When I see heavily shoulder-padded, lapelled, double-breasted ’80s dresses like the one I’m about to show you, I try not to judge.
Fashion has a history that mirrors what was going on in society at the time.
In the ’80s, women were at a place where they had been active in the workforce for a while. But now they were finally beginning to reach upper-management and C-Suite roles.
To visually reflect that they deserved respect for the power they had achieved to their colleagues, they wore sharply defined silhouettes…think power suits and shoulder pads. Women’s work clothes were more angular then.
Sidebar: My book prop in the above photo was written by Brian’s Dad (Hey Jeff!)! Yep, I have super smart in-laws. 🙂
Anywho…while I understand the rationale for this type of design, it doesn’t really fit with my muuuuuch more casual lifestyle.
Things I loved about this dress: The color, the brass buttons, that fabulous shoulder pleating, the fact that it actually fits me okay (no need to take it in/out).
Things that bugged me about this dress: The shoulder pads, awkward length, lapels, and quantity of buttons (too many!).
I started removing what I didn’t like, starting with these monstrously large things:
If you’re wondering what to do with removed shoulder pads, here’s an old post (with terrible photos) I wrote about that very thing.
I removed the non-functional row of buttons from the front of the dress, as well as from the sleeves.
Next, I tucked the collar and lapels in, and got to work removing some of that length.
I stitched down my new neckline, and then removed the extra lapel fabric with pinking shears. It may not look pretty on the inside, but that’s my lil secret.
A new hem quickly followed!
I quickly stitched the bottom scrap into a sash for a little extra waist definition, and was ready for an afternoon with friends!
I styled my new dress with a black cami (necessary), black tights, an owlie brooch (#bringingbroochesback), and some animal print lace-up flats!
I brought over a super fun game called Don’t Get Got, and shenanigans ensued.
Don’t Get Got is a secret mission party game that happens in the background of the party. Everyone is given a wallet with different tasks they must execute, BUT if someone asks them, “Is this part of the game?”, they fail. :'(
I can’t say much more without spoiling the game.
I was terrible at the game, but still had fun. 🙂
29 thoughts on “An ’80s Power Dress Refashion for a Modern Woman (Me!)”
This is a great refashion!! You are so creative and I’m so happy you are blogging again. A couple non fashion comments… your puppy couch steps are cute and my hubby is a Browns fan too!
Well done! So happy to see your posts. It is inspiring.
I’m so glad you’re posting regularly and leading such a fun fabulous life! This dress is lovely!
Loving the refashion. So inspiring. There is plenty of scope in those old 80’s dresses. They are relatively well made. The one thing I don’t miss is how every outfit seemed to have buttons on the chest, but very easy to remove.
Yes! Iggy Pop ! Yes! Stairs for the wieners! Yes! Great refashion. Was in college in the 80s so no power outfits, but I do remember them!! Great job- inspiring me to work on some 80s fashions.
Love, love, love this. it looks very expensive!
Love, love, love
Nice job! I love the way you kept the buttons and how you refashioned their look so they look like they were always meant to be there. Very flattering for the figure but not overly sexy… Cool!
Didn’t you have to re-set the sleeves to take in some of that extra length from the shoulder pads?
You always make yourself look as terrible as possible for the ‘before’ photo’s it’s very amusing. (and Brian is so cute!)
Owlie Brooch – Be sure to notice Hettie on NCIS -LA. She has quite a collection.
Omg you have stairs to your couch for your little pups
And finally, a fellow brooch lover. I’ve been waiting for brooches to come back forever!
Love this one, totes! Looks great on you. Very chic. Great job!
Well, how cute is that! You are one talented missy. I love your blog, can’t wait to see your next surprise! Many thanks for sharing.
Beautiful love it, ahhh the 80s.
You are so darn cute. I want to put you in my pocket and take you home. Well….that sounds a bit weird. But don’t fear. I’m just a grandma who appreciates every item you refashion. Such brilliance that you can see the positive in all clothing.
Yes to bringing back brooches!! Woo HOO! Also, you looked great in the before AND after!!
Love this refashion! My hubby is a long time suffering Browns fan, too.
“Brian like to suffer so he roots for the Browns” That is freaking hilarious. Great job as usual.
Oh, my…. You just nailed this one totally!!
I love the refashion, but I especially LOVE how you styled it! I aspire to a pair of leopard-print shoes, but so far I have been too picky to aquire any of the ones I’ve encountered. 😉
Amazing! Luv how you styled your refashioned dress too!
I dig what you did here! It’s an original style and it’s really flattering on you! Great refashion!
I love seeing you work your gifts of creativity, design, style & sense of humor! So glad you’re back. I’m a 60 year old woman with incurable cancer. Diagnosed 8 years ago. So you can imagine my wardrobe: leggings, yoga pants, camis, T-shirts, you get the picture. It’s a real treat to see what you have done and laugh at your little jokes. Keep it up. You are a blessing!
So cute! And could still work in the office. 😉
My brother enjoys sorrow and disappointment as well
Maybe it builds character????
I really like this refashion. FUNctional pockets, helloooooo! And the overall look is extra cool styled with those pattered shoes. Nice balance.
(Sidenote: whenever I see cheetah print footwear I get the first lines from The Stooges “Search and Destroy” in my head, “I’m a street walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm…”)
Thanks! I’m alllll about some pockets, that’s for sure! And I really dig The Stooges! Iggy Pop is awesome!