One of the most recognizable trends of the 1980s was shoulder pads. Men’s and women’s clothing alike had them in everything from shirts, to jackets, to dresses. The shoulder pads of the 1980s were big and very boxy. While some of the shoulder pads that you saw on the runway for spring and summer 2017 are reminiscent of those big boxy productions, like the ones seen at Balenciaga below, runway trends are usually exaggerated. You probably won’t find many people wearing shoulder pads that are quite so in your face.
The most common place that we will see shoulder pads in fashions for this spring are in jackets. Both with outerwear and suit jackets, they are in style. You can see several examples below. In these examples, you might notice that the shoulders have a square shape and are not necessarily actually padded. The square shape gives the illusion of shoulder pads, but still draws the eye toward the shoulder.
Another type of clothing that often includes this square shoulder look is dresses. Both dresses that are appropriate for the office and evening gowns, can be found with shoulder pads. With daytime dresses, the square shoulder or shoulder pad look is often called the power shoulder. Women first adopted this look so that they could express their equality with men in the workplace. Again, the shoulder pad suits that are popular today are not quite as dramatic as what was popular in the 1980s. You can see a beautiful example from Chanel in the picture below.
Who Should Wear Shoulder Pads?
You might be asking yourself what body type is right for these large shoulder pad looks. They, in general, are a good look for women who have an inverted triangle body type. Anybody who is smaller on top than on the bottom will look good with this type of top. The reason for this is that shoulder pads balance out these types of bodies. In addition, round body types might also consider this look. By bringing the eye to the shoulder, you create the illusion of a more distinct waistline.
As with most fashion trends, the shoulder pad trend has bled into other looks. While not every shirt or dress has actual shoulder pads, many have a very dramatic shoulder look. Large curved sleeves with a downward sloping shoulder have the dramatic effect of drawing your eye to the shoulder without actually including pads. You can see an example of this sloping shoulder look in the outfit from Marni shown below.
Sometimes you can get this look by removing shoulder pads from a garment that includes them. That is why many designers chose to make shoulder pads removable. If you want to go for the dramatic throw back look, you can include these removable accessories. If you don’t want to bring quite so much attention to yourself, but you still want to stay true to the trend, you can remove the pads and still wear the large sloping shoulder look like in the items below.