1970s in fashion
Costume and fashion in the 1970s
Fashion in the 1970s was about individuality. In the early 1970s, Vogue proclaimed "There are no rules in the fashion game now" due to overproduction flooding the market with cheap synthetic clothing. Common items included mini skirts, bell-bottoms popularized by hippies, vintage clothing from the 1950s and earlier, and the androgynousglam rock and disco styles that introduced platform shoes, bright colors, glitter, and satin.
New technologies brought advances in production through mass production, higher efficiency, generating higher standards and uniformity. Generally the most famous silhouette of the mid and late 1970s for both genders was that of tight on top and loose on bottom. The 1970s also saw the birth of the indifferent, anti-conformist casual chic approach to fashion, which consisted of sweaters, T-shirts, jeans and sneakers. The French designer Yves Saint Laurent and the American designer Halston both observed and embraced the changes that were happening in the society, especially the huge growth of women's rights and the youth counterculture. They successfully adapted their design aesthetics to accommodate the changes that the market was aiming for.
Top fashion models in the 1970s were Lauren Hutton, Margaux Hemingway, Beverly Johnson, Gia Carangi, Janice Dickinson, Cheryl Tiegs, Jerry Hall, and Iman.
Early 1970s (1970–73)
- The 1970s began with a continuation of the hippie look from the 1960s, giving a distinct ethnic flavor. Popular early 1970s fashions for women included Tie dye shirts, Mexican 'peasant' blouses, folk-embroidered Hungarian blouses, ponchos, capes, and military surplus clothing. Bottom attire for women during this time included bell-bottoms, gauchos, frayed jeans, midi skirts, and ankle-length maxi dresses. Hippie clothing during this time was made in extremely bright colors, as well as Indian patterns, Native American patterns, and floral patterns.
- Women's hippie accessories of the early 1970s included chokers, dog collars, handcrafted neck ornaments, and accessories made from natural elements like wood, shells, stones, feathers, Indian beads and leather. All of these replaced standard jewelry. Unisex hippie accessories included headbands, floppy hats, balumba balls, flowing scarves,Birkenstocks, and earth shoes.
- Although the hippie look was widespread, it was not adopted by everyone. Many women still continued to dress up with more glamorous clothes, inspired by 1940s movie star glamour. Other women just adopted simple casual fashions, or combined new garments with carefully chosen secondhand or vintage clothing from the 1930s, 1950s and 1960s. More simple early 1970s trends for women included fitted blazers (coming in a multitude of fabrics along with wide lapels), long and short dresses, mini skirts, maxi evening gowns, hot pants (extremely brief, tight-fitting shorts) paired with skin-tight T-shirts, his & hers outfits (matching outfits that were nearly identical to each other), and flared pants. Pastel colors were most commonly used for this style of clothing, such as mauve, peach, apple green, pink, yellow, white, wheat, camel, gray, and baby blue.Rust, tangerine, copper, forest green, and pistachio became more popularized from 1973 onwards. Sweaters were a huge phenomenon in the early 1970s, often outfits being judged entirely by the sweater. This fragmented into more styles, such as sweater coats, sweater dresses, floor-length sweaters, and even sweater suits. Many of them were trimmed with fur, especially faux. Chunky, shawl-collared, belted cardigans, often in brown and white, were also commonplace.
- Glamorous women's accessories of the early 1970s included cloche hats or turbans, pearl earrings, necklaces, bracelets, feather boas, black-veiled hats, clogs, wedgies, cork-soled platforms, and chunky high heels. Golden chains, gold-button earrings and rhinestone clips started to become popular again in 1973 after several years of homemade jewelry.
- In the early 1970s boots were at the height of their popularity, continuing onward from the mid 1960s. Women had boots for every occasion, with a wide variety of styles being sold in stores for affordable prices. Despite the wide variety, the most popular boots were Go-go boots, crinkle boots (boots with a shiny wet look that was wrinkled), stretch boots, and granny boots (1920s style lace-up boots that ended just below the knees).
Mid 1970s (1974–76)
- By 1974, the T-shirt was no longer considered underwear, and was by then made in elaborate designs such as slogans, sports teams, and other styles. Around the same time the looser, more flowy shirts of the early 1970s had given way to fitted tops.
- By the mid-1970s, the hippie look had completely disappeared, although casual looks continued. In the mid-1970s women wore sweaters, T-shirts, cardigans, kimono, graphic T-shirts and sweaters, jeans, khakis, gauchos, workmen's clothes, and vintage clothing. Around 1976, casual fashion adopted a Parisan peasant look. This included capes, turbans, puffy skirts and shirts with billowing sleeves.
- In the mid-1970s, accessories were generally not worn, adopting a minimalistic approach to fashion akin to that of the 1950s. Small leather shoulder bags were worn by women everywhere, and popular shoes included Mary Janes, knee-high boots with rounded toes, platform shoes and sandals, Birkenstocks, and loafers. Despite the lack of accessories, the mood ring was a big fad in the mid-1970s.
- Clean-cut, all-American active wear for women became increasingly popular from 1975 onwards. The biggest phenomenon of this trend was the jumpsuit, popular from 1975 onwards. Jumpsuits were almost always flared in the legs, and sleeves varied from being completely sleeveless to having extremely long bell-sleeves. Other sportswear trends included tracksuits, tunic shirts, crop tops, tube tops, sweatshirts, hip-huggers,low rise pants, and leisure suits. This continued into the 1980s.
