The Craziest Shell Suits For A Fancy Dress Party

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Donning a shell suit for a fancy-dress party? Here are some key looks we reckon you’ll love.
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'80s fancy dress may be back in vogue, but the shell suit has been surprisingly slow to make a fashion comeback.

Even so, we reckon this much-maligned 80s favourite deserves to win cult status. After all, shell suits are affordable and practical, plus they’re guaranteed to get you noticed in a crowd.
 
The shell suit is coming up for its 30th birthday. It first made an appearance back in the early 1980s, when people first started wearing sportswear as casualwear. The main difference between the shell suit and other tracksuits was that it was made purely from synthetic fibres, and came in a big spread of colours – the louder the better.
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Their comfort and practicality meant that shell suits were a big hit with sportsmen like Kris Akabusi, but it wasn’t long before they hit the street - there were mens' shell suits and ladies' shell suits everywhere.

Breakdancers loved them as they were so easy to dance in. And it wasn’t just young people who embraced the trend – older people liked the fact that they were so comfy and easy to wear.
 
More recently the shell suit has suffered downmarket connotations, especially on TV – characters like Vicky Pollard, Ali G and Harry Enfield’s Scousers are all notableshell-suit wearers. And the shell suit beat the poncho, clogs and Ugg boots to take the prize of the biggest fashion crime ever, according to style website the Fashion Police. All the more reason to wear one to a fancy dress party, we say.
 
But which shell suit to choose? There are a few different types, and it pays to know which look you’re going for. Here’s our guide to the options:.
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80s shell suit

The 80s shell suit is the classic and the one people immediately think of. Back then the label to have was Sergio Tacchini, an Italian sportswear brand.

Original Tacchini shell suits are among the best quality you’ll find, and they’re not hard to come by online.
 
And there are signs the shell-suit jacket is winning favour with hipsters young enough not to have worn them first time round. If it’s fashion kudos you’re after, the rule is to wear the jacket only, with a pair of jeans. The shell suit jacket-and-trousers combo is to be strictly avoided – unless you’re going to a costume party, that is.
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Abba shell suit

In the '70s Abba were best known for their flared trouser suits, which, like shell suits, came in bright colours and less-than-natural fabrics. These are great fun to wear now, because they’re such a world away from most people’s everyday clothing.
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Scouser shell suit

Remember Harry Enfield’s Scousers, with their bubble perms and bushy ‘taches? Of course you do. Everybody does, which is why a Scouser shell suit makes such a great fancy-dress costume. They’re cheap and easy to come by online, and most sellers will throw in a wig and ‘tache with your suit.
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Football shell suit

It’s worth remembering that the shell suit’s practicality was one of the main reasons it became so popular in the first place. It’s ideal for a knockabout in the park, or to wear to a football match. So why not opt for something designed specifically for football, like this red England Umbro top? That way you’ll get to wear it after the party, too…
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