Have you found yourself rummaging through your mum’s suitcase of old clothes searching for that perfect leather skirt she wore in the 80’s? Have you sifted through rows of jam-packed racks to find an op-shop bargain? Or spent hours scrolling through Etsy, Ebay and Depop to find a vintage one-of-a-kind?
Appreciation is growing for style from eras gone before. Why? Maybe because we are now making sustainable fashion choices (what’s more ethical than resurrecting the perfect pair of 70s flares?!), or maybe it’s because we’re over the postmodern aesthetic of the mid-2000s — think: over-sized, boxy shapes and geometric prints — and reverting back to classic silhouettes and tailoring.
Or, perhaps we’ve all just ‘wised-up’ to the fact that the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s have all positively influenced fashion into what it is today.
So keep reading to see our first post in our series on the ‘History of Fashion’, where we look at the different decades of dress.
PART 1: 1970’s
Coming off of the 1960’s, an era of boy-bands, short skirts, and psychedelia, the 1970’s gave both men and women a new freedom to dress. This decade is not known for one particular style, but for the combination of a variety of trends and cultures, differing from the social conformity of the 1940’s and 50’s.
The 1970’s also introduced the concept of comfort over style. Mixing and matching was introduced, with the layering of vests, skirts, and shirts becoming a style staple. In the 1970’s, Vogue declared: ‘There are no rules in the fashion game now. You’re playing it and you make up the game as you go.’
At the beginning of the era, the psychedelic trend was still present. Designers such as Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Cardin were filling their runways with velvets, chiffons, and prints. Menswear was limited to bell bottom jeans, tie dye shirts, flannels, and corduroy pants. Exotic jewellery became a must-have in a woman’s wardrobe, along with headbands, hats, flowing scarves, and foreign headpieces. Homemade bracelets and headbands made from materials such as wood, hemp, flowers, and Indian beads were considered an essential part of a unisex wardrobe.
Throughout the 1970’s, an estimated thirty major Western films were released a year, featuring big names like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Sam Elliott. These popular pictures had a huge impact on fashion, particularly men’s. Flannels, corduroy, cowboy boots, and shearling were crucial elements of the Western wardrobe.
In 1968, actress Jane Birkin travelled to France to shoot a movie. She not only formed an iconic relationship with Serge Gainsbourg, but also lead a fashion revolution and what is now known as ‘french girl’ style. European singers, Sylvie Vartan and Francoise Hardy, as well as model Loulou De La Falaise, helped define the boho-basic style, with bell bottom jeans, white peasant dresses, and black velvet suits – a trend then backed by Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld.
Fleetwood Mac was a staple band of the 1970’s. Front-woman Stevie Nicks created a witchy-boho aesthetic that remains part of pop culture. Unlike most 1970’s trends, this one didn’t start in a Paris atelier or the streets of psychedelic San Francisco. Throughout her career, Stevie worked with independent Los Angeles designer Margi Kent, who created the signature leather and lace look.
Once Studio 54 opened in 1977, it became the celebrity hangout. As a result, consumers were introduced to a new style of clothing; full of sequins and vivid colour. Designers such as Diane Von Furstenberg, Gucci, Halston, and Fiorucci were endlessly inspired by the lavish parties, music, and dancing. Men began wearing brighter colours and tighter suits, while the women embraced sequin bell-bottoms and Donna Summer’d the night away.
If you think 2019 is obsessed with Queen, you should have seen 1979. Freddie Mercury’s eccentric style, as well as Elton John’s costumes and David Bowie’s lightning bolt created a new definition of ‘Camp’. The trend invited members of the LGBTQ+ community to begin expressing themselves proudly, and lead to smaller minority designers bring their avant-garde designs to the forefront.