From Joni Mitchell to Cher, we highlight the greatest icons of 1970s fashion. Plus, how to get the look today...
The 1970s fashion trend is back (again!) and the most stylistically full-on decade has never looked better. Flares, platforms, fringe and suede dominated the runways once again at the latest round of shows, as modern-day designers were inspired by the original icons of the era; Joni Mitchell, Cher, Bianca Jagger and more.
From Gucci to Halston, Laura Ashley to Biba there were plenty of brands making 1970s fashion their own back in the day, giving us hippie chic, power dressing, glam rock and even punk, all within an exceptional ten year timeframe.
1. Diane Von Furstenberg And The Wrap Dress, 1974
Let’s start with one of the most famous fashion inventions ever, shall we? Diane made her now-iconic wrap in 1974 after setting out to create a relaxed, silk jersey dress that could suit every woman’s body with ease. Originally available in a small range of sooo Seventies prints, she was quickly given the cover of business bible Newsweek and declared the ‘most marketable designer since Coco Chanel.’ The magazine was right and by 1976 Diane had sold over 5 million of the dress worldwide, building a lasting fashion empire in the process.
2. Joni Mitchell , 1972
The poster girl of hippie chic, Joni Mitchell was undoubtedly one of the Seventies’ ultimate style icons. She wore tie dye blouses, earth-goddess hair and billowing kaftans like no other, usually completing her trademark look with bare feet and a guitar in hand. All together now, ‘Don’t it always seem to go…’
3. Cher, 1973
Cher released a whopping 10 albums in the 1970s meaning, quite simply, that she was absolutely everywhere. From more-is-more prints to epic perms, she trialled every trend the decade had to offer with gusto.
4. Halston, 1976
Meet the 1970s’ most popular guy. The now-legendary designer Roy Halston Frowick shot to fame in this decade thanks to his minimalistic draped gowns and his greatest invention, the jersey halter dress. Find him at Studio 54 with Elizabeth Taylor on one arm and Liza Minelli on the other…
5. Studio 54, 1970s
Studio 54 in New York was the Seventies hottest venue bar none. From Andy Warhol to Yves Saint Laurent, anyone who was anyone could be found right here, having the time of their lives every day of the week. Here’s Bianca Jagger riding into her Studio 54 birthday party on a white stallion, just because.
6. The Osmonds, 1979
Just look at Donny and Marie Osmond. Could they be any more Seventies? The fringing, the platforms, the glittering lurex trousers. The Osmond family hit the big time in 1971, becoming clean-cut idols for teens around the world. We said it was fashion, we didn’t say it was always good fashion.
7. But really, Marie Osmond’s hair in 1974…
Hair everywhere reached new heights in the 1970s as full-on perms and disco afros became de rigueur. Frizz ease and straighteners weren’t really available to the mass market and so a lot of people kept manes like this.
8. Ziggy Stardust, 1973
David Bowie’s alter ego skewed ideas about gender and fashion in the 1970s, performing in spray on leotards, foil flares and a whole lotta face paint. The ultimate style chameleon, Bowie transformed his look again and again throughout his career, but this will always be the moment where he changed fashion forever.
9. Diana Ross
Post The Supremes, Diana was all about lilac eyeshadow, loose wrap dresses and XXL hoop earrings. Like Cher, she whipped up an incredible nine albums in her first decade as a solo artist and was a key style icon, too. We’re sure the sepia tones and retro wardrobe choices in this picture must have inspired American Hustle?
10. Karl for Chloé, Spring 1974 collection
Before Karl Lagerfeld became the reigning Kaiser we all know and love at Chanel, he worked for another major fashion label; Chloé. His vision defined the house’s trademark boho direction, an aesthetic that current designer Clare Waight Keller still nods to today. Here’s a swimwear look from his 1974 collection.
11. Bo Derek, 1979
Running along the beach in her nude halter one-piece, Bo Derek’s appearance in hit movie 10 earned her 1970s pin-up status. Every woman everywhere copied those braids and the scene became iconic.
What did real women wear in the Seventies? Barbara Hulanicki’s London boutique Biba experienced a sales boom, selling bell bottom power suits (cat covered, of course) and smock dresses in saturated colours, all at affordable price points. The roots for high street fashion were firmly planted and, thanks to an unrivalled mail ordering service, women around the country were able to experience fast fashion for the first time.
13. Margaret Thatcher, 1975
Love her or loathe her, the Iron Lady sure knew how to make a fashion statement. Her rainbow coloured suits and trademark pussy bow blouses ensured she stood out from the men in suits on every political occasion.
