Published: 2023-02-01 ǀ Updated: 2023-04-03
Fashion of the 1970s
Few other decades have produced as many fashion trends as the 1970s. Not only was the hippie look popular at the time, but the emerging disco culture, women's movement, and various youth cultures also set the tone for the decade, as did synthetic materials, whose style elements can still be found in fashion today.
The Fashion Trends of the Early Seventies (1970-72)
The beginning of the decade was largely shaped by the hippie fashion of the sixties. But other styles are also popular.
Bell-Bottoms, Parkas and Batik Shirts
In the sixties, hippie fashion spread with bell-bottoms, batik shirts, ponchos and blouses with wide sleeves. Ethnic and floral patterns and bright, vibrant colors were popular. This trend continues into the seventies and is increasingly worn by designers on the high fashion catwalks. In protest against the Vietnam War, military-style parkas are also popular among peaceful hippies.
The Glamour Look – Dress like a movie star
Alternative hippie fashion was not for everyone. Women, in particular, often dressed in the glamour of 40s movie stars. YSL also brings the 40s back to the catwalk and appeals to young trendsetters.
Dandies – The Peacock Revolution
With the alternative student movement, which often looked to the governments of the Far East for its ideals, the dandy also flourished in the swinging London of the sixties. Striped blazers, turtlenecks, satin shirts and hip-length Nehru jackets are all the rage. Colorful suits, double-breasted jackets or in unconventional colors and cuts are also part of the style of these extravagant fashion lovers, where the emphasis is always on a long, slim silhouette.
Eastern Fashion – Kaftans, Kimonos & Mao Jackets
With the alternative student movement, which often based its ideals on the governments of the Far East. Mao's shirt with its four patch pockets, five buttons, and fold-down collar became popular.
But you can also find other ethnically inspired clothing. These can be kimonos, caftans, or even folkloric dresses.
Sweaters – Casualness in Everyday Life
Casual wear is becoming more and more important in everyday life. The sweater in particular is often the focal point of the entire styling. In the years that followed, sweat dresses, coats, and even complete suits were created, both for daytime wear and for going out in the evening.
Hot Pants and Mini Skirts – Lots of Naked Skin
At the beginning of the seventies, the miniskirt also began its triumphal procession and initially caused scandals. The first model appeared on the market in 1971. At the same time, women combined hot pants with tight shirts and showed as much skin as possible.
In the second half of the decade, hot pants were increasingly seen as an expression of prostitution and lost popularity as a result of this stigmatization. Only in discos, with cheerleaders or pop stars are the tight pants still visible.
The Matching Look – Unisex Fashion
The fashion advertising of the seventies was long dominated by a completely new phenomenon: The matching look for men and women affected the entire outfit, from shoes to tops. This blurred the lines between the sexes and opened up the market for gender-neutral fashion.
Mode in the Mid Seventies (1973-76)
In the mid-seventies, the hippie look almost completely disappears. The trend is toward a deliberately casual style in everyday life - quite the opposite of the nights, when the glamour of the disco look lights up the dance floors.
The T-Shirt and Casual Wear – Relaxed Style for Everyday
From 1974, T-shirts lose their status as underwear. Short-sleeved shirts in a variety of cuts, designs, and prints quickly took over the fashion world. While the hippie look of the early seventies almost completely disappears, the casual style continues to spread.
From the mid-seventies on, jeans, sweaters and shirts are just as popular with men as complete denim outfits, khaki chinos and leather coats. Above all, this casual leisure wear shows that there is no longer a strict separation between men's and women's clothing.
The Ethno Look – The Legacy of the Hippies
As a legacy of the hippies, an ethno look emerged that focused on cultural designs and borrowed details from the traditional clothing of various ethnic groups, especially the indigenous peoples of North America and European folklore. Loose dresses, ponchos and decorative accessories also characterize this style.
Jumpsuits – For Day and All-Night Dancing
For women, the jumpsuit is probably the biggest phenomenon of the moment. Not only is it popular in sports, but its tight and low cuts reveal a lot on the dance floor. The legs are either straight or flared, the sleeves are short or long, and the fabric ranges from satin to rugged denim.
