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Trends for Fall '09: Accentuated Shoulders

Yes, kittens. That's how they're referring to it now: "accentuated shoulders." Probably because "shoulder pads" evokes images of the Joans Collins and Crawford. But y'know? We say, "Embrace the shoulders, bitches!" Sure, there were times (mainly in the mid '40s and late '80s) when the reverse triangle silhouette got a little out of hand, but that doesn't make the "accentuated shoulder" a bad thing, necessarily. After all, there were times when hems went so high that the more daring women out there risked impromptu gynecological exams every time they walked up a flight of steps but that doesn't mean above-the-knee hems disappeared forever. It's time for a return to the "Don't fuck with me, fellas" silhouette.

As with any trend, it's all in how it's utilized. Let's do a quick rundown, shall we?

Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Balmain, Chanel, Donna Karan, Emanuel Ungaro

Yes, maybe, Klingon, frumpy, '80s, '80s*.

* '80s is a synonym for "no."

Gianfranco Ferré, Gucci, Hermès, Jean Paul Gaultier, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs

Yes, yes, maybe, no, yes, BIG NO.

Nina Ricci, Oscar de la Renta, Preen, Salvatore Ferragamo, Versace, Zac Posen

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

There. Wasn't that easy? Now, obviously this silhouette isn't going to work with every body type. Women who are naturally wide up top (not necessarily heavy; just women who naturally have a broad back or shoulders) should probably stay away. On the other hand, this silhouette's a godsend to the pear-shaped gal, because the wider shoulder will balance out her wider hips. Also, very short women should definitely stay away. It may make them feel tough and kickass, but it gives off the distinct whiff of "Lollipop Guild" on the tiny gals.

So how about it? Is this a trend you could ever embrace (or re-embrace, if you're old enough to remember the Dynasty days)?


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I ~could~ embrace it, but I'm not sure where I'd BUY it. I think most women view shoulder pads as being so awful that this may be a trend that can never catch on again, especially after the '80s.

Time to go cue up the Golden Girls re-runs.

I can embrace some of them, but you will never again catch me wearing a 1-inch shoulder pad. My shoulders border on linebacker anyway.

Gosh, I feel like I'm watching daytime television. Big NO!

I'm sorry, but it's a no for me. I just think they're ugly, and as a pear-shaped girl with normal height, I'll stick to accentuating my waist (hellooooo Stacy and Clinton), not my shoulders.

Definitely a big NO. As someone who repeatedly ripped out shoulder pads whilst living through the eighties, I can't get behind a resurgence. As Gorgeous Things said, "My shoulders border on linebacker anyway." Yep. Me too.

I like the ones where the emphasis is taking place in the sleeve cap. The extended shoulder , especially with an oversized jacket, I can do without.

No thanks. Been there, done that. Next thing you know big hair will be in again to balance those epaulettes. I wish fashion designers would just concentrate on making women look their spectacular best, not ridiculous..

Hippy girl here. This would not balance me out, it would make me look absurd. Agreed on the need to emphasize my tiny waist instead!

Fuck no. Nooooooooo. Never again.

Some of them, like the Gucci coat, seem to sharpen the line of the shoulder and that's okay by me. Would I wear it? Maybe if I were a little younger. I'm looking forward to seeing how some of the more mature actresses deal with it.

Sure could. Emphasis on the shoulders brings attention up to the face and away from the dreaded midsection. I, however, prefer a softer interpretation of the look.

That Gucci coat is PERFECTION.

If done correctly, it's not the worst thing ever. At the very least these designers emphasize what a tragedy Chris March's attempt to "reinvent" the trend back in that old group challenge was. I love and adore Chris, but those were a big old "HELL NO."

I have always had broad shoulders so I cut the pads out, but they do have their place. Both of my sisters need them...that pear shape thing.


Ugh. They can keep this trend, I used to rip them out of my clothes in the 80s and 90s as it was.

My shoulders aren't broad to begin with, but I am an hourglass and anything that accentuates one body part over the other tends to take away from my natural curves and therefore doesn't look as good as if I left it alone.

Kendra said it the most eloquent of my feelings about it.

No, no, a thousand times no!! What retro look are they going to come up with next? Has Designerville run out of creativity?