14. Disco, 1977
Saturday Night Fever hit cinemas in 1977 and the world became infatuated with disco. John Travolta’s car-salesman suit and Karen Lynn Gorney’s major commitment to ruffles had everyone reaching for their platforms and dancing their troubles away.
15. Laura Ashley
Women were hooked on Laura Ashley’s romantic silhouettes and floral-drenched prints in the 1970s. The Edwardian-style dresses and vintage-look fabrics divided opinion amongst the more fashion-forward at the time. ‘They’re not particularly clothes for making a splash in a dramatic place,’ the designer justified at the time. ‘They’re simple garments to wear at home, and when you get home perhaps you need the security of nostalgia.’
16. Charlie’s Angels, 1976
Farrah Fawcett became one of the most celebrated TV icons ever when she took on the role of private investigator Jill Munroe in hit series Charlie’s Angels. She and co-stars Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith defined the working woman’s wardrobe of the 1970s – checkered shirts, skinny rib vests and, of course, a high waisted pair of flares.
18. ABBA, 1977
Now there’s a pair of flares. Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid burst onto the music and fashion scenes in 1972, introducing the UK to the concept of ‘Scandi cool’ for the first time. Their outfits were outrageous – think sequin hot pants and silver moon boots, or the entire quartet all clad in white kimonos.
19. Elton John
Oh those tinted glasses. The must-have fashion accessory of the 1970s was a pair of sepia shades, as sported by Elton back then and pretty much every day ever since. Here he is at Studio 54 with and equally glitzy Diana Ross and Cher.
20. Germaine Greer , 1971
The first women’s liberation march took place in London in 1971 and, thanks to her book The Female Eunuch, Germaine Greer became the voice of a generation and a feminist icon.
21. Kate Bush
Kate Bush was the Seventies’ queen of ethereal performance art. Her wild, expressive outfits were really kind of thrown together, which made them totally achievable for normal girls, who copied them with aplomb.
22. Debbie Harry, 1976
The denim market exploded in the 1970s as a denim shirt and flared jeans were declared the decade’s ideal casual wear ensemble. Newcomer Debbie Harry caught on to the trend early, just as Blondie took off and the punk era really kicked in.
23. Vivienne Westwood
The new queen of punk Vivienne Westwood was about to make fashion history when she opened her boutique Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die on the Kings Road in 1971. Two years later, she changed the shop’s name to SEX, turning fetishes into fashion under the catchy tagline ‘rubberwear for the office.’
How to nail 70s fashion today
Whether you’re looking to update your downtime wardrobe or need something for an upcoming holiday, the 70’s trend is the perfect out-of-office ally. From bohemian babe (think floaty maxi dresses in patchwork prints and lace-up peasant blouses) to haute hippy (silky flared trousers and heavenly suede skirts), and even cool-girl-groupie (channel your inner rock goddess in all things fringed and mini) – there are so many ways to work the 70s trend this season. And the best news is, when it comes to the 70s trend, clothing can be as bold or subtle as you like, making it a trend everyone can get on board with.
On the designer front, the retro revival stormed AW16 catwalks. At Chloe, it was all about daywear denim and divine maxi dresses, while over at Saint Laurent it was rock n’ roll attitude to the max. While you can go head-to-toe with the trend, our favourite way to work 70s styling is by opting for one piece at a time. A plain suede mini – we’re looking at you, Topshop – will make just as stylish nod to the decade as a crochet crop top.
Alternatively, an embroidered peasant blouse will pack as much punch as a tan suede jacket, floaty patchwork dress or pair of wide-legged kick-flare jeans. For pieces like this, check out Mango, Reiss, and Zara, while on the designer front, there’s keep-forever pieces from Gucci, Marc Jacobs and Jil Sander.
Here’s our instant 70s outfit:
Seek out cool clog-style shoes (such as Gucci’s Amstel Clog, £495) to add an authentic seventies vibe to any outfit.
The 70s were all about colour, a suede colourblocked bag (this one is the Chloe Maddie bag, £410) is perfect if you’re used to wearing neutrals but want to try the trend.
Channel Mila Kunis in her 70s heyday and wear a retro polo with flared jeans (check out Frame Denimn’s Le Polo top, £255, for a Bridget Bardot vibe too).
Put a modern spin on flares and look for pinstripes (such as this pair from The Elder Statesman, £350) or raw hem details that will give your 70s look a current edge.
Who’s your ultimate 1970s fashion icon? Tell us what you think on Twitter @MarieClaireUK.