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Eccentric 1970s Street Style Images Show What “Cool” Looked Like Back Then

Nikola Budanovic
70s fashion icons (pinterest)
70s fashion icons (pinterest)

Everyday fashion took a surprising turn in the 1970s, combining the freedom of the Summer of Love spawned in the 1960s with a more daring sense of individual style and flashing colors. Derived from the “do it yourself” attitude of the hippie counter-culture which opposed corporate clothing brands, the fashion of the 1970s embraced eccentricity and exploded in a palette of psychedelic long-sleeved shirts, bell-bottom jeans, mini-skirts, and platform boots.

As a reaction to this surge of new and provocative clothing items, Vogue famously proclaimed ―”There are no rules in the fashion game now”.

With the development of different music genres, came the distinct accessories and clothes of various groups ― the glitter and satin of the disco fans, together with the not-always-so-practical platform shoes;  the ragged and provocative punk culture of the late seventies which largely included items made of leather, together with the glam-rock gender-bending androgynous styles of the likes of David Bowie, The New York Dolls and other popular artists of the era.

Fashionable couple

Fashionable couple

 

Girl at Piccadilly Circus. Photo by JaneArt CC By SA 4.0

Girl at Piccadilly Circus. Photo by JaneArt CC By SA 4.0

 

Man wearing a Disco Sucks T-shirt. Photo by Rich Lionheart CC BY SA 3.0

Man wearing a Disco Sucks T-shirt. Photo by Rich Lionheart CC BY SA 3.0

 

New York, 1970. Photo by Phillip Capper CC By 2.0

New York, 1970. Photo by Phillip Capper CC By 2.0

 

Taken sometime in 1973

Taken sometime in 1973

 

Well dressed couple, Michigan Avenue, Chicago, circa July 1975.

Well dressed couple, Michigan Avenue, Chicago, circa July 1975.

 

Windbreakers Parachute and Hockey by Alla Levashova. Photo by Tatyana Konstantinovna Oskolkova CC BY SA 4.0

Windbreakers Parachute and Hockey by Alla Levashova. Photo by Tatyana Konstantinovna Oskolkova CC BY SA 4.0

 

A lot going on in this picture – sideburns should make a come back.

A lot going on in this picture – sideburns should make a come back.

 

1970s fashion. Photo by Phillip Capper CC By 2.0

1970s fashion. Photo by Phillip Capper CC By 2.0

 

 

1973 Photo by Fortepan CC By Sa 3.0

1973 Photo by Fortepan CC By Sa 3.0

 

College students 1970s. Photo by Ed Uthman CC BY SA 2.0

College students 1970s. Photo by Ed Uthman CC BY SA 2.0

 

Famous 70s fashion designer with Twiggy hairstyle

Famous 70s fashion designer with Twiggy hairstyle

 

Famous 70s fashion designer with Twiggy hairstyle

Famous 70s fashion designer with Twiggy hairstyle

 

 

A sunny Easter Sunday 1971 in Central Park, NYC. Photo by Robert Schediwy CC BY-SA 3.0

A sunny Easter Sunday 1971 in Central Park, NYC. Photo by Robert Schediwy CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Chinatown 1970s. Photo by Yves le bail CC BY-SA 4.0

Chinatown 1970s. Photo by Yves le bail CC BY-SA 4.0

 

Chinatown. Photo by Yves le bail CC BY-SA 4.0

Chinatown. Photo by Yves le bail CC BY-SA 4.0

 

Photo by Daviderenne2 -CC BY 3.0

Photo by Daviderenne2 -CC BY 3.0

 

7th August 1972: Wendy Sutcliffe aged 19 years in full biker gear at a Wembley pop festival, London. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

7th August 1972: Wendy Sutcliffe aged 19 years in full biker gear at a Wembley pop festival, London. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

 

LOS ANGELES – DECEMBER 28: A woman and two men taking a break from roller skating on December 28, 1979 in Venice Beach, CA. (Photo by Waring Abbott/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES – DECEMBER 28: A woman and two men taking a break from roller skating on December 28, 1979 in Venice Beach, CA. (Photo by Waring Abbott/Getty Images)

 

Photo by Lucile Rhodes CC BY SA 3.0

Photo by Lucile Rhodes CC BY SA 3.0

 

Two girls pose in front of a wall of graffiti in Lynch Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., in June 1974.

Two girls pose in front of a wall of graffiti in Lynch Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., in June 1974.

Apart from introducing a more libertine approach to sexuality, 1970s fashion was all about being tight on top and loose on the bottom, which gave way to the incredible fad of bell-bottom jeans, worn by men and women alike.

On the other hand, carefully chosen items and accessories belonging to the bygone era of the 1940s and the 1950s sparked interest among young people due to its vintage value.

Materials like denim, suede, and leather came to wide use, while fashion brands across America rushed to conform to the new fashion trends dictated by the youth. Soon stores were overwhelmed with such items, giving space to fresh designs and new people who soon became iconic figures of the industry.

Read another story from us: Vintage Fashion – 1950s Teenage Girls with their Doo Wop Dresses

Vivienne Westwood, Halston and Yves Saint-Laurent ― to name a few ― gave way to mass-produced and widely available fashion which flooded the streets during the wild seventies. In the mid-seventies the style became more casual, introducing a wide array of cardigans, sweaters, unisex scarves, sandals and loafers.

In order to experience the era more vividly, we offer you a selection of  photos, all illustrating the flamboyance and casual charm of 1970s fashion styles.


Nikola Budanovic is a freelance journalist who has worked for various media outlets such as Vice, War History Online,The Vintage News, Taste of Cinema,etc. He mostly deals with subjects such as military history and history in general, literature and film.