Eighties Revivals: The Return of The Shell Suit

Posted: 09/01/2019 @ 10:47AM

Photo: Ellesse

Descendant of the tracksuit and undoubtedly an integral part of 80s casuals fashion, the Shell Suit was as divisive as it was popular. Outlandish, loud and in your face, it was the first example of sportswear to truly cross over into streetwear and be embraced by the masses for everyday leisure wear. Today, the Shell Suit is distinct and unmistakeable and its revival as a trend for 2019 is one nobody expected.

What is a shell suit?

For some it was a fashion nightmare from the late 80s and early 90s, but for as many Shell Suit haters there were, there were just as many Shell Suit lovers, and it was undoubtedly an 80s fashion icon. Its roots are found in 70s and 80s Ski Wear, with brands like Ellesse and Fila at the forefront of the trend. A Shell Suit is a lightweight tracksuit that consists of a zip-front track jacket and matching elasticated jogging trousers. On paper, the Shell Suit sounds like just another 80s tracksuit. Both ran with a baggy fit and cuffed legs and sleeves, however, that is where their similarities end. The design typically features colour in abundance, along with contrast panelling and fluorescent strips and panels. If this was a family, the Shell Suit is the untameable child of its conservative tracksuit predecessor.

More is always more where the Shell Suit is concerned. This isn’t limited to the colour or aesthetic. Fashioned from a cotton lining covered with water resistant nylon or polyester, the Shell Suit doesn’t just provide protection from the elements; the synthetic make-up also results in a steady swishy-swishy sound emitting from the wearer. As the go-to in casualwear for 80s offspring, we suspect this was an unexpected benefit for parents – acting as the human equivalent of a cat bell, letting them the kids were home from school.

The 80s’ comeback nobody expected

Appearing on festival goers and on 2018 catwalk shows, the iconic look is getting some serious love amongst influencers, former children of the 80s and the fashion savvy. Even high-fashion names like Gucci, Chloe and Burberry and retro sporting brands like Ellesse and Fila have taken note.

Going back to their roots, Italian sportswear brands like Ellesse and Fila Vintage have revisited their archives and returned with shell jackets in a plethora of styles and colourways that we love! They’ve captured the era perfectly, whilst keeping their shell jackets stylish, understated and best of all, easy to wear. Stylish and shell jackets in one sentence? Yes, really. To make your search and persuasion easy, we’ve picked our favourites available at Atom Retro.

Keep an open mind – we’re sure you’ll love them, too!

The Ellesse Shell Suit: 

Ellesse Retro 80s Shell Suit Track Suit Ellesse Gerano Shell Suit Jacket Ellesse Avico Shell Suit Track Pants
Ellesse Retro 80s Shell Suit Ellesse Gerano Shell Suit Jacket Ellesse Avico Shell Suit Pants

Ellesse Gerano Retro 80s Shell Suit Jacket

A reproduction from Ellesse’s 1980s archives, this retro Ellesse Gerano Shell Suit jacket is ideal for transitional weather and festival season. From the V-shape contrast panel and nylon outer to the dual logo detail and branded taping on the sleeves, this Ellesse Shell Suit jacket is pure 80s sportswear. The tri-colour design of this windbreaker makes this a stand-out piece and the hidden zip-away hood ensures it’s practical to boot! To keep the look authentic and relaxed, be sure to size up. Finish things off by teaming it with white high-tops and a light-coloured turtleneck or retro tee.

Ellesse Avico Retro 80s Shell Suit Track Pants

For the Shell Suit purists – that’s got to be a thing, right? – wear the Ellesse Gerano Shell Suit jackets with a pair of Ellesse Avico Shell Suit track pants for a truly authentic 80s’ silhouette. At the height of their popularity, Shell Suits were mixed and matched with clashing colours and abstract, contrast panels. Remember the Shell Suit golden rule? More is more and these Ellesse Avico Shell Suit track pants are just the ticket.

Featuring woven brand taping down the length of the legs and the unmistakable ‘half- ball’ Ellesse logo embroidered on the upper left leg, these shell suit track pants are loaded with a sizeable dose of retro. To guarantee comfort no matter what you’re doing, the legs are cuffed, the waist is elasticated and the nylon fabric is lightweight and breathable. Winner!

Ellesse Bracciali Retro 1980s Funnel Neck Jacket

Ellesse Bracciali Retro 80s Track Jacket

With its zip-through funnel neck, iconic dual branding and 100% polyamide shell, the Ellesse Bracciali style is the perfect example of a shell jacket done right. The eye- catching sleeve stripe panels are a subtle nod to the brand’s tennis heritage and they are all that’s needed to elevate this 80s’ casual from basic essential to spring wardrobe must-have. As summer approaches, add a retro Britpop edge to your look and keep the Ellesse Bracciali jacket close to hand in a red Gola Redford shoulder bag.

Fila Vintage Tate Retro 80s Hooded Shell Jacket

Fila Vintage Tate Shell Jacket in Green/Navy Fila Vintage Tate Shell Jacket in Navy/Red
Fila Vintage Tate Shell Jacket in Green/Navy Fila Vintage Tate Shell Jacket in Navy/Red

Inherently 80s, colour blocking is a bold trend that never goes out of style and these Fila Vintage Tate hooded shell jackets are no exception. Available at Atom Retro, the Atlantic Deep Green and Peacoat Navy colourways are classic Fila Vintage with a strong retro aesthetic. The tri- colour design and panel construction add a cool terrace feel, whilst keeping things bold yet simple. The iconic box logo on the zipper and chest are unmissable, as is the practical addition of a hood; providing coverage in changeable weather.

Shop More 80s casuals at Atom Retro

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