Oh merciful heavens, NO. I lived through the 80s and am alive to tell the tale. I don't need a repeat.

First thought: " Are those recent photos?"

another laura

I think I can live with it provided there are not also peplums involved. I did like the balance that this pear-shaped girl achieved, even if then I also looked a little heavier.

I love the mcQueen, Gucci, Preen, Ferragamo, Versace (but NOT in that horrible pink). The Ricci reminds me too much of my early "career girl" days with that shiny fabric.

I agree with all of your "no"s.


Oh, shoulders will be back. It is a figure-enhancing silhouette that works for some women. Then comes the faux military look that is adorable on the elfin. But inevitably it's going to lead to boxy, oversized jackets, and only our collective resistance can save us then.

Warning: earworm potential:
Toni Basil, 1987, Joan Rivers show.

Unfortunately, the video quality does not let one appreciate the hat. But it's a very stylish presentation and I fear, the logical extension of "shoulder enhancement." She *knew* she was all that - and unfortunately, a lot of women and girls who were not approximately the size of a Keebler elf wanted to dress similarly.

Weirdly, I was just having a conversation with a friend about this. We both loved being able to augment our own small shoulders with pads (not necessarily gigantic ones) when it was the style because we are both slightly pear-shaped. I, for one, am happy to see this trend back, although one does not have to necessarily embrace the more dramatic versions thereof.

i'm sort of pear-ish, but i'm short, and shoulder pads of any sort have always made me feel freakish. they make my face look weird.

i kind of like the quasi-futuristic look of some of the highly structured shoulders (NOT the klingon one, though), but this is just not a great look for most people. the 80s weren't a fashion goldmine - i want this trend to disappear, FAST. it can take leggings with it, too.

"Don't fuck with me, fellas" silhouette: Y'all kill me!

Eh, I liked the ideas behind a lot of 80s fashion. It was hopeful, very "The future is now and it is cool." I can go my whole life without seeing another oversized black sweatshirt, spattered with neon paint, hanging off of one shoulder and belted over stirrup pants, but I welcome stand-up collars and shoulder pads and extraneous zippers and flaps. We'll all dress like the cast of Buckaroom Banzai and be the happier for it.

That's "Buckaroo." Rogue fingers.

I love everything on the bottom row (except for that witness relocation program hat), and the two on the left in the row above.

But I also love that 80's Ungaro outfit with the blue sweater on the top row - but am sensible enough to understand that I like it only because I remember wearing similar things the first time around (when I was in my 20's) -- which means I'm too old to wear it THIS time around. Maybe I'll catch this trend again in another 25 years, when I'll be settling into my Sylvia Miles-ish, eccentric old lady phase.


LOL! say it ain't so! i'm a very short gal and just bought a very cool blazer with a hint of a puffy shoulder. shit. i removed the shouler pads. i wonder if the puffy shoulder can be tailored out.

UGH! As someone with fairly broad shoulders - this look is not for me. I spent countless hours in high school removing the shoulder pads from everything. I do NOT want to go there again.

I'd wear the Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Ricci (minus the helmut).

A Buckaroo Bonzai ref?
(the origin of the phrase, "No matter where you go, there you are")
God, I love this blog!

"yes, maybe, Klingon, frumpy, 80's, 80's"
Shoulder pads?
No can do.

I think that shoulder pads can be great: the problem in the 80's was that they were every where. If they an integral part of the lines of the garment, I say yes.
Otherwise, sometimes they just go too far:

I wonder how these designers start a new trend or revive a trend. Did they have some ultra secret summit or convention somewhere and confer that "its time to bring back shoulder pads"?

As one who wore Norma Kamali religiously in college, I know all about shoulder pads. I'm glad they are back and not ashamed to say it. I am tall, but pear shaped and nearly everything looked better with a bit of padding to balance the figure.

"I wonder how these designers start a new trend or revive a trend. Did they have some ultra secret summit or convention somewhere and confer that "its time to bring back shoulder pads"?

HA! Im not the only person who has thought up this scenario!

"Chaye said: I wonder how these designers start a new trend or revive a trend. Did they have some ultra secret summit or convention somewhere and confer that "its time to bring back shoulder pads"?"



