What kinds of clothes did people wear in the 1970s?

Updated November 21, 2016

Nostalgic '70s styles are associated with polyester, flashy colours and light, easy-to-wear fabrics. The styles provided a wide variety of choices for women that seemed to coincide with women asserting their individuality and independence. Television shows in the 1970s portrayed a more independent woman such as Mary Tyler Moore, single, and on her own, or the famous women detectives of "Charlie's Angels." The career-oriented woman of the '70s had more fashion choices, and men's fashion also promoted sexiness.

Dresses and Skirts

In the 1970s, dresses and skirts gave women ample opportunity to express their own sense of style. More conservative women could opt for maxi skirts or granny dresses that fell below the knee. Soft floral and checked patterns were popular. The younger set or women who were more adventurous could show off a generous amount of leg with shorter micro or mini skirts. Treveira, a modernised polyester fabric, was used to make comfortable, easy-to-wash, durable clothing.

Men's Clothes

Some of the most memorable men's clothing of the '70s gained popularity from John Travolta's disco dancing. Men wore polyester shirts, often with several buttons undone, and turned up collars. White suits and shiny materials were also popular during the disco era.

Evening Wear

Women often donned glitzy or clingy tops for evening dancing during this era. Many clubs refused patrons who were not dressed appropriately. Dresses for formal affairs were long, and halter dresses were a common and flattering style. The platform shoe complemented most outfits and could be dressed up or down.


Hot trousers were really very brief shorts. Longer trousers varied in style in the '70s. In the early half of the decade, dressy trousers or jeans had flared bell bottoms. Towards the end of the 1970s, trousers became narrower. Many of the more casual styles gained popularity because they were featured on prime time television shows including "Mary Tyler Moore," "Sanford and Sons," "Dallas," and "Charlie's Angels."

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