Fancy Dress Costume Ideas for a '70s Party

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Fancy Dress Costume Ideas for a '70s Party
China had a big influence on '70s dresses. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Easier travel broadened fashion trends in the '70s, and ethnic-inspired clothing was in. Generally, there were two distinct trends in fancy dresses; they were either conservative dresses made of polyester in the early half of the decade and cotton in the latter half, or they were daring and sexy. Party dresses could be mini-, maxi- or mid-length. When creating a fancy dress costume for a '70s party, you can usually add a few simple details to a dress from a second-hand store.

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Demure

The early '70s held onto some of the simple fashion of the late '60s. Fancy dresses were simple empire-waisted straight dresses made of rayon or polyester. The bodice or cuffs were often beaded, and the neckline was usually high, perhaps even with a Mandarin influence. To create an easy version of this style, apply beads to the bodice of a simple dress from a thrift store. For another demure look, wear a light-coloured ruffled chiffon dress, or add a few layers of chiffon ruffles at the neckline of a shirt dress.

Prairie Dress

The hit TV show "Little House on the Prairie" that debuted in the mid '70s influenced fashion. Women started wearing prairie dresses for both day and evening. A prairie dress was floor-length, usually with a high, lacy Victorian collar and yoke at the bodice. Sleeves were puffed and often finished with lace toward the bottom half or cuff. The dress almost always ended with ruffles of various lengths. To re-create this look, add a layer of wide lace at the bottom of a long cotton dress.

Disco

The disco scene had a large influence on '70s fashion. Don a brightly coloured short dress with a plunging neckline in any kind of shiny fabric, such as lame, to showcase the disco look. Tie a long piece of fabric, even a necktie, as a headband around your head ; tie it at the side and let the fabric hang down. Couple it with a feather boa.

Ethnic

When President Nixon opened trade with China in the early '70s, women showed an interest in Chinese clothing and wore silk dresses in traditional Chinese styling. A Chinese quilted jacket paired with a simple skirt presents a stylish rendition of '70s fashion. At the latter half of the '70s, many types of ethnic images were incorporated into fashion, and have endured to this day. Comb a second-hand store for an elaborate kaftan or an Indian cotton voile dress with gold printing.

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