What did teenage girls wear in the 70s?

Updated April 17, 2017

Teenage girls' fashion in the 1970s continued the "do-your-own-thing" look of the late 1960s for the early years of the decade. Girls' clothing styles were dominated by the disco look during the latter half of the 1970s. Girls' clothes transitioned from costume-like hippie garb to styles influenced by disco party dresses, evening wear and the preppy look. Towards the end of the decade, the decadent punk look began to catch on.

Hippie look

Teenage girl's fashion trends in the early 1970s were a carryover from the hippie era. Natural fabrics in paisley or tie-dye were favoured. Exotic ethnic styles were "in." Mexican peasant blouses and gaucho trousers were popular as well as boldly coloured and patterned Indian and African clothes. Hip-hugger and bell-bottomed trousers were all the rage. Elephant bells had the maximum amount of flare. Skirts could be micro, mini or midi length. Floor-length maxis were known as granny dresses. Hot trousers and short shorts were worn with halter tops in the summer. Comfortable shoes, such as Hush Puppies, clogs and woven leather sandals were considered fashionable. White go-go boots were popularised by Nancy Sinatra and other fashionistas. Gypsy hoop earrings, scarves and purses made from recycled jeans were popular accessories.

Disco look

By the mid-1970s, the disco style became mainstream. Girls dressed up more as they went out to disco and dance clubs. Disco dresses were of a more-formal style and a glamour look. They featured synthetic fabrics, such as polyester and rayon. New technology allowed satinized polyester to be inexpensively produced. The silky fabric was ideal for glitzy disco dresses and bandeau tops. Many outfits of the disco era were adapted from professional dance wear. Clothes decorated with sequins and rhinestones were designed to glitter and sparkle under the disco-ball lights. Shiny metallic lame clothes attracted a lot of attention on the dance floor along with clingy Lycra stretch disco trousers. Jersey-knit wrap dresses were worn with outrageous platform shoes. Chic footwear featuring thick soles and up to 12.5 cm (5 inch) heels was often worn with designer jeans.

Punk look

Punk music and culture revived the rebellious fashion attitudes of earlier subculture movements. The punk look was reminiscent of the rude boy, greaser and mod looks of teens from the 1950s. Punk fashion was heavily influenced by popular bands of the time, including the Sex Pistols and the Ramones. Denim and leather predominated. Ragged worn and torn jeans with ripped T-shirts made a fashion statement. Ripped fishnets were worn with short black dresses. Parachute trousers, tight denim jeans or leopard print stretch trousers were paired with combat boots or Doc Martens to complete the look. Punk accoutrements for teenage girls included studded jewellery and lots of safety pins. The pins were used on clothing and as body piercings by hardcore punks.

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