70s Fashion is Back! And it Might Already be in Your Wardrobe

We’ve probably all joked at some point that if we hold on to an outfit long enough it’ll come back into fashion. Well now’s the time to dig out those bell-bottoms and dust of those Mary Janes, because ’70s fashion is back.

Top designers and fashion retailers have taken inspiration from the ‘70s this season. And you can see it all over the high street. From pretty floral maxi dresses to graphic print t-shirts. But if you’d rather have the real deal, have a hunt around at the back of your wardrobe. Or check out your local charity shop where you’re sure to pick up a bargain while helping a good cause. And not forgetting vintage clothing boutiques and markets which have exploded in popularity over the last few years. So channel your inner Farrah Fawcett and take a look at some of the 1970’s trends which are back for 2020.

Bell-bottoms

These popular flared trousers became a symbol of the wild and colourful style of the decade, and were worn by both men and women. They were typically high waisted and flared from the knee down, with bottom leg openings of up to a whopping twenty-six inches. They were worn casually in the form of flared denim jeans, or in the hugely popular corduroy material. And on the dance floor, bold polyester and colourful floral patterns were the trousers of choice.

Platform shoes

If you think back to the ’70s, platform shoes will surely spring to mind. Once unleashed in popular teen magazines, they became all the rage, and were the perfect complement to a pair of bell-bottoms. They’re now popular once again, from casual chunky sole trainers, to wedge sandals and block heels. With platform shoes set to become the next big shoe trend, there’s a style out there for everyone, whatever your age.

Midi skirts

By the late ’60s, the popular mini skirt was no longer in fashion. Hemlines went from thigh-high to floor length, but designers were reluctant to commit to just one length. They experimented with asymmetrical and handkerchief hemlines, until the midi skirt emerged as a chic compromise. Although this mid-calf style wasn’t popular with everyone. Coco Chanel called it “awkward” and it was said to be a tricky silhouette to pull off without looking frumpy. But now, paired with knee-high boots and a turtleneck in the autumn, or a boxy t-shirt and sandals in the summer, the midi skirt is a stylish piece which every woman should have in her wardrobe. 

A lady wearing a green midi skirt with white Converse trainers
Credit: Marco Calignano

Jumpsuits

This all-in-one outfit was an ultra-practical solution for women during the ‘40s Second World War years. They would be kept nearby in case air raid alarms went off and they needed something functional to “jump” into in the middle of the night. And the jumpsuit became popular again in the ’70s, but this time, it was fashion over function. Made of luxurious velvet or covered in sparkly sequins, a jumpsuit became the perfect disco party outfit with a pair of platform heels. The denim jumpsuit or boiler suit was a comfortable daywear option, and you can look chic in 2020 by pairing it with a cool pair of trainers.

Belted cardigans

Knitwear was huge in the 1970s, from knitted tank tops, to jumper dresses, and even sweater suits and coats. Many of them were trimmed with faux fur. And chunky, shawl-collared, belted cardigans, often in brown and white, were the perfect cover up, while still accentuating the waist. Now, the belted cardigan is back and looking better than ever. This vintage knitwear essential now comes in an array of fun colours and embellishments, and fitted or oversized. Wear undone with jeans and a t-shirt at the weekend, or belted with a smart midi skirt for the office.

Tie dyed t-shirts

An iconic ’70s piece that’s renewed every decade, tie dye is back again for 2020. While not considered particularly high fashion, it’s a trend that’s destined to stick around. DIY tie-dying is a fun way to up-cycle and reuse pieces you already have in your wardrobe. But you don’t have to be ultra-creative to get in on the trend. From activewear to loungewear, all sorts of brands are adding the colourful pattern to their products.

Maxi dresses

The 1970’s maxi dress was all about comfort and style, and designers have been inspired by this ’70s hipster look for decades. A maxi dress is a timeless piece which is so versatile. You can dress up a strappy number with a pair of wedge sandals. Or if you prefer to cover your arms a little, why not chuck a t-shirt underneath a ditsy floral print and dress it down with some trainers. Or earn some serious cool points and throw on a leather jacket for a style that works for women of all ages.

A lady walking by the sea in a white floral maxi dress
Credit: Tamara Bellis

Go-go boots

In the early ’70s, boots were at the height of their popularity. Continuing from the trend of the 1960s, women had boots for every occasion. The most popular styles were Go-go boots (dancing boots), crinkle boots, and stretch boots. And lace-up granny style boots which sat just below the knee. No colour or pattern was off limits, and ranged from purple suede thigh-high boots, to white vinyl stretch patent boots. Men wanted to get in on the action too, and it wasn’t uncommon to see a man in boots with a platform heel. Nowadays, knee-high boots ooze winter chic, and are the perfect investment piece to complement your day-to-night wardrobe. 

Activewear

Comfortable sports clothing is everywhere these days, and it’s no longer just for exercising in. Gym leggings and cycle shorts are back in a big way, and are now the go-to pieces for a chilled out weekend, or a work from home day. But it wasn’t until the early 1970s, when fashion made specifically for exercising was marketed on a mass level. For women, it was pastel halter neck tops and satin shorts. But there’s no need to dig out the hot pants to do a lap of your local park. If you want something comfortable, yet flattering, invest in a well-fitting sports bra, a loose fitting tank top or t-shirt, and a pair of super-high waist leggings (which will stay in place). Or some simple black workout trousers with a slight flare (if you want something a little less form-fitting). 

Trouser suits

As more and more women were entering the professional male-dominated workspace, they felt a need to ‘power dress’ in menswear-inspired suits, trousers, shirts, and jackets. And so, women’s trouser suits and tailoring were all over the high street. Blazers were worn over a vest and pussy-bow blouse, with wide trousers and a pointy toe boot. Trouser suits were worn in rich jewel tones in the winter, and pastel or white in summer. There are now endless ways to wear a trouser suit, and a menswear-inspired checked suit is the perfect neutral for your wardrobe. It can be worn to the office for a smart and professional look. Or for a weekend brunch with the girls, add a few accessories for a touch of femininity.

A woman in a checked suit with a white shirt and gloves
Credit: Bilyana Slaveykova

The seventies style is much appreciated as it allowed people to express their individuality and creativity. The era started with trends and details borrowed from previous decades. You could really wear anything for a carefree style. But it was predominately about eye-catching and bold looks, and mixing and matching colours, patterns, and materials was highly encouraged. It was a time when the mini co-existed with the midi. And the flowing maxi worked perfectly alongside a simple tailored silhouette. So if you want to inject a little bit ’70s flare into your style, dig around at the back of your wardrobe. Or hunt through the racks at your local charity shop for that hidden gem. Prefer a fresh take on the trend? The high streets are alive with fun, bold ’70s-inspired pieces to take you back to a time of great music, hot summers, and erm…Space Hoppers!

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