The 1970s are often associated with a sepia color palette – bringing to mind burnt oranges and browns – when, in reality, the fashions of this decade were much more varied than they get credit for.
Disco fever and glittery fabric dominated the ‘70s, but it was also the age of bohemian looks and glam rock. The decade was a mash-up of many different trends, and you were just as likely to see sleek coordinated suits as you were to see bright metallics.
Beyond the prevalence of disco wear and feathered hair, there is a lot more to the 1970s than many realize. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most famous fashion trends from the so-called “Me Decade”.
Women’s fashion went in a few different ways in the 1970s. Comfort was much more emphasized than in decades past, with the following trends:
The Pants Suit
The big revolution in women’s fashion was men’s wear and trousers. Before the 1970s, it was still more proper for women to be seen in skirts, but the 70s saw the rise of men’s wear as women’s wear – especially in the office.
The Wrap Dress
The 1970s was the debut of Diane von Fürstenberg’s jersey wrap dress. It’s such a versatile dress that it’s still being made and worn today! This iconic dress style is displayed in the costume institute of the Metropolitan Museum.
In the 70s, comfort was a lot more emphasized over any other decade. Casual clothing like jeans and knit tops were worn...sometimes bra-less! The jeans of the 70s were often flared at the bottom, resulting in the iconic 70s bell-bottom silhouette.
There was a movement in the early 1970s to go back to nature. Women wore silk scarves, long peasant skirts, and busy prints. This look was usually paired with a pair of cork heeled sandals or platform clogs and long loose hair.
Disco was all about showing off your moves on the dance floor, so sleek looks with movement and glitter were all the rage for dancing in the club. Disco fashion involved anything shiny, like metallic fabrics, sequins, and statement jewelry.
1970s makeup was either natural or very extreme, depending on the trend that one was following. For the comfort casual woman, pink lip gloss and a little mascara was the simple routine look, but outrageous shades were worn for glam rock or a night at the disco.
Girdles and Shapewear
The 1970s was when women started to move away from shapewear and girdles. Some women didn’t even wear bras in this period. Unlike the years before, the 70s emphasized comfort, so the unwelcome sucking in and shaping of structural garments went out of fashion.
The 1970s hair icon was Farah Fawcett and her perfectly feathered long blonde hair. Adults typically wore their hair long and loose in the 1970s, perfect for the women on the go. Black women often wore their hair in big afros or kept their natural texture.
Fashion for men tended toward polyester suits and bright prints. Men started to become more experimental with color in this decade. Many male fashion trends also followed women’s trends, like the platform heel and the wide-legged pants.
Be they jeans or regular trousers, bell bottoms were the dominant silhouette for men in the 1970s. Stylish men wore wide-legged pants even for more formal occasions.
Eye-Catching Colors And Bold Prints
Even the men wore bold prints and bright colors in this decade. Disco fashion was prevalent, and it led to three-piece suits with wide lapels and bell-bottom trousers – just like the iconic white suit worn by John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.
In the 1970s, men’s hair trended longer than the clean look of the decades before, and sideburns were worn long. Some men also feathered their hair or wore it in the vintage pompadour style with a lot of volume on top. Black men often wore their hair in large afros.
Wide Collars And Lapels
In the 70s, it wasn’t just the pants that were cut wide – the collars, lapels, and even the neckties of the decade were wide. More was better when it came to fabric.
Glam rock was all about androgyny and whimsy. Artists like David Bowie and Freddy Mercury from Queen were major proponents of this style, which involved outrageous makeup (even for men!), metallics, sky-high platforms, and eye-popping patterns.
The Platform Shoe
The chunky platforms were all the rage during this decade, no matter who you were! The iconic look of the 1970s, the shoe featured a platform sole and a block heel. This style was popular with both men and women, as clothing became more unisex.
The 1970s was a chaotic and colorful time for fashion, especially as the disco and glam rock trends became a hit, with both men and women wearing shiny fabrics in bright colors. The decade also marked a change in how we look at clothes.
Comfort was prized more than ever. Women wore men’s clothes and men wore platforms, and the rules were a lot more fluid than in previous decades. So, while we associate the 1970s with disco, there is much more to this decade than the looks from Saturday Night Fever.