The Technicolor Insanity of Jay Leno’s 1980s Fits
Bop on over to Redbubble looking for Christmas comedy gifts and you might come across this gem, a Jay Leno T-shirt that looks like a particularly alarming MTV promotion from 1984:
Even more disturbing? Jay Leno actually used to look like this. Think I’m exaggerating? Let’s take a look back at the amazing technicolor dreamcoats found in Leno’s 1980s closet.
Leno first hinted at what was to come on his first-ever Tonight Show appearance in 1977, looking like a guy in search of his stolen Lucky Charms. Do you dry-clean this suit or mow it? Leno’s obvious mascara completes the look from the Redbubble shirt.
But Leno really got things rocking in the 1980s, sporting a dizzying array of Miami Vice-inspired fits that, in combination, look like an explosion at the Crayola factory.
When Leno wasn’t shopping in the sports-coat aisle at Sherwin-Williams, he made other questionable vestiary choices like this shag-carpet jacket over a sheet-metal shirt. The skinny piano tie brings it all together.
How about this number made of reflective mylar, handy for signaling passing planes in the event Leno got stranded on a desert island?
It wasn’t always about the flash, though. Leno wasn’t afraid to bust out the robin’s-egg blue and tan velour cardigan with a cream-colored necktie to make it classy.
And just when you thought Leno couldn’t descend into wardrobe madness any further, there’s that period in the mid-1980s when he unironically rocked an Elvis-style pompadour and sideburns.
Is this rundown of Leno’s sartorial insanity a little unfair? After all, it was the 1980s, an era in which a lot of American men rolled up the sleeves of their Wham!-tinted jackets. All we know is David Letterman got through the entire decade looking like your dad’s tax guy.