The 1970s was the era of many evergreen trends and styles, and continues to influence the mode du jour. Here is all you need to know about the flamboyant 70s fashion trends.
Studio 54, Cher, The Rolling Stones, Saturday Night Fever…. don’t all these remind you about the glorious 70s, the age of glitz and glamour? The 1970s were one of the early days of the revolution. Be it liberalization or memorable 70s fashion trends, undoubtedly this era had everything.
Fashion in the 1970s was the flamboyant extension of the 60s. Like pearls from the 20s, pants from the 40s, this decade took inspiration from its predecessors. Due to its timeless styles and trends, the 70s is one of the most looked back decades. Here is all you need to know about the 70s.
70s Fashion Trends
Fashion is all about expressing one’s self. This is very true when it comes to the 1970s. There were many fashion subcultures during this time such as disco, hippie and punk inspired by socio-political movements or music. Each of these styles left their mark in fashion history. These timeless styles saw a major comeback in the later decades. Some major fashion icons of this decade include Farrah Fawcett, Jackie O, Cher, and the Beatles. I love the wrap dresses, the polka dot prints, and flared jeans!
70s Clothing: Fun & Practical
If we look into the major trends today, we can certainly say that some of these styles were inspired majorly from the 1970s. The most popular outfit look was the bell-bottoms and fitted shirt. An outfit so evergreen, it is followed even today. Clothes in big, bold, and bright prints were also very common. Polka dots, wild patterns such as paisleys, floral and ethnic patterns were also popular.
With disco becoming popular, so did clothes made from stretchable fabrics. It allowed the wearer the freedom to move on the dance floor. The jumpsuits, which were a disco staple, were made from fabrics like polyester. I don’t know about you, but I have always adored the wrap dresses. Diane von Furstenberg’s feminine and practical piece debuted in 1974 and became an instant hit.
Denim was everywhere! Pants, skirts, jumpsuits, you name it and it was made of denim. High waisted denim pants with embroidered patterns were every teenage girl’s dream. Usually paired with graphic tees and crop tops, we see styles similar to this today too.
As women’s participation at workplace increased, the pantsuit was introduced. It was paired with silk blouses especially in neutral colors and minimalist designs. Shorts worn along with halter neck or crop tops and knee-high boots was the 70s casual-chic look.
My favorite part of the 1970s fashion is the accessories, especially the scarves and hoop earrings. The 70s saw the comeback of 50s styles such as pearls and beaded jewelry. Long dangling earrings, turquoise jewelry, and hoops were common in disco fashion. On the other hand, working women and youngsters preferred minimal gold jewelry.
One of the most iconic trends of the 70s has to be the scarves. A scarf tied around the neck or the head was a major fashion trend. Belts that matched the dress were a staple in the 1970s. These belts were worn in other styles such as macrame and recycled fabric.
Handbags were sold in several styles. As the macramé trend was popular, body bags and shoulder bags also incorporated it. Satchels, boho bags, quilted bags, and saddlebags were also popular. Women and men both wore oversized sunglasses in neutral colors like brown and grey. The colored lenses and smaller frame sunglasses we see today on fashion influencers were originally a 70s hippie trend.
Hats were big in the ’70s, especially the floppy hat. Women paired them with peasant dresses to get the hippie look. Women also wore beanies, berets, and baseball hats.
One of the most iconic hairstyles of the 70s has to be the feathered haircut. Farrah Fawcett’s famous TV show Charlie’s Angels made the hairstyle famous. This haircut is making its comeback today with many variations. The chic pixie haircut was also famous during this time. Young women and teenagers sported this look to give themselves a bubbly and young look. Today, celebrities like Katy Perry, Halsey, and Kristen Stewart wear this style from time to time.
Wearing your hair long and straight was a huge trend back in the days. This classy and elegant hairstyle is timeless and minimalist, which many women preferred. Another trend was mullets and braids. Mullets were a signature among rock stars. David Bowie and Paul McCartney wore this look. Now, this trend is regaining its fame thanks to celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Billie Eilish.
70s Beauty Looks
The 70s beauty looks were primarily all about tan skin. Women often tanned themselves under the sun using reflector sheets and used artificial tanners to achieve this look. Two different looks that dominated this era were the natural look and disco look.
Keep it Simple
The natural makeup look included the signature tanned or sun-kissed skin, nude or neutral eyeshadow, light pink blush, and clear or pink lip gloss. Dewy skin was a huge trend back in the days. Moving further up, thin and plucked eyebrows with an arch were the 70s staple.
To recreate this minimal look:
- To begin with the base, use a tinted moisturizer or just concealer to get a natural look.
- Fill in your eyebrows with light brown shades or the same color as your brows.
- Apply light pink or coral blush on the apples of your cheek to give your face a healthy complexion.
- For the lips, use a clear, nude, or light pink lip gloss to complete this look.
Let’s Go Disco
The disco look was in complete contrast to the natural makeup trend. It consisted of bright eyeshadow, bold lashes, dramatic eyeliner, and glitter. Using pastel and bright colored eyeshadow was a prominent part of disco look. Colored eyeliner was common among younger women. The red lips trend also made its comeback during the 70s. Tinted lips were also common along with dark lip colors. The famous frosted lip look was prominent during this era, too.
To recreate the disco look:
- Similar to natural makeup, keep your base simple. Use a tinted moisturizer or concealer.
- Go big and bold with your eyeshadow. Try pastel shades such as the trendy light blue and metallics such as silver to highlight.
- An optional step, draw on a dramatic cat eyeliner to accentuate your eyes
- Eyelashes have to be dramatic and long. Add several coats of your favorite mascara and false lashes.
- Add light blush to the apples of your cheeks.
- Lastly, you can wear a light lip gloss if desired.
