Sometimes it can be difficult to establish the time era of a story. This might not be the case when you can refer to a Model-T or a hippie chick, but sometimes like the 80’s it might be a bit difficult.
Sure, you might be able to slip in the year or even tag it with an italicized June 17, 1984. Mentioning a song on the radio or a shaker sweater might work, but that would require the reader to recognize the song (and hope they don’t think the character is listening to an “oldies” station) or know when shaker sweaters were popular (and not think the character was having a passé fashion moment.)
There are certain historical events that characterize human history, but if you don’t need to mention the current President is Taylor then why force it into the story?
Fads, however, can help establish the timeline in a very subtle way. I stumbled across a website that talks about some of the major fads during the past decades in the USA. Even if you don’t like this as a writing tool, it’s still interesting.