The 7 Most Iconic ’70s Fashion Trends, Ranked By Style Experts

Bell bottoms, platform shoes, and oh so much fringe – the ’70s was a decade that dared to be different when it came to fashion. From bold and colorful prints to relaxed silhouettes and groovy accessories, ’70s style transcended everyday wear and became a true cultural phenomenon. Whether you’re a fashion enthusiast or simply love a blast from the past, get ready to revisit some of the most iconic and influential trends that defined the groovy era! Ready to get a little groovy with your style? Thanks to the recommendations of nine experts, StudyFinds has compiled a list of the best 1970s fashion trends. Which far out looks can you incorporate into your wardrobe today? Let us know in the comments below!

1. Bell Bottoms and Flare Pants

A woman wearing bell bottoms
A woman wearing bell bottoms (Photo by Tatiana Gekman on Shutterstock)

When you think of a 1970s silhouette, chances are these bell-shaped pants are part of the picture. Whether you are leaning in a denim direction or looking for bright colors and bold prints, bell bottoms and flares offer a myriad of options. Fashion Gone Rogue provides a little history on this style, revealing that this style was actually inspired by sailor uniforms. Singers Cher and Jane Birkin helped to popularize these iconic pants during the ’70s.

As distinctive as this pant style is, it has proven surprisingly versatile. According to Wear Zeitgeist, people who would pack disco clubs would rock bell bottoms. These iconic pants were made from satin, polyester and sequins. Farrah Fawcett was known to wear casual bell bottoms that were made from stretch denim and luminous polyester. Whether you are planning a night out on the town or a lazy Saturday afternoon, the right pair of flares is waiting for you.

Those who watched jeans become skinny may be surprised to see them “flare” out again, but now is the time to dig in your closet or your local thrift store for a pair of ‘70s inspired bottoms. Vogue reminds us of the cyclical nature of fashion, as clothes from the ’70s used to be “considered a fashion faux pas,” but has been popularized once again.

2. Platform Shoes

Person wearing multicolored wedge shoes
Multicolored platform shoes (Photo by Davide Ligabue on Unsplash)

Was everyone taller in the ‘70s or is it just us? This illusion may be the work of platform shoes, which were all the rage throughout that decade. Country & Town House notes these shoes really took off in the ’70s, mainly because of disco. Megastars like Elton John, David Bowie and Stevie Nicks would never be seen in public without their platform shoes. The celebrity touch definitely went a long way in popularizing a fashion trend.

Platform shoes actually have unisex appeal. According to Elle, these high-rise shows were popular in the glam rock scene. As androgynous looks become increasingly popular in today’s fashion trends, platform shoes can be a staple in anyone’s wardrobe.

Whether you are looking for a pair of heels, new boots, or everyday sneakers, you can likely find a platform version. The Vou suggests a few different ways to style these distinctive shoes, including wearing colorful striped knee-high socks with them.

3. Wrap Dresses

Woman posing near under tree in wrap dress
Woman posing near under a tree in a wrap dress (Photo by Vanessa Serpas on Unsplash)

This style has become a modern wardrobe staple, but the wrap dress was a novelty in the 1970s. Elle reveals designer Diane von Furstenberg debuted the first wrap dress in the early ’70s. “Figure-flattering” wrap dresses are popular among women of all ages. The now-classic wrap dress can be found in fashion catalogs everywhere, made by your most beloved brands.

Hollywood actresses love the chic and classy look of the wrap dress. Fashion Gone Rogue explains this “timeless piece of clothing” can be worn in numerous ways, including with satin styles and jersey wrap dresses. Consider a classic little black dress in this style or swing in the other direction and find a statement piece with a bold print.

Vogue suggests a number of ways to style the wrap dress for a very ‘70s look, mainly by pairing it with oversized sunglasses and a platform heel. When it’s summer, wear strappy sandals or boots. This form-fitting style is meant to be flattering for women of all shapes and sizes and makes a great addition to any closet.

