How to wear this season’s 1970s trend

by Kate Beavis

The thought of embracing this year’s hottest trend, the 1970s, can be a daunting one especially if you have already lived through the decade. For many of us the prospect of cord flares in a variety of shades of brown makes us shudder, but I am here to say, this look can be great on anyone no matter what your age or shape. With just a few tweaks, choosing shapes that flatter rather than make you feel like you’re wearing “fancy dress” and modernising with key accessories; the 1970s fashion will make you stand out for the right reasons, giving your style a touch of flare.

Flared Trousers

Flares or bell bottoms became hugely popular in the late 1960s, with celebrities such as Sonny and Cher making them mainstream; and they remained the trouser of choice through to 1977 when the punk movement exploded onto the scene. They are a flattering trouser as they elongate the leg especially worn with platform shoes under the huge hem; some people wore a whopping 26” flare! But for many, flared trousers are a step too far; if this is you, then I suggest you choose a wide leg trouser or palazzo pant to give you the look without the skinny thigh fit. High waisted versions are best as they not only flatter but give you a vintage feel, emphasising your slimmest part and gently flattering the tummy area.

Choose wide leg trousers instead of flares

Pussy Bow Blouses

Women loved a blouse in the 1970s, choosing high necked styles often with bibbed fronts and balloon sleeves but this look can be severe for the modern woman. The pussy bow blouse was a firm favourite continuing into the 1980s as well as a white cotton lace blouse from Laura Ashley and the like. They were worn casually with jeans or teamed up with a suit to work; in fact, blouses were more popular that T-shirts.

The best way to wear them now is to undo the top few buttons or leave the pussy bow undone to create more of a scarf effect which will give a more relaxed feel. However,

keeping the bow tied can also look great especially with the blouse tucked into the high waisted, wide leg trouser or choose a slightly lower cut blouse like this.

A low cut pussy bow blouse is more flattering

Midi Dresses

The 1970s saw the rise of the “secretary dress” – a midi length dress with a belted waist, often with a concertina pleated skirt and a button up front. In the 1970s, this style was slightly more bohemian than the 1980s shoulder padded version and is still popular today but with a somewhat modernised feel.

Pleated midi skirts are everywhere this season and look best teamed with a plain fine knit to contrast with the pleats and add a long boot. Alternatively wear them with a pointy kitten heel, another trend making a comeback.


There is nothing new about the jumpsuit as they have been popular for a while now, but how about embracing the 1970s version. Think “Western” style with poppers or indeed a boiler suit; the trick here is to choose a fabric with more of a work wear feel to it such as denim or a heavy cotton. Choose a shape that flatters such as again, a wide leg trouser and undo the top buttons for a relaxed feel.

Looking To The Past

We are always looking to the past for design inspiration and the 1970s was no different;  we looked to the 1920s (The Great Gatsby was released in 1974), the 1930s (Art Deco design had a comeback at the start of the decade) and even the 1940s  (Yves St Laurent created a 1940s inspired collection in 1971). The biggest impact was the 1930s though, as described by Clare Quartermaine, designer at The House of Foxy.

“The silhouette of the 1970s reminds us of the 1930s; they emulated the classic bias cut which is where the fabric drapes, almost clinging to women’s curves, but the 1970s fabrics were different. Man-made materials such a polyester was chosen instead of silks, so the end result was stretchier and more clingy!”

“The prints were very different as were the colours. Ozzie Clark and Celia Birtwell led this revival with their perfect partnership; Clark took the 1930s shape and gave it a then modern twist that flattered every size while his wife Birtwell, created the prints with a bold yet romantic feel.”

If the 1970s look is too much for you, choose the 1930s instead. Look for tea dresses and pussy bows worn on the side of the neck instead of at the front. 

The 1930s was huge in the 1970s

Hair and Make Up

Hair in the 1970s was big and bouncy, while makeup saw the introduction of shades of brown, sea greens, dark purples and blue hues mainly applied on the eyes with a single colour. Makeup artist Jenny Buckland describes how to get the look

“For a 70s hair style comb mousse through damp hair with a wide tooth comb ensuring you get the product into the root, this will help give the roots some lift.  Taking sections of hair and a large round brush dry the hair using a hairdryer around the bristle brush once dry roll and clip it and continue to the next section. Using a heat protection spray will help the hair stay shiny one of the key elements to seventies hair. Once all the hair is dried and clipped spritz with a finishing spray to help hold the style.  Leave all the sections to cool and gentle remove the clips unwinding the hair careful.  Using a vent brush gently tease the hair into place a use a stronger hair spray to hold in place.  If you prefer heated rollers the same effect can be achieved by setting with a large roller all over.”

“The key to recreating a 1970s eye is to place a small amount concealer over the eyelid to create a base for the eye-shadow to sit on which will make blending much easier.  Take a cream eye-shadow and apply on the eyelid into the crease on the eye then use your finger to blend the edge to soften. Using the same cream shadow stick gently place the colour along the outer bottom lashes on the corner of the eye.  Keeping the colour to the outside edge will help to keep the eyes looking fresh and open.  Applying a false lash will add the perfect finishing touch to the eyes for a seventies inspired look.  Choose a lip colour in a red berry topped off with a gloss will help lips appear fuller whilst having a seventies feel.”

Images are from The House of Foxy