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‘70s Women’s Fashion: How Women Dressed in the 1970s

Have you ever watched a movie and recognized the time the story was set? Besides the houses, roads, and activities what else told you the story was about the 90s, early 2000s, or even the 15th century? You’ll agree with me it’s the costume. Fashion isn’t just about style and trends. It’s a time machine too. So if you want to go back in time to, say, 50 years ago, come with us as we show you everything you need to know about ‘70s fashion. This includes 70s women’s fashion and a bit of menswear too.

a catalogue from the 1970s showing white women dressed in jumpsuits as typical of 70s women's fashion

A Glance into ‘70s Women’s Fashion 

people wearing 70s women's fashion

Unlike now where many people don streetwear and chic pieces, then, it was a game of varied styles, colors, and patterns. Outfits such as flared jeans, loose pants, Bohemian tassels, fitted leather jackets, glittery disco dresses, vibrant paisley fabrics, velvet, etc., ruled the ‘70s style scene.

a lady in the 70s wearing flared jeans and a crop top showing 70s women's fashion

But despite the trends that made the 1970s a memorable time, one thing stood out: it was a time that appreciated individuality and self-expression. Little wonder, in the early 1970s, Vogue said:

“There are no rules in the fashion game now.”

Ali McGraw wears a bohemian maxi dress and lace-up sandals on June 5, 1970.

To better illustrate, let’s take it in bits.

Early ‘70s Women’s fashion

Diana Ross at the second annual Rock Music Awards   wearing a glittery dress that reps 70s women's fashion

In the early 1970s, women rocked hippie looks that stemmed from the 60s. Typical 70s hippies clothes and accessories for men and women featured:

  • Tie-dye shirts
  • Folk-embroidered Hungarian blouses
  • Ponchos
  • Capes
  • Handcrafted neckpieces
  • Chokers
  • Vibrant colors
  • Bell bottoms
  • Gauchos 
  • Frayed jeans
  • Midi skirts
  • Accessories made from stones, beads, leather, wood, shells, and feathers.
  • Ankle-length maxi dresses, etc. 

Furthermore, this period also featured genderless hippie accessories such as flowing scarves, headbands, balumba balls, buckskin moccasins, sandals, etc. But it wasn’t just the hippie look that reigned in the seventies. Men and women who didn’t subscribe to the unconventional hippie appearance opted for pieces such as:

  • T-shirts
  • Fitted blazers with wide lapels
  • Mini skirts
  • Extremely short shorts (hot pants) 
  • Sweaters trimmed with faux fur (this included sweater coats, sweater suits, and sweater dresses)
  • Matching outfits for couples
  • Flared pants
  • Pastel colors
  • Belted cardigans
  • Bright-colored double-breasted three-piece suits in corduroy, paisley, wool, and crushed velvet.

And they accessorized with:

  • Turbans
  • Pearl earrings, necklaces, and bracelets
  • Feather boas
  • Black-veiled hats
  • Platform shoes
  • Vibrant striped knee socks
  • Oxford shoes
  • Boots 
  • Wedgies
  • Cork-soled platforms
  • Chunky high heels
  • Gold chains, etc. 

Mid-Seventies Women’s Style

a lady rocking a plaid suit as typical of 70s women's fashion

By the mid-1970s, the hippies left the scene but casual looks survived. It was time for t-shirts to reign and they did in different styles, some featuring slogans, sports logos, and other designs.  Men and women rocked vintage clothes, graphics tees, jeans, all denim outfits, gauchos, and other casual outfits that trended in the early 70s.

Also, women began to enter the workforce— thanks to the rising divorce rate in the mid-70s. And as such, they had to wear clothes that supported this. Some of them included:

  • Feminized men’s business suits
  • Tailored jackets
  • layering blouses
  • midi-skirts 
  • Fitted blouses 
  • Suede coats
  • Peacoats
  • Blazers
  • Cowl-neck sweaters
  • Pencil skirts
  • pinstriped pantsuits
  • Palazzo pants

They also layered their outfits to create looks such as:

  • Multiple sweaters
  • Two blouses in one outfit
  • Tunic dresses over pants 
  • Jumpers worn over long, fitted dresses. 