Active Wear – Sportswear for all Occasions
From 1975, sport conquers the fashion world. Garments such as tracksuit tops, crop tops, low-cut pants and leisure suits become increasingly popular with the fashion-conscious. And they are no longer just popular for casual wear, but also for the disco.
Business Wear for Women – Emancipation in the Office
As divorce rates rose, the number of women in the workforce increased. At the same time, the women's movement is encouraging emancipation, so more women are acquiring clothing that was once considered masculine. Layering became more popular, with women often wearing several blouses, pants under tunics, or even sweaters over dresses.
Off-the-shoulder and backless – even more bare skin
After the miniskirt and hot pants caused a scandal in the early seventies, pencil skirts, backless dresses, and palazzo pants followed. Of course, there are also tank tops with their thin spaghetti straps and cop tops that have only a narrow strap around the neck, leaving the upper back free.
The Disco Look – Glamour on the Dance Floor
Beginning in the mid-seventies, the emerging disco movement created its own fashion style, perfect for setting the body on fire under the lights of the dance floor. Wrap dresses are popular with women of all proportions, halter tops, tight spandex pants and dresses with deep slits are the eveningwear of choice, as are extravagant ball gowns and hot pants.
For men, the trend comes a little later, but is expressed in casual John Travolta-style 3-piece suits, often paired with classic aviator sunglasses. Polyester and satin are everywhere, earning the decade the nickname "The Polyester Decade".
Towards the end of the decade, the retro look became popular. This can be achieved with a wink of the eye when choosing your outfit.
The Soft Look – Popular with Men and Women
Starting in 1974, this style also went down in fashion history as the Big Look, because it eschewed clear contours and body-hugging shapes and propagated a comfortable style that landed on the world's catwalks through designers such as Kenzo Takada, Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent, and Calvin Klein. It is characterized by oversized, natural tones and colors, soft and light fabrics, hoods, wide sleeves, a body-hugging, layered look, even tent-like coats, and a general lack of decorative accessories. For men, narrow ties, casually knotted far from the collar, straight-cut trousers and round-necked shirts dominate. For women in particular, this style is an expression of their emancipation.
The Late Seventies (1977-79)
By the late seventies, the bright colors of the early part of the decade had all but disappeared. Earth tones, grays and black and white combinations dominate the fashion of the time.
One Piece Swimsuits – Alternative to Bikini
In 1977, American actress Farrah Fawcett started a whole new trend with the one-piece swimsuit. With its plunging neckline and high-cut legs, the tight suit looks particularly sexy and quickly becomes an alternative to the bikini.
Comfortable and Relaxed Through the Day
While the soft look of the seventies is still mainly seen on the catwalks, the comfortable and relaxed clothing arrives on the mass market towards the end of the decade. However, much more naked skin is shown, so that transparent neck holders are just as successful as sleeves that can be pushed up. Sweaters, leisure suits and cardigans, waistcoats and tennis shorts are also expressions of the relaxed fashion of this period and continue the ongoing trend toward sportswear.
By the end of the seventies, however, the trend had come to an end, as silhouettes became tighter and more figure-hugging. Giorgio Armani and Gianni Versace go for shoulder pads and military outfits, while Perry Ellis and Calvin Klein emphasize the figure with pencil skirts.
The Safari Suit – Muted Colors and Pockets
The safari suit, popularized by Ernest Hemingway in the fifties, experienced a revival in the seventies. With its pockets and belt, the loose suit became world-famous thanks to celebrities - not least Roger Moore as James Bond.
Back to Business – Leisurewear was Yesterday
The fashion world is tired of casual sportswear. The trend is changing in favor of suits and business attire. Fashion houses also recognize the need for business wear for women, who are increasingly employed. In addition to elegant pantsuits, outfits with straight skirts are created, often combined with hats and high heels.
The Trouser Suit – Emancipation of Women in Fashion
At the end of the 1970s, the pantsuit finally established itself as women's business wear, after Yves Saint Laurent had already presented a special suit called "Le Smoking" in 1966. Films such as Annie Hall with Diane Keaton also contributed to the emancipation of women's fashion, which continued to set new trends. In the early days, jackets and trousers were often contrasting, but later the trend was towards uniform fabrics, patterns and materials, reminiscent of classic men's suits.
