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1970s In Fashion

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1970s In Fashion

In 1971 hot pants and bell-bottomed trousers were popular fashion trends

The 1970's fashion, often called the "Me Decade",[1] began with a continuation of the mini skirts, bell-bottoms, and the androgynous hippie look from the late 1960s and eventually became one of the most iconic decades for fashion ever.

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 approach to fashion, which consisted of sweaters, t-shirts, jeans, and sneakers.

The top fashion models of the 1970s were Lauren Hutton, Margaux Hemingway, Beverly Johnson, Gia Carangi, Janice Dickinson, Cheryl Tiegs, Jerry Hall, and Iman.


  • Women 1
    • Early 1970s (1970-1972) 1.1
      • Hippie Look 1.1.1
      • Glamour Wear 1.1.2
    • Mid 1970s (1973-1976) 1.2
      • Casual Looks 1.2.1
      • Active Wear 1.2.2
      • Tailored Styles 1.2.3
    • Late 1970s (1977-1979) 1.3
      • Relaxed Look 1.3.1
      • One-Piece Swimsuits 1.3.2
      • Disco Look 1.3.3
  • Men 2
    • Early 1970s (1970-1972) 2.1
      • Bright Colors 2.1.1
    • Mid 1970s (1973-1976) 2.2
      • Informal Attire 2.2.1
      • Punk 2.2.2
    • Late 1970s (1977-1979) 2.3
      • Sportswear 2.3.1
      • Disco style 2.3.2
  • 1970s Beauty Trends 3
    • Hairstyles 3.1
  • Makeup and Cosmetics 4
  • Image gallery 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Early 1970s (1970-1972)

Hippie Look

  • The decade 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,[2] folk-embroidered Hungarian blouses, ponchos, capes,[3] and military surplus clothing.[4] Bottom attire for women during this time included bell-bottoms, gauchos,[3][5] frayed jeansmidis" (which were unpopular), and ankle-length dresses called "maxis" were also worn in the early 1970s, thus offering women three different skirt lengths.[2] Hippie clothing during this time was made in extremely bright colors,[6] as well as Indian patterns, Native American patterns, and floral patterns.[7]
  • 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.[3] Unisex hippie accessories included headbands, floppy hats, balumba balls, flowing scarves,[4] Birkenstocks,[8] and earth shoes.[9]

Glamour Wear

By the early 1970s, miniskirts had reached an all-time popularity. This young English woman is wearing a fringed suede miniskirt.
  • 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. 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,[6] 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.[3] Rust, tangerine, copper, forest green, and pistachio became more popularized from 1973 onwards.[3] Sweaters were a huge phenomenon in the early 70s, 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.[3]
  • Glamorous women's accessories of the early 1970s included cloche hats or turbans, pearl earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, feather boas, black-veiled hats, clogs, wedgies, cork-soled platforms, and chunky high heels.[3] Golden chains, gold-button earrings and rhinestone clips started to become popular again in 1973 after several years of homemade jewelry.[3][10]
  • 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).[11]

Mid 1970s (1973-1976)

This photo taken in 1974, shows a girl inspired by the British glam rock craze which had a brief influence on fashion. Her glitter-adorned dress comes from Granny Takes a Trip boutique

Casual Looks

  • 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.[3] 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,[6] jeans, khakis, gauchos,[5] workmen's clothes, and vintage clothing.[3] Around 1976, casual fashion adopted a Parisan peasant look. This included capes, turbans, puffy skirts and shirts with billowing sleeves.[3]
  • 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,[8] and loafers.[3][6] Despite the lack of accessories, the mood ring was a big fad in the mid 1970s.[12]

Active Wear

  • 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.[3] Other sportswear trends included tracksuits, tunic shirts, crop tops, tube tops, sweatshirts, hip-huggers,[13] low rise pants, and leisure suits.[3][6] This continued into the 1980s.
  • Accessories were less of an importance during this time, but two very desirable accessories included sneakers and tennis headbands.[6][13]

Tailored Styles

  • 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.[6] Other clothes worn in this style include suede coats, peacoats, blazers, cowl-neck sweaters, pencil skirts, backless dresses, extremely low-cut dresses, palazzo pants,[6] tube dresses,[3] evening gowns, jacket dresses,[7] and pinstriped pantsuits.[3][6] Women's dresses in the mid 1970s were dominated by pastel colors, but Asian patterns also had a good run.[7]
  • Accessories for the more formal styles included high-heels (both low and high, mostly thick-heeled), turbans, and leather shoulder bags.[6] 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 70s. Popular boots of the mid 1970s included wedge boots, ankle boots, platform boots, and cowboy boots.[11]

Late 1970s (1977-1979)

Relaxed Look

Group of friends in 1979. Two of the women are wearing the trendy tube tops, while the woman on the far left is wearing a rayon strapless dress
  • 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, see-through, 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.[3] By 1977, pants were only flared slightly and sometimes not flared at all.[6]
  • Women's fashions in the late 1970s included cowl-neck shirts and sweaters, pantsuits, leisure suits, tracksuits,[3] sundresses worn with tight t-shirts,[14] strapless tops, lower-cut shirts, cardigans,[6] velour shirts, tunics, robes, crop tops, tube tops, embroidered vests and jeans, knee-length skirts,[7] loose satin pants,[3] designer jeans,[15] culottes, daisy dukes, and tennis shorts.[6] 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.[3][6]
  • 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.[11]

One-Piece Swimsuits

  • 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.

