Women's Jean Costumes in the '70s

Updated April 17, 2017

Women's jeans in the 1970s had a variety of styles and shapes. The bell bottom jean is most often associated with the '70s. Jeans featuring lively cloth appliqués and vibrant outer-seam stitching are also trademarks of the '70s. Designer jeans were on the rise in the late '70s as well, with brand names like Calvin Klein, Jordache and Gloria Vanderbilt coming on to the scene. The denim of the '70s had no stretch in the fabric, so pre-washed jeans became more popular. Jeans were often worn with vests or denim jackets to make a jean costume.

Bell-bottoms and Platform Shoes

Bell-bottomed jeans were a big part of 1970s jean wear. They came in lots of sizes, but the bigger the bell, the better the style. Bell-bottoms begin flaring at the knee with the biggest part of the pant being at the hem. Bellbottoms of the '70s varied in bell sizes, but the most common was a bell of 24 to 25 inches. Platform shoes were the favoured shoe to wear with bell-bottoms. Platform shoes of the '70s were chunky and high, both in the heel and at the ball of the foo; wearing the shoes with the jeans accentuated both items. For added style, bell-bottomed wearers chose a brightly coloured piece of fabric as a headband or tied around the neck as a scarf.

Hip-Huggers and Halter Tops

Hip-huggers were popular throughout the '60s and continuing into the '70s. The first hip-huggers revealed just the navel, but as the style progressed, they proceeded to barely cover the wearer's bottom. They were popular among hippies and high school students as the sexual revolution was at its height. Hip-huggers were often coupled with halter tops made of denim, cotton floral fabric or lightweight gauze. Halter tops accentuated the exposed navel and gave extra exposure with a fully open back that was tied at the neck and across the back with string or thin fabric. Hip-huggers and halter tops were made popular on TV by their appearance on "Sonny and Cher."

Flared Jeans and Hip-Length Denim Jackets

Flared jeans became popular in the 1970s as an alternative to bell-bottoms. People wanting a little less flare than the bell-bottomed featured chose flared jeans as well as those wanting to personalise their bell-bottoms. These jeans could be cut at the knee and a triangle-shape added in a decorative type of fabric. Fabrics for these homemade bell-bottoms featured floral prints, metal eyelets and studs, transfers and even anti-war graffiti. Women wore hip-length denim jackets with their flared jeans, especially with jeans other than bell-bottoms. The hip-length jacket had a little flare at the sleeve and hip, which balanced perfectly with the flare at the bottom of the jeans.

Designer Jeans and Denim Vests

Designer jeans became more popular in the late 1970s with the onset of the Jordache line. Jordache, Calvin Klein and Gloria Vanderbilt were all popular designer brands of the late 1970s. Designer jeans could typically be identified by the design or logo on the back pockets and by their price. Denim vests were a common choice worn with designer jeans. Vests could give the added style of the hip-length denim jacket without covering the designer jean pocket. For extra flare, vest wearers often choose a blouse with bell sleeves to complete the look.

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About the Author

Patti Richards has been a writer since 1990. She writes children’s books and articles on parenting, women's health and education. Her credits include San Diego Family Magazine, Metro Parent Magazine, Boys' Quest Magazine and many others. Richards has a Bachelor of Science in English/secondary education from Welch College.