Yeah, I definitely have to stay away from this one. Short and top-heavy. No thanks. I did the shoulder pads thing in the 80s, when you kind of didn't have a choice not to, plus I was a teenager, so I could get away with more than I can now.

I don't mind the "accentuated shoulders" in jackets and coats. What I can't get behind is shoulder pads in knits...sweaters and t-shirts. I'm sorry. It's just bad.

I'm getting the impression that people are saying, "No, this trend oughtn't come back because it's a reminder of The Time When Everything Was Awful."

As in, "'80's = No."

Would it be unkind of me to point out that it looks like all the models pictured were born AFTER the Berlin Wall fell? They've never experienced a shoulder pad, and have no idea what the posters here are ranting about. They don't know who the hell Joan Collins is. They only have, at best, idealized, hazy recollections and/or impressions of a time of rampant consumerism, glorified personal power and ostentatious glamor, all things which are being pined for today, albeit quietly or secretly.

This is the stuff of nostalgia. Eighties nostalgia is creeping in due to cultural change and a desire to turn back to "the good times".

Y'all who moan about, "'80's = No," you're in for a whole lotta eye-rolling in the next few years.

(Although I hope the geometrics and neon colors are used more judiciously than the last time 'round.)

I have those broad shoulders already. Back in the 80s I used to cut the shoulder pads out of the majority of my clothing. I hope they are not making a major comeback.

I hate them. The women look so uptight wearing these.

Oh, I didn't like them in '88 and I don't like them now.

One fashion trend that needs to go away and never return.

Bob, I love neons, and I never wore a whole lot of neon, and I was 10-12 when EVERYONE was pairing them up with other neon things. I'll wear it today like I did then: toned down. It's not my favorite era by any means, but something nice came out of every era of fashion.

Unfortunately, they're not bringing back the good of the 80s.

I think the shoulder pad look could work if they didn't stand out like a sore thumb. If it was more subtle, then perhaps it would actually look good. As is, there is not a single look there that wouldn't look better if they removed the shoulder pads.

I guess I'm saying in a round-about way is that shoulder pads do not add anything to these outfits, but they certainly do detract.

And don't discount the fact these models don't remember the 80s. I'm 23 and shoulder pads were still huge when I was in grade school. Ugh! All because the latest fashion designers move out of a phase doesn't mean everyone moves out of it.


While I thought Sienna Miller pulled off the look in the Johnathan Saunders dress....I'm not liking the Joan Crawford trend...sorry :|

So I'm trying to work on this presentation, I get about five sentences into writing and that damned Tony Basil song crops up in my mind! Sigh, I should've known better than to watch that video.
In reference to the shoulder "pad" resurgence, not a fan. I always cut them out of my jackets. I may be of good body type to pull it off and one day I may try again, but that day will not come anytime in the near future.

Well, dang. "Accentuated" shoulders but not on long jackets (yet)? So all those 80's jackets I carefully stored away aren't back in style yet.


Awww, the list of yeses and nos made me think of the much-missed talent of Madeline Kahn in History of th World pt. 1....

yes yes no no no yes... YESSSSS!

Can I get a quick time harch here???

No, never, I can't even believe it needs to be said, no. It's not new, it's not original and it's ugly. This is just the last straw. First leggings, then Hammer pants, flourescent colors and 80's hair. Now shoulder pads? Who among us hasn't noticed the decline back into the 80's and thought, 'What's next, shoulder pads?' It's here! Stop the insanity.

"And now, all of the designers are doing the eighties. I hate the eighties,” says Valentino. “I did it, and I hate it. When I go to see my dresses of the eighties, I vomit.” Enough said.

I love the Mildred Pierce look.

Broad shoulders are just the very essence of masculinity, so to juxtapose them onto a woman's body shows the pursuit of power and authority. It was the 80's that brought on the advent of the "working woman" (think Melanie Griffith), when the Hippies of the late 60's grew up, and shoulder pads were just another landmark in the femnist movement.

Yes, they're a little aggressive and very specific, so it's easy to conjure up stock pop culture images along with them, but it's one of the instances where fashion goes beyond the fabric and into theoretical representation.

...sorry, I just love shoulder pads.