On the other hand, men’s suits took on a different look, incorporating straight legs for the pants, slimmer cuts, and smaller waists. And for informal looks, flannel or western shirts, sweaters, jeans, khaki, chinos, sweatshirts, leather jackets, oxford shoes, etc., were the go-to menswear.

In addition, youthful disco outfits trended in the mid-70s. Young people went to nightclubs dressed in new disco clothing that flaunted their bodies and glittered under the club lights. Such outfits fashion featured fancy clothes made from synthetic materials. Some of these ’70s’ pieces included:

  • Jersey wrap dress 
  • Knee-length dress with a cinched waist. 
  • Tube tops
  • Sequined halterneck shirts
  • Blazers
  • Spandex hot pants
  • Loose pants
  • Jumpsuits
  • Maxi skirts and dresses with thigh-long slits
  • Ball gowns, and evening gowns.[
  • Knee-high boots 
  • Kitten heels, but the most commonly worn shoes were ones that had thick heels and were often made with transparent plastic. 

Other 70s women’s fashion includes backless dresses, extremely low-cut dresses, palazzo pants, tube dresses, suit dresses, etc.

Late 1970s Women Fashion

A trouser suit by Yves Saint Laurent from February 1970 repping 70s women's fashion

In the late 1970s, baggy clothes took over. But this didn’t sit well with some women. While the curvy ones complained loose clothes didn’t flaunt their curves, the plus-size ones said it made them look larger.

To make up for these lapses, it became fashionable to show more skin. This gave rise to looks such as unbuttoned shirts, rolled-up sleeves, strapless tops, sheer clothes, etc.

During this time, women also rocked:

  • Cowl-neck shirts
  • Sweaters
  • Crop tops
  • Pantsuits
  • Leisure suits
  • Tracksuits
  • Sundresses paired with tight T-shirts
  • Knee-length skirts
  • Lower-cut shirts
  • Tube tops
  • Cardigans
  • Velour shirts
  • Tunics
  • Robes
  • Embroidered vests and jeans
  • One-piece swimsuits
  • Loose satin pants
  • Designer jeans
  • Daisy dukes (extremely short bum shorts)
  • Culottes
  • Tennis shorts, etc.

These outfits spanned into the 1980s. And they accessorized with items such as:

  • Scarves
  • Gold jewelry
  • Flowers
  • Ankle boots
  • Tilted hats
  • Skinny and wide belts
  • Boas
  • Spike-heeled sandals
  • Mules
  • Ankle-strapped shoes
  • Waist cinchers
  • Obi wraps, etc.

Can You Still Rock 70s Women’s Fashion in the 2020s?

 women wearing flared maxi dresses as typical of 70s women's fashion

Yes, you can. Fashion trends come, go and oftentimes return like they never left in the first place. For instance, we still have celebs and regular people rocking bell bottoms and flared pants. Fashionistas still wear ankle boots and even pair them with maxi dresses.

Fashion models in brightly colored sports coats showing 70s women's fashion

So, you see? Fashion trends never completely leave. They always linger in our hearts, on the streets, and even on the runway to get recycled in the coming years.

Cher poses wearing a Bob Mackie portraying 70s women's fashion

If you love any of these items that bolstered 70s women’s fashion, go ahead and pull them off as retro or today’s looks.

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Victoria B. Willie

Writing has always been a part of me. From writing stories as a young child to studying Communication Arts in the university, it has always been more than a medium of expression to me.

And then one day, I found myself toeing the path of an entrepreneur and becoming a fashion enthusiast. This made me develop an interest in content marketing and copywriting which I've been chasing alongside my fashion career.

That aside, when I'm not sharing style articles, selling with stories, or sketching fashion-forward pieces for Ria Kosher, you'll find me telling wild stories that always come with a twist.

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