70s Fashion Trend for Women: Flared Legs, Disco and Platforms (Updated)
by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)
If you love the retro 70s style, look for high-waisted trousers or jeans with wide or flared legs. Play around with pantsuits and long jumpsuits. Discover your inner disco diva with glam, glitter, metalics, and rhinestones. (You might even want to buy vintage.) And, remember that most seventies styles look best with platform clogs, Candies-style sandals, or disco (platform) shoes.
The woman who said you can't wear a trend if you wore it the first time around is wrong, wrong, wrong. You just need to make a few adjustments here and there, so that everything looks proportional.
However, you should give your retro outfits your own twist. You're not going into a time warp, and I doubt you're going to be creating a period costume for a movie that's set in the olden days of bean bag chairs and Pong.
And, as with the 60s, the 70s was a decade with several cute trends... and you can mix and match all of them together or mix and match vintage (or vintage-inspired) items with your current clothes and accessories. So, if you missed the 70s, I'm sorry.
If you remember the 70s... I might believe you if you can tell me what goes into a Harvey Wallbanger. Even if you think I'm talking about some Hollywood director, read on for a bit of true nostalgia.
Miniskirts and Midi Skirts in the Early 70s
As I remember it, the early 70s were a hippie hangover, in every sense of the word. And, all of us easily-bored, trendy Boomer Chicks were starting to figure out that guys in shaggy bellbottoms were not as much fun as men in suits… because guys in suits usually had a little cash from their straight jobs.
Up until about 1972, fashion was coming at Baby Boomer girls from one of two directions:
- London Mod: minis, midis, maxis, and hot pants
- California Hippie: cheap, ethnic, homemade, and whatever-feels-good-do-it clothing
Women's Fashion History of the Early Seventies
I lived on the West Coast (and in Hawaii) during the early seventies, so my memories will not include what you (or your friends or your parents) wore if you lived on the East Coast, in the UK, in Australia, or... in Alabama.
Okay, I got that disclaimer out of the way. Now, won't you take me to... Funky Town?
Here is my somewhat provincial breakdown of skirts and dresses from the era of craziness and horrible lyrics with a good beat. On with my memories of Boomer Fashion History:
- Miniskirts were usually made of denim or non-stretch cotton fabric.
- Mini dresses often had swirly, Pucci-like prints.
- Miniskirts were worn under long maxi-coats. The coats were left unbuttoned to show the leg in a sexy yin/yang effect, heightened by knee-high boots to match the skirt or coat.
- Midi skirts sometimes took the form of unflattering gaucho pants, however the accompanying gaucho hats were hot.
- Many midi skirts and dresses were patchwork. Sometimes the patchwork was made of different pieces of old denim.
Get that girl some platform shoes! Throw those mofos away. You look like a Church Lady.
Retro Fashion From the Seventies
Jeans no longer had hip-hugger low-rise waists... unfortunately for us apple shapes. Fortunately I was skinny back then, and if I didn't breathe, I could wear high-top jeans.
The trendiest trousers and pantsuits of the 70s had cuffs. And, the only way to keep those cuffs from making women look short and dumpy was to wear those trousers with high platform boots or shoes. Some of us were still wearing hippie accessories, but we were starting to lean towards pre-disco plastic and/or flashy rhinestone jewelry. Hats included J-Lo style floppy brims and feminine, crocheted skullies with crocheted flowers.
1970s Hot Pants
If you are young and you missed the fun, here’s what I remember:
- Hot pants were sometimes worn under a flirty little dress of the same pattern. (Actually, the pants were more like undies that matched those ultra short dresses. The style had a name, but I'm happy to say I can't remember it.)
- Hot pants were often worn with white or brown leather boots with a chunky heel.
- Hot pants on the West Coast were seldom cut very high. The look was more like Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader. Ughh.
- I shouldn't have to mention this, but if you wore hot pants... or if you were alive during the seventies... don't wear them now.
1970s Stretch Fabrics
In the early 1970s, stretchy knit jersey was starting to replace natural eco-hippie fibers and designers were playing around with their new toy. This synthetic "stretch-silk,” such as Qiana, would soon be made into:
- Wrap halter-tops
- Wrap dresses
- Slinky below-the-knee disco dance dresses
- Jumpsuits (with flared bellbottom legs)
1970s Disco Glam
By day, women wore pantsuits and other outfits with wide-leg trousers. If they were in college or they were lingering hippies, they wore jeans. Well, I must confess that the early pantsuits were less than flattering. But, that didn’t matter because once the sun went down everything changed for the better.
I have no first-hand knowledge of London or New York fashion during disco, but I spent quite a bit of time in Waikiki, Seattle, and Southern California. Disco didn’t just pop up and hit you on the head like the Beatles, Madonna, or Lady Gaga. It was a slow slide...
