Urban Bush Babes
Urban Bush Babes

15 Fashions People Were Rocking in 1983

Urban Bush Babes
Urban Bush Babes

A Members Only guide to dressing in the decade of excess.

1. Off-the-Shoulder Sweatshirts

You didn’t need to know how to weld or work a stripper pole in order to get into the comfy casual slouchy sweatshirt look popularized by Jennifer Beals in 1983’s Flashdance (top). And since it really was just a sweatshirt, it worked for fashionistas of all ages. And it still works today (spend an afternoon crafting one at home).

2. Members Only Jackets

Photo courtesy of Filmyr

The cost of membership into the legion of kids wearing these utterly plain coats—which proudly displayed your Members Only status on the chest—was just a few sawbucks. Introduced to America in 1980, the coats were produced in a variety of colors and materials (leather was the crème de la crème) and promised in their ads that “when you put it on, something happens.”

3. Hawaiian Shirts

Photo courtesy of Among Men

Young boys and old men had man-crushes on Tom Selleck, who played Hawaii’s sexiest private investigator, Thomas Magnum, a.k.a. Magnum P.I., from 1980 to 1988. While his sweet Ferrari was out of financial reach for most of the decade’s youth, two of Magnum’s looks were rather easy—and inexpensive—to emulate: that iconic mustache (check out these tips for growing your own) and a bright red Hawaiian shirt. Sales of the beachwear staple skyrocketed during the show’s run, with Magnum’s original “Jungle Bird” Aloha Shirt widely considered the holy grail of Selleck-inspired button-downs. 

4. Big Shoulders

Photo courtesy of Sophie Grumble

From no shoulders to big shoulders! On shows like Dallas and Dynasty, a woman’s power could be measured by the height of her shoulder pads. Translation: the bigger the better. Dynasty stars Joan Collins and Linda Evans were the poster women for the trend, which was popular in both high schools and boardrooms. The most versatile of padded shirts and blazers were equipped with a Velcro strip on the inside of the shoulder, which allowed women to swap out the size of the pad, depending on the day and/or occasion. 

5. Popped Collars

Photo courtesy of DVDActive

In the 1980s, collars were meant to be turned upward. Particularly if that collar belonged to a preppy wearing a polo shirt. Stripes were in, particularly those of the candy-colored variety, and an Izod alligator emblem was the epitome of high style; it even received a shout-out in Lisa Birnbach’s now-classic The Official Preppy Handbook

6. Baracuta Jackets

Photo courtesy of J. Crew

Eagle-eyed viewers of the “Popped Collars” photo above (a still from 1983’s Valley Girl) may have spotted what was Members Only’s fiercest competitor in the 1980s: Baracuta. Imported from England, the Baracuta G9—whose solid colored exteriors belied the plaid madness happening in the lining—was first popularized by Elvis Presley in the late 1950s, when he wore one in King Creole. Ryan O’Neal wore one on Peyton Place as did Christopher Reeve in Superman; Steve McQueen, Frank Sinatra, and 1980s preppies were fans, too. Earlier this month, Baracuta introduced a new website dedicated to the jacket’s history of cool (with options to buy, of course). 

7. Exercise Gear

Photo courtesy of Wendi Aarons

Jennifer Beals and Olivia Newton-John weren’t the only ’80s trendsetters turning exercise gear into streetwear. Fashion-forward gals were taking attire typically reserved for aerobics and dance classes into classrooms, malls, and even the workplace. Among the “Let’s Get Physical”-inspired accoutrements were headbands, leg warmers, spandex, slouchy socks, and leotards with matching tights (the shinier the better).

8. Guess Jeans

The designer jean trend is still raging on, and we owe that to the 1980s, when Calvin Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Jordache were among the biggest names in denim. But no logo defined 1983 better than the Guess triangle, sewn firmly into the back right pocket. (And yes, occasionally that was sewn firmly into the back right pocket of a pair of stone-washed jeans.)

9. Parachute Pants

Photo courtesy of Regalo.com

If you were breakdancing in the ’80s, you probably noticed that your backspins and windmills were much improved when you were wearing a pair of parachute pants. Not to be confused with the parachute pants of the late 1980s (the balloon-like variety preferred by M.C. Hammer), the earlier incarnation was made of nylon (ripstop nylon was particularly popular), often brightly colored, and littered with zippers.

10. Jellies

Photo courtesy of Pip Pip Hooray

Don’t be alarmed if you have a pair of jelly shoes in your closet right now, because they’ve made a comeback in recent years. (Even BuzzFeed says so.) But it’s impossible to talk about fashions of the decade and not make mention of these PVC shoes, which came in rainbow of colors and cutout patterns, some of them heeled, some of the filled with glitter, and many of them retailing for $1 or less. (Nope, that’s not a typo—one dollar!) 

