Get ready for summer with 70s style clothingJuly 15, 2019
70s style clothing basically never goes out of fashion. Bright colours, maxi dresses, colourful embroideries, fringing, smock tops, peasant tops, and fringing will always look great in summer. 70s clothes are all about fun and fantasy and are really easy to wear.
There are so many kinds of 70s styles from sleek disco dresses to hippy outfits that you can always find something to suit, and feel free to mix and match by adding, say, a loose embroidered blouse to modern cut off jeans shorts or a maxi dress with a plain t shirt.
Designers from the 70s include Roy Halston, Zandra Rhodes, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren.
70s style clothing – Halston
Halston specialised in super sleek and sexy disco styles made from clingy jersey. His dresses and jumpsuits were made from luxe fabrics like silk. The styles were simple and elegant in block colours, often ankle length with low necklines and halter backs which left the back bare. This style is perfect for summer evenings.
70s Style Clothing – Patterns
Zandra Rhodes made dresses which were the opposite of simple and elegant. They were maximalist with a riot of colour, surface print and details. She loved fluttery fabric like chiffon cut into handkerchief hems and butterfly sleeves. They are quintessentially 70s and also perfect for both hot days and evenings when you want to be extra.
Calvin Klein liked simple, minimal clothes. They were made in luxury fabrics like cashmere, suede and fine wool, in earth tones, especially brown, and neutrals. His clothes were understated mix and match classics. If this is your 70s summer style, choose great quality clothing in smokey colours.
The Traditional 70s Guy
Ralph Lauren decided he was going to reinvent traditionalism. Taking elements from classic English wear he made the eclectic cool. He made purposely oversized menswear look great on women. After that, he tacked traditional American clothing and made the romantic maxi dress popular. If this is the summer look you’re in love with, Laura Ashley dresses from the 70s are the high street equivalent.
Japanese Designers of the 70s
Japanese designers like Kenzo Takada, (Kenzo), Kansai Yamamoto, (Yamamoto) and Issey Miyake all founded their labels in the 70s. They are all going strong today, in many ways with a similar aesthetic to that which they started off with. This type of Japanese fashion, which combines loose layering with Western garments, is ideal for summer. You might find an original label from the 70s but otherwise wide trousers and drapey tops, and kimono style jackets will give you the look.
70s Style Clothing – The Hippies
Then there is the hippy look. This is probably what we think of when we think of 70s style clothing. Long hair, parted in the middle for both men and women. Either very straight or, if you had curly hair, very frizzy. Cheap, colourful fabrics were being imported from India along with silver jewellery and wooden beads, so cheesecloth tops, headbands, dangly silver earrings and necklaces for everybody were really popular. People also brought them back from trips abroad when they went to explore new religions, study meditation and “find themselves”.
Another way to find yourself was to take psychedelic drugs. LSD was experimented with quite seriously as a way to discover hidden depths of the mind. A side effect of this exploration was a love of bright colours and swirly patterns, which can be super fascinating when you’re tripping. So tie dyed clothing was added to the mix which is something you could try too. There are lots of t shirts, both long and short sleeved, with the characteristic sunburst pattern available.
70s Style Clothing – Make It Yourself
Embroidery, patchwork and crochet were part of a new scene for being frugal and also creative. Dresses, bikinis, tops and even trousers were knitted and crocheted at home as well as the usual jumpers and sweaters. Clothes were also home-made. They were also cleverly embroidered and embellished. Patchwork was a good way to use up scraps of fabric left over from making clothes too.
If not patchwork then sewing pre-made patches onto everything also looked cool. Customised and individual clothing showed your individuality.
70s Style Clothing – Vintage Style
Second hand and vintage clothes worn in a hugger mugger fashion were a joy to discover. Old military uniform jackets were layered over frilly shirts and everyday flares. Old Victorian nighties were belted with wide leather belts and worn with cowboy boots. Eclecticism was in.
70s Style Clothing – Biba
Biba was one brand that took this nostalgia for old clothes and unified it for those who didn’t want to go rummaging in second-hand shops. Barbara Hulanicki was inspired by the clothes of the 1930s to create soft chiffon blouses and read dresses in colours like maroon, forest green and mustard yellow. Her ideas were so successful that she expanded into makeup, children’s wear and menswear, ending with a whole Biba department store.
Yves Saint Laurent in the 1970s
In 1971 Yves Saint Laurent created a couture collection that also referenced the past but was far less well received. His chubby fur coats, short skirts and turbans styled with heavy makeup recalled 1940s France under the Nazi regime, a time in recent memory many would like to forget, and not only that but the models were said to resemble prostitutes. Overall, the collection was derided as tasteless, though it still had its fans.
70s Style Clothing – Jeans Are In
It was finally commonplace by the 70s for women to wear trousers just about as often as men. The fabrics included corduroy and cotton as well as jeans. The 70s was also the period when jeans became just as prevalent as today. The favourite shapes were high waisted and flared. They came in dark washes but also white and pastel shades.
Designer brands like Gloria Vanderbilt were sought after and so were Lee and Wrangler. To complement your jeans you might also wear a denim jacket, embroidered or with patches, or perhaps a denim waistcoat, or perhaps you’d like to convert your flared jeans into a maxi skirt.
70s Style Clothing – Glam Rock
Glam Rock was one of the most fun styles of all. In a subversive move men tried out platform shoes, face makeup, glitter, dresses and feather boas. Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Marc Bolan spearheaded this trend. They wore women’s clothing but were not in drag or transvestites. They were just men who enjoyed dressing up.
Men acting the peacock was a big trend for the 70s. As well as hippy styles of bright t shirts and beads, sumptuously coloured velvet or brocade suits were worn with matching or contrasting frilled shirts in equally intense colours.
70s Style Clothing – Ossie Clark
Ossie Clark was the enfant terrible of the London scene, enjoying hanging out with pop stars and painters. Celebrities like models Bianca Jagger and Patti Boyd loved his work. He put peepholes at the bellybutton and shoulders, and added thigh high slits. His best work is in stretchy yet heavy moss crepe, for long dresses that draped the form seductively. He was married to the textile designer Celia Birtwell and her work enhanced his.
70s Style Clothing – Italian Style
Italian fashion flourished in the 1970s. They were famous for the quality of their goods but not necessarily the style at that point. But now, de luxe silks, linens, wools and leather were made into the chicest clothes, desirable world wide. Small textile mills were able to produce limited edition runs of a few yards of fabric for a designer in order that they could produce something really unique. Brands like Missoni, with their stripes and zigzags in knitted fabrics were sought after. Also coming from Italy were Georgi Armani, Valentino and Gianni Versace who loved luxe bling and carried it off as only an Italian designer could. Rome, Florence and Milan fought it out to become the new Italian fashion capital, with Milan winning out and establishing the first major ready to wear events in 1975, with the official Milan Fashion Week following soon after.
Sportswear also had a big moment on the 1970s. Stretch fibres were getting better and more conformable, and this coincided with the aerobics trend. This was in part lead by the popularity of Jane Fonda’s workout videos. Many who had admired her in the film Barbarella were enchanted to think that they could get her body by donning a leotard and following her moves. Tracksuits, shorts and t shirts were also worn outside of the gym or running track. Shorts in the 70s were extremely short.