- Accessories were less of an importance during this time, but two very desirable accessories included sneakers and tennis headbands.
- As the divorce rate rose and the marriage rate declined in the mid-70s, women were forced to work in order to support the nuclear family. The progressive addition of women to the work force altered shopping styles and fashion. Working women shopped on weekends and in the evenings. Feminized men's business suits such as tailored jackets, midi-skirts, and fitted blouses were their go-to choice as to "dress for success."
- Starting in 1975, women's semi-formal wear became more tailored and sharp. This included a lot of layering, with women wearing two blouses at once, multiple sweaters, pants underneath tunic dresses, and jumpers worn over long, fitted dresses. The 1970s also featured some of the most scandalous dresses worn publicly in American history up to that point. Other clothes worn in this style include suede coats, peacoats, blazers, cowl-neck sweaters, pencil skirts, backless dresses, extremely low-cut dresses, palazzo pants, tube dresses, evening gowns, jacket dresses, and pinstriped pantsuits. Women's dresses in the mid-1970s were dominated by pastel colors, but Asian patterns were also common.
- Accessories for the more formal styles included high-heels (both low and high, mostly thick-heeled), turbans, and leather shoulder bags. Boots continued their popularity in the mid-1970s. This trend expanded to other styles, most notably the wedge heel (arguably the most popular women's shoe of the mid-1970s). Boots became rounder, chunkier, heavier, and thicker, and were more expensive than they were in the early 1970s. Popular boots of the mid-1970s included wedge boots, ankle boots, platform boots, and cowboy boots. The A/W Haute Couture Collection "Opium Collection" by the French designer Yves Saint Laurent was inspired by the Chinese culture and history.
- The disco music genre spawned its own fashion craze in the mid- to late 1970s. Young people gathered in nightclubs dressed in new disco clothing that was designed to show off the body and shine under dance-floor lights. Disco fashion featured fancy clothes made from man-made materials. The most famous disco look for women was the jersey wrap dress, a knee-length dress with a cinched waist. It became an extremely popular item, as it flattered a number of different body types and sizes, and could be worn both to the office by day, and to nightclubs and discos by night.
- Disco fashion was generally inspired by clothing from the early 1960s. Disco clothes worn by women included tube tops, sequined halterneck shirts, blazers, spandex short shorts, loose pants, form-fitting spandex pants, maxi skirts and dresses with long thigh slits, jersey wrap dresses, ball gowns, and evening gowns. Shoes ranged from knee-high boots to kitten heels, but the most commonly worn shoes were ones that had thick heels and were often made with transparent plastic.
Late 1970s (1977–79)
- In 1977, fashion became more baggy. This caused much controversy, as women with trim figures bemoaned not being able to flaunt them while heavier women complained the looser clothes made them look even larger. To make up for this, it became fashionable to show more skin. This resulted in shirts being unbuttoned, sleeves being rolled up, and tops being strapless, transparent, and lacy. Shiny satin and gold colors were also used to make up for the lack of tighter clothing. Styles became curvier in 1978, with shoulder pads, tighter skirts, and narrower waistlines. The silhouette that resulted was an inverted triangle, it was positively received by the general public. By 1977, pants were only flared slightly and sometimes not flared at all.
- Women's fashions in the late 1970s included cowl-neck shirts and sweaters, pantsuits, leisure suits, tracksuits,sundresses worn with tight T-shirts, strapless tops, lower-cut shirts, cardigans, velour shirts, tunics, robes, crop tops, tube tops, embroidered vests and jeans, knee-length skirts, loose satin pants, designer jeans, culottes, daisy dukes, and tennis shorts. This continued into the 1980s.
- Accessories included scarves, gold jewelry, flowers, ankle boots, 1940s style hats (often tilted), skinny and wide belts, boas, braceleted gloves, spike-heeled sandals, mules, ankle-strapped shoes, waist cinchers, and obi wraps. Color had almost completely faded from fashion in the late 1970s, with earthy tones like browns, light blues, tans, grays, whites, and blacks making a comeback.
- The frenzy for boots had cooled down by the late 1970s, but they remained popular, especially in the winter. They became less flamboyant by that point in time, and they mostly came in black, brown, or burgundy. The most popular boots were either knee-high or reached the mid-calf, and were made in leather, suede, urethane, or rubber. The toes were rounded, and zippers were on the side. The heels were usually only 2–4 inches, and the heels were sometimes even flat. Women continued to wear wedge heels and ankle boots, as well as knee-high boots with thick kitten heels.
- In Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, many liberal women wore short skirts, flower printed hippie dresses, flared trousers, and went out in public without the hijab. This changed following the military dictatorship in Pakistan, the mujahideen government in Afghanistan, and Iranian revolution of 1979, when traditional conservative attire including the abaya, jilbab and niqab made a comeback.
- In 1977, American actress Farrah Fawcett popularized the one-piece swimsuit which in turn launched the trend for the maillot. This was, when it resurged in the 1970s, a sexy, tight swimsuit, with deep neckline and high-cut legs, worn by young women and girls in lieu of the bikini, although it did not entirely replace the latter. This continued into the 1980s.
