Push-up bras, lace gloves, mesh shirts, micro stretch skirts, and hair bows.
Not only did Madonna dress you up in her love, she single-handedly created the most memorable 80’s look with her virgin/harlot combination of lace and lingerie. A self-proclaimed ‘Boy Toy,’ she brought her streetwise style to the viewers of MTV and seduced a nation with her underwear as outerwear.
In her debut single, “Lucky Star,” the energetic yet undeniably sexy Madonna revealed more than her singing talents. Her mesh shirt, cropped dangerously high, spotlighted a daring midriff and revealed glimpses of a black lace bra. Mothers around the world collectively gasped as their daughters rushed to buy fingerless lace gloves, stacked their arms with black rubber bracelets, and dyed their hair blonde in imitation of her disheveled sex kitten tresses tamed with a lace bow. Even her mole was copied with a quick dot of eyeliner above the lip.
Madonna’s background as a dancer helped to showcase her outrageous style as she rolled and crawled her way in front of the cameras. Her look transformed with the speed of video rotation, bringing us into a more casual style on “Borderline,” then shocking us again in her steamy ode “Like a Virgin.” She exposed the blatant sex appeal of lingerie, corsets and lace bustiers when boldly worn as outerwear. Her addition of religious icon accessories turned innocence sexy and inflamed many in the Catholic community—no one could get talked about like Madonna could. Who else could pair lacy ankle socks with short stiletto-heeled boots, or wear dangling chandelier earrings that swung down to touch the shoulders?
Desperately Seeking Susan brought Madonna’s cult-like image to the big screen. A story about a woman who leaves her dull life behind when she impersonates a wild woman (played by Madonna), the movie fueled the fervor of Madonnamania. The infamous tuxedo jacket with pyramid design was copied and mass-produced under the Desperately Seeking Susan label by Identity, Inc. It was available through mail order or from ads on MTV, and guaranteed clone status.
Madonna’s religious fervor coupled with her scantily-clad body caused more than an uproar with parents, but the look spread like wildfire. Soon, every young girl who could stroll the mall was doing so in lacy socks and high-heel pumps. Her fans were called ‘wannabees’ because not only did they dress like Madonna, they desperately wanted to be her.
Madonna’s chameleon-like quality continued to shock and inspire fashion trends throughout the 80’s, 90’s, and even today, but her debut look remains one of the most memorable styles of the 80’s.