History of fashion series: the 1970s

Before the big shoulder pads and even bigger hair of the 1980s, there was the eclectic 1970s. As author Tom Wolfe said: “If the hippies had one irrevocable effect on culture, including fashion, it was to destroy every rule except the injunction to please oneself.”

This lead to a decade of mismatched styles, from glam, disco and classic, big-haired Americana to the nihilism of punk. The era is making a comeback on the high street, so there’s no better time to add a 1970s vibe to your sewing. We think these styles are pretty far out, man…
Tassels and fringing
In many ways, 1970s fashions were a bit of a bohemian free-for-all rolling on from 1960s flower power (think Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin and the flowing designs of Thea Porter). Suede, beads and embroidery made their way from catwalk to high street, while we love a bit of fringing and tassel action (check out Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne for Mango).

Sew the look: Head to Josy Rose for this festival fringing, or make your own fringed top with this DIY by Mr Kate.


Bell-bottoms were first worn by sailors in the 19th century, but it wasn’t until the mid-1960s that they became cool (at least for the young and trendy). By the 1970s, everyone from pop stars to newsreaders had a pair of these unisex trousers. Until punk and drainpipes turned up in 1977, a bit of swag was the look. Today, flared jeans have seen a revival – mainly on boho stars like Sienna Miller (and the occasional daring chap).

Sew the look: We like Closet Case Files’ new jeans ebook, which teaches you to add some volume to your trousers. Or perhaps try this DIY by Honestly WTF from 2011 (flares were ‘back in’ then, too…)
Rainbow stripes
The 1970s was also the decade for graphic stripes. Adidas trainers and sporty knee socks (worn with roller boots) and rainbow stripes were in – think Mork’s braces in Mork & Mindy and Missoni’s famous zigzag knits.

Sew the look: Stitch yourself a Grainline Scout tee, swapping your tasteful navy-and-white Bretons for colourful striped jersey from MyFabrics, 70s-style.

Katie Allen PlumKatie Allen is a writer, content editor and crafter based in London. She is the author of craft book Just Sew Stories and also runs ethical clothing business Plum. She loves reading, writing and all things kitty. Follow her at @KatieFQ. Photo copyright Leonie Morse. Read more posts from Katie’s history of fashion blog series here.

Header image: Bess Georgette via Foter.com / CC BY-SA