Yes, it’s true, 1970s fashions are coming back into favour. The catwalk shows were awash with ’70s inspired ensembles that blended retro cool and contemporary edginess with fantastic results. The movers and shakers in fashion seem to think there’s enough mileage in the ’70s style train to keep it going on track. The big fashion houses recently peppered their catwalk shows with fringing, suede, platforms and flares, all distinctive style cues straight out of this flamboyant period.
So, if you want to grab yourself some seventies sophistication and style re-invention, step back in time with me to a decade that produced some iconic and distinctive looks.
Study the masters
Anyone looking to dress in a 1970s style should take a look back at some of the pop culture heroes and heroines of the time for inspiration – there’s certainly no shortage of material to go on.
The music, TV and film worlds were alive with creativity and depth in the 1970s. On the music scene iconic songstresses such as Joni Mitchell with her boho hippy chick style and Cher with her bold and spangly stage-wear, were both prominent. Family pop groups like The Osmonds and The Jackson Five appeared suited and booted in ensembles drenched with colour, sparkle and sharp tailoring. Abba never made an appearance unless fully kitted out in eye-popping outfits that redefined the boundaries of what was acceptable in terms of stage-wear.
On TV, Charlie’s Angels promoted a wholesome image and Starsky and Hutch did a lot for the sales of heavy wool cardigans.
In general, irony seemed to be in short supply in the ’70s era with everyone really pushing their signature looks as hard and as far as they could. Subtlety wasn’t a word often applied to the entertainment, music or fashion industries of the time – which ultimately, had a lot to do with its success and staying power.
What they wore
For women, the 1970s was the decade in which Diane Von Furstenburg designed the much loved and enduringly popular wrap dress. As one of the most flattering and stylish silhouettes ever devised, the wrap dress in its many guises continues to fly off the shelves today. Bell bottomed power suits by designers such as Biba and creations by Halston, Karl Lagerfeld and Yves St Laurent were all part of the mood towards new luxuriant styles. Other signature looks that hit the mood of the 1970s just right were maxi dresses which took on hippy chick, long flowing lines, teamed with platform sandals and wide brimmed hats. With their long hemlines, maxi dresses were seen as the perfect antidote to the mini skirt of the 1960s which had fallen out of favour.
Flared trousers and platform footwear are what many people consider to be true 1970s fashion staples. Add to that fabrics such as lurex which glittered and glammed-up many outfits in the 1970s. The Bay City Rollers were an iconic boy band with a strong signature look that blended bomber jackets, wide flares and laced up boots, all trimmed with tartan to reflect their Scottish identity. Variations on this typical look could be viewed all over the country in the 1970s, worn by the nation’s youth.
Hair was long and flowing for both women and men. Wavy, curly tresses were much prized and if you didn’t have naturally curly hair, it was common to get a perm done. Footballers were famous for their frizzy perms but they weren’t alone in their love for the super perm and afro styles were also very popular. Farah Fawcett, the actress from Charlie’s Angels sported an iconic hairstyle that was much copied, so too did Bo Derek in the film 10 – with her beaded and braided beach hairstyle inspiring many copycat hairdos. Punk exploded in the late 1970s, spreading yet more hairstyle mayhem through the streets with their multi coloured mohicans and spiky, super-creative styles.
A lot of today’s fashion would not have been designed, were it not for the rich 1970s style era. Often unfairly dismissed as a bit of an over-the-top mess when it came to fashion, the 1970s deserve to be recognised for the true innovation and progress that was pushed through. So many new fabrics were devised and invented and ground breaking new looks developed, this decadent and flamboyant decade deserves to be recognised for its contribution to fashion and style.
The hardest part for anybody today trying to dress like a 1970s style icon, is knowing where to start. With so much fabulous inspiration from which to draw, where do you begin?