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Finding your '70s flair(s)

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APRIL 19, 2023

“Daisy Jones & the Six,” a recent Amazon Prime original taking the internet by storm, is undoubtedly another wave in a recent sea of ’70s revival engulfing mainstream fashion (and pop culture). However, as much as I love Bill’s double denim ensembles and Daisy Jones’ peasant tops, fur coats and flowing stage costumes, ’70s fashion holds so much more!

The ’70s was the time of trends! Trends on trends happening parallel, opposed and in conjunction with each other, which fill present-day thrift stores with shockingly stylish or garish garb. While some parts of ’70s fashion are more fun to miss, others are enduringly captivating. As someone who is enthralled by fashion history, adores ’60s-’80s sounds and styles and has thrifted the large majority of my retro closet, here is a non-exhaustive list of the many dimensions of ’70s style, so you can have your own ’70s moment with your own personal flares (or flairs!).

Prancing prairie hippie

Marked by flowery, whimsical print, gentle flowing fabrics and soft embellishments, the prairie hippy look was a recurring design throughout the decade. Emblematic of greater rose-colored nostalgia, this light, lacy and linen look was part of a larger Edwardian revival. In mainstream fashion, these antique odes often transformed from subdued creams to vivid colors. Current thrift stores often hold a fair share of long skirts and floral patterns. In my opinion, while somewhat sweet, it was simply a flowery, subdued version of a superior music-driven moment.

Witchy women wares

You’ve heard the songs, seen the show and know the high priestess of rock and roll herself: Stevie Nicks. She epitomizes the more mystic, shadowy manifestation of the prairie fad, massively influencing fashion in her long skirts, bell sleeves, peasant tops, knotted deep v-tops and a myriad of shawls. Stevie’s distinctive later ’70s looks involved lots of lace, fringe, mesh, velvet, silk and other lush loose fabrics draped just right. A queen of accouterments, her outfits frequently featured statement belts, layered necklaces, skinny scarfs and larger scarves wrapped around her skirt. Achieving a full Stevie moment takes practice, layering and lucky thrifting, but you can often score unique additions in the scarf and bandana section. Additionally, with a touch of time, fabric twisting and (maybe) fashion tape, most shirts can be transfigured to mirror her knotted deep v-tops.

Powerful pantsuits

This suited style was a manifestation of second wave feminism, a response to women entering the workforce and, metaphorically and literally, putting the pants (suits) on. Women and men alike donned the pantsuit, although men’s were more to the tune of tight pants with open shirts and oversized lapels. I often find pantsuits galore when thrifting, with pointed collars, prominent lapels and wide ties. Oh my, the matching sets of varying textures you can find hidden in thrift corners! A rainbow polyester is very common, but corduroy, jean, linen and glittery fabrics are all hidden within ’70s wardrobes. Suitable for work, flattering/cohesive across the board and comfortable enough for everyday wear, pantsuits are multi-use marvels representative of the 70’s wild work attire.

Bluejean americana dream

If double denim and pervasive brown hues didn’t already warn you, the ’70s also drew inspiration from ideas of Americana and Wild West looks. More than just bell-bottom jeans, the ’70s denim was often head-to-toe casual suits paired with patchwork, quilted-esque fabrics, red and blue-hued patterns, suede and fringe. The Western look was inherently intertwined with the music and celebrities of the era. Although less commonplace in thrift stores than the pantsuit, this western look can be achieved with similar collared shirts dressed down with any jean, suede, fringe or any dusty desert designs you might find.

Deco disco revival

If you can’t tell, nostalgia drove a significant portion of ’70s trends, which included a return of ’20s-’30s styles almost a half-century later. Art Deco was primarily revived by Biba — a British fashion store whose distinctive dark, jazz age aesthetic propelled early ’70s styles and later high-fashion elegance. Elements of old Hollywood glamor like silk, animal print, polka dots, fur, elongated cuts and embellished, askew hats all made their way into the era’s looks, often paired with downturned makeup, dark smokey purple eye makeup, plucked brows and brushed out fluffy curls. This elegant, eclectic taste eventually bled into later disco designs, which combined a myriad of previous trends like pantsuits, jumpsuits and Deco silhouettes with the glamor, glitter, silk and general nighttime pizzazz of the disco scene.

After an absence of 50 years, ’70s fashion trends are making a definite comeback. Whether you want to don pantsuits, velvet hot pants, silk jumpsuits, bell bottoms, big lapels, hippy skirts, mesh flowing fabric or platforms and big hair, why not give it a whirl? With all its different trends, the ’70s fashion no doubt holds something for everyone’s taste.

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APRIL 19, 2023