Big hair, grunge or bling? Cringe-worthy fashion fails by decade

Every fashion craze had its good side and its ugly side... Can you still pull them off?

Hadia Sinno
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Fashion trends have ebbed and flowed throughout the ages. Think big hair and the 1980s come to mind, think grunge and you could be transported back to the 1990s.

Commercials, TV shows and movies, among others, push us to accept the trends of the day, whether we really like them or not! But, looking back over the decades, it’s time to ask: what trends really worked, and what should be safely locked away in the annals of fashion history?

Every fashion craze has its good side, and ugly side. For some, 1980s trends were a big no-no, while other fashion gurus lament the perky pop princess clothes popular in the early 2000s.


Each of those periods had different cultural influences that reflected on fashion.

The 1980s were sort of a liberation, in the fashion world they call that decade the golden years. Designers skyrocketed to fame, including Claude Montana, Thierry Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier, Azzedine Alaia and Gianni Versace. So did top models such as Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista.


The exaggeration of looks, especially for women, saw high-rise shoulder pads a la Dynasty and over-the-top make up.
The influence of the music scene really took hold during the 1980s. Punk, rap and hip-hop pervaded fashion with their distinctive clothing styles, as did pop superstars like Madonna.

The 1990s was a dark period in fashion. Pop culture icons such as Kurt Cobaine of the group Nirvana, Johnny Depp, Quentin Tarantino and Beavis and Butthead cartoons came to the fore, influencing style trends as they went with grunge looks and somber, muted colors.


The era also marked the rise of Belgium and Japanese designers with a glamorous edge and minimalistic style. But, it seems women lost the feminine style in a way. After the over exaggeration of the 1980s, the next decade was more subdued.

Rave fashion reared its tattooed and pierced head, while in the mid-90s, the “Heroin Chic” look became all the rage. Pale skin and dark circles under the eyes became the ideal of beauty as fashion models became skinnier - Kate Moss, anyone?

An ad campaign by Calvin Klein featuring Kate Moss came under fire by former U.S. president Bill Clinton for its undernourished-looking Moss and its apparent pushing of drug culture.

Clinton, speaking about U.S. drug policy to a group of big-city mayors, took note of admissions by some magazine editors at the time that the “wasted addict” look in was glamorizing heroin use.


“In the press in recent days, we've seen reports that many of our fashion leaders are now admitting - and I honor them for doing this - they're admitting flat-out that images projected in fashion photos in the last few years have made heroin addiction seem glamorous and sexy and cool,” Clinton said.

“And as some of those people in those images start to die now, it has become obvious that that is not true,” Clinton said. “You do not need to glamorize addiction to sell clothes.”

In late 1999 the mood changed and we started sexy, healthier looking models such as Brazilian Gisele Bundchen.


Come the year 2000, we were blinded by an onslaught of bling and everything luxurious.

So, what was the worst era in fashion? As a style guru, it could be the 1990s – the grunge and the vampire style trends. However, the decade left its mark, even though it has been upgraded for the 21st century with the grunge chic look, androgynous wear, metallic colors and chic sportswear.

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