Finding your colours in the 1980s

Remembering the trends of a decade some would just as soon forget.

Burger wars, $6,000 cellphones and no more stubbies

A colour consultant helps a client find the most flattering shades. 2:14

For anyone who wanted to look their best in the 1980s, colour analysis was a must. So the CBC's consumer affairs show Marketplace looked into it in 1983.

For $80, a colour consultant would drape swatches of fabric on a client's shoulders to determine her skin tone "season" and therefore what clothing colours were most flattering.

A competing colour theory held that a person's physiology interacted with a colour's wave patterns, making some shades more attractive than others. The catch, of course, was that an expert had to determine what those colours were — for a fee.  

Cellphones: The future is now

With phone costing thousands and startup costs in the millions, will cellular service fly? 2:17

If having one's colours done fell out of favour, possibly it was because those on the cutting edge of the trends of the 1980s needed to save up their money for the latest innovation.

Cellular telephone service launched in Toronto and Montreal on July 1, 1985 and it didn't come cheap: between $2,000 and $6,000 just for the phone. On the plus side, you could make a call from your boat.

Looking to litres while quitting quarts

In this 1981 clip, we learn that Canada intends to have grocery stores using the metric system in the months ahead. 1:53

For those who were really watching their pennies, a trip to the grocery store in 1981 was threatening to become a harrowing chore involving math.

Canada was still in the throes of converting from imperial measurements to metric, and stores were posting produce prices in both — but the law said that could last for only two months.

Luckily for those without a mental calculator, most stores 35 years later are still publicizing the cost of fruit and vegetables in both pounds and kilograms. 

The end of an era

CBC reporter Fred Langan explains why the squat brown Canadian beer bottle is being replaced by the long-necked American import. 4:02

But if a grocery run proved taxing, there was still solace to be found in a bottle of beer, even if the bottle looked different.

In 1984, the big brewers phased out the familiar "stubby" beer bottle in favour of the more elegant longneck. The beer might taste the same, but there was no questioning you looked more stylish drinking it.

Isolating the lettuce seemed sensible

Fast-food chains escalate their efforts to win market share in 1986. 2:31

Steady there — no need to drink on an empty stomach when there are so many options for beer's best buddy: the hamburger.

In 1983, the big fast-food chains were fighting a pitched battle for the taste buds of a more health-conscious generation of burger lovers. Fresh toppings became key selling points, and one chain went so far as to package their lettuce and tomato separate from the cooked patty.    

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