11. Lace With an Edge

Photo courtesy of Mirror80

It’s hard to know where to begin with the number of trends for which Madonna is singlehandedly responsible: Crop tops, big ribbon hairbands, mesh shirts, crop tops, and lace gloves are just a few of the now-iconic looks she debuted in her videos for “Holiday” and “Lucky Star” in 1983. Fortunately, it would be a while before her Boy Toy belt buckle became a thing. 

12. Swatches

Photo courtesy of Swatch

Swiss timepieces took a turn for the brightly-colored and slightly cheesy when Swatch debuted its line of plastic watches (the name Swatch is a contraction of “second watch,” referring to their somewhat disposable nature) in 1983. Their fun styles and inexpensive price tags led many fans of the brand to wear several of them at once.

13. Ray-Ban Sunglasses

Photo courtesy of TomCruise.com

Ray-Ban owes a huge debt of gratitude to Tom Cruise, who made their Wayfarers the sunglasses of choice for other wannabe teen pimps following 1983’s Risky Business. Two years later, he donned their Aviator shades for Top Gun… and sales jumped 40 percent.

14. Calvin Klein Underwear

Photo courtesy of Esquire

Calvin Klein has been the first name in men’s underwear for more than 30 years for a reason: He was the first designer to want to make guys care about what came between them and their Calvins. He launched an ad campaign that could not be ignored, as this billboard attests. Even today, men’s underwear still makes up a large percentage of the company’s annual income. 

15. Kangol Hats

Photo courtesy of The Fashion Bomb

A signature chapeau of the hip-hop industry, Kangol hats are most often associated with Run-D.M.C., LL Cool J, and The Notorious B.I.G., but Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were some of the brand’s earliest adopters, as evidenced by the cover image of their hit single, “The Message.”

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These Sparrows Have Been Singing the Same Songs for 1500 Years
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iStock

Swamp sparrows are creatures of habit—so much so that they’ve been chirping out the same few tunes for more than 1500 years, Science magazine reports.

These findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, resulted from an analysis of the songs of 615 adult male swamp sparrows found in six different areas of the northeastern U.S. Researchers learned that young swamp sparrows pick up these songs from the adults around them and are able to mimic the notes with astounding accuracy.

Here’s what one of their songs sounds like:

“We were able to show that swamp sparrows very rarely make mistakes when they learn their songs, and they don't just learn songs at random; they pick up commoner songs rather than rarer songs,” Robert Lachlan, a biologist at London’s Queen Mary University and the study’s lead author, tells National Geographic.

Put differently, the birds don’t mimic every song their elders crank out. Instead, they memorize the ones they hear most often, and scientists say this form of “conformist bias” was previously thought to be a uniquely human behavior.

Using acoustic analysis software, researchers broke down each individual note of the sparrows’ songs—160 different syllables in total—and discovered that only 2 percent of sparrows deviated from the norm. They then used a statistical method to determine how the songs would have evolved over time. With recordings from 2009 and the 1970s, they were able to estimate that the oldest swamp sparrow songs date back 1537 years on average.

The swamp sparrow’s dedication to accuracy sets the species apart from other songbirds, according to researchers. “Among songbirds, it is clear that some species of birds learn precisely, such as swamp sparrows, while others rarely learn all parts of a demonstrator’s song precisely,” they write.

According to the Audubon Guide to North American Birds, swamp sparrows are similar to other sparrows, like the Lincoln’s sparrow, song sparrow, and chipping sparrow. They’re frequently found in marshes throughout the Northeast and Midwest, as well as much of Canada. They’re known for their piercing call notes and may respond to birders who make loud squeaking sounds in their habitat.

[h/t Science magazine]

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18 Smart Products To Help You Kick Off Summer
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iStock

Whether you’re trying to spiff up your backyard barbeque or cultivate your green thumb, these summertime gadgets will help you celebrate the season from solstice to the dog days.

1. ROSÉ WINE GLASSES; $60

Rosé Wine Glass
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Wine not? When the temperature rises and beer isn’t your thing, reach for the rosé. Riedel’s machine-blown SST (see, smell, taste) wine glasses will give the sparkly stuff ample room to breathe, making every refreshing sip worthwhile.

Find It: Amazon

2. NERF N-STRIKE ELITE SURGEFIRE; $25

Nerf SurgeFire
Hasbro

Why It’s Cool: The N-Strike Elite SurgeFire (say that five-times-fast) sports a pump-action rotating drum for maximum foam-based firepower and holds up to 15 Nerf darts in its arsenal.

