For those of us around in the mid-80s, we may have a fondness or nostalgia (or deep cringe) for teased perms, forearms of black rubber bangles, fluorescent-colored tops and off-the-shoulder ripped sweatshirts. Such stuff as MTV dreams were made of — and probably not a look we wore every day.
Enter Violet Sky, or GlitterWave80s as she’s better known to her 90K followers on TikTok. The 19-year-old New Yorker has dedicated most of her life to living as if it were still the 80s. As seen in her Day-Glo videos, using a static-filled “VCR-style” filter, Violet sports enormous permed hair, shellac-ed bangs, light blue eyeshadow and REALLY high-waisted acid wash jeans. Glimpsing behind her, you’ll see a room plastered with posters of Duran Duran, Rick Springfield (my actual first concert), VHS tapes, a cassette-tape boombox, a record player, Keith Haring socks and white Reebok sneakers in the corner. Girl has done her research.
This is no Halloween gag; this is something she’s been doing for four years.
I had many, many questions. Mainly, I wanted to know, WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS?
So, last week we hopped on the phone (yes, she actually does use a mobile phone) and I asked.
Margit: As someone who lived through the 80s, you’ve pretty much captured, well, the best parts.
Margit: What inspired you to live your life 80s-style?
Violet: I always grew up liking retro things and vintage things. My mom grew up in the 60s and 70s, so she raised me with that kind of stuff. I broke away from that and I was like, “Let me, like, find my own thing.” I really liked Britney Spears for a while and that kind of died out. Then I watched this movie called Girls Just Wanna Have Fun from 1985 and I was like, “Oh this is so cool.” I just started watching more 80s movies and listening to the music and the soundtracks. That’s really what started it. Then I started collecting things [from the 80s] and thinking like, why don’t I just start dressing the part too? It kind of just snowballed into this gigantic obsession and you know, here I am now, so…
Margit: So are you, so wait, right now are you wearing…
Violet: Like, I don’t have my hair done. Like, my bangs aren’t like, teased up ‘cause you know, I’m lazy today. It’s raining (laughing). But I have on, you know, a sweatshirt and jeans.
Margit: Right. Right. How do you find stuff? How do you find good acid washed jeans and mom jeans or… I don’t even remember. What were we wearing in the 80s?
Violet: I thrift basically everything. I go to this place in the city called L-Train Vintage and they have tons of acid washed denim, like all the time, and then, you know, you start researching the brands like Traffic, Contempo Casuals, Jordache…
Margit: Oh god. Contempo Casuals.
Violet: And then eBay and Depop are like two online websites I get things from.
Margit: Is there an ‘80s item that you covet but is hard to find?
Violet: Currently, it’s an 80s car, like an 80s Camaro or something. Which is, like, not a smart decision ’cause it’s, you know, probably going to break down (laughs).
Margit: I’m assuming Violet Sky isn’t your real name? Or is it your real name?
Violet: It’s my first and middle name. I just go by that.
Margit: Who are some of your 80s heroes and icons?
Violet: Most of my inspirations are like singing inspirations. So Pat Benatar, Rindy Ross from Quarterflash, Martha Davis and the Motels — Laura Branigan definitely.
Margit: There’s so much access now via YouTube, too, — you can really do a lot of research. Is there anything 80s you don’t quite have access to?
Violet: For the most part, like all the physical items are like, still there, you know? You can like buy tapes and VHS movies and stuff like that. But that in-person connection of just calling someone up on the landline — like you can do that now, but we have the internet and we have all of the social media. The way that we communicate is so much different than back then. And I kind of wish that I really understood the simplicity.
Margit: Is that part of what’s appealing to you?
Violet: At first, it wasn’t really about that, it was just like, about the music and everything, but as I get older, and as the world gets more complicated with technology, I kind of like long for that simplicity.
Margit: What do your friends think about your 80s life.
Violet: Most of my friends aren’t into it ‘cause I’ve just known them my whole life and stuff, except for my friend Ronnie who I met through Instagram and it just turned out that she lives close by. Most of my friends in the community are all on the internet. So we don’t live close but we have like a big group chat and we all talk to each other about it.
Margit: Wait, there are more of you?
Violet: Oh yeah (laughing). We’re going to put together like an introduction video, where we’re all like giving our names and Instagram accounts and being like, “Welcome to the 80s Club” like we call ourselves that.
Margit: Maybe it should be like, “We are the World.” What are some of your favorite songs from the 80s?
Violet: Oh gosh. There’s this band, they’re not like that known, Shy Talk — they came out with one album and their song, “Excuse Me” is like amazing. Like I love that song so much. I’ve been listening to the About Last Night soundtrack…
Margit: Do you listen to like modern music at all?
Violet: Not really, just no. All the trap rap on the radio is so bad.
Margit: Your room reminds me a bit of my room when I was 15 or 16. How hard is it to keep things 80s authentic?
Violet: Earlier this year, like I had remnants of Britney posters on the wall, and I was like okay, this does not represent me anymore and if we’re going to be in quarantine for how many months, like I might as well like really like transform my room. So I started just kind of putting away things that weren’t 80s and hiding them, like put them in the drawer. Like my laptop is always in the drawer; like that would just ruin the vibe.
Margit: What’s your prize possession?
Violet: I really love my green Sharp boombox. My neon phone. Oh and my lamp. And then I have this bottle of like old hairspray from the 80s, which I’ve never used or anything, but I bought it so I put it on my desk so it looks like period accurate.
Margit: It’s a little hard for me to think of the 80s as a “period piece.” [Sighs] Let’s get back to the joy of why you do this. You mentioned simplicity, what else is it about the 80s that you specifically love and why? You know, why you do it?
Violet: The music was just really creative and original back then. You had to come up with stuff just off the top of your head. You couldn’t really sample stuff. There were so many different types of music that were popular in the 80s and in the mainstream, and now we only have like two or three genres that people listen to. The clothing is so bold and expressive and creative — nothing was too big. There was all this big hair but like nobody would get judged for it. Bright colors — you know it was like a lot more expressive. Everything now is so minimalistic in neutral tones, especially like interior design. Like, you went to the mall in the 80s and there was all this neon and it was really cool and now it’s all like white and grey. It’s so boring.
Margit: So much truth right there Violet. What do your parents think about all of this?
Violet: My mom tolerates it — she says she never dressed like that so she wasn’t into that whole style. She hated the big hair and the acid wash. I mean she supports it. She doesn’t really mind. She doesn’t really get why I like it.
Violet: She was like in her 20s, in her late 20s, by that time.
Margit: So what do you think — is this a lifetime commitment?
Violet: I honestly don’t know. My whole life I’ve been a person who goes through phases. I get interested in different things. They usually last like a year to two years and then I kind of get bored of it. But like this has gone on four years. It’s just a lot of fun.
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