Discover Women’s 1970s Fashion
Discover Women’s 1970s Fashion
Written by Hannah Mae Webster
The 1970s was a decade of striking fashion statements and equally bold style icons. Experimentation with color, patterns, and new silhouettes defined the 70s, making it one of the most influential decades in fashion history.
1970s Style Icons
“Style is knowing what suits you, who you are, and what your assets are. It is also accepting it all.”
Bianca Jagger’s 70s style was legendary and she was known as the ‘queen’ of Studio 54, the now Broadway theater that opened as a famous nightclub in the 70s. Jagger’s iconic 70s outfits consisted of jaw-dropping disco attire, sharp tailoring, and bold accessories. She heavily influenced women’s 70s fashion with her spectacular style.
Wedding suit, 1971
Bianca Jagger chose this bespoke Yves Saint Laurent white skirt suit for her 1971 wedding to Rolling Stone Mick Jagger. Her unconventional wedding look aligned with her bold 70s style and featured a matching hat and veil. This bridal style became an inspiration for the unconventional but glamorous bride.
Met Gala, 1974
This red sequined Halston ensemble was worn by Bianca Jagger to the 1974 Met Gala. The dress featured a halter neck, matching jacket, and beret. This extravagant look was inspired by the disco fashion scene of the 70s, in which Bianca Jagger was already a great style inspiration. Sequins are a party style that have remained highly popular due to their ability to catch the light and create an eye-catching “disco ball” effect.
Ethereal ensemble, 1975
As well as masculine tailored styles, Bianca Jagger could effortlessly pull off ethereal, feminine styles, as proven by this delicately beautiful all-white look in 1975, the stunning headpiece showing her impactful signature accessorizing style. The one-shoulder neckline was popular in the 70s, with fashion designer Halston favoring it in his designs.
“I go feminine, I go masculine. I am both, actually. I think the male side is a bit stronger in me, and I have to tone it down sometimes. I'm not like a normal woman, that's for sure.”
Grace Jones was the ultimate 70s disco fashion icon as she embraced the experimental side of fashion, leaning into androgynous and unconventional styles.
Daring performance attire, 1977
Grace Jones released her first album in 1977, launching her enduring singing career. Her music was a hit in the 1970s club scene and forged her legacy as a disco queen. In this 1977 performance Grace Jones wore chainmail as a top, sequined bikini style shorts with sheer tights. Jones dramatically accessorized with bold cuff jewelry and eye makeup. The barely-there curtain style top worn by Grace Jones remains inspirational as Schiaparelli’s Haute Couture Fall 2022 collection featured a jeweled curtain top, reminiscent of the 70s and Grace Jones’s 1977 look.
“I feel most comfortable in an old pair of jeans, Converse, and a man's jersey.
My best friend cuts my hair with kitchen scissors.”
Jane Birkin was known for her relaxed, casual style and popularized simple styles such as denim jeans and plain white t-shirts. She embraced an effortlessly chic look and cemented herself as a permanent fashion inspiration.
She popularized many trends including crop tops and broderie anglaise, favoring plain, minimalistic outfits during the 1970s.
Birkin also popularized the practically designed basket bag, an accessory that has held its popularity to this day.
“I think that all people should really dress for themselves, to figure out what they love.”
Known for her androgynous and powerful fashion statements, Diane Keaton’s 70s style was unique and took great inspiration from menswear. Following her 1977 portrayal of the film character Annie Hall, Keaton unsurprisingly became a fashion legend, favoring suits, ties, waistcoats, monochromatic looks, and bold hats.
Cher’s 70s style included crop top co-ords, sparkly sequin gowns, and super-revealing ensembles with minimal coverage. She flaunted many of these lavish looks on “The Sonny & Cher Show.”
Some of Cher’s iconic 70s looks:
Other key 70s style icons include:
- Goldie Hawn
- Farrah Fawcett
- Olivia Newton-John
- Jane Fonda
- Catherine Deneuve
Trends of the 70s
Top 1970s trends included:
- Halter neck tops
- Pantsuits – paired with pussy-bow blouses and blazers.
- Wide leg pants
- Midi and maxi dresses
- Prairie dresses
- Platform heels
- Bell bottom jeans
- Shearling coats
- The wrap dress
- Boho styles
- Disco styles (e.g., silver sequins)
- Bell sleeves
- Crop tops
Designers that shaped the decade
Diane von Furstenberg
- Diane von Furstenberg famously introduced the wrap dress in 1974 and experienced a widespread wave of success due to its universally flattering design. The figure-hugging fit of the wrap dress effortlessly accentuated all body types due to the jersey material and tie waist.
- The wrap dress remains a staple in modern fashion and can be worn casually or dressed up for an occasion.
"I was 26 when I invented the wrap dress. It was just a nothing little printed dress made out of a jersey, and before I know it, I lived an American Dream making more than 25,000 dresses a week."
Diane von Furstenberg
Yves Saint Laurent
- Created iconic tailored suits for stars such as Bianca Jagger.
- Took inspiration from menswear and artists.
- Arguably the greatest designer of the decade, Halston revolutionized womenswear by creating simple, minimalistic but daring designs.
- He was a key figure in the 70s disco scene and a regular at the famous nightclub Studio 54. This excessive attitude towards partying inspired his disco-worthy designs for stars and friends such as Bianca Jagger.
- He popularized “ultrasuede.”
“You are only as good as the people you dress.”
- A pioneer in the punk fashion scene of the 70s.
- She created shocking, and controversial pieces including safety pin embellishments, distressed t-shirts, and rebellious designs.
“In general: the true artist is always true to his art; the impostor is self-conscious, demonstrating his idea, projecting his theory, his ego.”
