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Women's Fashion in the 1970s: A Stylish Blast from the Past

CEO Tinh Phung
If you've been keeping up with fashion trends in recent seasons, you may have noticed the enduring obsession that designers have with the 1970s. And it's not without reason. The '70s were undeniably the most...

If you've been keeping up with fashion trends in recent seasons, you may have noticed the enduring obsession that designers have with the 1970s. And it's not without reason. The '70s were undeniably the most stylish decade of the 20th century, introducing iconic fashion trends that still hold their own in today's modern world. From mini skirts to maxi dresses, bell sleeves to flared pants, and floppy hats to crochet details, the '70s gave birth to a plethora of fashion statements that have stood the test of time.

Many of these '70s fashion trends have seamlessly transitioned into today's fashion scene, appearing so effortlessly contemporary that it's hard to believe they were actually born in a different era. If you're in need of some '70s outfit inspiration or simply want to learn more about the decade's fashion trends, you've come to the right place. Let's take a trip down memory lane and revisit the iconic styles of the '70s.

What did women wear in the '70s?

Often referred to as the "Polyester Decade," the '70s began with the continuation of the hippie style that dominated the late '60s. In the early '70s, the fashion world embraced handmade materials and decorations, following in the footsteps of the counterculture movement. Polyester, crochet, patchwork, and various types of embroidery quickly became mainstream in women's fashion.

Additionally, the early to mid-'70s marked a shift in the availability of women's fashion. For the first time, American women started purchasing clothing for different occasions. With life moving at a faster pace, custom-made clothing became less feasible, and women turned to ready-made options from catalogs and department stores. This accessibility to ready-made fashion led to trends coming and going at an unprecedented speed.

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As women gained more freedoms during the '60s and '70s, their style reflected this newfound liberation. The '70s saw a surge in women wearing clothes heavily influenced by menswear. The decade marked the mainstream acceptance of pants and suits as womenswear, challenging the previous norm of predominantly skirts and dresses for work and formal events. Yves Saint Laurent played a pivotal role in revolutionizing women's fashion by introducing the tuxedo as a form of womenswear in 1966. Bianca Jagger further popularized the women's tuxedo in the '70s, making it a symbol of elegance and empowerment.

Each decade has its own fashion icons, and the '70s were no exception. From Bianca Jagger's extravagant glamour to Farrah Fawcett's relaxed elegance, the '70s boasted some of the most stylish women of all time.

The Disco Era and Beyond

The mid-to-late '70s are often referred to as "The Disco Era." Disco style gained popularity after an article about disco music was published in Rolling Stone magazine in 1973, followed by the debut of a radio station dedicated solely to disco music in New York City. Disco fashion was all about standing out on the dance floor, with shimmery fabrics, sky-high platforms, and shiny jewelry taking center stage. Disco was a time of transformation, where changing your costume meant changing your identity.

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The '70s ended with the rise of activewear. Designer Norma Kamali introduced sportswear into the fashion arena in the late '70s, bringing essential pieces like leggings and bandeau tops into the mainstream. While sports and fitness wear became increasingly popular in the '80s, their roots can be traced back to the '70s.

These are just some of the highlights of women's fashion in the '70s. Now, let's delve into some of the era's most significant fashion trends in greater detail.

1970s Women's Fashion Trends

1. The Wrap Dress

While maxi dresses were popular in the '70s, the standout dress style of the decade was the wrap dress. These dresses offered both freedom and comfort, making them a preferred choice over traditional maxi dresses. Wrap dresses provided a professional look for work and seamlessly transitioned from day-to-evening wear, allowing for easy dress-up or dress-down options.

One of the most iconic versions of the wrap dress was created by Diane von Fürstenberg in 1974. This wrap dress became a sensation, with over five million dresses sold in just two years. Its versatility and flattering design made it a staple in every woman's wardrobe, and it remains a beloved style to this day.

2. Flared Jeans

Jeans became an essential part of women's fashion in the '70s, offering comfort and practicality for the growing number of women who were entering the workforce. Flared jeans and bell-bottoms, in particular, became synonymous with '70s fashion. However, as the decade progressed, slimmer and straighter silhouettes gained popularity, marking a shift in denim trends.

Interestingly, flared jeans are making a comeback in 2021, as evidenced by their presence on the Spring/Summer 2021 catwalks of renowned designers such as Balmain and Paco Rabanne. The return of these '70s silhouettes is a refreshing departure from the era of skinny jeans, as flares elongate the legs and accentuate the waist, flattering almost every body type.

3. Jumpsuits

Jumpsuits were a fashionable choice for both men and women in the '70s. They exuded glamour and were often made from vibrant fabrics, offering a trendy alternative to maxi dresses. Jumpsuits were perfect for various occasions, from casual daywear to disco parties. Their versatility and comfort made them a hit among women who sought practical yet fashionable outfits.

Today, jumpsuits continue to evolve, with designers offering a wide range of styles and silhouettes. Relaxed jumpsuits are ideal for casual occasions, while tailored jumpsuits add an air of sophistication for dressier events. In fact, jumpsuits have become so popular that many modern brides are opting for them instead of traditional wedding gowns, showcasing their versatility and modernity.

4. Platform Shoes

During the '70s, the motto when it came to shoe trends was "the bigger, the better." Platform shoes dominated fashion, with both men and women donning these attention-grabbing footwear styles. Platforms were synonymous with the era, adding height and a bold statement to any outfit.

Interestingly, the history of platform shoes dates back centuries, with their presence even in Ancient Egypt. In the '70s, platforms took various forms, starting with chunky or block heels and evolving into thinner high heels paired with thick soles as the decade progressed.

5. Clogs


Clogs, famously associated with the '70s, are making a comeback in 2021. These chunky wooden shoes were popular among men and women alike during the era. Their versatility and functionality made them a favorite choice for pairing with bell-bottom jeans, dresses, and skirts. Clogs achieved such popularity that dedicated clog brands emerged, offering a wide range of styles for consumers.

Now, in the present day, designers such as Hermes, Louis Vuitton, and Stella McCartney have featured '70s-inspired clogs in their Spring/Summer 2021 collections, aligning perfectly with the resurgence of flared jeans. The combination of these two fashion staples creates a nostalgic yet contemporary look.

The '70s were undeniably a transformative and fashion-forward decade for women's style. From the iconic wrap dress to flared jeans, jumpsuits, platform shoes, and clogs, the fashion trends of this era continue to inspire and influence modern fashion. So, embrace your inner disco diva or bohemian beauty and incorporate a touch of '70s flair into your wardrobe. After all, true style never goes out of fashion!