The 1980s are back. There’s just no way around it.

The tried and true advice is: If you wore a trend the first time it was in fashion, don’t wear it when it rears its ugly head and padded shoulders the next time. For me, that means no oversized T-shirts decorated with fluorescent puffy paint, tee hems gathered and looped through day glo plastic rings, stirrup pants, scrunch socks, white Reebox hi-tops, scrunchies or side ponytails.

The ‘80s was a decade of fashion DON’Ts. That’s just one of the reasons I’m having such a hard time wrapping my mind around why we’re revisiting a period characterized by cringe-inducing trends and a philosophy of “more is more.”

The 1990s countered power dressing and glam with a hippy-influenced return to natural. The ‘90s was the decade I learned how to wear makeup. “When a person looks at you, they should see you, not makeup.” Of course, makeup was necessary to achieve this effect. I learned how to enhance my eyes using the tiny sponge-tipped applicator that came with my trio of neutral eye shadows.

Now, at 29, I still feel most comfortable with a natural makeup look. The differences in the ‘90s face and the 2000s face are barely perceptible. The real difference is not so much in how cosmetics are applied, but in the makeup of the makeup itself. Just a few of the changes include longer wearing products, finer textures, the use of exotic natural extracts, and makeup that protects skin from sun damage.

But maybe it’s time for a change. In 1989, I turned 10 years old, so there are lots of ‘80s trends I did not wear the first time they were in fashion.

Armed with a page torn from a magazine, I enter Sephora and am immediately bombarded by two employees inquiring whether I need help finding anything. Usually, I am put off by this predatory helpfulness — usually, I am shopping for refills of my usual neutrals — but not today. Today, I am looking to create the ‘80s eye, and I have no idea where to start.

Rene, who has a tongue piercing, perfect teeth, and bangs over one eye, takes a look at the photo from the magazine and leads me to the Make Up For Ever display. He sticks his finger in a pot of black cream and smudges it on the back of his hand. It looks like tar. It’s perfect.

Matte black is the base of the ‘80s eye, and eye shadows don’t get any darker than Make Up For Ever’s “Aqua Black.” For powdered shadow, I settle on Urban Decay’s “Perversion,” which is not as midnight as Sephora’s new and out-of-stock “Must Have No. 6,” but it will do.

Rene turns me loose, and I walk around the store decorating the back of my hand with sweeps of bold color. An hour later, I leave Sephora with my most expensive makeup experiment ever.

At home, I put “Pretty In Pink” in the DVD player, and take out my contoured eye shadow brush. I carefully paint my eyelids with “Aqua Black” and dust them with powder, before applying Urban Decay’s “Dime” silver eyeliner to the inner corners of my eyes. Using the contoured brush, I line my lower lashes with “Aqua Black” and sweep the brush up, creating a cat eye effect.

Using a large all-over eye shadow brush, I dust the inner corners of my lids with Make Up For Ever’s powder blush “No. 18” — orange — and the outer corners with Sephora’s “My Favorite Jeans No. 40” – blue. I look like a performer in Cirque du Soleil.

I finish off with mascara, rose blush brushed from the apples of my cheeks up to my temples (“Oh, you have to do contoured cheeks with ‘80s eyes,” Rene said), and pale pink lipstick.

After the hour it took to apply all of that makeup, I wore it out to a café. You should have seen their faces.

Mariel Howsepian digs black coffee, fairy tales and a man in coveralls. She lives in Santa Monica and can be reached at

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.