1970s in Western fashion

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In 1971 hot pants and bell-bottomed trousers were popular fashion trends
Example of glam rock costume worn by Roy Wood and Wizzard, early 1970s.

Fashion in the 1970s began with a continuation of the mini skirts, bell-bottoms, and the androgynous hippie look from the late 1960s and eventually became an iconic decade for fashion.[1]

Generally the most famous silhouette of the mid and late 1970s for both genders was that of tight on top and loose on bottom. The 1970s also saw the birth of the indifferent, anti-conformist casual chic approach to fashion, which consisted of sweaters, T-shirts, jeans, and sneakers.

The top fashion models of the 1970s were Lauren Hutton, Margaux Hemingway, Beverly Johnson, Gia Carangi, Janice Dickinson, Cheryl Tiegs, Jerry Hall, and Iman.


Early 1970s (1970-72)[edit]

Hippie Look[edit]

  • The decade began with a continuation of the hippie look from the 1960s, giving a distinct ethnic flavor. Popular early 1970s fashions for women included Tie dye shirts, Mexican peasant blouses,[2] folk-embroidered Hungarian blouses, ponchos, capes,[3] and military surplus clothing.[4] Bottom attire for women during this time included bell-bottoms, gauchos,[3][5] frayed jeans, midi skirts, and ankle-length maxi dresses.[2] Hippie clothing during this time was made in extremely bright colors,[6] as well as Indian patterns, Native American patterns, and floral patterns.[7]
  • Women's hippie accessories of the early 1970s included chokers, dog collars, handcrafted neck ornaments, and accessories made from natural elements like wood, shells, stones, feathers, Indian beads and leather. All of these replaced standard jewelry.[3] Unisex hippie accessories included headbands, floppy hats, balumba balls, flowing scarves,[4] Birkenstocks,[8] and earth shoes.[9]

Glamour Wear[edit]

By the early 1970s, miniskirts had reached an all-time popularity. This young English woman is wearing a fringed suede miniskirt.
  • Although the hippie look was widespread, it was not adopted by everyone. Many women still continued to dress up with more glamorous clothes, inspired by 1940s movie star glamour. Other women just adopted simple casual fashions, or combined new garments with carefully chosen secondhand or vintage clothing from the 1930s, 1950s and 1960s.[10] More simple early 1970s trends for women included fitted blazers (coming in a multitude of fabrics along with wide lapels), long and short dresses, mini skirts, maxi evening gowns, hot pants (extremely brief, tight-fitting shorts) paired with skin-tight T-shirts,[6] his & hers outfits (matching outfits that were nearly identical to each other), and flared pants. Pastel colors were most commonly used for this style of clothing, such as mauve, peach, apple green, pink, yellow, white, wheat, camel, gray, and baby blue.[3] Rust, tangerine, copper, forest green, and pistachio became more popularized from 1973 onwards.[3] Sweaters were a huge phenomenon in the early 70s, often outfits being judged entirely by the sweater. This fragmented into more styles, such as sweater coats, sweater dresses, floor-length sweaters, and even sweater suits. Many of them were trimmed with fur, especially faux. Chunky, shawl-collared, belted cardigans, often in brown and white, were also commonplace.[3]
  • Glamorous women's accessories of the early 1970s included cloche hats or turbans, pearl earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, feather boas, black-veiled hats, clogs, wedgies, cork-soled platforms, and chunky high heels.[3] Golden chains, gold-button earrings and rhinestone clips started to become popular again in 1973 after several years of homemade jewelry.[3][11]
  • In the early 1970s boots were at the height of their popularity, continuing onward from the mid 1960s. Women had boots for every occasion, with a wide variety of styles being sold in stores for affordable prices. Despite the wide variety, the most popular boots were Go-go boots, crinkle boots (boots with a shiny wet look that was wrinkled), stretch boots, and granny boots (1920s style lace-up boots that ended just below the knees).[12]

Mid 1970s (1973-76)[edit]

This photo taken in 1974, shows a girl inspired by the British glam rock craze which had a brief influence on fashion. Her glitter-adorned dress comes from Granny Takes a Trip boutique

Casual Looks[edit]

  • By 1974, the T-shirt was no longer considered underwear, and was by then made in elaborate designs such as slogans, sports teams, and other styles.[3] Around the same time the looser, more flowy shirts of the early 1970s had given way to fitted tops.
  • By the mid 1970s, the hippie look had completely disappeared, although casual looks continued. In the mid 1970s women wore sweaters, T-shirts, cardigans, kimonos, graphic T-shirts and sweaters,[6] jeans, khakis, gauchos,[5] workmen's clothes, and vintage clothing.[3] Around 1976, casual fashion adopted a Parisan peasant look. This included capes, turbans, puffy skirts and shirts with billowing sleeves.[3]
  • In the mid-1970s, accessories were generally not worn, adopting a minimalistic approach to fashion akin to that of the 1950s. Small leather shoulder bags were worn by women everywhere, and popular shoes included Mary Janes, knee-high boots with rounded toes, platform shoes and sandals, Birkenstocks,[8] and loafers.[3][6] Despite the lack of accessories, the mood ring was a big fad in the mid 1970s.[13]

