1970s fashion and key trends

Since navigating the vintage world requires knowledge of fashion and trends from previous eras, I created a fashion history section on my blog. Here, I bring together fashion reviews from previous decades and highlight the designers and fashion icons who have made their mark in different eras.

The first post in my fashion history section is about 1970s fashion and key trends, as the 70s is one of my own favourite fashion decades. I’m an 80s girl and didn’t have the chance to experience the period myself, but luckily a lot of the trends of that time are making waves in the fashion world today, so there’s a reason to get into them.

Key 1970s fashion trends

Hippies and 1970s fashion

The fashion of the 1970s in the early years of the decade is heavily influenced by the hippies and their clothing style. Above all, it sought to counter the conservatism and austerity of the 1960s. The watchwords were a desire for freedom, multiculturalism and resistance to norms.

The hippies’ desire for freedom and opposition to conservatism was also expressed in their style of dress. Clothes were comfortable and the line between casual and streetwear disappeared. They wore loose-fitting long dresses, peasant shirts, trapeze trousers and skirts, blouses with turn-down sleeves and turn-down trousers. The love of freedom and the opposition to the austerity of the previous decades were also reflected in the blurring of the boundaries between men’s and women’s clothing. Women wore men’s striped shirts and, increasingly, trousers. Jeans on women’s feet had never been so hot. A layered ruching style also became popular in this decade.

Travelling and discovering new cultures gained in popularity, and clothing was influenced by the cultures of different nations. They wore kimonos, Hawaiian-style dresses, Indian-style jackets and other clothes with African and Asian influences. The patterns were colourful, psychedelic and inspired by the folklore of distant lands.

The hippies brought their love of loden and community culture to the world of fashion, including crafts. Crocheted and knitted dresses, blouses, cardigans, vests and even trousers were worn. Clothes dyed in batik and garments decorated with embroidery made the air. High fashion was also inspired by craftsmanship, originally popular among hippies.

Disco and glamour in the 1970s

The 60s saw the birth of the disco subculture, which by the mid-70s had reached its peak of popularity. Young people living in the cities who had a taste for the hippy style sought glamour in discotheques. This period and the style of dress of the time is perfectly illustrated in the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever. The key words of the disco era were glamour, sexuality and outrageousness.

In discotheques, ordinary people could experience the glamour of stardom. They wore flowing skirts and dresses, sparkly and shiny clothes and lots of sequins – sequins were used to cover all kinds of garments. A huge hit in the wardrobe of any trend-conscious disco-goer was the shiny metallic gown. The glamour queens also wore feathers and fur.

At night, everything that was taboo during the day was allowed in the disco. In the disco scene, the choice of clothes was an expression of sexual promiscuity – men took ideas from women’s wardrobes and vice versa. Trousers that flared out at the bottom – the wider the better – were a staple in both men’s and women’s wardrobes. Women and men also wore satin trousers and shirts and sparkly jumpsuits. Hot pants – extra short, high-waisted trousers that caused a stir both inside and outside the disco became very popular.

The sanctuary of any serious disc jockey was the Studio 54 – a club where only the stars and the ordinary people who stood out from the crowd were allowed in. The competition for admission was ever more outrageous – you wore everything and then almost nothing. The aim was to stand out from the crowd with outlandish costumes, animal-inspired outfits, super-slick and vaguely shiny clothes. But people also came in very scanty clothes or even without any clothes at all – skin, feathers and sequins for body covering.

1970s rebellion and freedom fever

Those who were not into the hip movement and glamour, but still wanted to express themselves and stand out from the crowd, found a punk movement for themselves. The punk style was characterised by rebellion against the working-class mentality and the upper class. The key words were aggression, anarchy and shock.

The punk style was inspired by the darker – social and criminal – side of society. They wore torn trousers decorated with chains and pins, leather jackets with large buckles and rivets, fishnets and miniskirts. The dominant colour was black.

London was the birthplace of the anarchist punk style, which among other things rebelled against fashion rules and was heavily inspired by underground music – one of the most important shapers of the anarchist punk style was the Sex Pistols . In addition to ripped clothes, T-shirts and band shirts with various anarchist and aggressive messages became popular. The punkers also embraced the idea of the 40s Teddy Boy inspired by the style of the ’40s, which was associated with violent and rebellious youth.

Punk punkers, who amused themselves by shocking ordinary people, were always looking for new elements to stand out. Alongside aggressive messages and pins, garments also began to be decorated with, for example, swastikas and spikes. They wore red and black leather trousers, a corset instead of a blouse, and trousers so low that what would normally be covered by trousers was not.

Fashion in the 1970s was truly colourful and contradictory, and gave us some immortal trends that are repeated time and time again or have never left the fashion scene. As having my own blog gives me the opportunity to decide what I write about, this time I focused on the three fashion trends that I was most excited about, while several other fashion trends that were not making the news at the time were left out. In my next post on the 1970s, I’ll be writing about what materials made the air in the 70s, and what patterns were used and what some of the hits that were left out this time around will be.

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