Find It: Hasbro Toy Shop

3. BUSHEL & BERRY PLANTS; $34

plant
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: You don’t need to have a green thumb to create a brag-worthy garden this summer. Besides producing snackable mid-season berries, these open-growing bushes can be planted immediately for easy set-up to make you look like a botanical pro.

Find It: Amazon

4. INFLATABLE DONUT; $17

Doughnut float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When the only dunking you’re doing is taking a dip in the pool, a 48-inch inflatable donut is the perfect way to stay afloat.

Find It: Amazon

5. STAR SPANGLED SPATULA; $21

American flag spatula
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: O say can you see by your grill’s charcoal light / Meats so proudly we cooked ... with a star spangled spatula. Depending on the specific model, these all-American grilling tools (designed in New Jersey and made in Chicago) are made of a combination of walnut and stainless steel or nylon. As an added bonus: 5 percent of the proceeds go to the Penn Abramson Cancer Center.

Find It: Amazon

6. MLB HOT DOG BRANDERS; $8 AND UP

MLB San Diego Padres Hot Dog BBQ Brander
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Take your hot dogs, sausages, brats, and more out to the ballgame without ever leaving your grill. These branders from Pangea Brands are dishwasher-safe and made of ceramic-coated cast iron.

Find It: Amazon

7. UNA GRILL; $139

grill
MoMA Shop

Why It’s Cool: This portable charcoal-heated grill is as efficient as it is stylish. The compact size lets you cook at the park, after hitting up MoMA, or anywhere in between.

Find It: MoMa Shop

8. HAMBURGER GRILLING BASKET; $21


Why It’s Cool: Made of steel and finished with a non-stick coating, this grilling tool flips four burgers at once and maintains perfect burger proportions to guarantee nobody stays hungry for long.

Find It: Amazon

9. COPPER FIRE PIT; $121

metal fire pit
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: The grill isn’t the only place for a roaring fire this summer. This 100 percent solid copper fire pit makes for the perfect gathering spot at your next BBQ, or just to warm up after a cool summer evening.

Find It: Amazon

10. BENDY STRAW POOL NOODLE FLOAT; $10

Bendy Straw Inflatable Pool Float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Inflatable pool floats shouldn’t be boring, and this bendy straw float definitely does not suck. This unique spin on traditional pool noodles is sure to make for some cheesy jokes, but at least you’ll be comfortable floating in the pool or at the beach.

Find It: Amazon

11. GRIDDLER DELUXE; $111

Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for some serious panini power, this griddler offers up a versatile lineup of six cooking options in one. And with dual-zone functions you can sling burgers while searing filets and sautéeing vegetables all at the same time.

Find It: Amazon

12. VINTAGE SNOW CONE MAKER; $30

Vintage Snow Cone Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: With its old-timey design, dual cone shelf, and endless flavor options, this snow cone maker is guaranteed create a cool treat.

Find It: Amazon

13. DACHSHUND CORN ON THE COB HOLDERS; $7

Dog Corn Holders
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: While meat-lovers will inevitably scarf down a lot of hot dogs this summer, vegetarians who happen to love another kind of dog will be smitten with these stainless steel, Dachshund-shaped corn on the cob prongs. They’re a fun spin on a summer grilling favorite.

Find It: Amazon

14. ICE CREAM SANDWICH MAKER; $16

Ice Cream Sandwich Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Four sandwiches are better than one, especially when they're of the ice cream variety. Make four ice cream sandwiches at once with this homemade spin on a classic cold treat.

Find It: Amazon

15. UE WONDERBOOM; $68

Bluetooth speaker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Besides delicious food and great company, some memorable tunes are required for the quintessential barbeque. This portable bluetooth speaker offers up some booming sound in a small package, and with a battery power of 10 hours on a single charge you can keep the party going all night.

Find It: Amazon

16. ROLLORS GAME; $38

Rollors Backyard Game
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When you’re sick of bocce, hate horseshoes, and you’re over cornhole, you might want to take up “rollors,” a family-friendly game that combines your favorite traditional backyard festivities into one game for people of all ages.

Find It: Amazon

17. HAMMOCK; $174

hammock
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Rest easy knowing that this 100 percent hand-woven and hand-dyed cotton hammock contributes to artisan job-creation in Thailand.

Find It: Amazon

18. VSSL SURVIVAL ESSENTIALS; $59

Emergency Survival Tent Outdoors
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Compact, convenient, and durable, the VSSL Shelter can come in handy when things don’t go quite as planned. The device—which features a lightweight emergency shelter all within the handle of a compact, weather-resistant aluminum LED flashlight—is designed to keep you safe under the worst conditions.

Find It: Amazon

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