Are you ready to boogie? Then hop on the hippie disco train, Persephoneers – we’re gonna learn about the polyester goodness of 1970s fashion. It’s a lot more than just leisure suits. I have many ’70s pieces in my wardrobe – they’re fun and fit both the curvy and the not-so. Because of its fabrics and relative youth, ’70s clothing is in plentiful supply and easy to care for. What’s not to love? So put on your giant shades, tie a scarf around your neck, adjust your corduroy, and let’s go!
Flared and bell sleeves, bell-bottom and wide-leg pants, skirts in every length from mini to maxi – these are all common tenets of 1970s fashion. You can find everything from the loose to the fitted, which makes the era super versatile.
There was a resurgence of 1930s shapes in the ’70s, which is great for those of us who don’t have that long, straight-up-and-down physique.
Here’s a classic ’70s look – a maxi dress. Mine above has a defined waist, but this empire style is super forgiving on every shape and has made a resurgence in the last year.
So-called “ethnic” looks were huge in the ’70s. Peasant styles, “gypsy” looks, and hints of Russian flair were all in evidence.
Jumpers and pinafores were big. These are a great way to mix modern and vintage – throw a cute jumper on over a modern tee and you’re ready to go.
Full-on jumpsuits are back, and we can thank the 1970s for making them so damn cool.
Skirt lengths in the ’70s ran the gamut from mini (well above the knee) to midi (covering the knee, hitting mid-calf) to maxi (to the floor). Midis look good on pretty much no one but a supermodel, but the mini and maxi are both staples of modern clothing.
I haven’t blogged too much about shoes, but the 1970s platform says everything about the era in one item. Well, a pair of them. Note that sweet, sweet orange and brown color combo.
And here’s the look that most folks associate with the ’70s: the leisure suit. I can’t really embrace wearing one for fashion’s sake, but the pants could be awesome with a sexy sweater or tee. The look was part of a new menswear bent to women’s fashion that is still alive today. More women were entering the work force, and we came to play.
Disco is both a style of clothing and music that get bashed a lot, but I just love them. If loving the Bee Gees is wrong, then to hell with you. This is the perfect disco dress – sexy, flattering, dramatic. Let me tell you – go to a party and dance in something like this and you’ll have to beat the sexy persons off with a disco stick.
1970s knits can be smooth or scratchy – but it’s not all double-knit polyester out there. If you like the look below, you can find tons of this sort of thing by searching eBay or Etsy for “secretary dress.” These are easy, wash-and-wear vintage pieces that are neither overblown nor costumey.
Hippiedom began in the late ’60s and was in full swing in the ’70s. Mushrooms and owls were popular motifs (and still are), as well as anything “ethnic.” Indian styles of clothing surged into prominence – so too did anything vaguely bohemian in nature. Styles were flowing, fringed and went well with too much hair.
This is one of my very favorite vintage finds ever – a Sears hippie maxi dress tribute to Sarah Bernhardt.
As always, I recommend taking a trip down Internet-memory lane at the Vintage Ad Browser to see 1970s colors in their natural habitat. Earth tones were very popular – oranges, rusts, browns, mustards, avocados. Peach is a fabulous ’70s color that works beautifully on almost everyone. Muted blues and lavenders can be found, and reds abound as well. There’s a little something for everyone, so you don’t have to dress like my parents’ guacamole-colored carpet if you won’t want to.
Identifying a 1970s piece:
Besides the style and colors, there are a couple of clues you’re holding something from the ’70s as opposed to an older piece. Those ’30s and ’40s throwbacks popular in the ’70s especially can be mislabeled by online sellers who’ve made a mistake. ’70s seams will likely be serged as opposed to unfinished. Another huge dating clue, courtesy of sweet*cherry*pops’ eBay dating guide:
The FTC required in 1971 that textile manufacturers list the garment care instructions on labels (Care Labeling Rule). The labels must have washing, drying, bleaching, ironing, and/or dry cleaning instructions. Rule of thumb, if your garment has care instructions it is most likely created AFTER 1971.
So care guides = ’70s or later. Easy peasy. This is why you ask to see all the tags available before you buy something online.
How to wear it:
What’s my mantra, vintage fans? That’s right: MIX AND MATCH. And the ’70s is a perfect decade with which to do it. Layers were the name of the game. I wear this coat all winter long and rarely go out without a compliment on it.
Mix your ’70s platforms with a swishy little dress you bought a week ago. Throw on a Firefly t-shirt with your rust-colored polyester bellbottoms. Wear that ’70s jumpsuit with this season’s six-inch platform heels. I saw big, floppy ’70s-style hats at the mall yesterday – so chic right now! The ’70s went from awesome to ugly and back to awesome again – and it’s relatively cheap to find, whether at the Goodwill or online.
Need some inspiration?
Be Gloria Gaynor for a day.
You cannot go wrong when channeling the Divine Miss M.
Diane Keaton’s ’70s menswear will always be in style.
And there is no greater badass than Pam Grier. I have an abounding love for the Afro – I just think it’s damn beautiful.
Whether you’re a hippie, a disco mama, or a chic working girl, you can find it all in the 1970s. It’s a decade that gets a totally-undeserved bad rap, fashion-wise. What’s your favorite 1970s look? Tell me in the comments!