Pursuing natural health & thinking beyond the superficial. Deconstructing Culture.

The 80’s were full of fashion statements, most we’d like to forget, many we can’t forget no matter how hard we try, some we hide photos of ourselves exhibiting lest we die of shame and some we don’t actually mind. So many trends were created in the 80’s that have spun round the fashion cycle, either being discarded yet again (shoulder accentuation – pads, studs, chains), over hyped (hoop earrings), over used (leggings but alas without the long jumpers/dresses we used to wear them with) or modernised and well received by even the hardest of critics this time round (colour blocking).

In a fit of nostalgia I thought of a cartoon that I believe encompassed much of what fashion was about in the 80’s and was probably the most fashion conscious cartoon I’ve ever seen (that doesn’t mean the fashion was good… ahem). Enter Jem and The Holograms:

Now for those of you that don’t remember, never had the pleasure or were too young to see it – Jem and The Holograms was a strange, some would say eclectic mix of music, celebrity, violence, mayhem, helping others/charity, love tangles and fashion, with some extreme characters (sounds a bit like an opera eh?) It followed the progress of the main characters/music band and their lives constantly being sabotaged by their rivals. A fair amount of disbelief had to be suspended to watch this show, but in line with other cartoons from the 80’s (a lot of superhero and other worldly thoroughfare) it wasn’t that hard. However that said, fashion wise, perhaps we were too easy going, and suspended disbelief became picking clothing at random with no discernment at all? How much was fashion/faux pas fed to us through this and how much was just representing trends – was it a mix of both? Any which way, someone was on something. Actually, that’s probably why I watched it, it was hypnotic for little kids.

Now I’m not a fashion fanatic, I don’t dictate what others should and shouldn’t wear and I rarely criticise people’s clothing choices but when you see the pics below you’ll see why I’m writing this blog. No character was exempt from the fashion pendulum, there were plenty of times when Jem/Holograms (good side) looked just as questionable as the bad guys, and times where they looked like they could throw anything on, in any order and look cool. Even the fans and background characters in this show were given individual attention, there were hardly any mediocre outfits and unlike when you walk down a street in real life, in Jem world, no one wore the same clothing, at least not in the same scene.  The illustrators certainly had a ton of ideas as the characters changed outfits many times per cartoon or even per scene, and it made a change from characters who always wore the same outfits. But before you get the wrong impression, Jem and The Holograms wasn’t superficial, the storyline was formulaic but not tedious, the music was actually pretty good though there could be too much of it and akin to other cartoons at the time there were sometimes PSA’s (public service announcements) which I actually liked, yes I’m sad I know.

 Anyway here is a taster, and I mean only a taster, of what was on display:

THE GOOD (Somewhat):

LtR: Shana, Aja, Kimber, Jem – wearing figure flattering, feminine dresses – just not in those colour combinations

Again not in those colour combinations but if you’re 20 or under and confident you can pull it off

Jem’s outfit is the saving grace here

2 out of 3 ain’t bad – sorry Jerrica (Jem) and we can’t see what Shana is wearing

Ok gimme a break, I didn’t have much to work with. If the colours matched they’d be decent outfits

This actually isn’t bad, just not feeling the shoulders

Business woman vs artist

Well… they’re somewhat conservative, they are suits afterall…

At least I can say something cute about the swimwear – they’re cute!

I love Kimber’s swimming costume! Though the frills shouldn’t be Green

With a few minor alterations to the cut of the top and a smaller hat (pill box style) this outfit would actually be swanky/swish in real life

Not too bad, but you can tell I’m hardpressed with this cartoon

At least someone’s well dressed! (Guy on the right, though the ruffles on the shirt…)


The 80’s – the explosion of Glam/Hair metal, Punk, Cyber and Electro Pop – we can keep the music but let’s pretend the fashion was forced on us by aliens

I take that back, let’s burn it and pretend it never happened

How could the adults of the time influence the kids like this? (Yes I was an 80’s child so I take no responsibility, I swear I tried to refuse most of what my mum made me wear!)