Ruffled Blouses – A Hint of Romance
Almost the opposite of the sexy hot pants is the ruffled blouse: high-necked with a ruffle at the neck, the blouse with wide sleeves looks downright primitive. The male counterpart is probably the turtleneck sweater in warm orange, brown and yellow tones.
Designer Jeans – Expression of Fashion Consciousness
Jeans have been a part of almost every wardrobe since the early seventies, whether high-waisted or low-rise, straight cut or wide flared. 1978 marks the birth of designer jeans, which are unmistakably associated with the names Calvin Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt and Florucci. Most styles have a cigarette cut in dark blue tones. Characteristic is the logo on the back pocket, an unmistakable sign that the wearer is in fashion.
Baggy Jeans – High Waist and Bare Ankles
Between 1979 and 1985, baggy jeans with a high waist and a straight, tight cut from the waist to the ankles set a new trend. A popular combination is a rustic sweater with a shoulder accentuating neckline, pumps or high heels. And pants are everywhere on women: The trend of the seventies clearly favors trousers, not skirts or dresses.
Shoulder Pads – for the Narrow Waist
Beginning in 1978, silhouettes become tighter again. Women and men combined shoulder pads with tight shirts and waists. Contrary to all rumors, they originated in the world of fashion designers such as Calvin Klein or Giorgio Armani, who, unlike their colleagues, incorporated mass-market sizes into their creations. From 1979, the shoulder pad spread to the mass market and in the following eighties became one of the most famous stylistic devices of the fashion world.
Beauty Trends of the Seventies
In both clothing and hairstyles, there is a continuing trend toward gender equality in the 1970s. This is true not only for the hairstyles of the hippies and punks, but also for the make-up and the choice of accessories to go with the outfit.
Hairstyle - inspired by the stars
Throughout most of the 1970s, women wear their hair long with a center or side part. Movies like Charlie's Angels set occasional trends, such as the outwardly curled wave. At the same time, from about 1973, there was a trend toward shoulder-length side layers. This also increased the popularity of hats.
Ever since Debbie Harry showed off her platinum blonde hair with long bangs in 1977, the trend has been on. And Farrah Fawcett, with her wavy layered cut, is the ultimate role model when it comes to hairstyling. It can be styled quickly. Afro-Americans rightly love the voluminous, short-haired, curly head known as the "Afro," which is also adopted by some other cultures before the trend moves to shorter hair through punk and disco.
Men use gel and pomade to keep their hair in shape. Those who wanted to protest against the establishment simply let their hair grow. In the late 1970s, sporty short cuts became popular and beards went out of style.
Make-up - accentuate according to the occasion
The modern woman of the seventies no longer uses make-up all the time, but applies it according to the situation. During the day, it is important to look natural, so makeup is discreet. In the evening, sexy glamour makeup comes to the fore to stand out at the disco. Here, lipstick can go from orange to a bold blue or green eye shadow. Last but not least, glam rock and punk have influenced the mainstream again and again.
Jewellery and accessories - from discreet to eye-catching
Each fashion trend of the seventies is accompanied by its own accessories. Hippie fashion was characterized by natural materials such as wood, shells, feathers and leather, which largely replaced classic jewelry. Big scarves, oversized hats and headscarves, Birkenstock shoes or moccasins are also a must-have for men and women.
It was a different story for women who celebrated glamour. Pearl earrings, feather boas, elegant necklaces and high heels reflect the chic of the times. Men also wear large lockets-preferably with cutouts that show off their abundant chest hair.
In the mid-1970s, however, the trend toward accessories disappeared for a while - minimalism in the style of the 1950s was the new credo. Those who wore costume jewelry at this time opted for inconspicuous pieces, some of which were worn under clothing.
By the end of the seventies, however, scarves, gold jewelry, '40s style hats, belts, boas, and corsets were back as part of the relaxed fashion of the era. And turbans are also an essential accessory of the seventies. Women in particular wear them as a fashion statement - a trend that even Queen Elizabeth cannot resist.
Shoes - from clogs, sandals to plateau shoes
In the seventies, platform shoes are available in almost endless variations, from sandal-like shoes with straps to over-the-knee boots. In general, boots, usually with a round toe, are a must-have for almost every woman in all possible variations. Mary Janes, sandals and Birkenstocks have been setting trends since the early seventies.
