Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

19 Gifts all Gen-Xers wanted desperately in the ‘80s

The holiday season is upon us, and parents everywhere are scurrying to snatch up Razor scooters and smartphone accessories and Ugg slippers.

Oh, for a simpler time, the 1980s, when the height of chic was a Swatch watch (with rubber protector of course), when high-tech meant a boom box with two cassette players. Herein, the stuff Gen X-ers, asleep tucked all snug in their Lanz flannel nightgowns, dreamed of for the holidays in the ‘80s.

1. Swatch

Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

The more, the better. Layer them on like an armful of bangles! How did a company make us so very insanely into telling time? Of course we were telling so much more than time — we were telling you that we were cool and that we did not for one second regret getting the white one whose band turned green and disgusting.

2. Cabbage Patch Kids

Cabbage Patch Kids
Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

If your school was anything like mine, there was a girl in your class who brought in three Cabbage Patch Kids still in their boxes for show and tell. Meanwhile, our parents were having their noses broken in brawls over the last remaining girl with red braids down at K-B Toys.

3. CB ski jacket

CB ski jacket
Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

Before the advent of down sweaters and performance fleece, there were CB jackets. Even if you didn’t ski, you lusted after one.

4. Duck shoes

Duck Shoes
Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

Evidently you still can’t get your mitts on a pair of L.L.Bean duck boots, even 30 years after I swore I’d run away if I didn’t find a pair (navy, the shoe type, to wear with my puffy socks and stirrup pants thank you very much) under the tree. I got them, and so I never had to make good on my promise.

5. Guess? Jeans

Guess? jeans
Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

Who else had a pair of downmarket “Palmetto’s,” those Guess? wannabes with the same triangle on the back pocket except with a little palm tree instead of the real logo? Remember when designer jeans cost $50?

More: Gifts people born in the ’80s will totally appreciate

6. Atari

Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

We were a Colecovision family, truth be told, but at everyone else’s house, it was Frogger on Atari or it wasn’t a slumber party. There were those strange fringe characters who had Intellivision, but we won’t talk about them.

7. Benetton “B” sweater

Benneton “B" sweater
Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

I would have given away my entire sticker collection just to stand next to a girl who knew the girl who had the Benetton “B” sweater — or any Benetton sweater for that matter. The popular girls with their Kissing Coolers lip gloss and L’Oreal Studio Line-moussed bangs had these sweaters. I am not promising I’m not going to stalk one on eBay.

8. Bluchers

Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

The Docksider had nowhere to go but up! You had to tie the laces in that little coiled knot — a regular bow was not acceptable.

9. Le Sportsac

Le Sportsac
Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

It was a nylon purse made out of ripstop nylon. Why did we love them so? I had a cobalt blue one and I looked so damn cool carrying it crossbody I could hardly part from my reflection in the full-length mirror.

More: 12 Gifts for the trendy Gen-Xer

10. Rubber bracelets

Rubber bracelets
Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

Remember when we’d do anything Madonna said?

11. A Sony Walkman

A Sony Walkman
Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

You could walk around and listen to music privately. This was the most insane invention since the cassingle. Auto-reverse was key so you could have 90 full minutes of uninterrupted listening. Later we’d graduate to the yellow Sports Walkman that was allegedly waterproof.

12. Anything from Esprit

Anything from Esprit
Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

There were a handful of brands that telegraphed forever cool in the ‘80s, and Esprit was one of them. I had a pale yellow tunic top with French phrases written all over it in different typefaces. It was pretty hideous. But those brightly colored geo sweaters that came down to your knees, with a side pony and French-cuffed jeans… heavenly.

13. Minnetonka moccasins

Minnetonka moccasins
Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

They are still selling these at the hip shoe store in my Brooklyn neighborhood, but they are not selling them in lavender, which was the most beautiful shade of all for your moccasins in my fourth-grade class.

14. Fair Isle sweaters

Fair Isle sweaters
Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

Because we wanted to look outdoorsy and rosy-cheeked, like we hailed from the Shetland Islands, even though we were American kids sitting in study hall trying to get a ballpoint pen to write on the cover of that denim-ish three-ring binder everyone had. A white turtleneck underneath was the perfect complement — even better if that white turtleneck was covered in some cutesy pattern, like hearts.

15. Jellies

Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

It was a rubber shoe you could wear in the water! And if you were living 1000 miles from the water and had no reason for a beach shoe, you could very chicly wear a jelly shoe with a fluorescent bobby sock and a miniskirt and look pretty darn awesome.

16. Laura Ashley dresses

Laura Ashley dresses
Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

You too could be Laura Ingalls Wilder in a floral-print Laura Ashley dress worn to the band concert with a petticoat peeking out from under the hem! Bonus points if you had brown lace-up boots to complete the look. Covered wagon not included.

More: ’80s toys you can buy your kids this holiday

17. Boom box

17. Boom box
Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

What else were you going to bring outside to blast Depeche Mode on while you and your sister choreographed a dance you would later perform for an audience of your mom?

18. Kodak disc camera

Kodak disc camera
Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

Come on, these are still cool. It was a disc! You didn’t have to load the film!

19. Capezio jazz shoes

Capezio jazz shoes
Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

Some people in the ‘80s actually took jazz dancing lessons — they legitimately had a reason to wear jazz shoes. The rest of us could just hope against hope we might get a pair that we would then have to scuff up and break in in secret so no one knew we weren’t capable of a single move from the Baryshnikov/Hines duet from White Nights.

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.