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Caution: Shoulder pads are making a comeback

Danika Van Der Mark | Interrobang | Culture | March 30th, 2009

Oversized shoulders, a staple of the 1980's power suit, is one fashion trend I've seen on more second hand store racks than upscale boutiques, but that won't be the case come fall. As dictated by the runways, shoulder pads are making a bold comeback. The taste-making crowd guarantee, the exaggerated shoulder silhouette is the new height of chic.

When thinking back on past fashion trends, I have a list of “what were they thinking?” items that I swear I'd never wear, even upon their fashionable rebirth. Shoulder pads made the top of that list yet, the modish executions of Diane von Furstenberg, Herve Leger, and BCBG's voluminous shouldered garments left me reconsidering this 80's classic. Their edgy approach to the broad shoulder has helped me to regain my confidence in 1980s inspired digs. As a result, this retro revival won a spot on my ‘must have' list.

Though inspiration, for some, was rooted from the ionic ‘power suit', the new look is far more intricate and more understated then in decades past. Pleating, tucking and moulding are among the techniques used to achieve the airy volume. No more pads awkwardly moving in every which direction!

The thought of looking like your mother's double in a dated photograph is the concern of many when it comes to the wide shoulder look. But do give them a second thought; if your shoulders look wider, then your hips will naturally appear smaller. This is an added bonus for those of us who fall short of the hourglass figure.

A special thanks to the creative minds behind top designer labels, there are a zillion different ways to wear the exaggerated shoulder look. As this trend is newly emerging, it may be difficult to purchase a shoulder padded piece without dropping a pretty penny.

Your neighbourhood vintage store is the best place to scout out some unique and affordable shoulder-padded items such as frocks. They can be worn as is, or undergo minor surgery to update the look. The key to keeping your ensemble current is to mix and match fashion forward pieces with your retro frock.

With the androgynous style as popular as ever; consider the boyfriend-blazer cut with padded shoulders. You can pair your blazer with a waist defining belt to attain an ultra fem look. WhoWhatWear's Kate Mulling suggests wearing it with destroyed jeans for a downtown look or pairing it with a pencil skirt and polished pumps for a prim-yet-sexy uptown outfit.

T-shirt blouses with oversized shoulders are a smart way to get trend-on just in time for the warm weather. I picked up a couple of obnoxiously bright blouses from Goodwill a year ago; regrettably I tore out the shoulder pads.

No matter which style you identify with, it seems the options are ample. Give it another season and your favourite stores will be stocked with the exaggerated shoulder silhouette. In the meantime, see what goodies you can dig up from your mother's oldies and vintage shop racks.
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