How to rock the 1970s fashion vibe in a 2020 way // How to wear 1970s fashion to suit your body shape

blond woman with pop art sunglasses with multicoloured frames. She has a daisy in her mouth and the photo is set against a petrol blue background. very 1970s!

Fashion comes and goes.  Decades come and go and at the moment, the 1970s are having a revival.

The 1970s, or the “me decade” as Tom Wolfe called it, began with women having a wide choice of what to wear so that they no longer had to conform to one look or style in fashion at that moment.   They could be whoever they wanted to be on any given day.

The gypsy look flourished, hand crafts, exotic looks.  At the same time, the alternative to this expressive look was the rise of the mix and match capsule wardrobe.

One of the aspects of 1970s fashion that I admire is that it reflects, to me, an equality of the sexes.  80s fashion somehow looks like women have to be like the boys to join the game: big shoulders, large hair and high heels designed to leave you in no doubt at all about who was in charge.  Powerplay.

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The 1970s, on the other hand, doesn’t seek to do that.  Looking back at images of the time, it looks like fashion empowered women to be women and for them to seek out who they were in the world and to dress them for the life they wanted to lead.

There is much that you can take from the 1970s and reappropriate for your wardrobe:

practical fabrics: denim, suede, cord, cheesecloth, linen, cotton

utilitarian styles: folk, ethnic, safari, military, sporty

practical shapes: tunics, easy dresses, trouser suits, shorts, tea dresses

colours: earthy tones of brown and neutral alongside jewel colours like magenta, emerald, amethyst

Play: dressing up opportunities; faux fur coats, turbans, head scarves, large sunglasses

practical sexy appeal: halterneck tops and dresses, wrap around and shirt dresses ending at the knee, made in figure hugging jersey.

To save your sorting through that list and trying to work it out yourself, we have put together a 5-part list of 1970s style that is having a 2020 fashion moment.

blond woman with pop art sunglasses with multicoloured frames. She has a daisy in her mouth and the photo is set against a petrol blue background. very 1970s!

Here then are 5 different shapes and styles that you can add to your wardrobe with a recommendation for what suits which body type best.

High waisted flared trousers

All you pear shapes and hourglass shapes out there, this is your moment.  Flared trousers are the ideal shape for the curvier figure, they balance out those curves and show them off perfectly.  All those years of distress at not fitting into other trouser shapes are overcome in this one shape for you.

The high waisted shapes also fit snugly around the waist, highlighting your best feature.  Other body shapes are envious of your small waist size so take advantage of this trouser style.  Balance it with a crisp tee shirt or tailored blouse.  Don’t wear anything too voluminous or you run the risk of ruining the beautiful silhouette you have just created.

Apple shapes can rock the flared trousers if they are not overly flared, but beware the high waist line, maybe break it up with an ethnic top with a belt buckled below the waist line at the high hip level.

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Shorts

Shorts were a 1970s mainstay.  Practical and sexy as well as heralding in the world of athleisure.  The 1970s was the first time that athletic wear became mainstream fashion.  Hard to think that now we all live in leggings, designer tracksuits and stretch denim!

Women, we are talking short shorts!  Do you dare to bare?  If you are a long, lean rectangle shape, or a gorgeous apple with amazing pins then have fun this summer with a pair of short shorts.  Wear it, of course with a 1970s halterneck top or an embroidered flowy ethnic top.

Pear and hourglass shapes beware if your legs aren’t your best feature.  I’m not saying don’t do it because you should be free to do what you want to do.  I am saying that if you are dressing to suit your shape and look and feel great, short shorts may not be the way to go.

Other short options that emerged from the 70s:

Cut off jean shorts

Most body shapes can wear these, providing they are not cut too short.

If you are cutting the shorts off yourself, here are a few tips:

  1. If you have great legs you can cut shorts off to any length.  In general, for all of us, if the short finishes below the knee it will look a little/a lot frumpy and if he short hem is above the knee, the more chic and stylish it is.  Again a bit of a generalisation but for cut-off jeans you get the idea.
  2. Cut jeans off at the slimmer part of your leg ie
    1. just below the knee where there is an indent
    2. just above the knee where the knee shapes in, before it becomes the thigh
  3. Worst place to cut off jeans:
    1. mid-calf – you’ll look like you have stumpy legs
    2. on the knee, if your knees aren’t perfect

Culottes

Culottes are a great alternative to short shorts and cut-off shorts.  They can be both smart and relaxed.  Treat them as you would a skirt.  Wear with a blazer or jacket, or a summer coat.

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Jumpsuits / trouser suit

Trouser suits are already having a moment. They were also a part of every self-respecting hip fashion woman’s wardrobe in the 70s fashion moment.  Trouser suits look great on curvy body shapes as they create a seamless silhouette from neck to ankle, highlight the waist and balance out the top and bottom halves of your body shape.  For your true retro look accessories with platform shoes, oversized sunnies and a head scarf with the knot tied at the nape of the neck.

Tall lean rectangle shapes and small petite rectangle shapes look equally good in trousers suits.  Try and find one with a slim top section and straight trouser style to suit your frame.  For inverted diamond shapes try and find a slightly military looking trouser suit with epaulettes, a zip front, top pockets and straight trouser legs.

The blazer

Top your flared trousers with a blazer.  For all petite sizes a fitted blazer that ends at the hip is a stellar piece of clothing for your wardrobe.  Small, petite sizes and curvy shapes sometimes struggle to find jackets that are fitted enough.  These shapes do not look good in those wide shouldered, rangy style blazer.  Sleeves should end at the wrist, not at the knuckles.  If you can find a fitted blazer and you are petite and/or a curvy shape, it will become a mainstay in your wardrobe if it already isn’t.  Apple shapes, too can look good in a fitted blazer as it will give you a waist shape where normally you have less of an indent.  Apple shapes, however, also look good in straight style jackets that the curvier shapes will not look good in.

ethnic brown leather bag with embroidery detail, fringing and hand stitching. worn at the waist

The shirtdress

This is one style that all shapes can wear.  If you are an apple shape find a shape that skims over the waist with a narrow belt.  Apple shapes and rectangles can wear straight shirt dresses and look amazing.  Curvy figures will probably need a slightly a-line or small amount of gathering.  For extra 1970s chic find a dress with safari-style detailing.  Pair with platform sandals for a 70s vibe, or ballerina flats or flip flops if you are relaxing at home.

One-off style adjustments – it’s all in the detail

If you want to be more creative in what you’re wearing but don’t want to embrace the full 1970s moment here are small style adjustments you can make to give a new twist to your everyday look.

  • blouse with a bow-tie neck.  The Duchess of Cambridge has already heralded the way with this look.  Wear it smart for work, or find a soft silk version for the weekend and pair it with jeans.
  • Go max sunnies – already discussed this summer – see our styling tip HERE
  • Platform shoes – many women love a little extra height and for those of us with less than perfect pins a small amount of platform uplift can help us feel and look so much better.
  • Halternecks – as a top or as a dress.
  • satchel-style bags  with buckles
  • Anything in brown
  • horizontal striped fitted jumper
  • cheesecloth anything
  • ethnic anything
  • headscarf
  • turban…… do you dare?

Ok, we’ve given you the lowdown.  How to rock the 70s in the 2020s!  We hope you’ve enjoyed this read and find useful, practical tips to keep your wardrobe fun and interesting.

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