STYLE

It’s Okay to Embrace Shoulder Pads… Even If You Grew Up in the 80’s!

The newest t-shirt trend on the block?? Shoulder pads…yep, you read that right! Shoulder pad tops and tees are back and better than ever! If you grew up in the ’80s like me, you will likely have one of two reactions: 1) the trend makes you cringe or 2) It makes you giddy. Which is your reaction? If you are on the cringe side, hear me out for a minute. The shoulder pads we wore in the 80’s were REALLY large; almost like wearing football pads. Today’s shoulder pads, on the other hand, are much more understated and subtle. Still not convinced?? Keep scrolling to see how I styled two chic tops with shoulder pads. P.S. it’s okay to change your mind.

t-shirt trend, padded shoulder top, express padded shoulder blouse, erin busbee, black slouchy booties, high rise jeans, express denim

t-shirt trend, padded shoulder top, express padded shoulder blouse, erin busbee, black slouchy booties, high rise jeans, express denim

TOP | JEANS | BOOTIES

Look #1 | Long Sleeve Padded Shoulder Top

The safest shoulder pad route for those of us over 40… wear subtle padded shoulders with long sleeves in a dark color. Exactly like this gorgeous top above! I love how this top has gorgeous draping to add interest and also conceal a tummy. The shoulder pads make you look a bit wider across the top so they have the added benefit of making your tummy look smaller in contrast. This is a great style technique to create more of a defined waist especially if you have a rectangle body shape (like me)!

If you still don’t know what your body shape is, make sure you check out this post.

t-shirt trend, padded shoulder top, express padded shoulder blouse, erin busbee, black slouchy booties, high rise jeans, express denim t-shirt trend, padded shoulder top, express padded shoulder blouse, erin busbee, black slouchy booties from Express, high rise jeans, express denim

With Jeans & Booties

I paired the top with some skinny jeans and black booties for an elevated casual look. These jeans are super high-waisted, stretchy, and very comfortable. They come in Short, Petite, Regular, and Long…I’m 5’4” and wearing a 2 Regular. Look at the inseam length before ordering. Express’ petite lengths are shorter than most.

These slouchy booties have a 3 3/4″ heel but are surprisingly comfortable and easy to walk in (for heels). The pointed toe is elongating and the slouchy design gives them an effortless look! They run TTS and only come in whole sizes. If you’re between sizes, size up. I’m usually a 7.5 and got the 8!

t-shirt trend, padded shoulder top, express padded shoulder bodysuit, erin busbee, black slouchy booties, high rise jeans, express denim

t-shirt trend, padded shoulder tee, padded shoulder bodysuit, padded shoulder trend, black wide leg pants, pre-layered necklace, express t-shirt trend, padded shoulder tee, padded shoulder bodysuit, padded shoulder trend, black wide leg pants, pre-layered necklace, express

TOP | JEANS | BOOTIES | NECKLACE

Look #2 | Padded Shoulder Bodysuit & Jeans

The hottest shoulder pad trend at the moment (and heading into spring) is more along these lines above… a shoulder pad cap sleeve tee. I’m wearing the same jeans and booties. This shoulder pad tee is actually a bodysuit so it stays streamlined and beautifully tucked with jeans. You don’t have the hassle of pulling down your shirt to keep it tucked in and it doesn’t add any bulk to your lower tummy from excess material. You can pair a tee or bodysuit like this with jeans, pants, dress pants, skirts and shorts. It’s REALLY versatile. Maybe this will inspire us to finish those push-ups? 😉 This runs true to size. I’m wearing a small.

By the way…Express has some of the BEST pre-layered necklaces and this layered chain pendant necklace is my new favorite!

t-shirt trend, padded shoulder tee, padded shoulder bodysuit, padded shoulder trend, black wide leg pants, pre-layered necklace, express

t-shirt trend, padded shoulder tee, padded shoulder bodysuit, padded shoulder trend, black wide leg pants, pre-layered necklace, express

t-shirt trend, padded shoulder tee, padded shoulder bodysuit, padded shoulder trend, black wide leg pants, pre-layered necklace, express

TOP | PANTS | BOOTIES | NECKLACE

Look #3 | Bodysuit & Wide-Leg Pants

Next, I paired the same bodysuit with black wide-leg pants. If you’re still going into the office, these pants are a must-have! The wide-leg silhouette and pleating on the front are really flattering. And I love the luxe look of the gold button on the hips. They come in Regular (33” inseam), Short (30” inseam), and Long (35” inseam). Even if you aren’t a fan of the padded shoulder trend, you can pair any of your other favorite blouses with these pants!