Active Wear[edit]

  • Clean-cut, all-American active wear for women became increasingly popular from 1975 onwards. The biggest phenomenon of this trend was the jumpsuit, popular from 1975 onwards. Jumpsuits were almost always flared in the legs, and sleeves varied from being completely sleeveless to having extremely long bell-sleeves.[3] Other sportswear trends included tracksuits, tunic shirts, crop tops, tube tops, sweatshirts, hip-huggers,[14] low rise pants, and leisure suits.[3][6] This continued into the 1980s.
  • Accessories were less of an importance during this time, but two very desirable accessories included sneakers and tennis headbands.[6][14]

Tailored Styles[edit]

  • Starting in 1975, women's semi-formal wear became more tailored and sharp. This included a lot of layering, with women wearing two blouses at once, multiple sweaters, pants underneath tunic dresses, and jumpers worn over long, fitted dresses. The 1970s also featured some of the most scandalous dresses worn publicly in American history up to that point.[6] Other clothes worn in this style include suede coats, peacoats, blazers, cowl-neck sweaters, pencil skirts, backless dresses, extremely low-cut dresses, palazzo pants,[6] tube dresses,[3] evening gowns, jacket dresses,[7] and pinstriped pantsuits.[3][6] Women's dresses in the mid 1970s were dominated by pastel colors, but Asian patterns were also common.[7]
  • Accessories for the more formal styles included high-heels (both low and high, mostly thick-heeled), turbans, and leather shoulder bags.[6] Boots continued their popularity in the mid 1970s. This trend expanded to other styles, most notably the wedge heel (arguably the most popular women's shoe of the mid 1970s). Boots became rounder, chunkier, heavier, and thicker, and were more expensive than they were in the early 70s. Popular boots of the mid 1970s included wedge boots, ankle boots, platform boots, and cowboy boots.[12]

Late 1970s (1977-79)[edit]

Relaxed Look[edit]

Group of friends in 1979. Two of the women are wearing the trendy tube tops, while the woman on the far left is wearing a rayon strapless dress
  • In 1977, fashion became more baggy. This caused much controversy, as women with trim figures bemoaned not being able to flaunt them while heavier women complained the looser clothes made them look even larger. To make up for this, it became fashionable to show more skin. This resulted in shirts being unbuttoned, sleeves being rolled up, and tops being strapless, see-through, and lacy. Shiny satin and gold colors were also used to make up for the lack of tighter clothing. Styles became curvier in 1978, with shoulder pads, tighter skirts, and narrower waistlines. The silhouette that resulted was an inverted triangle, it was positively received by the general public.[3] By 1977, pants were only flared slightly and sometimes not flared at all.[6]
  • Women's fashions in the late 1970s included cowl-neck shirts and sweaters, pantsuits, leisure suits, tracksuits,[3] sundresses worn with tight T-shirts,[15] strapless tops, lower-cut shirts, cardigans,[6] velour shirts, tunics, robes, crop tops, tube tops, embroidered vests and jeans, knee-length skirts,[7] loose satin pants,[3] designer jeans,[16] culottes, daisy dukes, and tennis shorts.[6] This continued into the 1980s.
  • Accessories included scarves, gold jewelry, flowers, ankle boots, 1940s style hats (often tilted), skinny and wide belts, boas, braceleted gloves, spike-heeled sandals, mules, ankle-strapped shoes, waist cinchers, and obi wraps. Color had almost completely faded from fashion in the late 1970s, with earthy tones like browns, light blues, tans, grays, whites, and blacks making a comeback.[3][6]
  • The frenzy for boots had cooled down by the late 1970s, but they remained popular, especially in the winter. They became less flamboyant by that point in time, and they mostly came in black, brown, or burgundy. The most popular boots were either knee-high or reached the mid-calf, and were made in leather, suede, urethane, or rubber. The toes were rounded, and zippers were on the side. The heels were usually only 2-4 inches, and the heels were sometimes even flat. Women continued to wear wedge heels and ankle boots, as well as knee-high boots with thick kitten heels.[12]

One-Piece Swimsuits[edit]

  • In 1977, American actress Farrah Fawcett popularized the one-piece swimsuit which in turn launched the trend for the maillot. This was, when it resurged in the 1970s, a sexy, tight swimsuit, with deep neckline and high-cut legs, worn by young women and girls in lieu of the bikini, although it did not entirely replace the latter. This continued into the 1980s.

