70s fashion began where the 60s left off. Mini skirts were popular and theflower power influence was everywhere. 60s’ trends first adopted by the beautiful people filtered into mainstream wear. Trousers were flared and shirts had big collars. For men, the kipper tie was soon standard wear with a suit. These girls (above) are at a party in the summer of 1970. They show that the mini skirt was far from dead. 70s’ fashion took on a multitude of different styles and influences. As well as the hippy style of the late sixties, there was nostalgia for the past.
First for the 20s and 30s, then the 40s and 50s and finally the Edwardian era. There was also concern for the environment and strong ethnic influences. Men’s fashion adopted a look that would have been considered too feminine a few years earlier. Shirts were tight fitting with big collars and were brightly patterned. There was also a trend towards unisex clothes. The formal suit was still expected to be worn to a dinner party in the 70s; for younger men it was usually only worn in the office or for formal occasions.
Jeans, increasingly flared, were popular with men and women for everyday wear. By the end of the decade, change was on the way. Punk rejected everything that had gone before. Mini, midi or maxi The popularity of the mini skirt was challenged in the early 70s and a group of (male) truckers even organised a campaign to bring it back in 1970. However, the mini remained popular in the early years of the 70s, but women now could chose between, mini, midi, (mid-calf length) or maxi (full length) skirts. Hot pants, ultra short shorts, sometimes with a bib and braces, were a variation on the theme.
The girl on the above, right, is wearing a pair of navy hot pants with long white socks. Her blouse is in a floral pattern and has a big collar with rounded corners. Longer dresses, inspired by the hippy era of the late sixties, were also in fashion, with paisley or floral patterns being popular. I lived in Portsmouth in 1970/71/72 and was aged 16-18 at that time so had the best of it. Hot pants, mini skirt/dress, long dress and maxi coat, wide brimmed hats, seed bead jewellery and a headband round my head!! I was a true hippy to begin with and went to the Isle of Wight pop festival in 1970.
Chris Flares and platform soles Two trends defined the 70s in a fashion sense: flared trousers and platform soles. Flares were derived from the hippy fashion for loon pants of the late 60s. They were worn by men and women. The flare was from the knee and reached exaggerated proportions in the middle years of the 70s. The trousers were often hipsters, sitting on the hips rather than the waist, and tight fitting. The combination of flares and denim made flared jeans the fashion phenomenon of the decade. Platform soles were mainly worn by women and more fashionable men.
There were health warnings about damage that could be caused to the back in later life, but the fashion did not last long enough for that to have an effect. There was an element of thirties retro in the style of some of the shoes, which echoed the thirties’ love of two-tone or co-respondent black and cream or brown and cream colours. Bright colours also gave the shoes more of a space age look. Platform soles on eBay Nostalgia Nostalgia had a big influence on fashion in the 70s. Barbara Hulanicki’s Biba label popularised a look derived from the 20s and 30s.
There was a brief fashion for loudly checked tweed Oxford Bags for men and women from around 1972. These were usually worn with platform soled shoes in 30s style two-tone patterns. Biba took over venerable, old London department store, Derry and Toms, in 1973 and turned it into an Art Deco palace. The Biba store became a hip meeting place and a complete lifestyle emporium. The Biba look was a long cotton skirt, worn with a long sleeved shirt or smock, and topped with a floppy brimmed hat. Biba was ahead of its time in providing a complete lifestyle store.
However, Biba did not make commercial sense; it was more of a place to hang out than to shop. A large part of the store’s floor space was not used to sell merchandise. Big Biba, as the store became known, closed two years later. Laura Ashley, founded by Bernard and Laura Ashley in the 1950s, looked back further when they introduced British women to Edwardian style dresses and nineteenth century inspired floral prints in the mid-70s. Laura Ashley, unlike Biba, was commercially successful and is still going strong today, although sadly Laura Ashley herself met an untimely death in 1985.
Formal occasions The 70s were more relaxed than the 60s. However, on formal occasions and in the office men still wore suits. The kipper tie, favoured by the fashionable in the late sixties, became a standard men’s accessory. For women, long dresses were often worn for formal occasions. This wedding, left, is from 1970. The lady’s floppy hat and long dress drew inspiration from the hippy era as well as nostalgia for the 1930s. The brown colour, also derived from the 1930s, was very popular throughout the 70s. Long hair was fashionable for both men and women.
