80s hair had to be grandiose. Heck, what wasn’t big in the 80s? We doused our locks with Aqua-Net until our hair was thick and sticky. But at least our hairstyle was securely fixed. No wind could knock down that 80s hair!
But we didn’t always have time to tease our hair. Some styles took hours to master and involved wrangling with styling mousse, gel, a hairdryer, a curling iron, a crimping iron, and that unwieldy can of Aqua-Net.
When you had to run out the door, a ponytail was your only option. But it was the 80s, so if you couldn’t find your banana clip, you probably went with a side ponytail.
Quirky 80s Fashion
In the 80s, we just had to be different. We had to be bold. Everything was an overstatement. Our 80s fashion was no exception and neither was our 80s hair.
Hairstyles come and go, and in the 80s, styles came and went pretty quickly. The most popular 80s fashion, the one you totally HAD to have, was one you wouldn’t be caught dead in six months later.
It was like – one day you had to have pair of jelly shoes to be cool. Anyone who was anyone had a pair (or twenty pairs) of jelly shoes. But just a few months later, anyone caught wearing a pair of jelly shoes would be ostracised. Lame, I know, but all 80s fashion was like that, especially 80s hair.
80s hair styles went in and out. You changed your hair about as often as you changed your underwear, so like, every day basically.
One day it was feathered, the next day it was teased up to the sky. A week later, you slicked it back, and a month after that you pulled it up into a ponytail.
If it was the 80s, maybe you secured your ponytail with a scrunchy or a banana clip. More likely, you swept it up into a side ponytail.
The Side Ponytail
Ponytails have always been popular. They’re fast and easy. They get annoying strands of hair out of your face and neatly pulled back where they’re, like, out of your way.
Anyone with hair past the chin can appreciate a simple ponytial. But you had to be a child of the 80s to appreciate the side ponytail.
80s hair came in many different styles and colors. The side ponytail could be teased up into a puff of curls, or it could hang loose. You could secure it with an old-fashioned rubber band, a scrunchy, or even a banana clip (more on those later).
It was all a part of 80s fashion – the shoes, the clothes, the accessories, and the hair. The side ponytail was a fast fix that kept your style current (trendy) and marked you as an 80s fashion pro.
80s hair and 80s fashion went through many fads and phases throughout the decade. The side ponytail was just one popular hairstyle. But there were many others. And we’ll totally be talking about those in future articles.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: everything in the 80s was BIG. Including hair. Especially bangs.
It was the decade of decadence. Too much was not enough and everybody wanted more. 80s fashion rules stated that one accessory didn’t cut it. One shirt didn’t pass muster. One pair of socks was not enough. We were overclothed and buried in layers of big, bright fabrics and plastics.
Stylish 80s hair was just like everything else. The bigger, the better. Throughout the decade, different hairstyles came and went, and sure, there were brief interludes when your hair didn’t have to be bigger than your head. But the running theme was to puff it up and make it occupy as much airspace as possible.
80s hair was ridiculous. You teased it, crimped it, curled it, and then stuck a bunch of accessories in it — maybe even topped it off with a hat. We were barely recognizable under all that enormous 80 hair! But without the big hair, you were just 80s fashion roadkill.
Tools of the trade included blowdryers, curling irons, crimping irons, mousse, gel, and plenty of hairspray. And not just any hairspray. To make your 80s hair stand up and stand out, you needed Aqua-Net, which was more like glue than a hair styling product.
In any given week, we’d spend countless hours sitting in front of a bathroom mirror with all our hair products, tools, and accessories scattered all over the counter. Once the ‘do was done, we’d make it even more ridiculous by applying clips, rubber bands, and other random items, either to help it stay in place or just to show that our heads could hold all that weight!
Big bangs were especially popular. You could get away with small, tame, or slicked hair if your bangs were gigantic. It wasn’t unusual for a girl to slick her hair back into a side ponytail or banana clip but then tease her bangs to the heights of the greatest skyscraper.
Even if hair was worn down, full and curly, the bangs were totally the main attraction. Using all those 80s hair styling tools, we tried to get our bangs into unnaturally bodacious positions. They reached up and out. I’m sure some of them were so big and hardened with hairspray and gel that they poked a few eyes out.
Some 80s fashion mavens were more extreme than others. You had regular, everyday people who did the minimum — they enlarged their bangs but not to the point that they would knock birds out of the sky. Then, there were those who couldn’t get their bangs big or high enough. Many of them had bangs that were longer than the rest of their hair!
In the 80s, fashion was extreme. The more extreme you were, the more fashionable you were. 80s hair followed suit and throughout the decade, big bangs grew to great heights, then slowly deflated back to a more normal and natural size. Some 80s styles are worth bringing back, but big bangs are not one of them (not for me, anyway). It was just way too much work. All those styling tools and products racked up a big bill, and let’s face it, big hair wasn’t doing any favors for the environment. So I say let’s reflect on 80s hair and big bangs with due nostalgia, but let them totally rest in peace.