Some fashion trends are just synonymous with the ’80s: big hair, bright clothing, and statement jewelry, just to name a few. But nothing screams “’80s boss lady” like the silhouette of a woman wearing shoulder pads so sharp they essentially turned her upper half into an upside-down triangle.
As a child of the ’80s, I often saw my mom rocking shoulder pads in dresses and blazers. Her shoulders, like her bangs, were large and in charge. Her hair was permed and teased to within an inch of its life, and her bright blue eyeshadow was always on point. I’ve got to admit, she looked pretty fierce.
It might surprise you, though, to learn that shoulder pads didn’t originate in the ’80s. They became a part of women’s fashion around World War II and reemerged during the ’80s when women joined the workforce in droves. Shoulder pads gave an edge to a woman’s shape, giving them more confidence and allowing them to take up more space.
Today shoulder pads might be far off your fashion priority list, but perhaps that shouldn’t be the case.
As detailed by personal stylist Claire Hall, modern iterations can help balance your silhouette (especially if you don’t naturally have an hourglass figure) and visually lift everything up. They can even improve the appearance of your posture by adding a nice square silhouette at the shoulders.
If you’re ready to add shoulder pads (*back*) to your wardrobe, Amazon naturally has a ton of affordable finds.
Similar to the pads Hall used, these Silicone Shoulder Pads by LUNNTE are anti-slip, made from natural silica gel, and can be worn horizontally or vertically. They’ll give you (at least the illusion of) better posture, reduce the look of sloping shoulders, and look seamless under clothing.
A reviewer said, “I love these silicone shoulder pads. They are just the right size and adhere to the skin really [well] and seem to last a little longer than other similar silicone shoulder pads that I’ve purchased.”
These Ann West Shoulder Pads are molded to fit petite shoulders. They hook to your bra strap and look perfect under shirts with dolman sleeves (long sleeves that are wide at the armhole and tight at the wrist). Comfortable and lightweight, these shoulder pads give a little more shape to a small frame.
The Ann West Hook and Loop Shoulder Pads also hook to your bra strap and are ideal for medium-to-large builds. One Amazon reviewer said, “Blouses and t-shirts look better on with these shoulder pads. They give whatever you are wearing a little structure. Also, for me, wider shoulders make my hips look smaller which is a nice plus.”