Disco Look[edit]

Swedish model Ulla Jones dressed in a lurex halter top and matching flared trousers
  • Disco fashion featured fancy clothes made from man-made materials. The most famous disco look for women was the jersey wrap dress, a knee-length dress with a cinched waist first designed by Diane von Fürstenberg in 1972. It became an extremely popular item, as it flattered a number of different body types and sizes, and could be worn both to the office by day, and to nightclubs and discos by night.[17]
  • The popular disco music genre spawned its own fashion craze in the mid-1970s. Young people gathered in nightclubs dressed in new disco clothing that was designed to show off the body and shine under dance-floor lights

Disco fashion was generally inspired by clothing from the early 1960s. Disco clothes worn by women included tube tops, sequined halterneck shirts, blazers, spandex short shorts, loose pants, form-fitting spandex pants, maxi skirts and dresses with long thigh slits, jersey wrap dresses, ball gowns, and evening gowns.[7] Shoes ranged from knee-high boots to kitten heels, but the most commonly worn shoes were ones that had thick heels and were often made with see-through plastic.


Early 1970s (1970-72)[edit]

Iranian prince Reza Pahlavi wearing velvet Nehru jacket and geometric print scarf, 1973.

Bright Colors[edit]

  • For the first time in decades, there was a significant shortage of raw materials and fabrics, including synthetics like vinyl and nylon. As a result, everyday designers kept things simple.[3] The early 1970s were a continuation of late 1960s hippie fashion. For men this particularly meant bell bottom jeans, tie dye shirts, and military surplus clothing.[4] Other early 1970s clothes for men included tweed sports jackets, khaki chinos, chunky sweaters, storm coats, battle jackets peacoats, flannel shirts, pleated pants, baseball jackets,[3] corduroy pants, pullover sweaters and sweater vests, tassels, cardigans,[18] and hip-huggers.[14]
  • The most popular accessories of the early 1970s for men were homemade, with necklaces, headbands, and bracelets being made from all-natural materials such as wood, hemp, flowers, leather, shells, stones, and Indian beads.[3] Unisex hippie accessories included headbands, floppy hats, and flowing scarves.[4] Men's footwear in the early 1970s included flip-flops, oxfords, Birkenstocks,[8] platform shoes, earth shoes,[9] and cowboy boots.[18]

Eastern fashion[edit]

Red Chinese leader Mao Zedong and US President Richard Nixon in 1972.
  • Due to the ongoing Cultural Revolution in China, Western style clothing was suppressed and both sexes wore grey Mao suits until the early 1980s.[19] The suit, unchanged since the 1940s, typically had four external pockets, five buttons, and a turn-down collar.[20] In contrast to the Chinese mainland, many people in Taiwan and Hong Kong abandoned the Zhongshan suit during the early 70s due to its association with Communism.[21] In the UK, France,[22] India[23] and Australia,[24] green, blue or beige safari jackets similar to the Mao suit became popular among liberal men due to their association with socialist values, travel to exotic locations, 1930s Hollywood, and Roger Moore's portrayal of James Bond and Simon Templar.[25]

Glam rock[edit]

Mid 1970s (1973-76)[edit]

Teenage couple in California, 1975. The girl is wearing a crop top and high-waisted trousers. The boy is dressed in the classic t-shirt and jeans, popular male attire in the 1970s

Informal Attire[edit]

  • Fashion in the 1970s was generally informal and laid back for men. Most men simply wore jeans, sweaters, and T-shirts, which by then were being made with more elaborate designs. Men continued to wear flannel, and the Leisure suit became increasingly popular from 1975 onwards, often worn with gold medallions and oxford shoes. Vintage clothing, khaki chinos, workmens clothes, sweatshirts, leather coats, and all-denim outfits were also desired among young men.[3] Other trends include printed shirts, zip-up cardigans, Birkenstocks,[8] mood rings,[13] and raincoats.[18]
  • Around 1975, American suits started to resemble the slimmer European suit. This new model, named the quasi-European suit, featured padded shoulders, higher arm holes, a smaller waist, open patch pockets, and a small flare to the pants and jacket.[3] In 1976, it became fashionable for men to wear velvet tuxedo jackets with more casual pants to formal events, and vests came back into vogue. It was this year that men's pants started to feature smaller flares or no flares at all.[3] This continued into the 1980s.

Late 1970s (1977-79)[edit]

Flared jeans and trousers were popular with both sexes as can be seen at this German disco in 1977


  • By the late 1970s, most men and women were wearing sports clothing as everyday apparel. This was primarily based on tracksuits, jumpsuits, velour or terry cloth shirts (often striped and low-cut),[3] sweaters, cardigans, sweatshirts, puffer vests,[18] flare jeans,[3] straight-leg jeans, and collared shirts, both long sleeve and short sleeve. Around this time it also became fashionable for men to leave their shirts untucked.[18] This continued into the 1980s.
  • Late 1970s accessories included low-top sneakers, tennis headbands,[18] puka shell necklaces, and wristbands.