Also read: How to Dress for a Disco Party
One of the most recognizable fashion subcultures born in the 1970s was the hippie trend. The youth of the time used their close-to-nature lifestyle and fashion to represent freedom and show opposition to the conservative trends of the previous decades. Women wore maxi dresses, kaftans, and peasant dresses made of cotton, chiffon, or viscose rayon. Dresses were flowing and unstructured, unlike the tight and restrained 60s clothing.
Embroidery and ethnic prints were common. Men wore bell bottoms or loose-fitting pants with shirts and jackets. Oversized clothing was just as popular in the 70s as it is today.
The hippie clothing and jewelry were often inspired by aboriginal and Indian ethnic wear. These clothes had a similar structure and color theme. They are not tight-fitting and follow the natural curve of the body.
Colors were usually earthy tones and prints were also influenced heavily by Asian and African cultures. Footwear was based on comfort over trend and was also in earthy and neutral tones. Macramé, crochet, and tie-dye were very popular.
Hippie accessories stand out in the crowd with their design and patterns. Women as well as men preferred jewelry made of turquoise, natural gems, feathers, and pearls. The neckpieces were chunky and commonly adorned as statement pieces. The hippie culture is one of the first moments in sustainable fashion. DIY and clothes made from recycled clothing were very popular during this time.
Many celebrities and musicians adopted these 70s fashion trends into their wardrobe. These included The Beatles, Cher, Stevie Nicks, and The Rolling Stones. Today, this fashion culture is making its comeback. With many celebrities and fashion fanatics adding their style, there are many variations to this trend such as the boho-chic look, romantic bohemian look, and eclectic look.
Designers and Runway Fashion: A Reflection of the Mass Movement
With the changing lifestyle, it was important for 70s fashion designers to keep up with the people. As many women started to work, their choices for clothing and accessories changed accordingly. This era introduced designers and runway designs that would later become iconic.
Yves Saint Laurent was one of the first fashion designers of the twentieth century. Known for making ready-to-wear clothing popular, Saint Laurent introduced the pantsuit for women. He made fashion for working women both elegant and practical, which many still adore today.
Halston was another designer who influenced the fashion market. He believed that less is more, and his designs reflected this. The minimalism of his designs in materials of suede stood out among the disco themes of the 70s. He influenced 70s fashion trends by introducing the halter neck dress in 1974, which became a massive hit.
British designer Vivienne Westwood is the mother of punk fashion. Her clothes dominated the late 1970s because of popular punk fashion. Looks such as distressed tops, chains, symbols including swastikas, and bold geometric pants were part of her collection. These contributed majorly to the punk fashion movement.
Hollywood and Pop Culture
For any decade, its actresses set the mark for many fashion trends. As a result of the widespread popularity and media coverage, their fashion choices become a trend. This was true for the celebrities of the 1970s too.
Farrah Fawcett is an icon of this era. Her signature hairstyle and clothes included many of the 70s fashion trends, like platform shoes, flared jeans, bouncy curls, high waisted jeans, and jumpsuits. Tallia Storm recreated Farrah Fawcett’s look in her photoshoot in 2018.
Cher was a 70s music and fashion icon. Jumpsuits with bold necklines, sequins, and sheer styles were a prominent part of her wardrobe. Her style was very bold and bright, with influences from hippie culture and disco themes. We definitely cannot miss her Oscar outfits.
This list will be incomplete without talking about former First Lady and fashion icon Jackie O. With a Gucci bag named after her, she was truly an inspiring woman of the 70s. Oversized sunglasses, headscarves, pillbox hats, trench coats, co-ord sets, and floral print dresses, Jackie O has tried every one of the 70s fashion trends. Many recreated her style and continue to do so till date, including Moschino Fall 2018 collection.
TV, Media and Music
TV shows and movies also influenced the fashion of this era.
The movie Mahogany (1975) which stars the legendary Diana Ross showcased some of the best 70s fashion trends. With oversized hats, fur, long dresses, and satin, this movie is truly a classic for any fashion lover.
Love Story (1970) is a cult classic, with some of the best looks from this decade. Jennifer Cavilleri, played by Ali MacGraw, wears some of my favorite outfits. The red cocktail dress, mini-skirts paired with turtlenecks and black tights, and not to mention the plaid skirts.
Many of the 70s fashion trends made a comeback in 2020. The (Korean) Kpop band, BTS decked up in 70s styles such as pantsuits, bell-bottoms, and polka dot shirts in their recent music video.
The music video, Say So, has some major 70s fashion elements. Not to mention, sequin jumpsuits, hoop earrings, flipped out hairstyles and many iconic looks from that decade.
How to Recreate the 70s Look?
The 70s has a lot of styles to choose from.
To begin with, a fool-proof outfit would be bell-bottoms and a fitted shirt or knotted crop top. Pair the outfit with platform shoes, a long shoulder bag, and long dangling earrings. To top it off, you can tie a scarf around your neck or head. If you want to go all-out disco, a sequin jumpsuit or metallic pants, and a statement top with hoop earrings together with block heels should do the trick. For the hippie look, try maxi dresses with big and bright floral patterns. Also add on chunky jewelry, a bucket bag, and natural makeup to complete the look.
Want to go on another nostalgic trip down the fashion memory lane? Check 90s Fashion: All You Need to Know About the New Retro!
Saliha Sameera is a Fashion Journalism Intern at Shilpaahuja.com. She is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Crescent University, Chennai. Growing up in Abu Dhabi, she enjoys cultural experiences and learning new languages. She is an introvert who loves traveling and exploring new things and places. She absolutely loves shopping and makeup. Her favorite looks include a classic winged eyeliner and red lipstick with an evergreen Chanel bag.