- Pucci’s kaleidoscopic 70s bold prints are famously recognized for their unique color combinations and psychedelic designs.
- He designed flowing silk jersey dresses and blouses as well as signature pants in the 70s.
“Gaiety is one of the most important elements I brought to fashion. I brought it through color.”
Popular Colors of the 1970s
Popular 70s colors included brown, dark purple, mustard yellow, red, mauve, peach, pastels, and earth tones. Both bright colors and darker earthy tones were common.
Popular accessories in the 70s included:
- Chain belts
- Wooden jewelry
- Pearl earrings
- 20s inspired jewelry
- Draped turbans
- Yellow gold jewelry – (gold hoops, gold chains, gold bangles.)
Parties and discos were of course a huge part of 70s culture, causing the introduction of playful and daring new attire. For many, the disco dance floor was essentially a runway to showcase their extravagant looks. Inspired by celebrity culture and the famous club scene of Studio 54, styles were influenced by the attention-grabbing looks of icons such as Bianca Jagger.
Sequins and metallic materials that reflect the light were popular as well as bell bottom pants, jumpsuits, and disco dresses. Spandex was also becoming a popular fabric for its optimal disco-dancing properties.
Trousers, jumpsuits, and suits
Wide leg palazzo trousers were a popular style in the 70s and were often high-waisted. These wide leg pants were often styled with bow-neck blouses, crop tops, or even shirts, and could be easily dressed up and down.
Bell bottoms were another trouser trend, including patterned bell bottoms and bell bottom jeans, a 70s trend that has experienced a modern rebirth.
Jumpsuits were a great option due to their practicality compared to a dress, whilst retaining an element of glamour. This is why they were popular choices for discos and parties in the 70s.
Suits were a welcome development in 70s womenswear, despite an introduction in previous decades and Yves Saint Laurent’s introduction of “le smoking” in 1966. The lines between menswear and womenswear were more blurred than ever before. The influence of masculine styles was increasingly popular with Bianca Jagger emerging as a style inspiration in her sharp YSL suits.
Want to add some iconic 70s inspired trousers to your closet? Check out our ‘Bianca High-Waisted Pants' in black.
70s dress types and shapes
1970s dress types included:
- Shift dress
- Wrap dress
- Jumper dress
- Drop waist dress – taking influence from 1920s styles
- Tunic dress
- Prairie dress – inspired by Victorian and hippie styles. Ralph Lauren introduced the “prairie” dress in 1978
- Sleeveless jumper dress – often worn over a turtleneck jumper
- Collared dress
- Draped dress
- Halter neck dress
- One shoulder dress
- House dress
- Shirtwaist dress
- Caftan dress
- Fit and flare dress with oversized collar
- Maxi dress
Want to learn more about dress types? Check out our article Everything on Dress Types and Body Shapes
Popular 1970s footwear included:
- Platform shoes
- Strappy sandals
- Wedge heeled boot
- Brown leather boots
The Influence of previous decades
While the 70s introduced its own signature styles and trends, there were, nevertheless, many influences from previous decades, predominantly the 60s and 20s. Although fashion had moved away from the impractical space age styles of the 60s, some elements were retained into the 70s. Hippie inspired styles such as flared pants and bell sleeves were still strong trends into the 70s, and the bright, colorful prints remained popular. Women’s 70s fashion consisted of innovative styles with subtle influences from the past.
The 70s fashion seemingly prioritized a more relaxed and practical approach, leaving behind some of the experimental materials such as PVC and plastics, favoring comfortable outfits that still made a statement. The geometric shapes found in 60s mod fashion were not as present in 70s styles.
THe 70s style was also greatly influenced by the 1920s, with drop waist dresses and shapeless silhouettes making a return. The 20s influence could also be found in the 70s jewelry and Victorian influences were seen through the popularization of prairie dresses.
Key facts about the 1970s fashion
What did women wear in the 1970s?
Depending on the occasion, women would wear anything from wide leg trousers to more relaxed maxi dresses. There was a greater masculine influence on 70s outfits so suits and tailoring were popular choices for workwear. If leaning into a hippie inspired style, bell bottoms and prairie dresses were favored. However, a more casual and understated influence could be taken from stars such as Jane Birkin who popularized simple flared jeans and t-shirt outfits with effortless elegance. Comfort was a great factor in clothing choice, more so than in the 60s, as relaxed options were often the way forward.
What can I wear to a 70s themed party?
Channeling a 70s disco style is a great way to embrace 70s fashion for a party. Try sequined outfits featuring crop tops, dresses, or jumpsuits. Halter necks, bell bottoms, and metallic materials are also a great option. For extravagant inspiration look at 70s party styles from Bianca Jagger or Cher. Remember, when choosing 70s party attire, opt for practical and movable styles that allow you to dance freely.
How do you put together a 70s outfit?
Here are a few ideas for creating 70s outfits:
- Bell bottoms and a halter neck crop top – you could try colored, patterned, or denim bell bottom pants for this look. A halter neck crop top is the perfect 70s inspired piece that will both accentuate high waisted bell bottoms and highlight your waist.
- A sharp tailored suit paired with a pussy-bow blouse – this style takes influence from menswear as well as a slight delicate femininity in the addition of the blouse.
- White top (broderie anglaise or t-shirt) with flared blue jeans, platform shoes, and a basket bag – this Jane Birkin inspired look is 70s inspired but also highly modern looking. Add a messy hairstyle to create the perfect modern-passing Jane Birkin outfit.
What was the 70s dress style?
The top 70s dress styles included:
- The wrap dress
- The prairie dress
- The one shoulder dress
- The halter neck dress
- The sleeveless jumper dress
"Fashion can be this mysterious thing that you can't explain."
Diane von Furstenberg