The 80s: Whose bright idea was this?

IT WAS a decade when, if you had something to say, you put it on your T-shirt, a la Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Wham! When, if you could enter a room without turning sideways, your shoulder pads weren't big enough. And, if your tights got a ladder in them, you didn't throw them away – you tied your hair up with them.

Power dressing was for women and make-up was for men in a decade when "gender-bender" was the buzzword. Hairspray sales went through the roof – in fact, through the ozone – as teenagers everywhere attempted to recreate the bouffant quiffs of Duran Duran and Morrissey.

Suits for men had to be rolled up at the sleeves and accompanied by pastel-coloured shirts or T-shirts, in the style of Limahl and Miami Vice's Tubbs and Crockett. DMs and Levi 501s were obligatory. For women, skirts were mini, earrings were maxi and perms were de rigeur at a time when Margaret Thatcher, "shy" Princess Di and Madonna were all style icons.

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At the upper end of the market, Edinburgh's Betty Davies, then in her 40s, was probably Scotland's foremost fashion designer.

She recalls: "As the 1970s ended, we said goodbye to a decade of 'flower power' – long skirts, tie/dye, lots of coloured prints.

"When Margaret Thatcher took over, there was a sea change. Here we had a professional, highly successful politician, who became the first women prime minister. This heralded a new age in fashion. Gone were the flowery frocks and in came the smart suit, as women saw their opportunities to make more impressions in the work place.

"This decade also saw the burgeoning of the new fashion stores, learning from the smart designer boutiques, and the groups such as Next and Principles began to invade the prime slots in the High Street, where they were able to dominate this new market of salary-earning women with well-priced smart dresses and suits.

"Power dressing was forceful, shoulders were wide, the trouser suit was de rigeur, blouses smart or with floppy bows softening the sharper man-tailored business suits. Suddenly, fashion became serious, competitive and very important."

Whether power-dresser, New Romantic or Dallas devotee, fashionistas took their clothes very seriously. So what were you wearing?

Arlene Stuart, 42, Forth One radio presenter

During the 1980s, Arlene was beginning her career in broadcasting with Grampian Television as a continuity announcer. Arlene's favourite bands at the time included Duran Duran, Thompson Twins and Culture Club, and she would tirelessly attempt to "mix and match" their styles. She says: "In the photo (left), I'm posing on a golf course wearing denim jacket complete with enormous shoulder pads and pantaloon jeans, with red pixie boots and matching scarf, gloves and hair scrunchie.

"I don't think I ever had a perm which didn't make me cry tears of anguish when the rollers came out."

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Another memorable occasion saw Arlene attend a wedding clad in turquoise dress and shoulder pads, along with white stilettos and handbag. She says: "I remember thinking I looked the bee's knees at the time . . . I looked like an extra from Dallas. Hideous!"

Grant Stott, 41, Forth One radio presenter

Grant Stott was working as a Saturday afternoon DJ in Topman during the 1980s, which meant he got first sight of new lines of clothing. He recalls: "Leather trousers with slip-on shoes and white socks were the norm, but if you were extra stylish there was a leather tie – which would be about one inch wide and could supplement the trousers, although I never actually dared to try that."

The "jumper tucked into skinny jeans with giant basketball boots" was more his look. He says: "I used to own a pair of shiny white basketball boots myself and would actually paint them white to keep them looking new.

"Although it took me many years to admit it, I had a mullet which was modelled on Paul Young. It was long at the back, spiky on top and slicked back at the sides."

He was also a fan of the "rolled-up jacket sleeves" look.

Karen Koren, 58, founder, The Gilded Balloon

Karen is the founder of one of the largest Edinburgh Fringe Festival venues, the Gilded Balloon. She also manages several comedians and is responsible for bringing the Winter Wonderland to Edinburgh. In the 1980s, though, she was also a big fan of the boiler suit. Karen, pictured right, owned six, in colours ranging from lilac to turquoise. She recalls: "I was more Dallas than New Romantic, as you can see from the hair (below right). I couldn't do without my Carmen rollers – needed them to get the sort of Farrah Fawcett look!"

