That ’70s Glam-Rock

Going through some old family photos – old as in before I was born – I stumbled upon a few snapshots of my mom and her amazing style in the ’70s. I was never really a big fan of ’70s fashion growing up, considering the only factors that were brought to my attention that went along with that time period were ill-fitting bell-bottoms and not-so-pretty prints… not exactly my go-to’s when dressing. Now that the trend has come back into fashion with a modern take, I decided to do a little history lesson and scoop up the real dirt on the ’70s groove. Let’s go back in time… shall we?

Fashion in the 1970s was fearless, carefree, and very diverse. Women embraced everything from high-waisted bell bottom pants, tight shirts, and skirts ranging from extremely long to drastically short, all in bright and boldly patterned fabrics. As for the men, they actually dressed quite similar to women, with tight shirts, wide-leg trousers, and matching suits. Although it varied and changed frequently, 70s fashion always liked to surprise people with towering platform shoes, wide-leg bottoms, and tight, disco hot pants… oh boy.

My mama & big (little then) brother in the ’70s (:
1970s fashion began with a continuation of the mini skirts, bell-bottoms, and the androgynous hippie look from the late 1960s. It was soon characterized by a variety of distinct fashion trends that left a lasting impression of the decade to be remembered in popular culture to this day. One of the main looks of the trend included platform shoes, which appeared around 1971, and often had soles two to four inches thick – yikes! These, along with wide-leg trousers and flared jeans, were worn by both men and women. The style was commemorated in the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever, which starred John Travolta. Disco fever looks were popularized, complete with three-piece suits for men and rayon or jersey wrap dresses for women, and lasted for a while until they were gradually replaced by punk fashion and straight, cigarette-legged bottoms, heavily influenced by rebel and care-free attitudes.  

Early to Mid-70s
As the decade continued with fashion flares from the late 60s, jeans remained frayed and the tie-dye shirts and printed peasant blouses were still popular. In addition to micro-mini skirts, mid-calf length dresses called “midis” and ankle-length dresses called “maxis” were also worn in the early 70s, which gave women many options for getting dressed up. Very short, tight-fitting shorts, known as hot pants, were also a huge fashion craze for girls. The Wonder Woman series popularized knee-high boots, which were sometimes paired with these daringly short hot-pants. For both sexes, flared bottoms were an obvious choice – they were actually very tight and revealing from the lower thighs up, despite their large and wide flares that grazed the bottom. Another popular trend for both sexes was the fitted blazer, which widened slightly at the hip. The piece came in a variety of fabrics, including wool, velvet, suede, and leather, with the buttons covered and the lapels very wide. 
David Bowie circa 70s
Later on in the 70s, in Britain and the urban U.S., fashion was inspired by glam rock stars who dressed pretty extravagant – think David Bowie, Roxy Music, and Marc Bolan. Women at this time wore high-waisted flare satin trousers or denims, usually decorated with rhinestones and paired with tight lurex halter tops, metallic lamé, antique velvet dresses, sequined bandeau and bra tops, and the occasional feather boa draped over their shoulders. 


Famous human rights advocate Bianca Jagger (pictured above) was frequently seen using an ebony walking stick, wore peacock-feathers in her cloche hats, green sequined shoes, sheer blouses, and carried an ivory-cigarette holder, was a huge fashion icon at the time. The men often wore lamé suits, silver astronaut-style outfits, satin quilted jackets, velvet trousers, and rhinestone-studded shirts. Their hair was super long and softly layered, or spiky, multi-colored mullets for those glam rockers. 

Diane von Furstenberg
In 1972, designer Diane von Furstenberg first designed the jersey wrap dress, which became an extremely popular item as it flattered pretty much every body type and size; it was – still is, actually – perfect for both work and play! For teenage girls and young women, the crop top was worn frequently, sometimes with a halter neck or tie in a knot above the midriff. By the mid-1970s, hip-huggers were long-gone and replaced by high-waisted denim and wide trousers as previously mentioned; in Britain, these were referred to as “Loon pants.” This style lasted until the end of the decade when the straight, cigarette-leg jeans came into place. Around 1976, Yves St Laurent introduced the peasant look, with tiered skirts, bow blouses, and off-the-shoulder necklines. Floral-patterned prints were also popular along with fake-flower chokers and hair combs, ruffled sundresses, and unstructured pieces – completely opposite from the former structured-fit clothing of the 40s and 50s. 

Farrah Fawcett circa 70s
Late 1970s

Since the 1920s, mainstream fashion wasn’t too diverse aside from structure and patterns. In the late 70s though, with the popularization of disco and the increasing availability and long-awaited variety of man-made fabrics, a drastic change occurred in the fashion world. All styles of clothing were affected by disco fever, especially those of men – three-piece suits were showcased along with high-rise waistcoats. Neckties became wider and bolder, with funky prints and loud colors, and shirt collars became long and pointed in a style reminiscent of the “Barrymore” collar that had been popular in the 1920s.

Betty Davis circa 70s
Silk blouses, spaghetti-strapped tank tops, and shirt-waist dresses were also worn among girls and young women. Shoes began to echo the 1940s with high-heeled lower-platform mules or “Candies” made of molded plastic with a single leather strap over the ball of the foot. Zippered jumpsuits became popular among both men and women, and clothing inspired by modern dance (wrap skirts, leotards, and rayon/jersey dresses) also became common. Leotards in particular became an important feminine fashion accessory in 1974, and remained in style throughout the decade. The traditional long-sleeve leotard serve less as clothing than as a way to add color and texture to the body. In the late 70s, flexibility and ease of movement were important as disco fever was prominent, which is a main reason why the item was very popular. Celebrities including Joni Mitchell, Cher, Twiggy, Brigitte Bardot, and even Rod Stewart were seen regularly wearing leotards all the way until the arrival of the aerobics craze of the early 1980s.

Siouxie and the Banshees 

Going along with the free-spirited lifestyle of the 70s, punk fashion was heavily recognized. Originating from London from one of my favorite designers Vivienne Westwood and her partner Malcolm McLaren, this movement was a direct reaction to the economic situation during the depression period. Punk had at its heart a manifesto of creation through disorder – safety pins became nose and ear jewelry, rubber fetish-wear was commonly seen as daywear fashion, and leopard-print, black PVC and tartan trousers were everywhere.

Vivienne Westwood designs 70s
Those who followed the punk era also wore ripped jeans, distressed tees, worn and torn leather jackets, and dawned scrappy haircuts. Icons included the Sex Pistols, the Velvet Underground, Andy Warhol and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Merging on to the 1980s, punk fashion and punk bands had shown up in cities across the world and “Do It Yourself” fashion blossomed. 

A look at some of the top fashion icons of the 1970s, including models 
Lauren Hutton, Margaux Hemingway, Twiggy,
Cheryl Tiegs, Jerry Hall, and actress Farrah Fawcett…

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2 thoughts on “That ’70s Glam-Rock

  1. love these photos! I too was never really into 70s style, but that's because it was 'too recent' for a lot of people and we were all only remembering the hideous looks (there was a LOT of ugly clothes happening in the 70s). now that more time has passed we have all sort of forgotten the bad parts and can remember that there were some good looks happening as well!
    I love the care-free nature of it all. makes me feel like the70s was just one long decade of summer! haha.

    Like

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