The fashion of the 70s was a continuation of the fashion of the 60s, with total freedom in fancy cuts and varied colors. The hippie movement is clearly reflected in this decade and some of the trends are preserved to this day.
70s fashion: general characteristics
The fashion of the 1970s was very diverse, reflecting a new interest in free expression through clothing. The decade encompassed a hippie, bohemian, retro and punk style. The overall silhouette was long and thin, with lots of hair, an androgynous style used by both sexes. Unisex beauty salons appeared, a time when platform shoes appeared, for both men and women.
The fashion of the early 70s continued pop art and psychedelic prints in bright colors of the 60s, as well as geometric designs. The bohemian style of the hippies was mixed with a Victorian style with fantastic colors, as well as ethnic elements. Art Nouveau adds romanticism with natural flowing lines on posters, which then moved to Edwardian necklaces and dresses with frills on the chest.
Women's liberation loosened the structures of uncomfortable underwear. The Gay Liberation Movement brought gender styles and a feeling of self-determination. People felt free from social opinions, no longer governed by elite fashion houses.
The oil crisis led to a recession in the mid-1970s. A poor economy and youth unemployment tightened their pockets. An educated youth looked for clothes that express their individuality, as well as cheap.
The androgyny of 1970
As for the photographs of people in the 1970s, it can be seen that men and women wore similar styles. High waisted pants were worn by both sexes. At the beginning of the decade, the legs were flared, towards the end of the decade, the legs were very wide. The short and long sleeve shirts were worn tight and below the pants.
Women wore pants more often than ever. Pant suits became common work clothes for women, and were combined with shirts with large, pointed necks and male jackets.
Men began to wear fluid scarves and bright colors, which were previously reserved for women.
Hippies and Bohemians
A new interest in rural life and crafts was aroused. The followers of this trend wore simple garments based on European peasant costumes and ethnic styles. Shirts and dresses were worn loose, soft and of simple cuts. Dresses based on Victorian and Edwardian styles became so popular that they were often used at weddings. They were worn with sandals, clogs or boots.
Dashikis and Caftanes were comfortable and attractive. Curly hair broke free from the restrictions of the past and began to use the afro style. Men and women wore mane of wild curls.
Layered pearls and bracelets, and lots of great rings, were popular in this decade.
In the 1960s, young people flocked to dance clubs called discos. In 1970 a new style of music for dancing was then called "disco", a subculture popularized by young African-Americans and Latinos.
In the 70s, urban youths sought glamor in dance clubs. The women wore sleeveless dresses or satin fabric pants, decorated with sequins. The men wore tight, shiny pants and shirts below open to the middle of the chest. Gold necklaces or medallions completed the look.
Disco life was portrayed in the 1977 film, Saturday Night Fever.
The recession of the mid 1970s lowered the superficiality of previous styles. A harassed working class mentality led to a harder mood, of antisocial reaction. Rebelling against the hippie movement and elite culture, Punk embraced the dirtiest aspects of society, based on a lower-class criminal culture. Torn pants, black and disheveled hair and chains like jewels personified a youth that felt marginalized by unemployment and a dark future.
Tight black pants featured large zippers, straps and studs. The women wore miniskirts with broken fishnets. Great work boots or exaggerated platforms. Wild hair molded into spikes and often dyed in unnatural bright colors – green or bright pink tones. The faces were pale, accentuated by dark eyes and dark red or black lipstick.
Punk became a significant influence in fashion for many years and can still be seen on today's catwalks.
Birth of cheap imitations and materials
Cheap imitations of the early 70s, of high-end designs, appeared in department stores and new discount stores. Synthetic materials such as rayon or polyester were used.
If you want to see a huge gallery of fashion photos from the 70s, go to this Flickr page