Karen worked as a barmaid in Buster Brown's at the time and would typically buy her clothes from either C&A or Freeman's catalogues.

She recalls attending a wedding in a white dress with a green and white striped long jacket with white collar and very broad shoulder pads. "I remember a friend saying to me that it was so nice to see that I had come dressed as a marquee!" she says.

Jojo Sutherland 43, comedian

The Stand regular Jojo recalls having very mixed fashion sense at that time. She says: "I could never quite decide if I wanted to be a mod or a rocker – so I was both. My worst and best look was my combat trousers with chains that I used to wear with a pink parka jacket. I must have looked ridiculous but I felt like the coolest person on the planet."

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Jumpsuits were another common feature in Jojo's wardrobe, owning around eight in all different colours, as well as countless variations of the obligatory black leg warmers and coloured leggings combination. She would also regularly attempt to emulate Kim Wilde's hair by "back-combing it into a mountain of mess", before heading out into town to either the roller disco at Tollcross, or Cinderella's disco in the years before it burnt down.

Mary Shields 44, arts consultant

In this photo, right, Mary wears a bright orange jacket from her favourite 1980s clothes shop – Flip. Her hair was very special, too. "It was really, really short on top with the rest halfway down my back – permed and striped pink and white", she recalls. "It was all about crimping and hair spray."

She adds: "A friend and I both spent a year or so in Victorian outfits (bibs and tuckers, petticoats, lace-up boots) and also had a concentrated cocktail dress period with evening gloves."

A college student with no money at the time, she turned up at university in a hacked-off polka dot dress and three-quarter length tights "feeling particularly pleased with myself". After answering an ad in a phone box while at university, Mary ended up living with members of bands The Fiction Factory and OMD, and enjoyed the local party scene, regularly attending popular nightspots such as Hoochie Coochie's, The Kangaroo Club and Manifesto.

She recalls: "I remember us getting cross about tripping over Housemartins in sleeping bags in the sitting room, and Shirley Manson often lolled about on the kitchen floor complaining about school and wondering how she could get herself sacked from Miss Selfridge."

Richard Jobson 49, film director and former frontman of The Skids

Born in Fife, Richard and his band made their breakthrough around the late 1970s, with appearances on the John Peel show and a UK tours, successfully establishing a loyal following in Edinburgh and beyond as the 1980s got under way. As for 1980s fashion, he has said: "I had black hair with a white stripe down the middle, like a skunk. I got my clothes from second-hand shops in the Cowgate. It was brilliant – if you could overcome the smell – finding winklepickers and suits. I used to spend Saturday mornings there, then I met a couple of girls who were dressmakers and they started to put some clothes together for us, tailored to our own crazy ideas."

Recalling his fashion influences, he also remained loyal to his own instincts, adding: "The Clash were a big influence, also New York artists and bands like Television and Patti Smith – they had a more bohemian look. I was never as dishevelled as some of the other punks; I stayed a bit smarter. My clothes were like protection, a suit of armour."

Bob Malcolm 55, Forth 2 presenter

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Bob has no qualms about consigning 1980s fashion to the past. "It's horrific seeing what I used to think was cool," he says. "I would wear loud jackets and Radio Forth puffer jackets when doing roadshows, but always liked the Spandau Ballet suited look."

Most of his shopping centred on the fashion hub of Cockburn Street, its wealth of clothes stores contributing to his collection of "six pairs of Levi's and two smart suits" which formed to backbone of his wardrobe. But it is the thought of his hairstyles – he aspired to the Noel Edmonds look – which make him really cringe. "I think the worst look was when I grew a beard which looked as if I never washed.

"The Eighties was not a time for fashion. It must not be allowed to come back."

Paul Haig 48, singer/songwriter

As former frontman of Edinburgh-based punk band Josef K, Paul would spend his days trawling charity shops across the city for his clothes back in the early 1980s.