4. Knee-High Boots

Woman in white knee-high boots
Woman in white knee-high boots (Photo by Katia Damyan on Pexels)

The 1960s introduced the go-go boot, named after the popular dance style and popularized by icon Nancy Sinatra. The 1970s took this style a step further and made knee-high boots of all kinds a fashion staple. As Wear Zeitgeist notes, knee-high boots were more understated than the go-go boots. Knee-high boots went well with floral midi dresses and were usually made from suede or leather. These boots had a square toe, block heel and platform sole.

The over-the-knee (OTK) look is currently popular. Who What Wear calls these type of knee-high boots very covetable. Whether you opt for a leather look or bright white or colored boots, these shoes are sure to make a statement.

Knee-high boots pair well with a wide range of outfits, partly because they come in so many different variations. According to The Vou, you can wear these boots for any occasion and outfit. Some of the more popular looks included crinkle boots, Dingo boots and Frye boots. These same styles can be found today from a number of designers, as well as your local vintage shop.

5. Hot Pants

Woman in short shorts
Woman in short shorts (Photo by Logan Weaver on Unsplash)

“Hot pants” are an attention-grabbing name that describe this look to a tee. The “hot pants” term was first used in 1970 “to describe shorts made in luxury fabrics such as velvet and satin for fashionable wear,” according to The Vou. Women wore these extremely short pants to express freedom during the ’70s. This edgy look continues to make an appearance on the runway and in stores today.

As usual, celebrities played a major role in popularizing this style. Before the 1970s, Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe would wear “hot pants” to show off her curves. During the ’70s, they were made from denim, spandex, polyester, velvet and satin, according to Wear Zeitgeist. And it wasn’t just women who wore them as Elton John, David Bowie, Liberace, and John Travolta would rock the style as well.

Continuing the list of A-listers who made hot pants happen, Fashion Gone Rogue reveals that fashion icons like Farrah Fawcett and Catherine Bach made them part of their signature looks. Different types of styles included patterns like florals, stripes and stars. Save some fabric and enhance your ‘70s-inspired style with this versatile item.

6. Oversized Sunglasses

Woman wearing aviator sunglasses covering her face with a blanket
Woman wearing aviator sunglasses (Photo by Rohit Tandon on Unsplash)

From aviators to a fully circular style, oversized shades were all the rage in the 1970s. InStyle notes that recent years have seen a shift back in this direction as many have moved away from wearing tiny shades. Both the shape and the colored lens make for a distinctive look reminiscent of this decade.

Country & Town House made the comparison between ‘70s sunglasses and the world of rock ‘n’ roll. Military pilots used to wear aviator sunglasses during World War II, and later became popular in the 1970s thanks to the likes of Mick Jagger, Elvis Presley, Freddie Mercury, and David Bowie. 

Wear Zeitgeist adds a few more specifics on how to master this look, including that of feminist writer Gloria Steinem. With her chic turtleneck, bell-bottom jeans, and concha belt combos, she was the definition of ’70s fashion while wearing a pair of aviator glasses. Take a page out of this feminist icon’s book with a pair of aviators and a simplified version of ‘70s style.

7. Tie-Dye

Woman in tie-dye crochet top
Woman in tie-dye crochet top (Photo by Kat Snow on Unsplash)

A favorite of 1990s summer camps, tie-dye came to light in the ‘70s and has returned in a high-fashion way today. Tie-dye became the rage for all the hippies with its candy-like swirls, according to Legacy Box. Lean into the 1970s love for color by combining more than one in your tie-dye look.

Tie-dye may be a familiar pattern now, but when it first appeared, the style represented the spirit of the age and counterculture movements. Tie-dye colors included vibrant yellow, green, orange, pink, purple and blue combinations. Hippies usually wore matching headbands to create boho vibes, explains Fashion Gone Rogue.

In the ’70s, tie-dye and crochet were very popular and were often pared together in dresses and clothes. According to The Vou, the crochet trend was “seen as a romantic and feminine look with a summery feel.” However, rockers and heavy metal headbangers also liked tie-dye, including bands like Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin. These 1970s trends invite you to mix-and-match different bold looks to create a style that is not afraid to stand out or go against the grain of what is considered fashionable.


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.

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