The shoulder pads return, “stylistic armor” that empowers women

If in the eighties, shoulder pads became the favorite accessory for artists like Michael Jackson, Madonna, Joan Collins, Diana Ross or Melanie Griffith, this wardrobe item, labeled (sometimes) as ‘tacky’, returns to the scene and demonstrates its power. “The shoulder pads are stylistic armor, they have power and empower women, as well as outline silhouettes,” sums up fashion communication expert Pepa Fernández for EFE.

They are an absolute trend and have starred in practically all the recent shows of the international fashion weeks, acquiring a great presence in the new proposals of the Saint Laurent house for this spring-summer 2023.

From the Italian firm Max Mara to the English firm Stella McCartney, pagoda-shoulders -which imitate the cornices of these temples- are present in a large part of their proposals. The Italian Alberta Ferretti also bets on shoulder pads, but with more restrained proportions, yes, without losing that halo of defense before the eyes of others.

The aesthetics of current television series such as “The Bridgertons” it has fostered this fashion, which “imposes respect”, adds Pepa Fernández; and she warns that “the shoulder pads must maintain an inversely proportional relationship to the rest of the outfit”.

a century of history

Aware that the shoulders are the part of the body that connects directly with the eye, the designers propose this season to boost this accessory, which came to the women’s wardrobe in the decade of the thirties of the last century under the influence of men’s attire.

Around that time, the Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) was a pioneer and presented a collection in collaboration with surrealist artists who experimented with them to create very original garments that seduced the actress Joan Crawford.

From the Second World War, the shoulder pads were accommodated in American jackets, coats and jackets made for women in the image and likeness of men’s garments.

It is “a good metaphor for the change in roles that occurred when women joined the workforce in the middle of the war,” says Fernández.

But with the arrival of the “New look” in 1947, created by the French designer Christian Dior (1905-1957), the shoulder pads faded, they lost presence in favor of tight-fitting bodies, the wasp waist and the wide skirts.

Three decades later, shoulder pads regained prominence and in the 80s they lived their golden age, championed by the powerful jacket suits that women wore to go to work at the office.

Thierry Mugler, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan or Giorgio Armani were some of the designers who created the executive uniform with an emphasis on the shoulders.

A trend that they wore with the idea of ​​making an impact, from the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher, to the actress Joan Collins or Princess Diana of Wales. This unmistakably eighties attribute, which many fashion connoisseurs described as ‘tacky and excessive’, was eclipsed behind the minimalist lines of the nineties.

But now the shoulder pads are experiencing a new renaissance in the boleros presented by Dolce&Gabbana or in the American jackets by Prada, in addition to being part of the DNA of the Balmain firm.