You just have to know your own figure. No one trend is perfect for everyone, and for those of you lucky enough to have shoulders of your own, forget the shoulder pads. The rest of us are happy to embrace those shoulder falsies, baby!

neh! Hated it in the 80's hate it now. Although I am blessed with a body thatcan pull of just about anything, the so-called accentuated shoulders are just repulsive to me.

"Valentino said: “I did it, and I hate it. When I go to see my dresses of the eighties, I vomit.”

So on the plus side, we'll all be helping Valentino retain her girlish figure.

That's something at least.


As a petite little thing with (relatively) broad shoulders, I gotta say this is not a look that flatters me. I'm hoping Michelle influences fashion to a softer, more subtle "accentuated shoulders".

OTOH, the big crazy is fun to watch in a runway show.

PS - The frumpy Chanel pantsuit is cute.



LOL. gotham, please don't ever stop commenting, I actually look for your comments now because you crack me up. I especially appreciate this, because I work in digital media, and every time the word Twitter is uttered in the office, I cringe.

And I'm over the really huge shoulders, though some of the more subdued looks are nice (the last row of pictures, basically)... I was born in '85, so fortunately I missed shoulder pads, but I'm getting married next year and have some stellar pictures of my older sisters to put in our photo montage. :)

I like most of them. Much more than you guys actually. The accentuated shoulders are flattering believe it or not.

No shoulder pads. I shudder as I type!

Why did you leave out Martin Margiela?

The Balenciaga looks more Romulan than Klingon ;)

No, no. A thousand times, NO!

Faithful Reader

Faithful Reader's Rule #1: Never - EVER - wear any fashion trend that you are old enough to have worn during its previous heyday. You will just look silly.

Im 5'9" and pear shaped so I could pull this look off, but do I want to, I guess is the question.

The Balmain is WAY more Romulan than Klingon. Do you guys not have any innner geek?

I would kill for the houndtooth coat, and yes, I would totally do this look over again - it makes such a statement. Things always get out of hand towards the tail end of a trend and maybe that's what some are thinking of, but these are perfectly reasonable shoulders, just enough to give fabric some good solid support. I don't like pads with soft drapey fabric, but with anything suitable for tailoring, it totally works.

If the padding is used judiciously (the Gucci coat, for example), not excessively to the point of freakishness (the Marc Jacobs, say), and is limited to items with linings (as opposed to the ridiculous and ugly '80s practice of putting them in everything from t-shirts to trench coats), then it can work. However, as other posters pointed out, not everyone needs/likes/can carry off the silhouette, especially if the exaggerated versions catch on. I'm hoping that they won't, and that the umpteen makeover shows and books of recent years have taught designers and the public that different body types need different styles and proportions - the monolithic one-style-fits-all approach doesn't work anymore (not that it ever did, but that's another topic).

If you're afraid of looking overly trendy, just buy a simple black Margiela peak-shouldered blazer. He was the first to really do it and still probably the best at it anyway.

So Karen Walker was wrong, and as it turns out 2009 is the Year of the Shoulder?!

yes this is a very tricky trend, I will stay away from it, it's hard to pull it off
I guess it will become like capris, everybody wearing them but everybody looking bad on them

I am a wide-shouldered hourglass (sadly going toward pear post-childbirth) and I was only a pre-teen when these were around in the 80's. But they put the damn pads in kid's clothes! Poor little me, yet to bloom, all baby fat and stupid ill-fitting shifting shoulder pads.
It's sad that yet another generation may be scarred by this major NO.

I have worn dresses/suits/blouses with larger shoulders because I am one of those 'pear endowed' women. I went out & bought shoulder pads to insert in my clothes!

But I always felt like I should hide my love of shoulder pads in the closet, lest I be persecuted against. My heritage is German & Czech, what else is there but big boobs, small waist, and large hips.

Now that TLo has endorsed them, I don't feel so shleppy or out-dated anymore! Thank you for making this non-model type come out of the should-pad closet!

(PS, wonder what Chris March thinks about this?)

Sorry but I hate all of it.
On a guy, why not. It accentuates the typical male broad shoulders. On women, I never liked it.
I hope people on the street won't go for this, I definitely won't.

These designs will die a fast death. Everyone hates it.

BALMAIN for women

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