1970s fashion, which began with a continuation of the mini skirts, bell-bottoms and the androgynous hippie look from the late 1960s, was soon sharply characterized by..
several distinct fashion trends that have left an indelible image of the decade commemorated in popular culture. These include platform shoes which appeared on the fashion scene in 1971 and often had soles 2–4 inches thick.
These were worn by both men and women. Wide-legged, flared jeans and trousers were another fashion mainstay for both sexes throughout most of the decade, and this style has been immortalised in the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever which starred John Travolta. The “disco look”, complete with three-piece suits for men and wrap-around rayon or jersey dresses for women, which the film launched, lasted until it was gradually replaced by punk fashion and straight, cigarette-legged jeans. Platform shoes gave way to mules and ankle-strapped shoes, both reminiscent of the 1940s, at the very end of the decade.
The decade began with a continuation of the hippie look from the 1960s. Jeans remained frayed, and the Tie dye shirts and Mexican peasant blouses were still popular. In addition to the mini skirt, mid-calf length dresses called “midis” and ankle-length dresses called “maxis” were also worn in 1970 and 1971, thus offering women three different skirt lengths.
In 1971, extremely brief, tight-fitting shorts, called hot pants, were a fashion craze for girls and young women.
In Britain and the urban United States, from 1972–1974, fashions were inspired by extravagantly-dressed glam rock stars such as David Bowie, Roxy Music, and Marc Bolan. Glitter was in vogue. Women wore high-waisted, flared satin trousers or denims, the latter usually decorated with rhinestones, tight lurex halter tops, metallic-coloured lamé and antique velvet dresses, satin hot pants, sequined bra tops, and occasionally they wore ostrich- feather boas draped over their shoulders or turbans on their heads. The 1930s and 1940s look was also popular, and many women bought their clothes at second-hand shops. The short, imitaion rabbit-fur jacket was a hot fashion item during this period. Make-up was garish and glittery, with eyebrows thinly plucked. Bianca Jagger, who often used an ebony walking stick, wore peacock-feathers in her cloche hats, green sequined shoes, transparent blouses, and carried an ivory cigarette- holder, was a fashion icon. The men often wore lamé suits, silver astronaut-style outfits, satin quilted jackets, wide-legged denims or velvet trousers, and rhinestone-studded shirts. Their hair was long and softly layered, or spiky, multi-coloured mullets. Clothing shops which became associated with glam rock-inspired fashion were Biba, in London’s Kensington High Street, and Granny Takes a Trip in Kings Road, which also had a branch in West Hollywood, California. Both shops had opened in the 1960s.
Another trend for both sexes was the fitted blazer, which flared slightly at the hip. It came in a variety of fabrics, including wool, velvet, suede, and leather. The buttons were covered and the lapels wide.
For teenage girls and young women the crop top was often worn, sometimes with a halter neck or else tied in a knot above the midriff.
By the mid-1970s hip-huggers were gone, replaced by the high-waisted jeans and trousers with wide, flared legs. In Britain, they were often referred to as “Loon pants”. These lasted until the end of the decade when the straight, cigarette-leg jeans came into vogue.
The dancer’s leotard became an important feminine fashion accessory in 1974. It remained in style throughout the decade.
In Britain and Ireland, in the early to mid-1970s, there was the bootboy subculture which influenced youthful male attire with the “parallel jeans”, which were flared jeans that stopped at mid-calf. These were worn with heavy workman’s “bovver” boots, braces, (US suspenders), and denim jackets. Their hair was usually worn longish by the middle of the decade.
The wrinkled look for women enjoyed a brief vogue in 1975, as did flared denim skirts which ended just below the knee. Trendy colours were dusty rose, Prussian blue, bottle green, rust, and brown.
Fashion influences were peasant clothing, such as blouses with laces or off-the-shoulder necklines, inspired by those worn in the 17th century. Yves St Laurent introduced the peasant look in 1976, and it became very influential. Skirts were gathered into tiers and shoulder lines dropped. Camisoles were worn. Clothing became very unstructured and fluid at this point. Embroidered clothing, either self-made or imported from Mexico or India also enjoyed favour. Floral-patterned prints were in fashion. Fake-flower chokers and hair combs were often worn with the peasant skirts. In 1977, the ruffled sundress coupled with a tight t-shirt worn underneath enjoyed a brief popularity.
With the popularization of disco and the increasing availability and diversity man-made fabrics, a drastic change occurred in mainstream fashion, the likes of which had not been seen since the 1920s. 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 in a style reminiscent of the “Barrymore” collar that had been popular in the 1920s. The zippered jumpsuit was popular with both men and women, and clothing inspired by modern dance (wrap-around skirts and dresses of rayon or jersey) also became common. Neck-scarves were also used. Polyester, double knitting, skin-tight Spandex trousers, tube tops, and slit skirts were popular for a while at the very end of the decade. In 1978, there was a brief craze for transparent plastic trousers worn with leotards underneath. Silk blouses, spaghetti-strapped tank tops and shirt-waist dresses were also worn. Women’s shoes began to echo the 1940s, with high-heeled lower-platform mules–“Candies” made of molded plastic with a single leather strap over the ball of the foot or “BareTraps” made of wood becoming very popular. With the brief decline of disco late in 1979, these styles (which were by then being criticized as flamboyant) quickly went out of fashion. Designer jeans with straight, cigarette-legs, and painters’ pants then started to come into style.
The top fashion models of the 1970s were Lauren Hutton, Margaux Hemingway, Cheryl Tiegs, and Jerry Hall
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 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). Young men’s hair was worn long until well past the mid-1970s. Unlike the unkempt 1960s, it was often worn styled in soft layers. In California, the tousled blond, surfer hair was fashionable for teenage boys and young men. In the early part of the decade sideburns were popular. 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.
My personal view that fashion during the seventies was very beautiful and attractive