There’s a good chance that your grandma wore jean jackets and dresses during the 1970s and your grandpa probably wore jeans, a denim shirt, and had a denim jacekt.
The 1970s were a time for denim to shine in both men’s and women’s fashion. Denim is a durable cotton fabric, usually blue-colored, which was mainly used for making jeans. Denim first appeared during the 18th century as an inexpensive alternative to silk. Since then, this sturdy fabric has been a staple for generations.
In the 1970s denim was used in a variety of garments including jackets, shirts, skirts, and dresses but ever since denim was invented its primary use has been for making jeans. Denim jeans were very popular at that time and remain so to this day. All kinds of looks could be achieved with them: cool street style or elegant evening outfits.
Denim belonged to no particular class or socio-economic group. It could be seen in pristine condition worn by the rich and famous, and just as often seen dirty and greasy worn by biker gangs and Hell’s Angels. They would tear off the sleeves of a denim jacket, adorn the back with the gang’s colors, and wear the sleeveless jacket over their leathers.
Denim is still popular today as evidenced by its wide availability in the High Street and online, and as worn by people of all backgrounds.
1970s celebrities in denim
Celebrities who wore denim in the 1970s inevitably made it very popular. Think of people like Cher who not only modeled in denim but was also photographed in denim jeans, jackets, and shirts when at social engagements.
Another trendsetter was Brigitte Bardot who was famous around that time thanks to her Fronde feminine style which featured low-waisted jeans paired with a simple blouse. Of course, denim is still relevant today and many women choose to wear it.
In 1970s womenswear, denim was everywhere from head to toe, worn as dresses, shirts, and especially jeans. Men could also enjoy the fabric in different garments including jackets made of denim, shirts, and jeans. The best thing about this fabric was that it allowed people to create all kinds of looks both casual and elegant.
Another major style phenomenon in the 70s was platform shoes which perfectly matched with denim outfits because they were very comfortable and gave a lot of height (and they made legs look longer).
Today we can see denim used on runways and in street style, worn by people like Karen Elson who is often seen on the red carpet wearing denim dresses.
Denim and 1970s music
Besides fashion, denim has also been associated with music since the 70s when many rock bands were recording albums featuring their idols looking cool in denim jackets. Think of the Rolling Stones album “Sticky Fingers” the cover of which was the groin area of a pair of denim jeans. In the original vinyl LP cover, the zip on the jeans could be pulled up and down.
David Bowie during the Ziggy Stardust era was another high-profile wearer of denim. The rock band Status Quo wore denim jeans and jackets. In one memorable photo of the band, all four of them are wearing denim with lead guitarist Francis Rossi in a denim waistcoat as well, giving the impression of a casual denim suit.
Although denim shouldn’t be considered one of the most fashionable fabrics of all time, it was trendy in the 1970s and still, today remains one of the most used fabrics in both menswear and womenswear.
Women’s Fashion 1970-1979
All the following garments could be found made with denim during the 1970s.
The maxi dress was a very popular trend during the 70s. Maxi dresses were fashionable for both casual and formal occasions. Maxi dresses tended to be looser in cut than most other dress styles, so they were often made of lighter fabric. More importantly, they were designed to fall no lower than the ankle. This style of dress is still popular today and can be seen worn by women all over the world.
The mini dress is another popular trend from the 1970s. Although it was less common than maxi dresses, the mini dress made a statement among fashion-forward women for several years. Similar to modern-day trends, mini dresses were often short and fitted. They were designed with many different necklines and could be worn with or without sleeves.
The fitted skirt was popular during the 70s. Unlike many of today’s styles, women’s skirts were far less loose than they are today. They were often designed with belts to cinch at the waist and give an overall more fitted appearance. Hemlines on these skirts also tended to be shorter than those of today.
Short skirts became extremely popular in the seventies. Mini skirts were also very popular at this time, making them another staple of Seventies fashion trends. These skirts were designed with a more fitted waistband while becoming increasingly more loose towards the bottom hemline. They could either be worn with or without tights.
Trousers for Men and Women
During the 1970s, both men and women wore more fitted pants than they do today. For women, many of these pant styles were designed to fit closely around the waistband before loosening slightly towards the hemline. Such designs are still popular today.
Men’s pants during this time were often more fitted than the baggy styles we see today. Pants were often designed to be tapered at the ankles, and men could choose between a variety of pant lengths depending on what they found most comfortable.
Although fashion-forward women during this time wore fitted pants, large flared pants were popular as well. These pants were often made of cotton and pre-shrunk. They would expand as the wearer washed them, giving a clunky appearance. This style of pants reached its peak in 1976 and began to decline shortly after, especially among fashion-forward men.
Fashion for both men and women during the 1970s was very unique compared to that of today. Maxi dresses, mini skirts, and fitted trousers were all popular trends that can still be seen around the world today.