Magazine Madness and/or Mania: Seventeen, September 1988

New Year, new features! The first Friday of the month will now be devoted to taking a look at vintage teen magazine and related ephemera. And we’ll start off with A Very Special, election-themed issue of Seventeen: 


That is a bold sartorial choice on the cover, layering a bold dotted dress with a bold floral bolero… wait a minute. I just spotted the dots on the cuffs. THAT IS AN ACTUAL OUTFIT YOU COULD ACTUALLY BUY! For the low, low price of $230. Ugh. Let’s go to the headlines:

Seventeen Headline #1

This article on voting issues is laid out in extremely loud graphics that make it almost impossible to read (and sadly are impossible to reproduce here).  So, let’s just leave it with this quote from Run of Run-DMC:

You can’t just sit around and think one vote isn’t gonna help. If kids don’t vote, maybe the candidate that should be elected doesn’t get elected. Then kids don’t get the jobs they need because they didn’t understand who was for them.

Headline 2

If there is one thing the late 1980s is known for, it is subtle and understated hairstyles and makeup…

Seventeen makeup

Seventeen ad

Seventeen ad

Seventeen ad

Ah, for the days of wrapping your hair around a curling iron and then spraying it with AquaNet until it sizzled.

What, you say that regular crimping doesn’t make your hair look enough like a brick of Ramen Noodles? No worries, Vidal Sassoon has got you covered!

Seventeen ad

Speaking of hair…

Redmond ad

Junior Redmond seems less-than-enthused about going into the family business. Maybe he and Run should talk about getting the politicians to make teens some more damn jobs.

Well, that’s all fun, but how serious can teen fashion really be? This is totally not a matter of life and death, right? Well, unless we’re talking about a sub-Calvin brand of that 80s staple, Designer Jeans. Then it totally is!

Pepe ad

Nuclear obliteration is, like, totally grody to the max!

And of course, Benetton is always on hand to sell the idea that dressing as colorblind hobo puffer-fish will lead to world peace. Or Something.

Benetton ad 1

I’d like to teach the world to clash/ In perfect har-mon-ny…

Although I’m kind of sad that I can no longer accessorize with huge paisley oven mitts.

Benetton 2

A surprising amount of Formal Wear is featured for an issue coming so far from Prom-time. But, if you need a large plaid/metallic/sequinned/lacy/be-feathered gown for your Sadie Hawkins Day Dance, The Lorelei Collection will meet your needs. All of them. At once.


Lorelei 2

Celebrity sighting! Debbie Gibson and her Television Of The Future:

Debbie Gibson

What else are we worried about? Tampons.


The fact that this ad looks like the opening scene of a slasher movie is not making me feel reassured about giving my business to Tampax.

The best part of Seventeen from the mid-1980s until the early 1990s was Mimi Pond’s comic strip, featuring adventures of punky Erika and her Valley Girl pal, Monica (they would later be joined by tiny Goth Anthea):


25 years later, My sister and I still reference this strip: threatening to “get a skull tattoo on my face” is still our go-to act of rebellion.

This entry was posted in Magazines and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Magazine Madness and/or Mania: Seventeen, September 1988

  1. Anonymous says:

    Dude, Homecoming is in October!

  2. Pingback: Magazine Madness and/or Mania: selections from the Sears Wish Book for the 1980 Holiday Season | Lost Classics of Teen Lit, 1939-1989

  3. 80's Girl says:

    Great blog entry! The Tampax ad had me rolling! With ads like that, no wonder I was always so embarrassed about being a teen girl. I pinned this on Pinterest with a link to your blog. 🙂

  4. grace says:

    1. Losing my virginity to a tampon has always been my biggest fear.

    2. They make it seem like “virginity” is more a matter of opinion than anything else:
    “So I asked my friend, and she said SHE’S been having sex with her boyfriend for years, and she’s still a virgin.”

    3. Putting a guy in the ad makes it seem that the concern over virginity is less for your own personal reasons and more because when you finally DO decide to give it up to the Sperry-clad, mullet-sportin’ dude, you’ll want him to KNOW he’s taking your cherry, FOR REAL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s