Totally 80s: Spandex shorts and T-shirts

Welcome the next installment of my year-long look back at the decade that was ruled by big hair and bigger egos. Every other week I’ll be covering pop culture tidbits from the 1980s, sharing memories, choking on the ridiculousness, and maybe offering an insight or two into what made the 1980s so great/bad/silly. Serving as my inspiration are two lists from Buzzfeed, and I’ll include links to the original list items in each post. So throw on your neon windbreaker, lace up your hi-tops, and adjust your Wayfarers, because this DeLorean is taking off! (Ugh. Did I really just type that? Gag me with spoon, seriously.)


List item #18 from 50 Things only ’80s Kids Can Understand

That it’s perfectly acceptable to wear neon spandex biker shorts with just a T-shirt to school.

Yeah, it’s a sneaker ad. Oh L. A. Gear…your time will come…

There’s no way to extricate visions of the 1980s from the fashions of the era. No. Way. I mean, what was the 1980s without acid-washed jeans, scrunchies, and hi-tops? NOTHING! Not a goddamn thing. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I recall my 80s closet with any fondness. The picture above makes me a little sick to my stomach in that “I …just…don’t…even” kind of way. Making my memories even more painful to dredge up is the fact that I was in middle school during the late 80s, the WORST portion of the 80s in terms of fashion, especially for an awkward teenager in middle school. Damn if I didn’t HATE middle school.

You should know that I had a long dentist appointment today that involved fillings and Novocaine; and because of it I’ve been battling a massive headache and residual jaw pain for the past few hours. As a result, this post might be a little loopy and/or incoherent.

So, bike shorts. Ohmygodyes, I had then, and I wore them. Horribly. Just like everyone else, except that everyone probably looked a helluva lot better in them than I did.


And yep, they were neon. I mean, they had to be because neon was inescapable. And I accepted that. I had neon t-shirts, neon TIE-DYED shirt, bitches! Because that’s how I rolled. Also, I should clarify that the shorts, or rather my shorts, were black with neon stripes — no fuckadoodle, eye-straining patterns ever went on my legs! EVAR! Or until I got into fashion tights, but that’s neither here nor there.

I had three pairs of striped, black bike shorts — neon green, neon pink, and white. And I happily wore them on occasion to school. Upside: comfort and I could get all matchy-matchy with socks and shirts. Downside: they were bike shorts. Nobody really had any business wearing them unless a bike or workout routine was involved. But in the immortal words of Huey Lewis, “Who Cares?” It was the 80s.

Now let’s get to the T-shirts. First off, outside of gym class, I don’t remember many girls wearing your standard Hanes T-shirts — formless and baggy. T-shirts then were things to alter. Cut off the collar, sleeves, or bottom hem for an unkempt look. Put a (wide, patent-leather) belt on to go glamorous. Be a little risqué and tie it up to the side or front to let that midriff show. Cut the sides and add safety pins for your punky days. If “regular” T-shirts were worn, they had to be patterned, stamped with a loud logo, or…well…neon. Y’know, to go with your bike shorts. Also, a lot of girls T-shirts of the time didn’t go down to the knees like many of today’s do, but neither were their form-fitting gut suckers. They were these wide, boxy affairs, that were meant to be short at the waist and hang down a little at the sides. Because, fashion or some shit. I had a bunch of these boxy shirts that I wore with everything from my fold-down waist jeans to my…yep, you guessed it, happy happy bike shorts! But by far my absolute favorite of the lot was a white T-shirt emblazoned with black lettering outlined in neon green that screamed “ASK SOMEONE WHO CARES.” I wore that sucker with my black bike shorts with the wide, neon green stripe, like it was going out of style!

Googling "spandex bike short" is probably the creepiest Internet search I've ever done.
Googling “spandex bike short” is probably the creepiest Internet search I’ve ever done.

Which, thankfully, eventually happened, because I’m sure I looked like a massive tool. But y’know what, I just didn’t fucking care. And that T-shirt, which prominently stated that anyone who thought otherwise should inquire to a different party, said so. Still. Looking back, me and bike shorts wasn’t good thing. It was a comfortable thing, and a thing everybody accepted as truth, but it wasn’t good. Bike shorts and my wordy T-shirt made for horrible fashion statement, and one that will always go up on my wall of fashion shame. Right up there with high-heeled clogs and long (like, really long) beaded necklaces.

So there. Bike shorts and (fashion) T-shirts once happened, regularly and in real life. Thank god we all know better by now!

O Rly???
O Rly??? (Chanel Couture Spring 2014 Show)

OMG WTF??!! I…just…don’t…even…

Christ, I need a nap. Also, more Novocaine. Please.


  1. Dear God, I remember those days! I was maybe six when I used to wear those. I had neon green bike shorts with a white flower pattern on it. When I see old photos with me wearing them I cringe. This is a fashion staple I DON’T want to see making a comeback. *shudders*


    • Oh goodness, let’s hope not! Though a lot of “bad 80s” stuff is coming back, if neon bike shorts appear in stores, I think I’d die in a fit of angry laughter upon seeing them. But back then, I can’t remember NOT seeing them everywhere. They were, like, summer’s answer to leggings. You just wore them. Everybody did!


  2. Alright then. I don’t think I’ll ever understand fashion.

    Oh, guess what. We got more snow here this morning. Yay. I must remind myself, it will be Springtime soon.


    • Sadly, there’s the chance for more snow in our upcoming forecast too, but hopefully it’ll end up being too warm for that. Sigh.

      And it’s okay, fashion is quite a beast, and it was wild in the 80s. I don’t think many if us really understood was what going on then.


Comments and Queries

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.