BTW, I wore these pants in my house for about 30 minutes during this shoot and got Traveler hair all over them!! Reason #1567 why I have a zillion lint brushes!

t-shirt trend, padded shoulder tee, padded shoulder bodysuit, padded shoulder trend, black wide leg pants, pre-layered necklace, express

More From Express

One of my favorite things about Express is that they offer trends AND classic pieces. The gorgeous, classic trousers in look #3 are a perfect example. I also love that you can find modern pieces at affordable prices. More from Express below:

The Best Loungewear For Hanging Out At Home
Jogger Jeans for Women? Yes, It’s a Thing!
Favorite Express Sweaters

Okay, now spill it… what do YOU think of the shoulder pad trend resurgence???? Love it or hate it?? Excited to hear your thoughts!

Huge thank you to Express for sponsoring this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. To get my blog posts delivered directly to your inbox, along with some awesome freebies, be sure to sign up for my newsletter here.

Erin Busbee signature

How To Manifest Anything, Fashion blogger Erin Busbee of Busbee Style wearing an orange and blue Staud Ina dress with white sunglasses walking around in Telluride, Colorado
Erin Busbee
After a decade in TV news, a desire to help women "look pretty" sparked a career pivot. I started my own wardrobe consulting business, styling "real" women for many years. In 2014, I changed direction again, using my TV background and styling expertise to launch this website and my YouTube channel. We are now a community of nearly 700,000 dynamic, vibrant, amazing women over 40... who know that age isn't something you need to hide from. For us, life is just getting started!!
Join the Conversation

11 thoughts on “It’s Okay to Embrace Shoulder Pads… Even If You Grew Up in the 80’s!

  1. Thank you for all your style tips and For your very positive classy personality. I wish you luck with your lovely website!
    “DONE”
    Penny

  2. I like the look of this Tee with the structured shoulders but not so sure on the bodysuit part of it. There’s the Restroom hassle thing I can’t get past. 🙂

  3. Hi Erin!! Is this tee a trend or an “elevated” basic?
    Ive seen heaps of “elevated basics” in your summer basic series. Not sure of the difference between A “trend” & “basic”. Thank so much,
    Jo xxxx

    1. GREAT question. It’s both, but probably more on the “trend” side. I think a tee with a strategic cutout or subtle puff shoulder would be a wiser investment in terms of versatility. Erin xo

  4. I love EVERYTHING you were wearing Erin. When i lived in the midwest i had a camel Coat. So cozy and luxurious! Its not practical in southern California. Id never get to wear it! You do such a good job with styling your clothes. I cant remember not liking anything you do! Keep up the great work and being such a fashion example!
    Nancy Moss
    LagUna Niguel, Ca

  5. Nay. MusCle Tees look terrible on short rectanGular bodIes, especIally if your shoulders are alReady bROAd, my FAVOURITE shape is 3/4 lenGTh crew or tURtlenecK or any Sleeveless or cap sleeve high neck because they miniMise my skinny shouLders, shoRten my long arms and torso and balancE a tHin upper body with a sliGHtLy rounder bottom halF. MusCle tees look great on thoSe who are tall aNd bigger on toP.

    1. Yes, agreed… not ideal for those with broad shoulders. I’m a rectangle with narrow shoulders so it really works on me to make my waist look smaller.

  6. Yay! I was exc for the padded shoulder to come back it looks so Chic and add under a card and instant strUcture Perf for pear shapes

Explore More

Posts You'll Love
Menopause

These Women are Proof You Can Conquer Anything Over 40!

These 10 successful women over 40 are proof you can conquer anything over 40!
Read Post
LIFESTYLE

7 Tips for Talking About Sex with Your Know-It-All Teen

It’s ok to acknowledge that it’s awkward to talk about sex. But don’t be discouraged!…
Read Post
Shop
Linen Blackout Curtain
Shop
Decor

How To Update Your Home By Avoiding These 3 Décor Mistakes!

Don't make these design mistakes! Sharing some of the worst design dilemmas and the best…
Read + Shop
Shop
BEAUTY

The Perfect Makeup Steps for Photo Shoots, Videos and Zoom Calls

Don't fade into the background! Use these key makeup steps for looking your best in…
Read + Shop