1970s in fashion  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel


Early to Mid 1970s

The decade began with a continuation of the hippie look from the 1960s. Jeans remained frayed and the Tie dye was still popular. The space age look was on the wane, though tunics and Indian fabrics continued to be popular. Jeans rises shrunk to 4 inches or even less as "hip huggers" with "bell-bottoms" became the height of denim fashion. Altering the appearance of jeans with bleach and tie-dye techniques, embroidery, and metal studs were popular as well. Polyester "doubleknit" fabric was coming into its own, with many clothing items for men and women being produced in this modern easy-care fabric.

By the mid-Seventies, as the economy improved, silhouettes narrowed, and hemlines dropped again from mini skirt to midi (mid-calf length) and maxi (ankle length), with all three lengths enjoying almost equal popularity.

Platform shoes with soles 2-4 inches thick became the style for both men and women. Men's ties broadened and became more colorful, as did dress shirt collars and suit jacket lapels. 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 which became very influential. Skirts were gathered into tiers and shoulderlines dropped. Clothing became very unstructured and fluid at this point. Embroidered clothing, either self-made, or imported from Mexico or India also enjoyed favor. Short skirts weren't popular until the mid 1970's.

Late 1970s

With the popularization of disco and the increasing availability and diversity of 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 colors) which were characterized by wide lapels, wide legged or flared trousers and high rise 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 of nylon or polyester knit) also became common along with close-fitting b, even while engaged in energetic disco dancing. 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 very popular. With the demise of disco, late in 1979, these styles (which were by then being criticized as flamboyant) quickly went out of fashion in 1980. Designer jeans and painters pants then started to come into style.

Custom T-Shirts / Baseball Jerseys

Short-sleeved t-shirts of various colors personalized with iron-on decal illustrations or appliquéd letters spelling a name or message were very popular among teen and pre-teen boys in the U.S. during the late 70s. Also popular were baseball jerseys or "baseball sleeves" (white shirts with colored sleeves worn under baseball uniform shirts). These were worn plain or with appliquéd pictures or words, as described above.

Three-Piece Suits

The 1970s saw a return to three-piece suits (suits with matching vests), worn with the wide-collar shirts carried over from the 1960s. Sometimes these were worn without ties as dance-club wear, or even in just a vest and jacket combination as depicted in the film Saturday Night Fever. As formalwear, however, the three-piece slowly died out in the early 1980s, by which time the outfit had come to be associated with lawyers. Template:Fact


Punk as a style originated from London from the designer Vivienne Westwood and her partner Malcolm McLaren. Postmodernist and iconoclastic in essence this movement was a direct reaction to the economic situation during the economic depression of the period. Punk had at its heart a manifesto of creation through disorder. Safety pins became nose and ear jewellery, rubber fetishwear was subverted to become daywear, and images of mass murderers, rapists and criminals were elevated to iconographic status.

Punk fashion can be traced to the ripped jeans, torn t-shirts, scrappy haircuts and worn and torn leather jackets sported by members of the Sex Pistols. The Sex Pistols were dressed by Malcolm McLaren, their manager, who owned a clothes store called 'Let It Rock' in the Kings Road, Chelsea area of London, when they released Anarchy in the UK in 1976. These styles can be traced back further to New York artists at the Andy Warhol Factory or bands such as the Velvet Underground or New York Dolls. By the 1980s, Punk fashion, and punk bands, had shown up in cities across the world. There was a DIY (do it yourself) quality to the fashion. Some small elements that spoke of a person's punk roots were safety pins, mohawk, spikes or harshly dyed hair, filthy tennis-shoes or pointy Beatle boots. There is an element of a makeshift, thrown together look and a sense of poverty.


Cosmetics in the 1970s reflected the schizophrenic roles ascribed to 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 glamor 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.

See also

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