Body Decorations, 1980โ€“2003

Since the 1980s body decoration and accessories have become a highly lucrative business. The intense interest in designer fashions in the 1980s created a demand for cosmetics, jewelry, handbags, and other items made by these makers of high fashion. For many, these accessories, with their designer labels or distinctive scents, were the only way to afford designer luxuries. At the beginning of this period the brand names of a few designers, such as Gucci and Prada, were the most sought after, but by the twenty-first century a multitude of brands offered men and women accessories in a variety of styles. Some social groups began to identify themselves by the brand names they wore rather than the particular style of accessory they chose. Some wore Tommy Hilfiger's (1951โ€“) fashion lines, while others preferred Calvin Klein's (1942โ€“) selections, for example.

As brand names rose in popularity, some people sought out unique adornments to set themselves apart. During the 1990s and into the twenty-first century, body piercing and tattooing became increasingly popular, especially among youth. The unique designs permanently drawn on the skin and the collection of jewelry pierced into the body were once only worn by groups such as punks. But by the 1990s these adornments had become accepted by a wider group of people, and many high school and college students chose to tattoo themselves and pierce their belly buttons, noses, or tongues.

Beginning in the 1980s the most coveted perfumes, colognes, lotions, and makeup were only available at high-end retail stores, but by the late 1990s people seeking more convenience had started buying their cosmetics through the mail, over the Internet, and in grocery stores. These changes did not reflect an abandonment of brand name status, as these outlets started to carry luxurious products.


Gay, Kathlyn. Body Marks: Tattooing, Piercing, and Scarification. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press, 2002.

Graves, Bonnie B. Tattooing and Body Piercing. Mankato, MN: Life Matters, 2000.

Steele, Valerie. Fifty Years of Fashion: New Look to Now. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997.

Backpack Purses
Gucci Bags
Milan Fashion Scene
Leg Warmers
Sunless Tanning Lotion

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