In the mid-seventies, high heels with thick heels set the tone, while the boot style became rounder, heavier and thicker. Cowboy boots are also part of many outfits at this time. Towards the end of the decade, the colors became more subdued and side zippers were added to the shoes, which did not detract from the boot trend.
However, one of the biggest shoe trends of the seventies is probably the clogs - high slip-on sandals with a clattering wooden heel, which have little to do with the associations of Dutch wooden clogs worn by cheese lovers. With the emergence of sportswear in everyday life, the matching sports shoes became more important.
Fashion icons of the seventies
Some of the fashion icons of the seventies shaped the fashion world through their presence in film, television, and on stage, as well as through their extraordinary fashion creations.
Farrah Fawcett - androgynous elegance
Farrah Fawcett did not only set trends with her high-waisted bell-bottoms, but also with her hairstyle, which made her a fashion icon of the seventies. The "Farrah Flick" - long hair, bangs, big waves and blonde highlights - was one of the first must-have celebrity hairstyles.
Bianca Jagger - from Studio 54 to the world
Shortly after meeting at a Rolling Stones concert in 1970, Mick and Bianca got married. Bianca wore a white tuxedo jacket by YSL to the wedding, while Mick wore a three-piece suit with a paisley shirt. Bianca's name soon became synonymous with the legendary Studio 54 itself, where she created many magical moments of the Seventies fashion industry with off-the-shoulder gowns, satin pantsuits or skin-tight silk dresses.
Debbie Harry - the new disco style
Singer of the band Blondie, Playboy bunny and go-go dancer, Debbie Harry is a true style icon. From over-the-knee boots and leather jackets to platinum blonde hair and bright red lipstick, Debbie Harry is a trendsetter.
David Bowie - the androgyny of Ziggy Stardust
Kansai Yamamoto creates the fantastic outfits for his tour. As Ziggy Stardust, the artist appeared on stage in jumpsuits, perfectly styled hair, and garish makeup, and his androgyny not only contributed to the dissolution of gender boundaries, but also helped shape the glam rock scene.
Diane Von Fürstenberg - 5 million wrap dresses
Diane von Fürstenberg's wrap dress became an absolute bestseller in 1974. It allowed the emancipated woman of the time to make a seamless transition from casual daywear to an evening look and was particularly easy to put on and take off. No wonder von Fürstenberg was able to sell around five million of these dresses in just two years.
Other style icons of the seventies - celebrities as style icons
Of course, there are many other stars and celebrities who influenced the fashion of the seventies and who serve as inspiration for their followers when choosing the right outfit.
- Sonny und Cher
- Liza Minelli
- Joni Mitchell
- Pam Grier
- Diana Ross
- Jackie Kennedy
- Brigitte Bardot
- Rod Stewart
- Jerry Hall
- Patti Smith
- Anita Pallenberg
- Catherine Deneuve
- Stevie Nicks
- Diane Keaton
- Andy Warhol
- Elton John
- Joan Jett
- Faye Dunaway
- Grace Jones
- Olivia Newton-John
- Anjelica Huston
- Jane Fonda
Fashion Designers of The Seventies
Often, the haute couture of the catwalks quickly finds its way to the mass market. In the seventies, many of today's world-renowned designers began their careers. Pierre Cardin, Christian Dior, and Ralph Lauren are just a few of the most sought-after fashion creators of their time.
Vivienne Westwood – Birth of Punk
In the seventies, Vivienne Westwood runs a boutique in London. Together with her partner Malcolm McLaren - later known as the manager of the Sex Pistols and the New York Dolls - she dressed one of the first punk bands in the world with an unmistakable style that soon became the standard for an entire generation.
Yves Saint Laurent – Confident Women’s Fashion
At the beginning of the decade, YSL's Libéracion collection is clearly inspired by the fashion of the 1940s - fashion journalists and consumers alike recognize clear reminiscences of the German occupiers during the war years. Otherwise, YSL is best known for his luxurious handbags and shoes. And the look of the beatniks was also largely shaped by the fashion creator.
Giorgio Armani – Start of an Empire
The Italian designer founded his own fashion label in 1975. In the seventies, he became known for his simple elegance and brought shoulder pads to the mass market with his subtle shapes.
