MEGA Holiday Gift Guide To 80s Disco Neon

Angelo de Cartagena
Digital Content Editor

From playful slime-like typography to aggressive blocks of highlighted must-remember words, the fluorescent, day-glo appeal of neon does a full Running Man from our youth to the modern times in fun, funky, and fancy iterations that bring a necessary cheer to the holidays.

Related: MEGA Holiday Gift Guide To Heritage Houndstooth

It may seem mundane, but during the formative years in the academic context, the highlighter held so much aspirational appeal to it. Sure, in all its day-glo brightness, it was a visual spike in the charts of everything pristine, precise, and particular as stated in the institution handbook, but it also was a signifier that you’ve leveled up, trading in your crayons for this chromatic update to color in your notebooks and textbooks. Whether it was playful slime-like typography or aggressive blocks of highlighted must-remember words, the neon Stabilo (or any personal equivalent) fast became a requisite, a necessity that accompanied us well until we ceremoniously tipped our hats and transferred the tassels to the opposite side.

Come to think of it, the signs of its eventual ubiquity were all there: doodles of trees were quickly filled in with neon green; nails were painted in neon pink during the drawl of that post-lunch class, and during extreme fits of carelessness, incongruous dots would bleed through immaculate white pockets—much to the chagrin of our mothers. With years down the timeline, things aren’t as crude, but the presence is even more persistent, especially in modern fashion.

What was once polarizing in effect, suffering from the snooty and snobbish of purveyors and pundits in style, neon was shelved as dated and juvenile, lacking the seriousness that once caught fashion in a tightly wound bunch. An offshoot of the excess and glamour of the 80s, fluorescent neon was that instant more-than-just-a-spot of brightness with its often clashing and piled on realization from Jem and the Holograms and Let’s-Get-Physical aerobics. Sure, it was a bit too much, straining our eyes to exhaustion with this blinding combination of colors, but it sure was a lot of fun. Thankfully, we are catching up, again.

Living out many segments of my youth, the highlighter on the pages of my school textbooks, as well as of a lifelong fascination with the 80s (I was after all born just a year shy of the new decade), it seemed only fitting to take inspiration and run with it for this year’s MEGA Holiday Gift Guide. This meant only one thing: slipping into the slick holographic neon Nickelodeon orange suit of Bang Pineda fresh off the runway from his Liberation fashion show. A re-imagination of the shocking neon trend, this ensemble incorporated an overlay of sheen that not only tempered the burst of color, but it also lent a whimsical energy to it, much like that dreamy rainbow effect you get when oil and water mix on concrete.

It might seem like a lot at first glance, as the trend is expected to make you feel. But once you move past the obvious intimidation, there opens many possibilities of playing with your look. Whether it is going all out punk and rave with your choice of neon, fully sequined booties, and an Ice Capades-inspired glitter eye-decal, or simply easing into it with fluorescent holsters, laced-up sneakers, or even just by dipping your nails in bright pots of paint, you will certainly be turning heads and compelling passersby to a full stop to give you the once over. Don’t be unnerved, and just let them be. This is a fashion moment they wish they had the nerve to pull off.  And look at you, living the fantasy with that glint of mischief, heaping dose of cheer, and most of all, high-octane courage to throttle you well beyond just the holidays.


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Photography by Kieran Punay of Studio 100
Creative Direction Shaira Bungcag
Makeup by Karmela Jabla of MAC Cosmetics
Hair by RG Miranda
Final Artists Jemy Sta. Ana & Zoe Arriola