 

The school year starting in August freaked me out when they started that. I was really glad I'd graduated before that change.

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Heh! We started the week before Labor Day and ended before Memorial Day in my small rural Wyoming town.  (I'm class of '86 too.  Whoo hoo!) I always felt sorry for kids in Denver, whose semester didn't end until June. Going to school in June was completely unimaginable for us here. 

Have we discussed all the New Coke featured this season?  I wish I could remember what it tasted like.  I remember it wasn't as good as old Coke, but it wasn't horrible or anything like that. 

Nancy's red shirt with the black stripes was spot on.  I had one similar back then. 

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15 hours ago, methodwriter85 said:

The early 80s seems to be mostly fluffy sweaters, designer jeans, and plaid/flannel shirts or long skirts. And lots of earth-toned vests and blazers. Loafers or running shoes for footwear. No flip-flops or high heels, unless it was on a pair of calf length boots.

The early (or mid) 80's here featured both tuxedo blouses and leg-o-mutten shirts for us girls. You're right on the shoes.  Don't forget the Izod shirts too.  What we called "ankle boots" were also popular.  They hit between ankle and calf-length and sometimes the tops were floppy and folded over. 

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I’ve been driving my family nuts with the, “OMG, I had that’s!”

my hair looked almost exactly like Nancy’s in my senior photo

i had the rainbow sheets max has

i had s sweater with hearts going across the top like Erica had

the shoes Nancy and her mom wear!  They are horrible, but so correct!  The white shoes with the red dress with white buttons; the blue shoes with the purple and teal dress!  Accessories had to match completely!!

the shirts tucked in the shorts!  My son asked if that was really a thing to which I said yes. He said it looked stupid, to which I agreed

if they make it to late 80’s, they totally need to break out the Nautica and color changing shirts!

Edited by Riplet68
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Heh, and I'm such a child of the 80's, the current trend of untucked shirts looks completely weird to me. 😏

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I still have the same 70s/80's Dragons and Dungeons Monster Manual that was on the show.

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And judging Stranger Things and this made for TV take place in the same year, they weren't for off. 1985 was an interesting year then. The only difference was Mike and Will's hair.

Surving(1985)

Edited by Robert Lynch

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I liked the Phoebe Cates cardboard cutout in the video store.  Video stores were the thing in 1985 (I remember the crowds on a weekday evening), and they were making their money promoting recent big movies.  Fast Times was in 1982 and renting movies like that one, The Empire Strikes Back, etc., was very popular back then.  If the newest blockbuster was already out of stock (as was often the case), you could always fall back on Rocky III or Alien in a pinch.

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On 7/17/2019 at 3:40 PM, Cowgirl said:

The early (or mid) 80's here featured both tuxedo blouses and leg-o-mutten shirts for us girls. You're right on the shoes.  Don't forget the Izod shirts too.  What we called "ankle boots" were also popular.  They hit between ankle and calf-length and sometimes the tops were floppy and folded over. 

Remember the Units stores? Where you could buy basic pieces and learn how to create a zillion outfits with some bands etc..... 

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My high school boyfriend had terminator dudes jacket.  They really need to bring on the parachute pants!  I could see the guys really getting into the WWF craze that went on.

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On 7/19/2019 at 12:10 PM, libgirl2 said:

Remember the Units stores? Where you could buy basic pieces and learn how to create a zillion outfits with some bands etc..... 

Yep. I feel like that was slightly later 80s.

I had the worst body shape for that stuff, but I bet most non models did.

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On 7/19/2019 at 12:10 PM, libgirl2 said:

Remember the Units stores?

I do remember those but I can't picture exactly what they were.

It's been fun reading about your remembrances of the '80s at that age. I can't remember things the same way since I was 30 in 1985.

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Bummer, I don't think we had any Units stores in Wyoming.  It figures.  We never had the cool stuff! 

Don't forget about Jellies shoes for girls. 

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