Fashion followers in 1972 still wore free spirited 1960s clothing, but they mixed this with tailored new fashions that came on the scene. The hippie look continued to be popular but women began to prefer more structured clothing and more sedate hairstyles. Men's suits became more relaxed and children's clothes were bright and playful. World affairs sparked a brief trend for Chinese clothing.
Men and women wore similar fashions in 1972. People combined the "mod" style with hippie style of the 1960s. Big shoes were paired with jeans, work shirts, bandannas and tie dyed kaftans. Ethnic prints continued to be popular. In 1972, President Richard Nixon travelled to China and Oriental inspired jackets and dresses became a short fad in America.
In 1972 people preferred their hair to be long and natural looking. Women liked big curls, but also wore shag haircuts. African-American people wore large round Afros. While women's hair was informal, it was not as wild looking as it was in the 1960s. The classic chignon came back into style.
During the day, women wore well-tailored clothing with big shoes as casual wear. Trousers were not yet acceptable in the workplace but some women dared to wear them for business. Fashion moved away from the miniskirts of the 1960s and towards trousers or long skirts for women. In the evening, they wore more feminine clothing like wrap dresses or long skirts and halter tops. When women rejected their bras, clothing designers responded by making strapless tops that exposed more skin.
While women wore more tailored clothes, men's clothing became less formal. Shirts had wide floppy collars and trousers had flared bottoms. Wide colourful ties were in style. Nixon's visit to China inspired men to wear Mao jackets. These simple jackets were named after Chinese leader Mao Zedung and had high collars and square pockets.
Bright prints, stripes, big flowers, plaids and checks brightened children's clothing in 1972. Fake patches also added variety. While boys dressed in traditional dark colours they also began to wear clothes in bright colours like pink or yellow. Boys also wore turtlenecks in winter. Little girls still wore clothes with lace, embroidery and piping. Mothers also clothed their little girls in sailor style dresses.
Capes were a fad during the winter of 1972. They were made of wool, cashmere or suede and could be purchased with or without hoods. Buttons on women's coats went out of style. Instead, women wrapped the new style, cape-like coats around their body and held them in place with a tie, like a wrap dress. Velvet was a favourite for both capes and coats. White coats sold well, but so did those in pale pastel colours. Some coats were tie-dyed.