Disco style[edit]

  • 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.



Teddy Boys[edit]


Heavy metal[edit]

Black Power[edit]


Three Los Angeles Chicanos in 1974.


  • Punk rock was a musical genre that greatly influenced fashions for both sexes in the late 1970s. It emerged in London, and spread into the United States. Street punk fashion generally consisted of ripped clothes, black turtlenecks, drainpipe jeans, tight leather pants, leather jackets (often embellished with chains, spikes, studs, and paint), jackets and shirts with taboo images or messages, dog collars, safety pins, kilts, and Doc Martens.[49] A tamer, less threatening version of the Punk style called "New Wave", which featured jagged hems on clothing and more elaborate embroidery went mainstream in the early 1980s.[50]

1970s Beauty Trends[edit]


In the 1970s, women's hair was usually worn long with a centre parting

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, popularly referred to as "wings", 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).

In the 1970s, making one of the popular hairstyles for a woman didn't take a lot of time. These hairstyles, including Afro hairstyle, Shaggy Hairdo and Feathered hair (then known as "Farrah Fawcett hairstyle") were said to be perfect when you're on-the-go and would still keep your expressive style in-check.[51] 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.

The most iconic women's hairstyle of the 1970s is arguably the Farrah Fawcett hairstyle. Popularized in 1976, the hairstyle was heavily imitated by many American women and girls. It incorporated waves, curls, and layers. The style mostly worn with bangs, but could also be worn with a side parting. To make it even more stylish, women and girls would frost their hair with blonde streaks.[52]

Steve McQueen with crew cut and large sideburns, 1972.

Continuing on from the 1960s, the ducktail and Pompadour hairstyle (then known as the "Elvis Presley hairstyle") were popular among young Italian-American and Mexican-American men in big cities like New York. Large quantities of grease or brylcreem was normally used to keep the hair in place. The early and mid 1970s generally featured longer hair on men, as way of rebelling against the social norms of years past.[53] Sideburns were also worn around the same time. Some of the most popular hairstyles for men include "Long and Luscious" hairstyle, mod haircut, and the "buzzcut" hairstyle popularised by action heroes like Steve McQueen. In the late 1970s, men went for the chop, ranging from crew cuts, to buzz cuts, to a shag. This was mainly done for an athletic look, and sideburns and facial hair went out of style.

Makeup and Cosmetics[edit]

Actress Camille Keaton in 1972. Throughout most of the decade, women preferred light, natural-looking make-up for the daytime

Cosmetics in the 1970s reflected the contradictory roles ascribed for the modern woman.[54] For the first time since 1900, make-up was chosen situationally, rather than in response to monolithic trends.[54] The era's two primary visions were the daytime "natural look" presented by American designers and Cosmopolitan magazine, and the evening aesthetic of sexualized glamour presented by European designers and fashion photographers.[54] In the periphery, punk and glam were also influential. The struggling cosmetics industry attempted to make a comeback, using new marketing and manufacturing practices.

Image gallery[edit]

Images representing the fashion trends of the 1970s.


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  14. ^ a b c "Hip Huggers". Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
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  19. ^ Why the Mao suit endures
  20. ^ History of the Mao suit
  21. ^ The Mao Suit
  22. ^ Ted Lapidus
  23. ^ Safari suit symbol of vanished modern India
  24. ^ Don Dunstan
  25. ^ Suits of James Bond
  26. ^ Performing glam rock
  27. ^ Marie Clare
  28. ^ Evolution of glam fashion
  29. ^ [ Keith Rylatt and Phil Scott. Central 1179: The Story of Manchester's Twisted Wheel Club. BeeCool Publishing. 2001]
  30. ^ Mod revival 1979-82
  31. ^ Greased quiffs and flick knives
  32. ^ Late 70s Teds
  33. ^ Photos of hippies
  34. ^ Nambassa Website
  35. ^ Heavy metal
  36. ^ Heavy metal encyclopedia
  37. ^ Postwar race relations
  38. ^ Black power images
  39. ^ Black power
  40. ^ Ebony Magazine
  41. ^ Ebony Feb 1973
  42. ^ Jet, 13 Jul 1972
  43. ^ Lifetime of dissent
  44. ^ Undressing cinema
  45. ^ Rethinking the Chicano movement
  46. ^ Chicano movement of Washington
  47. ^ Fightback news
  48. ^ Tucson citizen
  49. ^ "Doc Martens". Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  50. ^ "Punk". Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  51. ^ http://www.buzzle.com/articles/1970s-hairstyles.html
  52. ^ "Farrah Fawcett Look". Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  53. ^ "Long Hair for Men". Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  54. ^ a b c De Castelbajac, pp. 147–48.

External links[edit]