- By the late 1970s the pantsuit had become acceptable business wear for executive women. This was due to the success of Yves Saint Laurent's "Le smoking" tuxedo with silk lapels designed to allow any ash falling from cigarettes to slide off, keeping the jacket clean.Business Insider pointed out that wearing the pantsuit was more of a political statement than a fashion one. "So, dressing in a YSL trouser suit declared the wearer was irreverent, daring, and on the cutting edge of fashion, whilst suggesting their alignment with burgeoning feminist politics – le smoking effectively demanded: 'If men can wear this, why can't I?'" With the increase of women entering the workface, they were in search for a new symbol that proved they were as serious and powerful as the men they shared elevators with. The only solution to convince male-dominated workspaces was to copy their tailored suits. The jacket could be either short and shapely or long and lean.
- Movies like Annie Hall fought gender ideals by portraying a woman who wore men's clothing on the daily basis. This movie took a big inspiration from the decade and because of its success, continues to influence fashion. Skirts, when worn, were often knee-length and could possibly have a front or side slit that put a subtle emphasis on the legs. To offset the more traditionally masculine look of "business suit style", women like Margot Kidder in Superman experimented with hats, high heels, ruffles that peaked out from the jacket and large jewelry to keep a confident, yet feminine, look intact.
Early 1970s (1970–73)
- With well-paid jobs and booming businesses, young men in the UK and America explored beyond the conventional social standards of dress. In the early 1970s, satin shirts in black, and grey were popular, and often featured lace ruffles on the cuffs and neckline. Due to the colorful nature of menswear, the time period was described as the Peacock Revolution, and male trendsetters were called "Dandies", "Dudes" or "Peacocks". Typical casual wear for this time included Nehru jackets, ethnic inspired tunics, turtlenecks, candy stripedblazers,winklepicker boots with Cuban heels, and hip-hugging elephant bell-bottoms. Accessories like color-matching nylon zippers and bright braided belts were common and also fitted in with the Peacock style. Suits were available in bright colors and unorthodox styles from 1970–76, including shawl collars, three pieces with peak lapels, and double breasted suits made from corduroy, paisleybrocade, wool blends with wide pinstripes, or crushed velvet in burgundy, teal, black, bottle green, and peacockblue. A rise of 4.4 percent in suit sales was reported by Forbes Magazine. Stylish continental suits by designers Lanvin, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Cardin were welcomed by young men while classic suits were loved by first-timers.
- For the first time in decades, there was a significant shortage of raw materials and fabrics, including synthetics like vinyl and nylon. As a result, everyday designers kept things simple. The early 1970s were a continuation of late 1960s hippie fashion. For men this particularly meant bell bottom jeans, tie dye shirts, and military surplus clothing. Other early 1970s clothes for men included tweed sports jackets, khaki chinos, chunky sweaters in cream, dark green, beige and sky blue, storm coats, tartan jackets, peacoats, flannel shirts, pleated pants, baseball jackets, corduroy pants, crocheted waistcoats, striped pullover sweaters and sweater vests, tassels, belted cardigans, and hip-huggers.
- The most popular accessories of the early 1970s for men were homemade, with necklaces, headbands, and bracelets being made from all-natural materials such as wood, hemp, flowers, leather, shells, stones, and Indian beads. Unisex hippie accessories included headbands, floppy hats, and flowing scarves. Men's footwear in the early 1970s included flip-flops, oxfords, Birkenstocks, platform shoes, earth shoes, and cowboy boots.
- Due to the ongoing Cultural Revolution in Mainland China, Western style clothing was suppressed and both sexes wore grey Mao suits until the early 1980s. The suit, unchanged since the 1940s, typically had four external pockets, five buttons, and a turn-down collar. In contrast to the Chinese mainland, many people in Taiwan and Hong Kong abandoned the Zhongshan suit during the early 1970s due to its association with Communism, leftists, and anti-Westerners.
- In the UK, France, India and Australia, green, blue or beige safari jackets similar to the Mao suit became popular among liberal men due to their association with socialist values, travel to exotic locations, 1930s Hollywood, and Roger Moore's portrayal of James Bond and Simon Templar. These were also worn in place of the business suit in decolonised African countries, including South Africa, Rhodesia, and Mobutu's Zaire where it was known as an Abacost and paired with a leopardskin fez resembling an Astrakhan cap.
Mid 1970s (1974–76)
- By 1974, androgynous glam rock fashion had gone mainstream for young British people of both sexes. These included embroidered Western shirts, velvet sports coats, Royal Stewart tartan as worn by the Bay City Rollers, red or blue shawl collartuxedo jackets, frilly shirts, high necked nehru jackets, synthetic fabrics like satin, wide kipper ties, black or tan leather jackets, silk scarfs or ascots, shawl collar sweaters, satin shirts with oversized collars, drainpipe trousers as worn by Mud, and platform shoes of the type favored by Slade, Kiss, Alvin Stardust, David Bowie, and Sweet. Unisex men's and women's outfits with few differences often came together in matching sets, and popular colors included cream, burgundy, brown, and orange.
