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Fashion Time Machine: The 1970s Style

This guide to 1970s women fashion will show you how to add a retro 70s touch to your modern look.

That 70s Show!

During the 70s many things happened in the fashion world. People were free to experiment and this led to the spread of multiple trends: from hippie, psychedelic and craft look to clothing influenced by disco music and glam rock.

After the miniskirt phenomenon in the ’60s, hems dropped dramatically with new midi and maxi lengths. The dresses become longer with straight and empire lines, frills and tiered design, flared and balloon sleeves.

The hippie movement at the end of the 60s had a strong influence on most of the following decade and marked the passage to a more ethnic look, made of Indian cottons and prints and models inspired by Africa like the kaftan.

The 70s saw further easing all the formal aspects of clothing from the past, for the youngest. Everyone, men and women, wore jeans, flared and wide leg, or tight and tucked into knee-high boots. Sturdy fabrics like denim, suede and corduroy fabric were used in fashion, so much so that they are also used for skirts, dungarees, jackets and tailored suits.

All the stylists of the time must have thought in terms of “the bigger the better” given that normal collars, exagerated wedges, loose-fitting trousers and oversized sunglasses, became almost universal.


Rare cascade necklace featuring bakelite beads, from the early 70s, signed LA MENDOLA

Even the hairstyles expressed this tendency to the great such as very long wavy hair, voluminous round hair the Afro style or, again, soft and feminine, like Farrah Fawcett, icon of the that time.

We also spoke in the past of another icon of the 70s, the sophisticated
Jacqueline Kennedy.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis with oversized sunglasses and the iconic Gucci “Jackie ‘O” hobo bag.

Music, films and celebrities continued to influence stylists and ordinary people, with dresses inspired by disco music and glam rock, sparkling and glittering on the dance floor. High trends of the decade were the androgynous style and unisex; the androgynus look of Diane Keaton in Annie Hall and musician Patty Smith were part of the trend.



Decoding the Seventies Style

Let’s see what are the key objects of the ’70s so they can enter into our wardrobe!

1. Earth Tones and Floral Pattern

In the 70s the most used colors were earth tones, such as greens and browns. Floral prints and natural motifs also abound. White, black, and beige and olive, earth tones were the mark of the day, set off by mustard, brick red and dark orange.


Rare and one-of- a-kind vintage oblong/ east-west suitcase by Christian Dior, from the early 1970s. This rare sized, extra long case was used some years ago to travel on a sports car (which often have narrow and long luggage vans).

2. Maxi Dress & Maxi Skirt

Maxi dresses are one of the key looks of the 70s. The ankle- or floor-lenght skirt was a counter to the 1960s mini skirt (considered politically incorrect by many 1970s feminists).

Women of all ages could wear them and still have a certain charm. They were available in all sorts of colors and prints, in cotton, chiffon, velvet or polyester, with overlaps, flounces and ruffles, with empire lines, halter necklines or long puffed sleeves. They were often worn with a choker and a crocheted shawl and had an A-line skirt with a fitted bodice

Bell-Bottom Jeans & Jumpsuit

Trousers and pantsuit were extremely popular in 1970s. They started gently flared, and then reached wide bell-bottom proportions by about 1975. After that they slowly reduced to straight and wide until the end of the decade, when they were finally narrow again. Popupar fabrics includes heavy crepes, wool jersey knits , acrylic jersey, and woven polyester suiting. The last part of the 70s also saw the birth of the jumpsuit, intended as the non-plus ultra of comfortable and relaxed daywear.

3. Oversized Sunglasses

By the end of the ’60s, frames increased in size, a trend that prevailed throughtout the ’70s. There were even glasses on the market large enought to cover more than half the face. Popular disco music provided loads of glamour on the dance floor, and thanks to tv, the whole world saw band such as The Jackson Five, Abba and Sister Sledge dancing in colorful, showy clothing.


Unique 1970s original Jewelry Sunglasses by Serge Kirchhofer available here.

Going out meant dressing to the nines. Eyeglasses were decorated with fake jewels and colorful stones. Shapes become more theatrical, and fun frames in an assortment of unuasual and at times bizare forms became available.

4. Shoulder Bags and Clutches

In the 1970s, many different looks coexisted and, as a result, this produced a rich variaty of handbags.


Model Veruschka holding a particular Gucci bag in a 1970s photo shooting in Villa Borgese (Rome, Italy)

Hippie types went for patchwork or embossed leather shoulder bags, ususally handmade in USA or Mexico. The flower design and toggle closure here are typical features. Such bags are not very collectable at present, but with recent revivals of interest in 1970s fashion, prices are rising.

On the other hand disco divas and glam rockers preffered gold lamè, sequins, glitter and exotic leathers, such as the snakeskin, in flashy colors.

While the clutch bag virtually disappeared in the swinging ’60s, it came back in vogue in the 1970s and this was favoured by the decade’s sharp dresses.


The longevity of the trends of this period shows that the ’70s go far beyond the ridiculous costume party stereotypes. This could be due to the fact that the 1970s were the first to significantly borrow stylistic elements from previous decades, giving shape to new classics.



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OPHERTYCIOCCI Team
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