"In the band, we were more influenced by Sixties clothes, although it was hard for anybody to completely avoid the prevailing trends," says Haig. "But I do remember having never succumbed to the giant shoulder pads phenomenon. I was more into classic 1950s suits with the thin lapels and slim-fit leather trousers.

"Bizarrely, my hair won 'haircut of the year' in Melody Maker in 1983. As the picture shows, left, it was a flat top which was shaved at the sides. It was a really strange title to be awarded!"

Susan Morrison 49, comedian

Capitalising on the rising popularity of aerobics and fitness in the 1980s, Susan's brief spell as an aerobics instructor gave her a perfect excuse to indulge in the era's most striking fashionwear. "Brightly coloured, lurid leg warmers were essential, and leotard and sweat bands were of course mandatory," she recalls. "It was enough to give members of the class temporary epilepsy as a result of flashing effect!"

A self-confessed Cyndi Lauper fan, Susan's hair was another striking feature: "This required a perm, heated rollers, a family-sized tin of hairspray and two packets of hair grips. Once your hair was chemically destroyed, fried, dyed and swept to the side, you could go out."

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It wasn't all care-free fun in the Eighties, as Susan's embarrassing experience at a job interview illustrates. "I had a pair of fab, dangly earrings on, as well as the shoulder pads, of course, which were so big they came halfway up to my ears. The earrings snagged on both sides of my jacket. I had to sit through entire interview like a Dalek wearing shoulder pads!"

Jason Miller 42, director, Charlie Miller Hairdressers

"In this picture, left, I was wearing a Yohji Yama-moto suit with extremely broad shoulders and the button holes were zips; a pinstriped Armani tie, George Michael-type earring and a lot of gel to slick back my hair," says Jason.

His favourite look from the time was Jean Paul Gaultier leather studded jacket with spikes on the shoulders.

In terms of the hairdressing of the time, he says: "The 1980s were wild with many very dramatic styles: Toyah Wilcox, Steve Strange, Gary Numan and Grace Jones . . . lots of creativity and fun. It's amazing what people actually had done to their hair compared with how they wear it now."

• Pick up the Evening News on Friday for an exclusive interview with Duran Duran legend and 1980s icon Simon Le Bon – only in The Guide

Get your roller skates on for Next trip down memory lane

IT was the decade which saw Next revolutionise high street fashion – at one stage the chain had three stores on Princes Street. And the 1980s were also the heyday of C&A on Princes Street – particularly the Clockhouse label – and Chelsea Girl.

Americana was big and followers of fashion flocked to cult store Flip for their jeans, baseball T-shirts and jelly shoes. At the opposite end of the spectrum, jodpurs and frilly shirts were also a look – no, really – both of which could be found at Laura Ashley. And Miss Selfridge arrived in Hanover Street, while TopShop and Etam were firm favourites.

Now deceased, but a vital destination as part of any Saturday shopping trip into town back then, were Arnotts on North Bridge and the multi-floored Goldbergs on Tollcross. And What Every Woman Wants on the Bridges was the Primark of its day.

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When it came to having fun, Marco's Leisure Centre on Grove Street was a big draw. Not only did it have a snooker hall, it also hosted children's parties and Fringe acts – Mike Myers played an early gig there.

Fat Sam's Pizza Pie Factory off Lothian Road was THE place to celebrate birthdays. Designed as an American speak-easy with pictures of famous gangsters on the walls, it opened in 1986 and was famous for a 32ft green and black limo and an animatronic gangster puppet show which sang songs, played a mini-piano and waved toy machine guns around – classy.

Nicky Tam's pub on Victoria Street (where Espionage is now) was a hip hangout, although its reputation probably wasn't helped when Cliff Richard took then girlfriend Sue Barker out to dinner in the Chinese restaurant below. Buster Browns on Market Street was the cool place in town, while Outer Limits in Tollcross (now Lava and Ignite) had a roller disco before 10pm called Coasters.

Cocktail bars were big and were being served up at Styx pub on George Street and Lord Tom's on Lothian Road (where Bottom's Up is now). And Bianco's in the West End covered the other 80s trend in pubs – the wine bar.

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