How to make a '70s costume cheaply

Updated April 17, 2017

Glitz, glamour and platform shoes! By the 1970s, the hippie look was giving way to a more glamorous and sophisticated way of dressing. Decade-era costumes take the biggest fads of that decade and put them on display. Wide collars, polyester bell bottoms, and platform shoes are what many people refer to when they think of 1970s-style dressing. Creating a '70s-style costume does not have to be a costly endeavour. Instead of purchasing a pre-made costume, scour charity shops and sift through packed away clothing that family members might have. Not only does opting to make your own costume save you money, but the result looks more authentic.

Know what you are looking for. Study photographs and ask people who lived in the 1970s what the clothing looked like. Design a costume that is based on a photograph that fully captures the '70s, as well as information you have gathered from friends and relatives who lived through that decade.

Look for a variety of charity shops in your area. Finding the right pieces for your costume may take some hunting; look through online discount sellers for even more options, if you have the time.

Ask around. People you know may have boxes of clothing from the '70s just taking up space in the attic or closet. Ask family members if they mind you looking through their old clothes to find certain items.

Alter clothing. Making simple alterations to clothing can completely change the way it looks. High waist, straight leg jeans are easily altered into bell bottoms by cutting the inseam from the bottom of the trousers to the knee and sewing in fabric. Cutting and hemming the bottom of shorts to make them hot pants is another way to quickly alter clothing for a 1970s costume.

Style your hair in easy '70s styles. Feathered hairstyles and long, straight hair were popular for women, while men often opted for the shag or the mullet. Cropped hairstyles were also an option for men during the '70s.

Do your make-up. Women in the 1970s often wore make-up that made their skin glow. Pearlescent colours for eyes, lips and nails contributed to a more natural look. For a costume, choose eye shadows that make your eyes appear bigger and give a little sparkle. Natural, shining lip colour is also an ideal option for make up. For men, applying a bronzer to make the skin look tan is enough unless you're are going as a space rocker. For space rocker make-up, ample amounts of glitter, face paint and eyeliner are perfect.


Stick to one theme from the '70s. Mixing your themes breaks up the costume and does not look pulled together.


Check all make-up for allergies, especially bronzers or lotions that are applied directly to sensitive areas of the face.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing kit
  • Hair product
  • Make-up
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About the Author

A.N. Pike has been a professional writer since 2006. She has worked for the "McKinney Courier-Gazette" and her campus newspaper, now freelancing for various clients. Pike earned her associate's degree in mass communications and journalism from Collin College.