This post is just so all of you will know that not everyone in the 1980s was dressing either like Madonna or Cindy Lauper, or was running around in huge Victorian wallpaper dresses. No, there were those of us who were directly under the influence of the movie, Out of Africa. The clothing in this romanticized view of the life of Karen Blixen’s life on the Dark Continent was the solution for a person like me, who was really into vintage, but didn’t want to look like a walking thrift store. Take a pretty Edwardian waist, combine it with a linen skirt from Ralph Lauren or Banana Republic, add a pair of little boots, and I was set to go.
At the time, Banana Republic was nothing like the store of today. It was founded in 1978 by Mel and Patricia Ziegler as an army surplus import business. As their supplies began to dry up, they began to manufacture copies of some of their most popular items. By the early 1980s, most of their merchandise was designed and made for them, and the surplus disappeared from their catalogs and stores.
Both the stores and the catalogs had a vintage travel theme. The catalogs read like travelogs, and the stores were decorated in a safari theme. It was almost like being in a 1940s movie, with jungle sounds and 40s music playing in the background. You almost expected Hemingway to come storming out of the dressing room!
I still have most of my Banana Republic wardrobe from the late 1980s (all except a certain jumpsuit that I left in a closet in a chalet in Switzerland), and I could wear any of it on the street today without feeling foolish. I bet my friend can’t say that about wearing a particularily ornate Laura Ashley dress she bought in 1986!