The 1970s were a memorable decade. As Queen and ABBA were coming into fame, the Beatles broke up. The voting age in the United States was lowered to 18 years old, and many young people used their newfound voices to stand against political issues such as the Vietnam War.
M*A*S*H took over television sets, and the first New York City Marathon was held. The music scene lost popular artists to overdoses, and the Watergate Scandal preceded Richard Nixon resigning as President of the United States.
One of the most memorable parts of the 1970s was the fashion, and it seems to be making a huge comeback.
Fashion in the 1970s
When you think of 70s fashion, what comes to mind? For many people, items such as tie-dye t-shirts, bell bottoms, and platform shoes are the garments most commonly associated with this era.
There were many different styles in the 1970s, and they each evolved as the decade continued.
In the early 1970s, many people were still participating in fashion trends from the 60s, making early 70s fashion an everyday Woodstock. Tie-dye shirts and peasant blouses were all the rage at this time. Blouses and ponchos with folk embroidery brought the old country into the new light.
For bottoms, women often wore bell-bottom jeans that were frayed, gauchos, as well as mid- and ankle-length skirts.
Men also continued the hippie-adjacent styles of the 60s. They also wore tie-dye and bell bottom jeans which were also referred to as hip huggers. They got the nickname of hip huggers because these pants were exceptionally tight across the high waistline and all the way down until the knee of the pant, where they began to flare out.
You could also spot men in khaki chinos and corduroy pants. Military surplus clothing was also popular among men in the 1970s. Although it often got them the nickname of “Dandy,” many young men began to take pride in the way they dressed. Satin shirts and suits of every fabric imaginable were worn by stylish men.
Homemade jewelry composed of natural elements such as feathers and wood were popular across both genders, and boots were the number one choice for footwear. Cowboy boots, Go Go boots, and crinkle boots were extremely popular.
By the middle of the decade, 70s fashion had split from the 60s. The flowy, billowy peasant tops were fading out as fitted tops came into fashion.
As the second wave of feminism washed over the country and settled in, women were finding more and more freedom in their everyday fashion. They celebrated their liberation by showing their skin with hot pants, daisy dukes, tube tops, and halter tops.
Women began to hit the workforce in droves, and women in suits could be seen anywhere, at any time of day. Pant suits, jump suits, track suits—it was suits galore. Women wore pant suits to the office, jumpsuits for lounging, and track suits to hit the tennis court or go for a run. As tracksuits took off, sneakers and tennis headbands gained popularity as well.
Women weren’t the only ones enjoying suits. Men’s 70s fashion was dominated by the leisure suit, a casual suit jacket with coordinating pants that came in a variety of fabrics and colors. Formal suits began to adopt a slimmer profile, resembling European suits of the time.
T-shirts were no longer considered undershirts, and they became a staple for American men during this decade. Over graphic t-shirts, men wore vests for any occasion.
Disco influenced 70s fashion for men and women. Flashy clothes that showed off the body and made it visible under the dim light of a dance club were worn by anyone enjoying the nightlife. If you need a visual of disco fashion in the 1970s, the classic movie Saturday Night Fever can give you the full picture.
As the decade drew to a close, a lot of clothing became baggier. However, silhouettes that were flowy didn’t allow the wearer to show off their figure, so there were a lot of rolled sleeves and unbuttoned shirts.
Fashion lovers that were sick of drowning in fabric adopted a structured style that resembled an inverted triangle. Shoulder pads widened and lifted the shoulders, waistlines were cinched, and pants dropped their flare.
Even swimwear wasn’t immune to the changing fashions. Famous models posed on beaches in one piece swimsuits that featured a low neckline and high-cut legs.
If the suits weren’t popular enough, YSL’s Le Smoking tuxedo catapulted the popularity of suits among businesswomen. Pantsuits were worn by executive women across the country, a far cry from the previous decade’s business wear of skirts and modest dresses.
Which Trends Are Coming Back in 2021?
So far, it looks like many aspects of 70s fashion are going to be at the forefront in 2021. In 2020, the practice of thrifting and wearing vintage clothing has boomed in popularity.
Popular app-based clothing marketplaces have made it easier than ever to get your hands on vintage clothing. Wearing vintage clothing reduces waste and is more environmentally friendly than purchasing new clothing, and this eco-friendly quality is another reason why 70s fashion is going to come full circle.
If you’ve been on social media in the past year, you’ve probably noticed the resurgence of 70s hair and makeup. Generation Z is discovering rollers, and they’re taking off with them.
You can find numerous tutorials everywhere you look on how to get the perfect, feathered hair worn by Charlie’s Angels or how to style long hair that is parted down the middle.
Another popular hairstyle emerging from the past is the afro. The 1960s were all about being free and natural, and black Americans began to wear their hair naturally in public for the first time.
The Black Panther Party was founded in the late 1960s and remained active into the 1970s. This party popularized the idea of politicizing your hairstyle. The afro was and is a symbol of freedom and pride in your race.
Over the past five years, long hair on men has come in and out of fashion, but it seems that in 2020 it has become more popular. As we head into 2021, you can expect to see more people adopting longer locks akin to hairstyles of the 1970s.
The popularity of the cottagecore aesthetic has breathed new life into the flowy styles popular in the 1960s and early 1970s. Billowy sleeves and dresses that delicately drape over the wearer are already back in fashion.
The wrap dress is also seeing a resurgence as those wearing dresses look for something that cinches at the waist while flowing over the hips. Wrap dresses are flattering on any figure, making the wearer appear curvier and more traditionally feminine. These dresses are an easy way to achieve the hourglass figure that is extremely on brand this year.
Flared jeans are coming back with a vengeance, and bell bottom jeans are set to be the biggest trend in the coming year. The popularity in bell bottoms has been coupled with a renewed love for Fleetwood Mac in 2020, but there’s no reason to complain.
In general, high-waisted pants have been popular for the past few years. They elongate the wearer’s frame and allow the person to appear taller and thinner. Corduroy pants in particular are coming back into style. Paired with a matching corduroy vest, trendsetters are beginning to look like time travelers from the 1970s.
Although velvet is often associated with the 90s and early 2000s, it was also a popular fabric choice in 70s fashion. Velvet is coming back as the material of mini dresses and tops. You can attribute crushed velvet to whichever decade you like, just be prepared to start wearing it in 2021.
The structured shoulders of late 70s fashion are also creeping back into the fashion industry. Broad shoulders make the upper body appear larger and more forefront. While creating the illusion of power, padded shoulders in jackets and blouses also make the waist appear smaller. Wide shoulders and a slim waist also create an hourglass figure.
As far as footwear goes, platform shoes have been flying off the shelves as of late, and they were a staple in 70s fashion. Gothic platform boots with laces might seem like a new trend, but they got their roots in 1970s glamour rock.
White Go Go boots are supremely cute and can go with a variety of outfits. It’s no wonder they’re creeping back into fashion.
Clog-style shoes as well as “natural” shoes such as Birkenstocks are reemerging as footwear as of late.
If she didn’t wear boots or wedges to the disco, a woman in the 1970s was definitely wearing a pair of platform heels. These shoes elevated the woman, and although they were tall, they were more stable than a pair of heels with a thin heel, making them easier to dance in without twisting your ankle. Platform heels are coming back full throttle, and they will be selling like hot cakes in 2021.