1970s in Western fashion

In 1971 hot pants and bell-bottomed trousers were popular fashion trends
Example of glam rock costume worn by Roy Wood and Wizzard, early 1970s.

Fashion in the 1970s is about individuality. In the early 1970s, Vogue proclaimed “There are no rules in the fashion game now.” Instead of brands and following the trends like previous eras, the 70s were about “Freedom”, “identity” and “Personal Expression”. Fashion in the 1970s began with a continuation of the mini skirts, bell-bottoms, and the androgynous hippie look from the late 1960s and eventually became an iconic decade for fashion.[1]

There were a lot of sub cultures group developed in the 1970s, therefore there were no specific trends of recognizable style as there were too many choices offered. This created oversupplying designs flooding into the fashion market with no specific, clear direction. Another reason that led to too many choices offered was the rise of technology. New technologies brought advances in production through mass production, higher efficiency, generating higher standards and uniformity. Generally the most famous silhouette of the mid and late 1970s for both genders was that of tight on top and loose on bottom. The 1970s also saw the birth of the indifferent, anti-conformist casual chic approach to fashion, which consisted of sweaters, T-shirts, jeans and sneakers.

In the 1970s, there were two influential designers whom brought in a new perspective in the 1970s women fashion. Both the French designers, Yves Saint Laurent and the American designer Halston observed and embraced the changes that were happening in the society especially on the huge growth of women’s right and youth culture where most of their inspirations came from. They successfully to adapt their design aesthetics to accommodate the changes that the market was aiming for.

The top fashion models of the 1970s were Lauren Hutton, Margaux Hemingway, Beverly Johnson, Gia Carangi, Janice Dickinson, Cheryl Tiegs, Jerry Hall, and Iman.

The 1970s was the time when different changes for reforms arose. There was the protest against the war in Vietnam. Moreover, the new right movement was raised whereby people fought against high taxation and school desegregation plan. This influenced how people interacted with each other. The fashion resulting from this period displayed rebellion among people. Development of hippie culture was an expression and a way of opposing the Vietnam war, the advocacy of world peace. Furthermore, it showed the hostility to the authority that governed during this period. During this period, there was the introduction of the environmentalist movement, and this also influenced how people lived.


Early 1970s (1970-72)

Hippie Look

Glamour wear

By the early 1970s, miniskirts had reached an all-time popularity. This young English woman is wearing a fringed suede miniskirt.

Mid 1970s (1973-76)

This photo taken in 1974, shows a girl inspired by the British glam rock craze which had a brief influence on fashion. Her glitter-adorned dress comes from Granny Takes a Trip boutique

Casual looks

Active wear

Tailored styles

Late 1970s (1977-79)

Relaxed look

Group of friends in 1979. Two of the women are wearing the trendy tube tops, while the woman on the far left is wearing a rayon strapless dress

One-piece swimsuits

Disco look

Swedish model Ulla Jones dressed in a lurex halter top and matching flared trousers

Disco fashion was generally inspired by clothing from the early 1960s. Disco clothes worn by women included tube tops, sequined halterneck shirts, blazers, spandex short shorts, loose pants, form-fitting spandex pants, maxi skirts and dresses with long thigh slits, jersey wrap dresses, ball gowns, and evening gowns.[7] Shoes ranged from knee-high boots to kitten heels, but the most commonly worn shoes were ones that had thick heels and were often made with see-through plastic.


Russian leader Leonid Brezhnev wearing Astrakhan cap and fur lined overcoat, 1974.

Early 1970s (1970-72)

Iranian prince Reza Pahlavi wearing velvet Nehru jacket and geometric print scarf, 1973.

Bright colors

Eastern fashion

Mao Zedong wearing gray Zhongshan suit, 1972.

Mid 1970s (1973-76)

Teenage couple in California, 1975. The girl is wearing a crop top and high-waisted trousers. The boy is dressed in the classic t-shirt and jeans, popular male attire in the 1970s

Glam rock

Informal attire

Late 1970s (1977-79)

Flared jeans and trousers were popular with both sexes as can be seen at this German disco in 1977


Disco style



Teddy boys


British rock band Killing Floor, 1971.

Heavy metal

Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi wearing hippie clothing and Ozzy Osbourne wearing black leather, 1973

Black power


Three Los Angeles Chicanos in 1974.


1970s beauty trends

Women's Hairstyles

In the 1970s, women's hair was usually worn long with a centre parting

Throughout much of the decade, women and teenage girls wore their hair long, with a centre or side parting, which was a style carried over from the late 1960s. Other hairstyles of the early to mid-1970s included the wavy "gypsy" cut, the layered shag, and the "flicked" style, popularly referred to as "wings", in which the hair was flicked into resembling small wings at the temples. This look was popularised by the stars of the television series Charlie's Angels. Blonde-streaked or "frosted" hair was also popular. In 1977, punk singer Debbie Harry of Blondie sparked a new trend with her shoulder-length, dyed platinum blonde hair worn with a long fringe (bangs).

In the 1970s, making one of the popular hairstyles for a woman didn't take a lot of time. These hairstyles, including Afro hairstyle, Shaggy Hairdo and Feathered hair (then known as "Farrah Fawcett hairstyle") were said to be perfect when you're on-the-go and would still keep your expressive style in-check.[63] For Blacks in the United States and elsewhere, the afro was worn by both sexes throughout the decade. It was occasionally sported by whites, especially Jewish Americans[64] as an alternative to the uniform long, straight hair which was a fashion mainstay until the arrival of punk and the "disco look" when hair became shorter and centre partings were no longer the mode.

The most iconic women's hairstyle of the 1970s is arguably the Farrah Fawcett hairstyle. Popularized in 1976, the hairstyle was heavily imitated by many American women and girls. It incorporated waves, curls, and layers. The style mostly worn with bangs, but could also be worn with a side parting. To make it even more stylish, women and girls would frost their hair with blonde streaks.[65]

Men's Hairstyles

Steve McQueen with crew cut and large sideburns, 1972.

Continuing on from the 1960s, the ducktail and Pompadour hairstyle (then known as the "Elvis Presley hairstyle") were popular among young Italian-American and Mexican-American men in big cities like New York. Large quantities of grease or brylcreem was normally used to keep the hair in place. The early and mid 1970s generally featured longer hair on men, as way of rebelling against the social norms of years past.[66] Sideburns were also worn around the same time. Some of the most popular hairstyles for men include "Long and Luscious" hairstyle, mod haircut, and the "buzzcut" hairstyle popularised by action heroes like Steve McQueen. In the late 1970s, men went for the chop, ranging from crew cuts, to buzz cuts, to a shag. This was mainly done for an athletic look, and sideburns and facial hair went out of style.

Makeup and cosmetics

Actress Camille Keaton in 1972. Throughout most of the decade, women preferred light, natural-looking make-up for the daytime

Cosmetics in the 1970s reflected the contradictory roles ascribed for the modern woman.[67] For the first time since 1900, make-up was chosen situationally, rather than in response to monolithic trends.[67] The era's two primary visions were the daytime "natural look" presented by American designers and Cosmopolitan magazine, and the evening aesthetic of sexualized glamour presented by European designers and fashion photographers.[67] In the periphery, punk and glam were also influential. The struggling cosmetics industry attempted to make a comeback, using new marketing and manufacturing practices.

Image gallery

Images representing the fashion trends of the 1970s.


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