- Fashion in the mid-1970s was generally informal and laid back for men in America. Most men simply wore jeans, sweaters, and T-shirts, which by then were being made with more elaborate designs. Men continued to wear flannel, and the leisure suit became increasingly popular from 1975 onwards, often worn with gold medallions and oxford shoes. Vintage clothing, khaki chinos, workmen's clothes, sweatshirts, leather coats, and all-denim outfits were also desired among young men. Other trends include printed shirts, zip-up cardigans, western shirts marketed to capitalise on the nostalgia for 1950s fashion, Birkenstocks,mood rings, and raincoats.
- Around 1975, American suits started to resemble the slimmer European suit. This new model, named the quasi-European suit, featured padded shoulders, higher arm holes, a smaller waist, open patch pockets, and a small flare to the pants and jacket. In 1976, it became fashionable for men to wear velvet tuxedo jackets with more casual pants to formal events, and vests came back into vogue. It was this year that men's pants started to feature smaller flares or no flares at all. This continued into the 1980s.
- In Brezhnev's Russia, used Western clothing, especially sheepskin coats and flared trousers, became readily available due to the détente. Previously, jeans had to be imported on the black market.Politburo members continued to wear the black, grey or brown suits and fur lined overcoats of the 1960s, with grey Astrakhan caps.
Late 1970s (1977–79)
- By the late 1970s, most men and women were wearing sports clothing as everyday apparel. This was primarily based on tracksuits, jumpsuits, velour or terry cloth shirts (often striped and low-cut), sweaters, cardigans, sweatshirts, puffer vests,flare jeans, straight-leg jeans, and collared shirts, both long sleeve and short sleeve. Around this time it also became fashionable for men to leave their shirts untucked. This continued into the 1980s. During the late '70s, long and popped collars became a staple part of men's fashion.
- Late 1970s accessories included low-top sneakers, tennis headbands, puka shell necklaces, and wristbands.
- From 1977–79, menswear became affected by the disco style. Men began to wear three-piece suits (which became available in a variety of colours including powder blue, beige, white as worn by John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, brown polyester, and shiny silver sharkskin) which were characterized by wide lapels, wide-legged or flared trousers, and high-rise waistcoats (US vests). Influenced by the popularity of aviator sunglasses in disco, many wore glasses in the shape of aviators but with clear prescription lenses. Neckties became wider and bolder, and shirt collars became long and pointed.
- During the early 1970s, the Northern soul and suedehead subcultures emerged in response to the psychedelic rock, Bohemian and hippie influences on the mainstream peacock mod subculture. Seeking a return to the music and fashions of the mid and late 1960s, members of these British subcultures wore Ben Sherman shirts, slim fit pants, tank top sweaters, vintage striped boating blazers, basket weave brogue shoes, black leather driving gloves, pork pie hats, Irish walking hats, and loose fitting Oxford bags for dancing. Secondhand mod clothing was also worn by many early garage punk and protopunk bands from the mid-1970s onwards, especially the Flamin Groovies and Television due to its cheapness and wide availability. The release of the cult film Quadrophenia in 1978 sparked a large scale Mod revival among a younger generation of Lambretta and Vespascooter enthusiasts influenced by punk rock and new wave music.
- One of the most ubiquitous subcultures of the early and mid 1970s were the hippies. Typically middle class youths from Britain, America and New Zealand, these practitioners of free love favored a unisex look with long hair, tie dye and flower power motifs, Bob Dylan caps, kurtas, hemp waistcoats, baja jackets, bell bottoms, sandals, and maxi skirts for the girls. Due to the United States' active involvement in the Vietnam War from 1954 to 1975, American teenagers wanted to make an antiwar counterculture statement through the way they dressed. Old military uniforms and washed off navy bell-bottoms were commonly purchased from secondhand stores, and then embellished with floral embroideries and brightly colored peace symbol patches at home. In reaction to the conservative ivy league fashions favored by their parents, American hippies of both sexes rejected designer brands in favor of a unisex style, often making use of corduroy, hemp, and vintage clothing from charity shops. Although glam rock had largely supplanted the hippie movement in urban areas during the mid to late 70s, offshoots such as the New Age travellers, Freak scene, Nambassahousetruckers and surfers continued until the 1990s.
- During the early and mid 1970s members of the hard rock and heavy metal subculture favored typical hippie fashions like earth tones, tie dye T-shirts, and flared trousers of the type worn on stage by Jethro Tull or Led Zeppelin. This changed later in the decade, when many fans of Judas Priest, AC/DC and Meat Loaf began imitating the clothing of greasers, outlaw bikers, punk rockers and leathermen due to the association of such fashions with toughness. Typical heavy metal fashions in the UK, US and Australia included faded jeans, leather battle jackets, combat boots, studded belts, black leather jackets like the Schott Perfecto, and iron crosses frequently pilfered from their father's war souvenirs. Beards, moustaches and shoulder length hair were popular among men, while female metal fans sometimes imitated the brightly dyed, teased and backcombed punk hair of the late 1970s.
- Urban African American youths frequently imitated the paramilitary uniforms of the Fruit of Islam, anti-colonialist African insurgents, and early 1970s black power groups like the Black Panthers. The Panthers' French counterparts called themselves the Del Vikings and Black Dragons, listened to rockabilly and punk rock, and fought against neonaziskinheads during the late 70s and early 80s.
