The Technicolor Insanity of Jay Leno’s 1980s Fits

The cops on ‘Miami Vice’ were just copying Leno
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. 

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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.

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