See, I told you aliens were involved


Double hmmm… the only things that save this from the Crazy/Awful section are that Shana and Aja’s outfits would look ok in better colours and he’s mediocre

Now this actually would have been nice had it not been for the Red sash/scarf belt and fishnets

Hey, if you can rock this go for it

It looked dazzling in the cartoon but in real life… and I have no words for the hem on Kimber’s dress

You can never accuse them of being dull, ever, when these ladies walk in a room electric lighting is not needed

Random geometric patterns should be banned, we’re tortured with them on public transport, isn’t that enough? (I LOVE Danse’s hair.)


The Misfits – Jem and The Hologram’s rivals/enemies – yes they pretty much always looked this bad

LtR: Roxy, Pizzazz (leader), Stormer – they matched all of their accessories but still…

The worst leggings I’ve ever seen – have you seen worse?


A dress that should never have seen the light of day

A lesson to us all – don’t mix big blocks of bold colour with animal print

Pizzaz – worst outfit ever? Side view shows big diamond holes in the leggings and a contrasting colour diamond top/dress

Front shows the leggings are part of a jumpsuit with the sides also cut out and the top is more of a shawl tied at the side, if it’s a dress/top then half is missing

Ay caramba!

It’s Halloween all year round for the Misfits

Why ladies why?

The ways in which fringe and applique should never be applied

Trainers with that tux Rio? Really? Frayed hems on evening gowns – no.

Large fishnets were the parasite of fashion in this cartoon, they were so overused that they gave new meaning to the phrase ‘over-kill’ – they were literally used to death and were the death of many outfits, RIP

They’re stage costumes but still, and there’s a carelessly placed star on Aja’s dress


LtR: Aja the wise? Jem the magician? Shana the abstract?

Aw the days of over-sized blazers and quilted jackets, thank goodness they’re gone

Not the best pic of this outfit, and it actually looked pretty cute on Jem but in real life? I didn’t think so. For reference – Jem is skateboarding here, in heels. Yes, she was awesome.

Thou shalt not wear blinding patterns with brightly coloured peddle pushers unless you’re not old enough to vote

No comment

ET phone home before the fashion police get you

I hope you enjoyed this overview of Jem and The Hologram’s amazing techi-colour LSD dreamy wardrobe, perhaps went through changing emotions ranging through laughter to embarrassment, and more importantly learned some valuable lessons.

PSA: It doesn’t matter what other people think of what you wear, it’s how you feel (as long as you’re not wildly out of place and inappropriate i.e. Gaga and Minaj) and what you’re comfortable with. No one should make others feel bad for what they wear or force others into dress codes (other than uniforms when necessary) but if lightning happens to strike you down for flouting laws of nature and good sense in fashion, don’t say you weren’t warned.

Comments on: "80’s Fashion in Cartoon – The Good, The Wild and The Psychotic" (6)

  1. I really enjoyed those 80’s cartoon outfits. So great! Much better than those cartoons where the character wears the same outfit the whole show. lol.

    Btw the last paragraph is really good. Great advice, I hope more people read it.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post and I agree it’s more interesting to watch when characters change a little now and then at least lol, thanks for commenting and I hope those that look at the post read the paragraph too. 🙂

  2. Oh, how I chuckled! I was a massive Jem fan as a kid…we’re talking having the doll, reading the magazine, pretending to be her via pair of my mum’s clip-on earrings….

    My favourite outfit of hers you’ve actually not shown is when they’re shooting the video in Paris and she’s walking down the riverside….the oversized trench, the moodiness, and being matchy-matchy with Rio….total love! I will admit that I *may* have rewatched it in more recent times….the fashion for that time is as you say quite good and I personally find the songs just as good as some of today’s stuff.

    GaGa for a liveaction remake, perhaps?

    • I’m so glad you liked the post! Lol don’t worry, there were many little girls emulating Jem hehe 🙂

      I really liked the trenchcoat too and since it was early in the series I remember that the song was ‘Twilight in Paris’. Whilst re-watching it I found the music is better or just as good as a lot of pop today too, though I couldn’t tolerate The Misfits as they always sung about how great they thought they were lol!

      I can’t imagine Gaga as Jerrica/Jem but she definitely is flamboyant. It’s an interesting suggestion though since Jem has been re-aired on one of the tv channels and there’s been talk of continuing the series or a re-make. Live action would be something!

  3. I always loved Jem’s clothes….now they mostly just pain me. Although I STILL love that outfit in the 8th pic under wild, that blue dress with the pink belt. Would totally wear that!

    I love this post.

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