- Typical clothing included black leather jackets, vests, black driving gloves, leather peaked caps embellished with chains and metal studs, African folk costume like the fez or dashiki, traditional African colors like black, red, yellow or green, Ancient Egyptian jewelry such as the Ankh, gold chains, and railroad stripe pants for women. Due to the poverty in the ghetto, black children often wore secondhand clothing that was too big or too small, inspiring the baggy pants worn as hip-hop fashion during the 1980s and 1990s. In the UK, US and Jamaica Afro hair and dreadlocks became popular from 1972–1976 among Motown, soul music and reggae fans of both sexes, as a rejection of the straightened hairstyles associated with white culture.
- Following the recession of 1973, the zoot suitedpachuco look declined due to its association with comedic Blaxploitation pimps. Instead, working class Mexican youths began dressing in a more casual style inspired by the clothing of prison gangs, left wing counterculture groups like the Brown berets, the antiwar movement, and the 1960s greaser subculture. White T-shirts, winklepickers, double denim "Texan tuxedos," ringer Tees, plaid shirts, Aviators, black wool tuques, brown berets, green military surplus field jackets, sheepskin coats, Castro hats, untucked white shirts, and khakiDickies pants were commonly worn by these cholos and chicanos, together with slicked-back pompadour hairstyles and large sideburns.
- Punk rock was a musical genre that greatly influenced fashions for both sexes in the late 1970s. A great deal of punk fashion from the 1970s was based on the designs of Vivienne Westwood and her partner Malcolm McLaren, McLaren opened a stall at the back of vintage American clothing store, which taken over 430 King's Road and called it 'Let it Rock'. By 1974, 430 had renamed the store, which became famous as 'SEX'. McLaren described SEX as 'a haven phenomenon known as punk rock.' Punk emerged in London, and spread into the United States. A complex amalgam of various stylistic influences, Punk had its roots in the streets of London and the music scene of New York. Street punk fashion generally consisted of ripped clothes, black turtlenecks, drainpipe jeans, tight leather pants, leather jackets (often embellished with chains, spikes, studs, and paint), jackets and shirts with taboo images or messages, dog collars, safety pins, kilts, and Doc Martens. A tamer, less threatening version of the Punk style called "New Wave", which featured jagged hems on clothing and more elaborate embroidery went mainstream in the early 1980s.
1970s beauty trends
Throughout much of the decade, women and teenage girls wore their hair long, with a centre or side parting, which was a style carried over from the late 1960s. Other hairstyles of the early to mid-1970s included the wavy "gypsy" cut, the layered shag, and the "flicked" style, popularly referred to as "wings", in which the hair was flicked into resembling small wings at the temples. This look was popularised by the stars of the television series Charlie's Angels. Blonde-streaked or "frosted" hair was also popular. In 1977, punk singer Debbie Harry of Blondie sparked a new trend with her shoulder-length, dyed platinum blonde hair worn with a long fringe (bangs).
In the 1970s, making one of the popular hairstyles for a woman didn't take a lot of time. These hairstyles, including Afro hairstyle, Shaggy Hairdo and Feathered hair (then known as "Farrah Fawcett hairstyle") were said to be perfect when you're on-the-go and would still keep your expressive style in-check. For black people in the United States and elsewhere, the afro was worn by both sexes throughout the decade. It was occasionally sported by Whites, especially Jewish Americans as an alternative to the uniform long, straight hair which was a fashion mainstay until the arrival of punk and the "disco look" when hair became shorter and centre partings were no longer the mode.
The most iconic women's hairstyle of the 1970s is arguably the Farrah Fawcett hairstyle. Popularized in 1976, the hairstyle was heavily imitated by many American women and girls. It incorporated waves, curls, and layers. The style mostly worn with bangs, but could also be worn with a side part. To make it even more stylish, women and girls would frost their hair with blonde streaks.
Continuing on from the 1960s, the ducktail and Pompadour hairstyle (then known as the "Elvis Presley hairstyle") were popular among young Italian-American and Mexican-American men in big cities like New York. Large quantities of grease or brylcreem was normally used to keep the hair in place. The early and mid 1970s generally featured longer hair on men, as way of rebelling against the social norms of years past.Sideburns were also worn around the same time. Some of the most popular hairstyles for men include "Long and Luscious" hairstyle, mod haircut, and the "buzzcut" hairstyle popularised by action heroes like Steve McQueen. In the late 1970s, men went for the chop, ranging from crew cuts, to buzz cuts, to a shag. This was mainly done for an athletic look, and sideburns and facial hair went out of style.
Makeup and cosmetics
Main article: Cosmetics in the 1970s
Cosmetics in the 1970s reflected the contradictory roles ascribed for the modern woman. For the first time since 1900, make-up was chosen situationally, rather than in response to monolithic trends. The era's two primary visions were the daytime "natural look" presented by American designers and Cosmopolitan magazine, and the evening aesthetic of sexualized glamour presented by European designers and fashion photographers. In the periphery, punk and glam were also influential. The struggling cosmetics industry attempted to make a comeback, using new marketing and manufacturing practices.
Images representing the fashion trends of the 1970s.
The early 1970s' fashions were a continuation of the hippie look from the late 1960s.
Fashion models in Leipzig, GDR, 1972. One of the girls is modelling a "maxi" dress.
David Bowie in the early 1970s. His avant-garde style of dressing exerted a strong influence on fashion in the first half of the decade.
