What was the inspiration for 80's type suits?
Here is what you may need to know.
one word: Armani
I bought a ton of suits during the 1980's, or at least a couple of closets full, and not one of them looked anything like you are describing, except for a few pants that had double pleats forward or reverse. None had the exaggerated shoulder pads and all were moderate in terms of drape and styling. In fact, most of the suits I purchased during the 1980's were basically timeless cuts that would have looked right at home during any decade since the 1940's, albeit looking somewhat "mod" during the 1970's where the average lapels were like elephant ears and the ties were like beach towels.
I have only one suit with a respectably low gorge from the late 1980's, and it is a high style 4x1 db chalk that still looks great without being a cliche. In fact, it looks more film noir than 1980's, if it can be assigned a fashion time slot at all.
So, there was some choice in the matter during that decade as to whether one would dress in what is now taken to be 1980's men's fashions. The suits worn in many a film noir classic look like they could have been pulled right off the rack of a high fashion men's store during the 1980's.
FYI, during the 1980's I also never bought a red leather jacket or parachute pants, nor did I ever dress like a character or cast member from Miami Vice, Magnum P.I., or Dynasty, all of which were huge fashion influences at the time.
The 1980's had a ton of different looks: prep, mod, metal, punk, New Wave, Miami Vice, film noir influenced suits, spandex, New Romantic, Country Western, etc., etc. and one might see them all during a night out and about. In fact, there were probably just as many narrow lapel mod suits in view as big shouldered film noir influenced ones, since there was a bit of a backlash from the excesses of the 1970's.
Although I did travel a lot and go out even more, my view of the 1980's was filtered through a high proof fog, so it may be worth no more than what you paid for it.
Is the following look really that excessive:
I read that Tom Ford gets inspiration from the 1940s for his suits, and RLPL is inspired by Savile Row. But what about the peculiar characteristics we associate with suits from the 80s? I'm talking about the extra wide shoulders, pleats and extra fabric in the suits. Is there a particular era (or region) that inspired this look?
That being said, who set the new standard in the early 90s that phased out the 'Armani look'. Ralph Lauren?
American suits also picked up the stronger shoulders about the same time that bodybuilding became a major form of exercise. The V-shaped torso was the ideal, and suits were cut to emphasize or fake this.
There was an aggressive attitude with the mid-90s big shoulders. V-shape on steroids.
Good call. But just like in the movie, when one wore Armani, one gained a certain derisive opinion from one's audience and lost most of their remaining credibility.
Certain death of one's good reputation was the net effect of the toxic combination of a Porsche, a Rolex, and attire by Armani.
Armani made softly constructed suits with low gorges, just watch American Gigalo or dig up old magazines from that era. Preppy was back, remember the Preppy Handbook? This lasted til the mid 80s, at this time, Italian designers came to rise and classic preppy became "grandpa" clothes. Italian suits became the rage, Cerruti 1881 of Ferre. Versace was the grail at this time.
As people got bored with boxy shapes and skinny lapels, designers went with inspiration from 40s films, hence DB and padding everywhere. Alan Flusser started selling an A&S inspired "drape" suit. Designer went crazy exaggerating the silhouette, hence the freaky silhouette that we all despise. Wall Street also came out in 1986 and the English banker inspired "power" look was huge. Yellow paisley ties and braces with concrast collar shirts ftw.
At that time, Japanese designers like Matsuda among others were showing a return to 50's American styling, but they were outside the mainstream. Watch Die Hard or episodes of Remington Steel or LA Law and you will see.
After that period of excess, minimalist designers found traction, boxy and 3 button was back. Still love Helmut Lang stuff from the late 90s. Time to ditch the skinny lapels now. Just saw Moore's, Canada's answer to Men's Wearhouse start to tout skinny lapel suits, when a trend like this reaches a store like that, time to thrift the stuff. That's what I remember about the 80s and I was there.
Bruce Boyer in his excellent Eminently Suitable says that Giorgio Armani was the one who inspired all RTW makers to go for the baggy drapey low-gorge look, and that is the way the story is usually told. Some discussion and pictures here:
Some of us went through the decade without ever purchasing anything that looked remotely like
Armani- and at the time I wore a suit every day. My clothes came from Chipp, Norman Hilton, and
Paul Stuart, or the Chicago equivalent. Not strictly "trad" mind you, but derivative of that style.