There was once a magnificent decade with bell bottom jeans and sunset orange stripes that graced the planet Earth with its existence. If you're a millennial like myself, you have no recollection of this period we call the 70's, but you may be a victim of what I'm familiar with as "parent nostalgia". From the years between 1970 and 1979, my parents have nothing but sweet, happy thoughts. The clothes, the music, the times, they were all groovy. A lot of the artwork and culture created in the span of these years, we consider timeless, as we still cherish and celebrate them today.
Of course, it couldn't all have been that great, when considering the economic decline from the oil crisis, the Munich Massacre, the Cold War and the major conflict between capitalism and communism, the first attempt at a face lift, to name a few. And considering it was a time without an iPhone...I mean, come on, there's no way that was easy.
But the 1970s were a point of pivotal change in the history of the world, vital in allowing it to become what it is today. Sometimes referred to as the "'Me' Decade", the idea behind the individual began to shine. Identifying oneself only through being a part of a community was sooooo 60's and, instead, being different and unique was something cool. This gave people the confidence to stand by their beliefs and begin to rebel. Protests began to sprout here and there over issues such as the environment, war, civil rights, youth suffrage, and feminism. The role of the woman took an influential change, bringing females into the working environment and into political positions, perhaps, most notably, with Margaret Thatcher becoming the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1979.
I think this was a groundbreaking decade that I genuinely wish that I could have been a part of, but since I was born a whole twenty-ish years later and don't own a time machine, the best I can do is dedicate the month of January to the 70's.
This week, we'll start with fashion.
At first thought, one might think of hippies, quite similar to the style of the decade prior. Tie-dye shirts and butt-length hair, rose coloured glasses and daisy crowns, bell bottoms and platform shoes, and one hell of an afro. Your typical "70's person" costume you would find at the Halloween shop. Or maybe look at the cast of Scooby Doo, which does a great job labelling all the stereotypes of the 70's.
Taking a further look, the trends of the 70's, as with most trends, come with the influence of pop culture at the time (the success of the music scene and Hollywood films, for example). Yet, at the same time, the principles of fashion became quite the opposite of following trends. In 1971, the fashion gods at Vogue declared, "There are no rules in the fashion game now". One's own identity coming out through personal style and expression became an essential part of this decade. This allowed for a lot of ambiguity in the fashion world at the time, where there were no limits or direction to what one could choose to wear.
That being said, decades later, we can pinpoint certain stylistic trends. The cookie-cutter silhouette was that the top part of an outfit was tight fitting and slim, close to the skin, while the bottoms were wide and loose. An element of carelessness also came about, with the casual looks of sneakers, jeans and a t-shirt. T-shirts, becoming more of a staple, then began to have slogans on them or the logos of sports teams. The neckline (and often the backline too) began to plunge lower and into a deep V, but in contrast, the tight turtlenecks became a quick favourite. The hemline on the skirt was the shortest it had yet to become - bringing in mini skirts, maybe with fringes, and high white Go-go boots. Platformed shoes became popular, even the men sometimes wearing a slight heel, to match what they would call "leisure suits".
Diane Von Fürstenberg created the iconic and universally flattering wrap dress in 1972. Designer Roy Halston for Yves Saint Laurent also invented the jersey halter dress. Farrah Fawcett first wore a one piece swimsuit with a plunging neckline in 1977 and the idea exploded in popularity.
Faux fur jackets, hoops - the bigger, the better - kimonos, turbans, oriental prints, cardigans, flannels and florals, all being elements in the composition of an outfit. Peacoats, Birkenstocks, pearls, tracksuits, mary janes, khakis, mood rings, hip huggers, clogs, blazers - it just goes to show that the selection was vast and at times, completely random. Colours were an essential part of the 70s, mostly in pastels, but it mattered that they were there. Every single colour. Materials varied from denim, vinyl, nylon, tartan, velvet, leather, velour. And sometimes, when clothes got a little too much, they opted for none at all.
Hair was grown to extreme lengths, for lack of caring to get a proper trim. Men had long beards and sideburns and girls let their locks loose. Permed hair and fabulous afros were everywhere and of course, one cannot forget the fringe.
So you see, it was a wonderful time to be unique and alive. And the choice was there. A liberty to choose to express yourself and wear whatever suits your fancy. A liberty to stand for your beliefs and rebel. Those of the older generation were shocked, and to quote my mother on her memories of the times, the world was upside down. This was just as much good as it was bad. But it was your choice on how you wanted to look at it.