American First Lady Pat Nixon wears a shirt with the wide collar that was popular until the final years of the decade.
Girl in 1973 with a "flicked" hairstyle.
Los Angeles high school students, 1973. The tousled, blond surfer hair was popular for young men in southern California.
American casual attire, 1974.
British girls in 1975 in flared jeans
English girl in the mid-1970s wearing a wide-sleeved shirt, belted at the waist.
Two punks from the late 1970s
Debbie Harry of Blondie in 1977. A female punk icon, her dyed platinum blonde hair was widely copied by teenage girls and young women in Britain and America.
Silk scarves were popular fashion accessories for women in the 1970s.
Singer Barry Manilow wears his hair longish in the soft, layered style favoured by men in the 1970s.
Frisbee player Ken Westerfield wearing draw string bell bottoms in the 1970s
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The History of Hippie Fashion in the 70s
The free-flowing hippie fashion of the 1970s reflected the youth culture's response to the strict mores and conservative values of the 1950s and 1960s. Defined by their carefree and laid-back attitude, hippies adopted a more eclectic, leisurely style that symbolized peace, love and equality for all. Entertainers like Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Jefferson Airplane and Cher popularized hippie fashions that blended ethnic garments, colorful patterns and loose-fitting clothing. All this made the hippie look one of the most recognizable trends of the 1970s.
Loose and Laid Back
Hippie women often wore loose-fitting and leisurely garments like kaftans, flower child peasant tops, maxi dresses and bell bottoms. This represented a shift from the more tailored, formal A-line dresses of the 1960s. It also made a change in popular fabrics; the advent of central heating in homes and cars made the use of lighter clothing materials a necessity. Full-length wool coats could now be replaced with velvet or velour jackets and raincoats. Flowing fabrics grew in popularity as well. Light cotton, voile, chiffon, viscose rayon and brushed materials became standards of the era.
For the first time, in the 1960s and 1970s, travel abroad became accessible to the masses through commercial airlines. Many Westerners were able to visit faraway locations and bring with them garments, inspiration and fabrics previously unseen. Hippie style began to incorporate foreign influences and pieces. The caftans, kimonos, muumuus, djellabas and Nehru jackets of India, Africa and Asia became the inspiration for at-home comfort robes and light jackets that would become fashion staples of the era. Often these garments were reinterpreted to have decadent and ostentatious details like gold metallic trimming or sequins.
Against The Norms
The hippie movement promoted personal expression, doing away with gender norms and supporting equality for all. Men wore their hair long and untamed, often with sideburns. Compared to the manicured, short and waxed haircuts of previous generations, hippie men were perceived as more feminine. Women redefined what was acceptable by sporting varying hemlines ranging from long maxi skirts to short mini skirts. Flowers and floral prints were worn as a symbol of peace and love. Bell-bottoms, tunics, tie-dye, fringe, body paint, piercings and tattoos all served as a vibrant and eclectic way for baby boomers to distinctly separate themselves from the more conservative images and norms of the past.
Shoes and Accessories
Platform shoes were a staple of the 1970s. The shoes ranged in height from a quarter to 4 inches and were characterized by their thick, high and flat soles. Due to the perceived danger of such high platforms, many opted for clogs to capture the spirit of the chunky style while staying more grounded. The popular jewelry of the time was inspired by nature or handmade Native American designs. Necklaces featured beads, peace signs, flowers, pendants and bells. Friendship bracelets also became popular. The woven bracelets made with colorful yarn were easy to replicate and share. Hair accessories included printed bandanas, thin headbands and flower crowns.
Emerald Pellot received a bachelor's degree in writing from New York University. Her work has been published in "The New York Observer," The Huffington Post, "BOMB Magazine," PopMatters, Yue and Gurl.com. She is currently senior editor at CollegeCandy.com.
The Dos and Don'ts of Hippie Style
After the highly structured wardrobes of the 40s, 50s and early 60s, the bold, revolutionary style of the hippie took over.
"People exuded peace, love, freedom, and sexual liberation, which was reflected in their flowing, relaxed wardrobes," says My Modern Met.
And it wasn't just women who enjoyed these fashion trends: men were empowered to wear flares, long hair, beads and bright kaftans.
So the influence of the hippie - which comes from hip and hipster - still makes its mark today.
Here we look at some enduring hippie trends:
It might be the hallmark of a bygone era but a peasant top is an easy-to-wear classic. Originally a reaction to the formal suitwear of the 1950s and early 60s, the relaxed styling of top is often made from natural fibres, like cotton and linen, and trimmed with folk leanings. A little embroidery on a loose fitting blouse is feminine and forgiving. Just keep the bottoms fitted and simple.
Buy a peasant top here
Although the 60s was also famous for micro minis, its polar opposite - the maxi dress - again was a reaction to fitted, restrictive wear. With bold ethnic prints, it was also a reflection on that era's interest in ethnic and tribal wear, from cultures outside the western norm.
Nowadays, Camilla, who also specialises in that other hippy fashion staple, the kaftan, does beautifully stylish maxi dresses.
Buy Camilla here
Everything about hippie style is relaxed, even the wide-brimmed hats that top off a flowing outfit. If hippy fashion is a reaction to the formality that went before it, the floppy hat is the natural answer to the pill box and similar highly structured head-toppers of the previous era.
