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An ’80s Power Dress Refashion for a Modern Woman (Me!)

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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.

refashionista '80s dress before refashion
Don’t I look clever & driven?

Sidebar: My book prop in the above photo was written by Brian’s Dad (Hey Jeff!)! Yep, I have super smart in-laws. 🙂

Jeff Morris wrote a book
Just a little light reading

Anywho…while I understand the rationale for this type of design, it doesn’t really fit with my muuuuuch more casual lifestyle.

refashionista looks at shoulder pad
I love that shoulder pleating, but hate those shoulder pads!

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:

refashionista huge shoulder pads
They’re huuuuge!

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.

refashionista removing brass button
Don’t worry! I save all my buttons!

Next, I tucked the collar and lapels in, and got to work removing some of that length.

refashionista dress refashion
Choppity chop!

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.

refashionista sewing neckline
Shhhhh…don’t tell!

A new hem quickly followed!

refashionista pinning hem
Pin, them hem!

I quickly stitched the bottom scrap into a sash for a little extra waist definition, and was ready for an afternoon with friends!

refashionista black power dress after refashion
Sassy, no?

I styled my new dress with a black cami (necessary), black tights, an owlie brooch (#bringingbroochesback), and some animal print lace-up flats!

refashionista after with brooch by pool
This isn’t my pool, but I wish it was.

I brought over a super fun game called Don’t Get Got, and shenanigans ensued.

dont get got refashionista
This isn’t an ad, I just really like the game!

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.

refashionista dont get got
I got got many times, as I’m a very trusting person.

I was terrible at the game, but still had fun. 🙂

I got got by everyone on this sofa. :'(
refashionista and husband
Brian likes to suffer, so he roots for the Browns.


refashionista before and after
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