This week Mirror80 spotlights the ’80s office, from its decor to its culture. We start with another post in our new series entitled “’80s Nightlife.” And who needs a break at night more than your yuppie high-powered executive?! We look to the films of our favorite decade for some guidance…
Yuppies filled the ’80s workplace and the ’80s movie screen. Remember the voluminous hair of Melanie Griffith in Working Girl? What about the power suits of Diane Keaton in Baby Boom? How about the boundless energy and determination of Michael J. Fox in The Secret of My Success? Or the out-of-place child-like wonder of Judge Reinhold in Vice Versa? In fact, ’80s films made office life look so glamorous, I still get a “nostalgic” yearning for the corporate world when I pass by a towering skyscraper covered with tinted windows that peek into a world of charcoal-gray carpet and cubicles…
Let’s start with Baby Boom. How does high-powered businesswoman J.C. Wiatt (Diane Keaton) unwind after a long day of work? By having a dinner meeting with her boss, of course:
The Secret of My Success
Let’s now turn to Michael J. Fox’s ambitious Brantley Foster, a character who poses as an executive named Carlton Whitfield in order to quickly rise to the top. In the process, he falls in love and learns a thing or two about the rat race. How does he relax at the end of the day? In this case, the break is a forced one. When his “workaholic” love interest (played Helen Slater) has a sudden drop in blood sugar, the two must incorporate a meal into their busy schedules. Darn inconvenient needs like food and water! Check out the geometric top on the waitress!:
In keeping with the theme of impersonating a powerful professional to get ahead, let’s revisit Working Girl, in which Tess McGill (played by Melanie Griffith) poses as an executive in order to outsmart her manipulative boss, who is conveniently out of pocket. During her “big night out” at a closing party for a merger, she meets love interest Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford). He’s instantly smitten. We’re smitten with Tess’s rhinestone-covered dress and the tropical flowers in the corner of this shot:
Finally we have Vice Versa, the story of a father and son who inadvertently “switch places.” Before the switch occurs, Marshall Seymour (Judge Reinhold) embarks on a purchasing trip to Thailand with love interest Sam (Corinne Bohrer, who pulls off a pink headband wrap and modern turquoise earrings like nobody’s business!):
When a snapshot of the two dining out appears at a post-trip meeting, Marshall defends himself: “Well we had to eat!” His boss smugly approves of the dinner as long as the leisure was limited.
The films of the ’80s make it crystal clear that for professionals on the fast track, there’s really no such thing as a night off. At least, that was one popular cinematic portrayal at the time. Pivotal moments involving love and human relationships happen by accident during instances of sheer necessity.
What were those ’80s films trying to tell us?… Getting ahead took sacrifice. But in typical Hollywood fashion, those who were smart enough to find balance could actually “have it all.”
Then again, even a “working dinner” took a stylish turn in the ’80s. Check out the fashion on these eighties ladies! And corporate dinners couldn’t help but be chic against the backdrop of dim lighting, swanky restaurant decor and exotic flower arrangements. Maybe working late wasn’t so bad after all…
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