Buy Seafolly floppy hat here
From ankle-revealing fitted pedal pushers of the first half of the 1960s to the floor-grazing bell bottoms of the 1970s, what better way to rebel against what your parents wore?
Then, the hippies style rule was everything loose. To modernise the look, we suggest, the wider the flare, the tighter the top, even baring midriff with a crop top of some kind can help balance the proportions. And heels help lengthen the leg, shortened by the wideness of the hem.
Buy Glassons flares here
Making your own clothes as part of the hippie rebellion against mass manufacture stretched to dyeing your own clothes, which then became a trend for tie dye.
Now the hippie style staple is no longer just a school holiday activity. With a little finesse, it can be a fashion statement - for men or women.
Buy Boohoo Tie Dye here
The hippies desire to make the world a better place might be behind a preference for rose-coloured glasses, but it was the round, metal-rimmed style that framed the lenses, such as worn by John Lennon, that seems to define the eyewear of the era.
It's still a fashion classic today, though leave the coloured lenses to the young ones and opt for a more sophisticated neutral tone. Or not!
Buy Wish rose-coloured sunglasses here
As well as being a metaphorical description of the hippie culture - aka the fringe element - fringe edging was also part of the hippie style, whether a leather trim, as in Native American Indian clothes, or longer and shinier, for shimmying in.
From back in her hippie days till now, Cher has always loved a bit of fringe, and she is not alone. Leather fringe can be an elegant trim on a jacket, shoe or bag. Just don't overdo it.
Buy Toms leather fringe bag here
Either made from a swathe of fabric to hold the hair back or an intricate circlet of flowers crowning the head, headbands were a popular accessory in the hippie style, perfect to frame the loose, flowing, natural-looking hair of the trend.
Nowadays, it takes a lot of product to make hair look that effortless.
Buy Bonds Boho headband here
Beads and statement necklaces
Again, drawing inspiration from ethnic cultures, was the hippies love of long strings of beads and multiple bangles.
Another jewellery option was statement pendants - that could also literally make a statement, such as a peace sign - often on leather thongs.
Buy Oxfam beaded necklace here
She's not only a little bit country, but Taylor Swift loves a hippie trend, embracing bold patterns, headbands (even if they are priceless jewelled ones) and, as in this pic promoting her upcoming new music, crop tops that bare a bit of belly.
Buy Shein crop top here
The Summer of Love in 1967 also kicked off the era of bold patterns - especially floral ones - for both men and women. Very appropriate as flower power represented the peace-loving movement that the hippies aspired to. The bright colours were also representative of psychedelic trips resulting from dropping acid.
While you don't need to turn to LSD to wear bright florals, you might want to tone down the look, by restricting this trend to a top or skirt.
Or not. Céline Dion totally rocks her three piece bold print suit. Here it is again for your enjoyment.
The Groovy Style Of The Post-Hippie 1970's
Culture | March 10, 2018
Double Dose 24th March 1971: Twins Barbara and Elaine Rogers, wearing the latest hot pants fashion craze, are both students at the London College of Fashion. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
Hot pants, along with mini skirts, was the greatest fashion gift to men. Launched in Britain by fashion designer Mary Quant during the “Swinging London” era, these super short shorts were fashionable until the early 1970's. At the end of the year, LIFE Magazine summed up the 1970's style this way: “Hot Pants: A short but happy career.”
Hot Pants Sell Seats
Southwest Airlines of Texas in the 1970's required that stewardesses had to be able to wear hot pants and leather boots or they weren't hired for the job. In keeping with the airline’s motto, ‘sex sells seats’, girls were selected for their looks and their pretty legs. No one was surprised about the in-flight drinks with names like ‘Passion Punch’ and ‘Love Potion’.
Fashion in the 1970's began with the persistence of mini-skirts, bell-bottoms, and the androgynous hippie look from the late 1960's. It eventually became an iconic decade for fashion.
In general, one of the most famous “looks” of the mid and late 1970’s, for both men and women, was that of wearing tight tops and loose bottoms. The 1970’s also gave birth to the indifferent, anti-conformist casual-chic approach to fashion. Included in this style was sweaters, t-shirts, jeans and sneakers.
Bell bottoms were all the rage!
Ironically, the cut that had previously been a symbol of rebellion and “anti-fashion” became a full-blown trend that would characterize the 60’s and 70’s to future generations.
Designers, no longer put off by the stigma of bell-bottoms as clothing for “dangerous radicals”, began making the pants in a wide variety of materials, denim in particular. The cut typically followed a general formula: skintight at the waist, and flaring out from the knee to the hem. Some wore flares so wide they were referred to as “elephant bells.”
Platform shoes were popular in 1970's fashion.
In the 1970's, bell-bottoms gained national attention on the Sonny and Cher show. They sold fairly well in both Europe and America and became part of the disco look in the mid ‘70s. This proved to be the downfall of bell-bottoms. Disco was a short-lived era in music and by 1979, the popular pants style, along with the polyester leisure suits and platform shoes, became a thing of the past to be bought only people looking for vintage clothing.
Flared jeans and other pants were popular with both men and women.
By the early 1970’s, mini-skirts had reached an all-time popularity.
