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We’ve made it to the final year of the 80s, the best year, some may say (I only say that because it’s the year I was born). 1989 was a huge year in all respects; the Berlin Wall came down, ‘A Brief History of Time’ by Stephen Hawking was published, and George H. W. Bush became POTUS. 

Pop culture was going off, with hit movies such as ‘Dead Poets Society’, ‘Batman’, ‘The Little Mermaid’, ‘When Harry met Sally’, and ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’. The small screens were welcoming new TV shows such as ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘The Simpsons’, both of which would change American pop culture forever. 

So close to the 90s, but with the entire 80s behind it, 1989 produced some fabulous fashion. Here are our favourite fashion moments from 1989! 

Nirvana’s plaid, blue denim, and floppy grunge hair live on stage in 1989

In 1989, Nirvana released their first studio album, ‘Bleach’, cementing themselves and their sound in the Seattle grunge world. On stage in 1989, Kurt Cobain wore the staples we most commonly associate with the late, great grunger: 

  • Loose, open plaid shirt
  • Blue jeans
  • Black and white Converse 
  • Long, thrash-worthy hair 

Ione Skye’s white dress, hair flower, and white shawl in ‘Say Anything’

‘Say Anything’ was the rom-com hit film of 1989, with John Cusack famously holding a boombox above his head while wearing a khaki trench and blue jeans. (Never seen it? Here’s a clip). Earlier in the film, Ione Skye’s character Diane wore a white dress that really caught our peepers, (it reminds us of Cindy Crawford in Herve Leger in the 1990s!). 

  • Sweetheart neckline and thick straps
  • Fitted, structured silhouette 
  • Above-the-knee hemline
  • A matching white shawl
  • Flowers in her hair 

Bermuda shorts, knee socks, blouses, and cardigans in ‘When Harry Met Sally…’

‘When Harry Met Sally’ was a major hit in 1989, partly thanks to that iconic “I’ll have what she’s having” diner orgasm scene.

Meg Ryan’s fashion in the film is something to behold, but oddly attainable at the same time. She wears: 

  • Beige, high-waisted Bermuda shorts and knee-high socks
  • Smart blouses and open cardigans
  • Cable-knit sweaters with blazers and jeans

  • Tartan blazers with blouses and neckties
  • Wide-leg trousers, cinched jackets, and bowler hats

  • An LBD with a Bardot neckline 
  • Mom jeans and white skivvies 
  • Plenty of fluffy blonde hair 

Mario Lopez’s pleated acid-wash jeans and rolled-up sleeves in ‘Saved by the Bell’

Teen sitcom ‘Saved by the Bell’ premiered in 1989, bringing Zack, Kelly, Slater, and Screech to American living rooms. The show brought look after look into the 90s, including Kelly’s crop tops, neon, miniskirts, and high-waisted denim. But it was Mario Lopez (Slater) in 1989’s first season that caught our eyes. Why?

  • Black and white acid-wash jeans with front pleats and a black belt
  • Turquoise crew neck sweater (tucked in)
  • Rolled-up sleeves
  • Brown leather jacket 
  • A very impressive mullet 

The entire ‘Loveshack’ video by the B-52’s 

The B-52’s karaoke favourite ‘Love Shack’ was released in 1989, with all its bizarre glory. There’s too much fashion going on in the official video to pick just one look, feast your eyes. Our favourites? 

  • The bright magenta turtleneck sweater with tight pink pants
  • The shimmy-worthy fringed red bra and hot pants
  • The barman’s patterned waistcoat and yellow tee
  • The gorgeous dancer’s white halter top at 2:06 
  • The black blazer, red lapels, and multi-tone waistcoat 
  • The frantic dance moves 

Geena Davis’ green satin corset gown at the 1989 Academy Awards

The 1989 Academy Award show was critically blasted for the cringe-worthy opening show featuring Rob Lowe and Snow White, with gaudy dancers and musical numbers. However, the fashion on the red carpet was excellent…for the most part. We love Geena Davis’s smooth, high-shine gown (she won Best Supporting Actress for ‘The Accidental Tourist’). Her look was elegant, streamlined, but still completely OTT 80 princess: 

  • High-shine seafoam green satin
  • A corset waist 
  • Off-the-shoulder neckline and full sleeves
  • Sparkling diamond necklace and earring set
  • Column-style skirt gathered at the hip
  • Tulle bustle (with metallic polka-dots)
  • Matching seafoam green strappy heels 
  • Red lips and a curly red bob 

Read:

1988: Bon Jovi and Joan Jett’s studded black leather…

1987: Jennifer’s Red Off-Shoulder Dress and Spandex Bodysuits…

1986: Preppy-Sport Style and Baggy Denim

1985: Madonna’s Floral Pants and Prince

1984: Bruce Springsteen and Ghostbusters

Queen Latifah’s Kufi hat, animal print, and a military jacket for ‘All Hail the Queen’ 

Queen Latifah was a trailblazer of the female rapper world (and hip-hop world as a whole) in the 1980s, and a to-be superstar actress. Her style was known for African features such as Kufi hats and African textiles. This video shows a collection of her 80s looks, our favourite including:  

  • Tall Kufi hat with patent leather and animal print contrast
  • Draped animal-print blouse with wide shoulders 
  • Big gold and black earrings
  • Gold-embellished military jacket 
  • Fuschia lips 

As we can see below Queen Latifah looking amazing in the yellow kufi hat and sunglasses!

Pamela Anderson’s denim cut-offs and tartan crop top on ‘Baywatch’

‘Baywatch’ (or ‘Babe-watch’ to some) premiered in 1989, to the delight of many viewers who appreciated a beautiful bod in a teeny red one-piece. The most famous cast member, Pamela Anderson, appeared in the pilot episode (playing a saxophone by a river?!) in an outfit that would make just as much sense in the 90s, 00s, and today:  

  • Denim cut-off shorts
  • Plaid crop top tied at the bust
  • Smokey eyes, blonde hair, toasty skin 

Martha Plimpton at the Academy Awards

Actress Martha Plimpton showed up to the 1989 Academy Awards with River Phoenix (he was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for ‘Running on Empty’). Martha’s outfit caught our eye as it was minimal, clean, and modern. Compare her look with other outfits from the night worn by Mimi Rogers and Demi Moore (woah!) for contrast.  It seems like a beautiful foreshadowing of 90s Calvin Klein minimalism (see 90s Kate Moss). Martha wore: 

  • A cream satin gown with a high neckline 
  • A ruched top with empire seam under the bust 
  • Slightly capped sleeves, but otherwise bare arms
  • Flowing softly over the body, pooling slightly at the floor 
  • Short, slicked-back hair and minimal makeup

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