As the glam rock bands of the 1970s grew in popularity in the United States during the 80s, they brought with them their style, fashion, and sequins.
Although these shiny bits of reflective material had been sewn into clothing for centuries, it wasn’t until manufacturing processes in the 80s made them cheaper to produce, that they truly became popular.
So why were sequins such a popular fashion trend in the 1980s? Well first let’s examine a little about how this popular reflective material came to be.
The History Of Sequins
The Egyptians were the first known civilization to use some form of sequins. It was discovered during the 1930s that the fan bearers of the Egyptian pharaohs had been dressed in outfits that featured metal sequins.
From the 17th to 19th century, due to the cost of manufacturing, only those with money could afford sequin outfits. By the 1930s, the cost of manufacturing sequins had reduced drastically thanks to the ability to electroplate reflective gelatin onto metal sequins. However, the gelatin would melt if it got too warm, which limited when and where they could be worn.
Eventually, Kodak would manufacture clear sequins that were very popular despite their brittleness. These clear plastic sequins were soon replaced by a polyester film, before eventually being replaced by vinyl plastics in the early 1960s.
By the late 1960s, the cost of manufacturing sequins had reduced enough that it was possible for anyone to purchase an outfit featuring them, and they started to appear more and more in pop culture.
Glam rock was very popular in the 1970s in the UK. It was during this time that rock legends like David Bowie first stepped out on the stage. As glam rock bands made their way to the US, they brought with them their fashion style, including their use of sequins.
By the 1980s, bands like Van Halen, Kiss, Cheap Trick, and even Alice Cooper were wearing outfits that were covered in little reflective bits of plastic.
Thanks to MTV, looks were everything when it came to the 80s music industry, and if a band truly wanted to stand out from the crowd, then they had no option but to dress up in some of the most iconic outfits of the era. And some of those outfits were covered in sequins!
Sequins were not just for rock ‘n’ roll. It was during the 1980s when Michael Jackson chose to revamp his image as a pop idol. During this time period, he adapted his image from popular British boy bands of the time, which included outfits that were covered in sequins.
As he got rid of his Jerry Curls in exchange for straighter hair, he reached out to Christopher Decarnin, the fashion designer who later would create his iconic sequin-covered outfits.
While sequin was a popular choice for musicians, it was also an excellent choice for women who wanted to freshen up and look exotic for a night out on the town. During the 1980s, sequined dresses were all the rage because of their exotic glittering look.
The true brilliance of a sequined dress can only be observed at night when the reflecting lights can truly shine off of them, which is why they were so popular for evening wear. Not only were there sequin dresses, but you could also find sequined shirts, jackets, and even skirts during the 1980s.
Are Sequins Still Popular Today?
Though not as popular as they once were in the 1980s, we still do see sequin dresses quite often today. These dresses are usually worn to formal occasions, and definitely appear often at any engagement where celebrities are involved.
We often see women wearing sequin dresses to entertainment award shows, as well as on the cover of magazines, and for photoshoots.
Sequins as a fashion has been going strong for decades now, and we don’t expect them to go out of style any time soon.