Trend to watch: Boxy, statement-making shoulders



By Wei Yeen Loh

Trend to watch: Boxy, statement-making shoulders

Fresh from Spring 2016’s cold-shoulder trend, Autumn/Winter 2016 decided to pull out all the stops by referencing the 1980s. Before you cringe on the prospect of seeing a wave of trend revivals (no scrunchies or neon makeup please), designers are upsizing the big-shoulder game this season by making it furry and ear-high (Saint Laurent), and even juxtaposing it with waist-slimming silhouettes (corsets at Balmain). 

But let us backtrack. Shoulder pads were actually created in 1877 as padding for American football players, but in 1931, Elsa Schiaparelli introduced it in women’s fashion and made it fashionably acceptable to sport square-shouldered coats. The trend died down since then, only to make a comeback in the 1980s when everything bigger was better—from multiple cans of hairspray to achieve huge hair to cropped, bold-shoulder jackets with fitted bottoms for an hourglass effect. 

This borrowed-from-the-boys trend had a major scene in the fashion and entertainment industry, thanks to its “power dressing” element that was in tune with women breaking the glass ceiling in the corporate world. During this decade, the Iron Lady herself was known for incorporating shoulder pads in suits and blouses of all colours and motifs—who else better than Margaret Thatcher to don female armour? 

The resurgence came in the early 2000s, spotted at Yves Saint Laurent (under the helm of Stefano Pilati) and Gucci (under Tom Ford) where class was always delivered with a dash of sex appeal. Fast forward to a handful of years later, we see designers braving this trend by creating boxy silhouettes and outlandish statement shoulders that only the fashion risktaker in us would be delighted to pull off:

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