Key Fashion Trends from the 1970s

This article looks at iconic fashion trends from the 1970s.

If the 1960s can be described as a decade of change, the 1970s picked up right where the previous decade left off. During the 1970s many people experienced economic upheaval, an increased environmental awareness, the women’s liberation movement, and the explosion of pop music. This decade also saw many fashion changes. This article looks at iconic fashion trends from the 1970s.

Six iconic fashion trends from the 1970s:

1. Bell Bottom pants

The growing feminist movement influenced fashion in several ways. One of the most iconic ways was that more and more women began to wear pants on a regular basis. In earlier decades women only wore pants for a specific practical purpose, for example the war effort. Or during the 1960s they were worn by a more rebellious youth. By the 1970s they become fashionable in a mainstream sense. Yves St Laurent was one of the most famous designers to champion pants in this decade. The most iconic pant silhouette from the 1970s is the bell bottom. This style flared out widely from the knee down. Sometimes the opening at the bottom was more than 25 inches in diameter. Both men and women wore this style.

2. The wrap dress

 In 1973 Dian Von Furstenberg released the wrap dress, which has since become a wardrobe staple in. At first she didn’t realize how popular her creation was and it wasn’t produced routinely, but over time she discovered that women were hunting around for the style. Therefore she re-launched it in the latter half of the 1970s and has pretty much always featured it in her collections since.

3. Jeans

By the 1970s jeans became a standard item in the wardrobes of the western world. Designers began to make stylish jeans, rather than simply practical styles. The high waist flare leg jean was a popular silhouette. The advertising of jeans from this decade is also memorable. Calvin Klein put model Brooke Shields in his jeans and had her say "You know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing."

4. The Farrah Fawcett hairstyle

One of the most remembered hairstyles from the 1970s is Farrah Fawcett’s hairdo. This comprised of layers around the face that were styled outwards to create flicks. This look can be achieved by using a round brush when blow drying your hair to make your layers sit up and out from the face.

5. The Punk look

 The punk look wasn’t a mainstream trend that everyone followed, but it became an iconic look due to its standout characteristics. People wore ripped t-shirts, Mohawk hairstyles and hair dyed in bright shades shades. Some designers took inspiration from what was going on, for example Vivienne Westwood introduced her controversial print of the Queen with a safety pin through her nose.

6. The Ralph Lauren Polo shirt

The still popular men’s Ralph Lauren polo shirt, with a pony logo on the left chest, was first released in 1972. Today you can buy them in several variations and almost every imaginable color.


The new Classics, Australian Stitches Vol 15, no. 12, Autumn/Winter 2008.

Brett, C, Australian Stitches Sewing secrets no. 2, Express publications 1999.

The History of pants p. 73.

Style icons, The Australian women’s weekly, December 1999.

Watson, L. Twentieth Century Fashion, Carlton Books, 2003, London.


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