The 1970’s began a decade with the continuation of the hippie look of the 1960s’. This decade had a distinct fashion movement going on and just about anything went. Popular fashions for women in the early 70’s included tie dyed t-shirts, peasant blouses, folk-embroidered Hungarian blouses, ponchos, capes, and military surplus clothing. Bottom attire for women during this time included bell-bottoms, gauchos, frayed jeans, midi skirts, and ankle-length maxi dresses. During this time, clothing was manufactured in extremely bright colors, as well as “loud” patterns including Native American patterns, and floral patterns. Women’s accessories of the early 1970’s included chokers, dog collars, handmade necklaces and jewelry made out of natural materials like wood, shells, stones, feathers, beads and leather. These accessories had all but replaced typical jewelry. Unisex hippie accessories included headbands, floppy hats, flowing scarves, Birkenstocks, and earth shoes. It was a very distinct look.
Mini-skirts, and other fashion trends from the groovy disco era.
In 1977, fashion changed just a little bit and became less form-fitting and baggier. This caused somewhat of a stir when women who were blessed with trim figures lamented about not being able to flaunt what they had. On the other hand, the heavier women complained that the looser clothes made them look even larger. It seems as if no one was happy! So, what the heck?
As a concession for all of this “unhappiness,” it became fashionable to show a little more skin. As a result, shirts were being worn unbuttoned, sleeves were being rolled up, and tops were being worn strapless, see-through, and lacy. Shiny satin and gold colors were also popular then and were used to make up for the lack of tighter clothing.
1978 ushered in much curvier clothing styles. Tops started coming with shoulder pads (to look like Linda Evans), tighter skirts, and narrower waistlines. The silhouette that resulted was an inverted triangle. The general fashion world went wild and it was very positively received by the general public. By this time, pants were worn flared slightly less and sometimes not flared at all.
Swedish model, Ulla Jones
Although the hippie look was widespread at the time, it was not assumed by everyone. Many women still continued to dress up with more glamorous clothes, inspired by 1940s movie star glamour. Other women just began to wear simple casual fashions or combined new garments with carefully chosen secondhand or vintage clothing from the 1930s, 1950s and 1960s.
More simple early 1970’s trends for women included fitted blazers with wide lapels, long and short dresses, mini-skirts, maxi skirts and evening gowns, hot pants (very, very tight-fitting shorts) paired with skin-tight T-shirts, his & hers outfits (matching outfits that were nearly identical to each other), and flared pants. Pastel colors were most commonly used for this style of clothing, including mauve, peach, apple green, pink, yellow, white, wheat, camel, gray, and baby blue (GAG!). Rust, tangerine, copper, forest green, and pistachio became more popular starting in 1973 and going forward.
Sweaters were a hugely popular in the early 1970s. Often, an entire outfit was seemingly judged entirely by the ever-popular sweater. This fragmented into other styles like sweater coats, sweater dresses, floor-length sweaters, and even sweater suits. Many of these popular sweater garments were trimmed with fur, especially faux. Chunky, shawl-collared, belted cardigans, often in brown and white, were also commonly seen.
Disco fashion was generally inspired by clothing from the early 1960s. Disco clothes worn by women included tube tops, sequined halter tops, blazers, spandex short-shorts, loose pants, form-fitting spandex pants, maxi skirts and dresses with long thigh slits, jersey wrap dresses, ball gowns, and evening gowns. Shoes ranged from knee-high boots to kitten heels, but the most commonly worn shoes were ones that had thick heels and were often made with see-through plastic.
The disco style of fashion allowed for a greater emphasis on being an individual. This style promoted looks that captured the wearer’s preferences and individually. Fashionistas were able to be bold and impulsive. V-necks and extremely high cut slits in dresses and skirts were very fashionable. Leather punk “looks” and other styles that were considered futuristic were being worn. Fashion had become almost aggressive.
Disco chic was how this style came to be known. Men wore cowboy boots, leisure suits, casual pants and other sportswear separates. The all in one disco jumpsuit was also popular for a time. Extra wide lapels and snugly fitting trousers were a huge hit with the ladies!
Up until then, the fashion world had been dominated by women. Fashion sense was widely considered to be feminine. Finally, men could be fashionably expressive without being criticized! It was all part of the movement. The new generation of men was becoming more liberated. They could finally be openly, fashionably expressive.
“Saturday Night Fever” was a theatrical, disco fashion time capsule.
A man could be sophisticated, macho and virile without crossing the social taboo lines! It was a win/win! After all, a man must be and feel masculine at all times. That is just the way it is!
Disco dance clubs became somewhat of a fashion show. It allowed fashion freedom, individuality and creativity, all with a captive audience. There was no limit to the possibilities and people were feeling it. It was liberating to be unapologetically expressive. It was dramatic and glamourous!
All of this being said, I’m sure we have all looked back a time or two and thought, “Oh, my God!” What was I thinking? As it turns out, however, we have nothing to worry about. We can always hide the pictures and if nothing else, we know that history has proven that fashion cycles. Everything old becomes new and fashion is no different. Don’t get rid of that questionable piece of clothing hanging in you closet. Given enough time, it will be back in style at some point!
Tags: A Brief History Of... | Fashion In The 1970s | Hippies | Hot Pants | Life Magazine | The 1970s
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Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.
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