Beards were also popular. This again was a hangover from the flower power years of the late 60s. In many peoples’ minds psychedelia was very much in, although the pop music scene had moved on by then. Jeans and the casual look In the more relaxed mood of the 70s, jeans were increasingly popular. Initially little changed from the sixties, but by the mid seventies most people were wearing flares. Printed t-shirts were also increasingly popular in the 70s, as were trainers and canvas shoes. Late 70s fashion By the end of the 70s, flares were still mainstream fashion.
This group, left, shows two younger men with long hair. One wears a suede safari jacket with a wide collar and brown, flared trousers. This look was favoured by Brodie and Doyle in the TV series, ‘The Professionals’. The other young man with a short leather jacket and flared blue jeans is more casual and younger looking. The older man has a beard (a very fashionable look in the 70s) and wears a wet-look type anorak. The woman is wearing a suit. Flares, denim, long hair and cheesecloth shirts were the staple of 70s men’s fashion throughout most of the decade.
Inspired by the hippy movement of the late sixties, this look, echoing the hippy dream of Free Love and optimism, did not fit with the closing years of the 70s, but mainstream fashion was unable to change. 70s Punk fashion Punk came to most people’s attention from 1977 onwards through the publicity surrounding the original Punk band, The Sex Pistols. The Sex Pistols’ promoter, Malcolm McLaren, together with his partner, designer Vivian Westwood, created the original Punk look. Their shop at 430 Kings Road, originally named ‘Let it Rock’, a Ted revival store, was called ‘Sex’ at the time the Sex Pistols band appeared.
The look was based on a sexual fetish for black leather, mainly for its shock value, combined with ripped t-shirts carrying slogans designed to provoke. McLaren and Westwood changed their shop’s name again to ‘Seditionaries: Clothes for Heroes’ at the end of 1976. The new name heralded a wholly Punk outlook. The stock featured bondage trousers, bondage dresses and a new t-shirt featuring the Punk message, “Destroy”. Punk was a rejection of anything that was considered good taste. Ripped and bleached clothes were part of the look, as was spiked hair, dyed in bright colours. Black make up and safety pins as earrings were often worn.
For most Punks, quite a few of whom were unemployed, the look could easily be created from modifying second-hand clothes rather than from a trip to the Kings Road. Punk itself lasted into the early 80s. Its importance though, was as a catalyst for change in the fashion world. Punk rejected the flared jeans and cheesecloth shirts which were popular mainstream fashion. It rejected the hippy style and the hippy view of the world. Vintage Punk fashion on eBay Late 70s fashion trends The end of the seventies saw the appearance of a number of youth cults formed formed in the wake of Punk.
Amongst those was a revival of the Mod style of the sixties, as well as the Teddy Boy look of the fifties. Mainstream youth fashion also changed dramatically; the 1980 film, ‘Gregory’s Girl’ illustrates how quickly. One of Gregory’s mates, who is a year older, has left school and got a job as a window cleaner. He has saved his money to buy a white jacket with enormous lapels. Gregory’s contemporary, Steve, has a white jacket with lapels an inch wide. There was always a particular way to wear a school tie. In 1979 the knot was tied very near the wide end.
The 3 inch long tie was tucked into a pullover, to give the impression it was a kipper tie. From 1980, it was folded in half length ways to reduce the width and pressed with an iron so it stayed put. By 1980, school ties were often worn ‘back to front’ so that the ‘thin end’ was prominent. The fat end was tucked into the school shirt, behind the knot. A bit uncomfortable, but very trendy. Al I was coming into my teens in 1979, but the punk look was still very much for the minority and most kids still had longish hair, shirts with big collars and flared trousers, although the flares were becoming smaller.
Locally the mod revival at the end of 1979 killed off this fashion rather than punk. By 1981 seventies fashions and music had become a total joke and almost no one under 50 would be seen dead in flares. Even punk was being classed as old hat and too seventies. Glenn A High fashion was very different at the end of the 70s. Ralph Lauren designed the clothes for the hit Woody Allen film, ‘Annie Hall’ in 1977. There was a distinct 80s feel to the outfits worn by Annie (Diane Keaton), who wore crumpled socks, full skirts and layered jackets.
Young people dropped flares and wide collars with breath taking speed. Older people were slower to change from the 70s look, but by around 1983, the archetypal 70s style was extinct. 70s fashion reference Fashion of the 70s is another great Taschen 25. It is packed with adverts from the decade. You will find flares, hot pants, platform soles, denim, slacks, microphone hairdos, wide collars and kipper ties. There is also a short introduction to fashion in the 70s. The book is colourful and very entertaining. The adverts are all American ones, but this does not detract much from a great piece of nostalgia.
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