Think Woodstock, think the runaway hit TV series ‘Charlie’s Angels’ and you very much have what the 1970s styles encapsulated. The crime busting Angel’s in their bell-bottom pants, tight-fitting shirts and platform shoes are typical of 1970s fashion. However, in an era of free spiritedness, and ‘flower power’ virtually anything became fashionable, varied and colourful. Experimental and colourful as it were, it was like looking through a kaleidoscope. Vogue magazine is said to have declared, “There are no rules in the fashion game now.”
Fashion in the ‘70s was borne out of the times that encouraged dissent, was anti-establishment, and in an age that witnessed anti-war rhetoric rending the air. Yes, this was the advent of the Hippie look and lifestyle of the ‘60s. The Hippie culture had spread far and wide, and carried over to the early ’70s. Popular styles apart from bell bottom pants, included frayed jeans, midi skirts, maxi dresses, Tie dye patterns, peasant blouses, and ponchos. Accessories that complemented the ’70s Hippie outfits were chokers, headbands, scarves, and jewellery made of wood, stones, feathers, and beads.
For women in the early ‘70s who wanted to look fashionable without the Hippie rebelliousness, opted for more of a dressy wardrobe with a casual flair. Figure-hugging dresses, tight t-shirts, wide lapelled blazers, flared pants, chunky sweaters, cardigans, and boots. For this lot of fashionistas Pastels shades were popular choices – baby blue, yellow, mauve, and peach.
Men in the early 1970s sported bright coloured and textured clothes. Satin shirts were popular, at times with ruffles or lace. Typical of this style were hip-hugging bell-bottoms. Three-piece and double- breasted suits in bright colours tailored out of corduroy, paisley, wool, and crushed velvet were popular for formal and sometimes every day occasions. For the casual look, men were seen in bell bottom jeans, Tie and Dye t-shirts and flannel shirts, pleated pants, sweaters with oxford shoes, platforms, flips flops, or boots.
By the mid-1970s, the Hippie influence waned and the more everyday casual styles were adopted by fashionable men and women. Fitted t-shirts with loud designs, slogans, and sports logos were in vogue.
This is also the time when more and more women joined the workforce. The requirement then was tailored business or corporate styles. Sharp blazers over midi-skirts, fitted blouse and high-heels completed the look of the mid ‘70s.
This period saw men’s suits take on a more European flair, tailored to look slimmer, with smaller waists, and a straighter leg in the pants. Suits were commonly worn at all occasions, however the demand for more informal styles were on the rise. Flannels or western shirts, sweaters, sweatshirts, jeans, khaki chinos, leather jackets, and oxford shoes were the flavour for casual-dressing in the mid-seventies.
Disco became the rage for everyone between the mid to late 1970s
John Travolta in the iconic musical ‘Saturday Night Fever’ epitomised the late ‘70s men’s fashion and dress sense – a fine example of the Disco style. Three-piece suits with wide lapels, flared pants in pastel shades, in beige, white and powder blue, were popular.
Jersey wraps dresses and skirts, tube tops, sequined shirts, spandex shorts, and high slit skirts with boots or chunky heels were styles that came up for women for that period.
The late ‘70s saw women adorning more relaxed styles to include baggier clothes, and some of the typical accents and accessories were the cowl -neck tops, sundresses, pantsuits, strapless tops, embroidered vests and jeans and skirts. Daisy Dukes from the TV series of the same name popularised the hot pants and spaghetti tops / knotted up shirts. Unmistakably 1970s. Popular colours by then changed to browns, tans, greys and light blues.
Departure from the Disco period styling for men was sportswear, tracksuits, jumpsuits, cardigans, sweaters, puffer vests, and low top sneakers. The casualness extended to collarless, untucked t-shirts.
The unique selling point of the 1970s is that pants were tight fitting. This decade also saw women wearing is also the first time that women wore pants through the decade, women from all walks of life.
Towards the end of the decade, bright colours almost completely disappeared to be replaced by the earthy tones, greys, whites and blacks, which became the rage.
The line- up of celebrities who sported the ’70s look included some of the era’s most famous personalities- Singers Cher and Debbie Harry, actress Farrah Fawcett, and Bianca Jagger. Each had distinctive styles of their own, but very much embraced the ‘70s fashion and became icons of the decade.
So, myriads of styles represent this very vivacious at times ‘boho’ decade, adapting and imbibing styles from cult cultures, artists, and celebrities from the small screen. Mainly it’s about comfort and smart casualness and of course, self-expression and creativity. A most memorable and influential decade for sure, in terms of style and lifestyle!
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