Just as the early 80's aerobics craze delivered Flashdance inspired sweatshirts and legwarmers, the late 80’s passion for bicycling peddled tight, spandex shorts to mainstream fashion. Not just for bicyclists anymore, the streamlined, padded version was reinterpreted for the masses in simple stretch fabrics and outrageous colors.
The length varied from just above knee to just below the butt, but no matter the length, the problem with bicycle shorts was that they left nothing to the imagination. Whether in shiny spandex or soft cotton lycra, the snug fit was like a second skin. Undeterred from wearing the slim shorts, the athletically challenged solved the problem by layering a long and baggy t-shirt over the most vital areas. All hail the mighty t-shirt!
Spandex’s shiny colors and comfort gave an energetic performance even more flash, and the material became a favorite uniform of musical artists. Rappers like Salt-n-Pepa busted rhymes in slinky spandex, oversized K-Swiss sneakers, massive gold 'dukie' chains, and tough 8-ball-style leather jackets. Janet Jackson wore her bike shorts underneath a sliced and diced pair of cutoff shorts, and the infamous dreadlocked duo Milli Vanilli paired theirs with oversized blazers and boots.
Not since the sweatshirt had athletic clothing become so versatile. Spandex bike shorts had their brief moment of glory in the fashion spotlight, but promptly returned to the seats of messengers and package deliverers by the end of the decade.
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