Conservatism and Luxury.
The turbulent, self-expressive era of the 1960s and 1970s evolved into the 1980s—in fashion, a decade marked by traditionalism, luxury, and consumerism. Many Americans were yearning for better times as the new decade began; they were wary of the new gender roles brought on by the women's movement and weary of the political unrest of the past two decades, and they longed for the safe familiarity of the past. The Reagan administration, announcing itself in 1981 with the most expensive inaugural celebration in history, gave Americans not only the sense of security they were seeking but also an excuse to indulge themselves after the fear and constraints brought on by the energy shortages of the 1970s. Ronald and Nancy Reagan, with their Hollywood associations and 1950s social outlook, satisfied Americans' hunger for glamour and wealth, as well as their longing for traditional values. America's conservative, nostalgic mood was reflected in the realm of fashion, in which borrowing from the past was the dominant form of expression. Although the wealthy prospered, the 1980s were not an easy time for the middle and lower classes. The sharp division in America's distribution of wealth was displayed in fashion as ostentatious classic styles played against cheap, casual, and innovative styles from the street. Although Americans seemed to lose interest in political protests,...
(The entire section is 2230 words.)
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