Fashion can encapsulate an entire aesthetic more so than anything else. And this could not be truer than for the decades of the 20th century – everything from the floating swing dresses of the 1950s to the neon-saturated looks of the ‘80s is seemingly iconic.
This is certainly the case for the 1970s. As the swinging sixties were left behind, the dawn of the seventies showed no signs of the fashion letting up. In a continuation of hippie trends, miniskirts and corduroy persisted, all while the fashion scene became infiltrated by more signature looks like flares and platforms. The seventies bridged the gap between traditional styles which clung to trends of the past, all while exploring new ones as fashion became increasingly available on a widespread and mainstream level.
Gender boundaries became increasingly blurred in this period too – jeans became commonplace in women’s wardrobes in a way they hadn’t previously been, while men were donning more tight-fitting feminine cuts. Androgynous looks inspired by glam rock and the New Romantic movements were also on the rise, alongside other fashion trends forged from prevalent music subcultures. The former years of the period arguably saw the birth of Northern soul from the earlier Mod culture – discernible styles here included polos (notably Ben Sherman and Fred Perry), knitted vests and brogues.
With the period also dominated by disco style, seventies eveningwear was categorised by a heavy amount of sequins and velvet. Men often wore three-piece suits with flared bottoms, a la John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, in shades of pastel and white. For women, however, the most popular choice was the universally flattering jersey wrap dress. With a modest knee-length skirt and nipped-in waist, this option became favourable for both style and versatility.
As the latter part of the decade arrived, so did shoulder pads. Leading designers debuted heavy-shouldered styles during the Fall 1978 season and, while these looks were initially met with hesitation, it was the start of a craze that would eventually become distinctive of the decade to follow.
The influence of 70s fashion trends can still be seen today. In fact, some of these styles are even making modern comebacks, especially thanks to the likes of big stars including Harry Styles and Taylor Swift adopting this kind of retro aesthetic into their image. Swift notably incorporated the signature muted tones of brown into some of her most recent looks, complete with bold coloured stripes and wide-leg pants, demonstrating that some things truly never go out of style.