Disco Look

Swedish model Ulla Jones dressed in a lurex halter top and matching flared trousers
  • 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 first designed by Diane von Fürstenberg in 1972. 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.[16]
  • The popular disco music genre spawned its own fashion craze in the mid-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 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.[7] 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.


Early 1970s (1970-1972)

Iranian prince Reza Pahlavi wearing velvet Nehru jacket and geometric print scarf, 1973.
  • For the first time in decades, there was a significant shortage of raw materials and fabrics. The cost of synthetics such as vinyl and nylon rose as well. As a result, everyday designers kept things simple.[3]

Bright Colors

  • 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.[4] Other early 1970s clothes for men included matching outfits, sports jackets, khaki chinos, chunky sweaters, storm coats, battle jackets peacoats, flannel shirts, pleated pants, baseball jackets,[3] corduroy pants, pullover sweaters and sweater vests, tassels, cardigans,[17] and hip-huggers.[13]
  • 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.[3] Unisex hippie accessories included headbands, floppy hats, and flowing scarves.[4] Mens footwear in the early 1970s included flip-flops, oxfords, Birkenstocks,[8] platform shoes, earth shoes,[9] and cowboy boots.[17]
  • In the early 1970s, there was a trend for unisex men's and women's matching outfits with little to absolutely no differences. They often came together in matching sets.[3]

Mid 1970s (1973-1976)

Teenage couple in California, 1975. The girl is wearing a crop top and high-waisted trousers. The boy is dressed in the classic t-shirt and jeans, popular male attire in the 1970s

Informal Attire

  • Fashion in the 1970s was generally informal and laid back for men. 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, workmens clothes, sweatshirts, leather coats, and all-denim outfits were also desired among young men.[3] Other trends include printed shirts, zip-up cardigans, Birkenstocks,[8] mood rings,[12] and raincoats.[17]
  • 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.[3] 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 mens pants started to feature smaller flares or no flares at all.[3] This continued into the 1980s.


  • Punk rock was a musical genre that greatly influenced fashions in the 1970s. It emerged in London, and spread into the United States. Men's 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, and Doc Martens.[18] By 1977, Punk was no longer considered risqué. A tamer, less threatening version of the Punk style called "New Wave", which featured jagged hems on clothing and more elaborate embroidery continued into the 1980s.[19]

Late 1970s (1977-1979)

Flared jeans and trousers were popular with both sexes as can be seen at this German disco in 1977


  • 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),[3] sweaters, cardigans, sweatshirts, puffer vests,[17] flare jeans,[3] 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.[17] This continued into the 1980s.
  • Late 1970s accessories included low-top sneakers, tennis headbands,[17] puka shell necklaces, and wristbands.

Disco style

  • All styles of clothing were affected by the disco style, especially those of men. Men began to wear stylish three-piece suits (which became available in a bewildering variety of colours) which were characterized by wide lapels, wide legged or flared trousers, and high-rise waistcoats (US vests). Neckties became wider and bolder, and shirt collars became long and pointed.

1970s Beauty Trends


In the 1970s, women's hair was usually worn long with a centre parting

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.[20] For Blacks in the United States and elsewhere, the afro was worn by both sexes throughout the decade. It was occasionally sported by whites 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 parting. To make it even more stylish, women and girls would frost their hair with blonde streaks.[21]

Steve McQueen with crew cut and large sideburns, 1972.

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.[22] 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

Actress Camille Keaton in 1972. Throughout most of the decade, women preferred light, natural-looking make-up for the daytime

Cosmetics in the 1970s reflected the contradictory roles ascribed for the modern woman.[23] For the first time since 1900, make-up was chosen situationally, rather than in response to monolithic trends.[23] 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.[23] In the periphery, punk and glam were also influential. The struggling cosmetics industry attempted to make a comeback, using new marketing and manufacturing practices.

Image gallery

Images representing the fashion trends of the 1970s.


  1. ^ "Troubled Times: 1961-79". Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Paperpast Yearbook
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac "Fashion in the 1970s". Retrieved 1 July 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d "HIPPIES". Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Gaucho Pants". Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "1970s Fashion for Women & Girls". Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "1970s Dresses & Skirts: Styles, Trends & Pictures". Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Birkenstocks". Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "Earth Shoes". Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  10. ^ "70s fashion icons". Glamour. 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c "1970s Boots for Women: Styles, Trends & Pictures". Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "Mood Rings". Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  13. ^ a b c "Hip Huggers". Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  14. ^ Paperpast Yearbook
  15. ^ "Designer Jeans". Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  16. ^ Pendergast, Tom and Sarah (2004). Fashion, Costume and Culture. MI, USA: Thomson Gale. p. 933.  
  17. ^ a b c d e f "1970s Fashion for Men & Boys". Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  18. ^ "Doc Martens". Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  19. ^ "Punk". Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Farrah Fawcett Look". Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  22. ^ "Long Hair for Men". Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  23. ^ a b c De Castelbajac, pp. 147–48.

External links

  • 1970s Fashion History
  • 20th Century Fashion History: 1970s
  • Men's Fashion History from the 1970s
  • Turkish Fashion History from the 1970s
  • It Came from the 1971 Sears Catalog
  • Children's clothing from the 1970s
  • "1970s - 20th Century Fashion Drawing and Illustration". Fashion, Jewellery & Accessories.  
  • Marshmallow Shoes
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