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70s Fashion Trends

A glance back at the fashion trends of the 70s might have some shaking their heads, but those who lived through the decade thought that what they put on each morning was pretty darn cool!

While the fashions of the 1970s were quite different from trends that followed, many of the fads of the decade eventually came back into fashion and are quite popular with those who enjoy a retro look.

Bell Bottom Trousers

No 70s trend was more iconic than bell bottoms, though the fad actually started in the late 60s. Any kind of pants could be bell bottomed, from jeans to dress slacks.Compared to today’s flared pants, these had bottoms that were much wider, sometimes immensely wide. (Those were called “elephant” pants.)

Many owners of bell bottom jeans also took it upon themselves to decorate their pants. If the bell wasn’t wide enough, it was acceptable to rip open the seams at the bottom and add a little extra fabric, preferably something in a very bright color pattern like paisley. In the 70s, jeans were also studded or otherwise decorated to make them more ornate.

Varying Skirt Lengths

In the early 1970s, the mini skirt was still popular, but by the middle of the decade, three lengths of skirt were available. While minis were still a favorite, designers also introduced the midi – which reached down to somewhere between the knee and the ankle.

And to add another dimension, women could also purchase maxi skirts, which extended down to the ankles or floor. Which you chose generally depended on your personality or, in some cases, the formality of the occasion.

The midi really didn’t have a lot of fans. It came and went but the other two lengths are still around

Platform Shoes

No doubt the most outrageous fashion trend of the 70s, platform shoes were wild and crazy. Made of a variety of materials – from plastic to wood and everything in between - and available in a diverse selection of styles, these shoes with the huge soles and heels were popular with both sexes and were usually worn with other disco era favorites.


Also popular during the disco era, the jumpsuit – a one-piece garment that combined shirt and pants – was all the rage in the late 70s.

Available for both men and women, the jumpsuits were often fashioned of a shiny lamé fabric and adorned with a wide belt. It seemed as if the motto for jumpsuits was “the tighter, the better” and not everyone looked good in them, though that didn’t stop some people from wearing them.

Leisure Suits

Probably the trend of the 70s that elicits the most chuckles, the leisure suit was meant to be a less formal version of the traditional men’s suit.

It had a boxy jacket that buttoned all the way up the front and pants that matched. Usually, you didn’t find the leisure suit in traditional suit colors, like black, brown, gray, or navy. Instead, they were made from pastel fabrics or – in some cases – plaid.

They were usually paired with a bright-colored silky shirt.

Three-Piece Suits

Another trend in 70s suits was the three-piece version. Made popular in films like Saturday Night Fever, this suit had a pants, vest, and jacket that matched.

In the 70s, the three-piece suit was often worn with a contrasting long-collared shirt sans the tie. Instead, the shirt was open to the third button or so to show off that manly chest.