Roy Halston – Women’s Fashion for the Disco Night
Not only YSL, but also Roy Halston looks to the past for inspiration. In addition to the shirt dress from 1978, which is basically nothing more than a much longer men's shirt that is cinched at the waist with a belt, Halston created jumpsuits for celebrities, metallic-looking dresses, and dresses with plunging necklines that barely end above the hip-high leg slit. With Liza Minelli and Jackie O, the designer's creations have been worn by true fashion icons since the early 1970s and have helped to establish New York as the fashion capital of the world.
Calvin Klein – Typical American Style
The American Calvin Klein embodies the casual college look of the USA like no other. In the seventies, the young fashion creator was one of the first to make designer jeans a must-have for anyone who wanted to be in style.
Seventies Fashion Styles
The youth cultures of the seventies also created their own styles – more or less politically and socially critical - which can still be found in retro trends.
Boho Style – Everything for Self-Expression
Boho is short for bohemian style. It is all about being yourself. Bohemians make their own rules and create fashion that is modern and minimalist, but at the same time stands out with big patterns and bright colors. Accessories show artistic ambition and often have a vintage charm, but the outfits must not neglect one's own well-being. Used-look jeans and chinos are paired with wildly patterned shirts whose only goal is to stand out. Knit sweaters, often knee-length and casually worn open, are not to be missed. The style is completed with sandals and perhaps a hat or scarf that fully expresses your individuality.
Hippies – Against the Generation of Parents
The hippie movement is probably still one of the largest movements of teenagers and young adults in the world. It is all about expressing freedom, rebelling against the social norms of one's parents' generation and expressing one's own individuality. Typical of middle-class teenagers and young adults, the revealing look with long hair, batik shirts and flower power motifs, bell-bottoms, loose dresses and sandals reached most of the Western world. As a counter-movement to the Vietnam War, military uniforms, parkas and peace signs also find their way into fashion.
Punk – Anti-Establishment and No Future
The music genre of punk would also have a strong influence on the fashion world of the late seventies. The late Vivienne Westwood, who, with her partner Malcolm McLaren, dressed the Sex Pistols, undoubtedly played a major role in this - and quickly became an icon in the world of fashion design. The style is characterized by a wild mix of tight jeans, leather pants and jackets, provocative shirt prints, dog collars and lots of studs, safety pins and holes in clothing. As with the hippies, anti-establishment and individuality are at the heart of the movement.
Heavy Metal – Sex, Drugs & Rock'n'Roll
In the early seventies, hard rock gave way to the harder version of heavy metal. Flared pants and batik shirts were in at the beginning of the decade, but fans of later groups like Judas Priest increasingly adopted the tough fashion of bikers, the leather scene, and even the punks. Leather jackets, heavy boots and washed-out jeans are standard, as are shoulder-length hair and beards for men, while women often imitate the hairstyles of punks. Denim jackets and vests emblazoned with their favorite bands and lots of tattoos are also common.
Teddy Boys – The Dandies among R'n'B Fans
The R&B and rock'n'roll-loving Teddy Boys originated in the 50s and 60s, but their outfits became much more colorful in the 70s. Hairspray and pomade are still an integral part of their outfits. In the late seventies there was a bitter feud between the dandies of the Teddy Boys, the Mods and the followers of the Punk movement.
Glam Rock – Bright and Extravagant
Around 1973, glam rock conquered not only the stages, but also the fashion world with its extravagant, androgynous outfits. Colorful tails, platform shoes, satin, leather jackets and silk scarves were worn by men and women alike, often combined with garish makeup. One of the most famous pioneers of this extravagant style is probably David Bowie, who conquered the stages of the world with Ziggy Stardust in 1972.
Mods – Mopeds and Jazz Music
In the early seventies, the Mods created their own culture. Characterized by Ben Sherman shirts, tight pants, sweaters, blazers, hats and leather shoes, often worn to experimental jazz and on mopeds. After the punk movement adapted the clothing of the second-hand market for its own subculture, the Mods experienced a great revival with the Vespa movement since the cult movie Quadrophenia in 1978.
The seventies shaped the world of fashion like no other decade before or since. The diversity of styles is just as impressive as the sometimes scandalous creations, which were often influenced by the emancipation of women. Whether it is a complete retro trend or a wild mix with other styles, the fashion achievements of this era can still be found today.