Clubs with live music were getting stale. Those small intimate bars were groovy and laid back, but baby boomers were ready for a change.
And, this change came in the form of nightclubs that were decked out with few tables, large dance floors, and canned music blasting through humongous speakers. This type of club is dead common today, but it was all shiny and new in 1971/1972.
Real Disco Clothing in the 70s
At night, women changed out of their ugly pantsuits with pussybow blouses, and put on stretchy, sometimes glittery, flowing dresses and jumpsuits.
Of course, the ideal way for a modern 70s woman to live well was to spend her days at the beach, perfecting her Bain-de-Soleil-for-the-St-Tropez tan, and then dance the night away at a club. And, the relatively low cost of living made this possible for many girls.
In my part of the world, miniskirts and mini dresses worn to a disco were a sure sign of a lower-class girl (or worse... in Honolulu.) If women wanted to fit in they wore:
- Bellbottoms (wide leg pants) of a non-clingy, stretchy fabric and a halter or a top that tied at the bosom, like the time-warped Dallas Cheerleaders still wear. God help you if you were chubby.
- Long flowing dresses with platform shoes. Extra credit for having clear Lucite heels. Double secret probation if your Lucite heels included live goldfish.
- Clingy, figure-hugging jumpsuits with wide-leg bellbottoms and self-tie waists. White or yellow jumpsuits (with halter tops) were good for showing off a perfect tan.
Disco accessories usually included some kind of tacky rhinestone necklace. Hot pants at a disco were worn by cocktail waitresses, only.
Late Seventies Was Saturday Night Fever
In 1977, John Travolta starred in Saturday Night Fever and everyone jumped onto the Disco-Duck bandwagon. At that point, Travolta, in his white pantsuit, brought disco to its final fury.
However, disco was slowly starting to turn stale. I mean, how many times can you hear "Do the Hustle" without losing your mind? It was like hearing the Macarena every hour. And, God help the poor soul who actually listened to disco lyrics... because this meant that his or her friends would be required to send for a priest to perform an exorcism.
So, as the dance scene started filling up with way too many "Wild and Crazy Guys," who looked and acted like Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd on SNL, Baby Boomer-ish hipsters (of that period) decided to try something new...
They either got married… or they went punk.
Any girl or woman who wants to try those hip 70s styles can do it on a shoestring. But don't wish for those awful 80s trends, like big shoulders and unflattering dresses. Hang on to the 70s for as long as you can, my friend.
I've added updated fashions above, however, here are the original photos from the article:
Gotta love those 1970s culottes.
I want that purple jumpsuit with the wide legs. If I find anything similar, I'll let you know. (Are you listening plus-size designers?)
Don't you love that halter dress... Shake your groove thang, shake your groove thang, yay yeah, show 'm how you do it now.
You have to be tall like Donna Summer to wear the blue disco dress (above). If those aren't platform shoes, get outa here!
This girl gets brownie points. She's wearing the right shoes!
Photo Credits: Prshots.com. Some of the photos are from 2013 when I wrote the article. I've updated this fabulous article with newer photos to help you relive your youth.
- Main Photo - 70s Retro Jumpsuit: Phase Eight, 2013.
- Updated Disco Style Hotpants Playsuit: Kourtney at Pretty Little Thing, 2017.
- (OMG, did I just put a photo of one of those stupid Kardashians on here? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! But the photo looks so Studio 54. I have to use it.)
- 70s Skirt Lengths: Mini, Maxi, Midi: Asos, 2017.
- Modern Disco Style - 70s Redux: Lipsy, 2017.
- Wrap Top, Dress, Skirt - Everything Wrapped in the 70s: Asos, LaRedoute, Long Tall Sally, 2017.
- Retro Disco Jumpsuit, Glam Dress & Hankie Hem Dress: Asos, 2017.
- Retro 70s Disco Pantsuit: Sevilla, 2013.
- Bride vs Punk - Baby Boomer History: Wikipedia, 2013
- Modern Mini, Prairie Dress, 70s Midi Style: M&S, FiftyPlus, East, 2013.
- Modern Disco Dressing: Amy Childs, Hobbs, Simply Be (plus size), 2013.
- Disco Glam: Prshots.com archives, 2013.
- Disco Style Dress: Very, 2013.
- Disco Party Dress: Amy Childs, 2013
More Articles for Baby Boomer Women and Their Friends:
I will NEVER update another article AS LONG AS I LIVE. Finding new disco photos took a day and a half... almost... well... not quite.
Leave me a comment if you want. I'm writing as fast as I can... but I'm old and slow.