The '70s was an era of anything goes. Fashion during this time reflected many styles and influences, including some holdovers from the hippie style of the late '60s. Attire of the '70s also included influences from every decade of the 20th century, from the early Edwardian era and Roaring '20s forward. Men's fashion extremes of the time led "Dress for Success" author John T. Molloy to declare in 1977, "Fads are for fools."
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Professional attire, while more relaxed than in the '60s, continued to favour suits both for business and formal occasions. The kipper tie, a wide and brightly coloured accessory first made fashionable in the late '60s, became standard, as did the wide bow tie. As the decade progressed, lapels and pant legs widened. Three-piece white suits--worn tieless with open-throat, long-collared shirts to nonformal venues--gained popularity with John Travolta's appearance in "Saturday Night Fever."
The Leisure Suit
The leisure suit, a casual ensemble with a sporty, shirtlike jacket and matching trousers, typically made of textured double-knit polyester fabric, hit the scene around 1974. Its contrasting, wide-spaced topstitching and bell-bottomed trousers in bright, gaudy colours--usually worn with patterned, knit, button-down shirts--pushed the fashion limits and prompted some four-star restaurants to post signs requesting, "Please! No leisure suits!"
Casual clothing trended toward unisex styles: bell-bottomed jeans; tight, synthetic shirts with exotic prints; and the adoption of T-shirts and athletic shoes for everyday wear. Embroidered blue chambray button-down shirts and cheesecloth tunics made popular statements as well. Wide, cutout suede belts and chain necklaces finished the ensemble.
Although introduced by the relaxed '60s hippie culture, flared trousers were mainstream by the mid '70s. Tight-fitting hipster trousers---sitting at the hips rather than the natural waist---flared from the knee down, sometimes to exaggerated widths.
Men and women both wore platform shoes and high-heeled boots. Some platforms stacked as high as 8 inches, and often were decorated with rhinestones, sequins and other embellishments.
The unisex trend extended to a fashion trend known as glam. Men in bands like the New York Dolls and artists such as Alice Cooper and David Bowie dressed in women's shirts and make-up, and accessorised their outfits with feather boas and outrageous platform boots.
Punk and Goth
Punk entered the scene toward the end of the '70s with the rise of the Sex Pistols. The band's promoter, Malcom McLaren, and his partner, Vivian Westwood, invented the punk style with its leather and exotic animal-skin clothing, bondage-style trousers, and ripped, slogan-emblazoned T-shirts.
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