1970s In Fashion
1970s in fashion
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 popularised by hippies, vintage clothing from the 1950s and earlier, and the androgynous glam rock and disco styles that introduced platform shoes, bright colours, 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 (1970–1973)
The 1970s began with a continuation of the hippie look from the 1960s, giving a distinct ethnic flavour. 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 colours, 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 jewellery. 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 colours were most commonly used for this style of clothing, such as mauve, peach, apple green, pink, yellow, white, wheat, camel, grey, and baby blue. Rust, tangerine, copper, forest green, and pistachio became more popularised 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 jewellery.
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 (1974–1976)
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, kimonos, graphic T-shirts and sweaters, jeans, khakis, gauchos, workmen's clothes, and vintage clothing. Around 1976, casual fashion adopted a Parisian 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 pantsuit Women's dresses in the mid 1970s were dominated by pastel colours, 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 (1977–1979)
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 colours 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 jewellery, 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. Colour had almost completely faded from fashion in the late 1970s, with earthy tones like browns, light blues, tans, greys, 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 1977, American actress Farrah Fawcett popularised 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 they’re 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 jewellery to keep a confident, yet feminine, look intact.
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.
Mid 1970s (1974–1976)
By 1973, 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 collar tuxedo 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 favoured 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 colours included cream, burgundy, brown, and orange.
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 mens 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 characterised 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.