So You Want to Dress: ’70s

A drawing of a disco ball resting on the floor next to a pair of pink go-go boots.
(Cassidy Jones • The Student Life)

Bring out your bell bottoms, roller skates and all of your brightest prints because the ’70s are back in full swing! 

To be transparent, I am only just beginning my journey into ’70s fashion. I would always see my high school friends wearing vintage dresses and jackets, and when I inquired about the pieces’ origins, the answer would almost always be: “It was my mum’s!” or “It’s my dad’s jacket from high school.” I would grow envious. My parents and grandparents grew up in Soviet Kazakhstan, so whenever I tried to ask them about the fashion of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, they could never provide Western examples of vintage fashion because it simply never reached them behind the Iron Curtain. Back in Soviet Russia, even selling jeans could put you in prison. 

But as soon as the Union fell apart and the post-Soviet states were finally able to import merchandise from the West in the ’90s, the clothing of the ’70s and ’80s lost its value. Everyone, including my family, wanted to dress more modern, more Western, and so even the few vintage pieces that they had were given or thrown away.

Everytime that I flick through my family’s photo albums, I always notice my grandad’s vintage looking sweaters or my mum’s extravagant house dresses and I wish that they would’ve kept those pieces for me to inherit and wear with pride. Even when I compliment these garments, my family doesn’t seem to understand or even believe me; to them, those photos recall the social stagnation and the isolation of their country from the rest of the world. And now that they have the ability to assimilate into modern Western culture, they don’t see the value in their former fashion.

If, unlike me, you are lucky enough to be able to wear authentic pieces of ’70s fashion that your parents or grandparents had once loved — do it! Wearing your family members’ clothes will not only spice up your outfit rotation, but it will also help bridge the generational gap in your family.

I am sure that there is nothing more that your grandmother would love than you asking her about how she did her hair and makeup when she was growing up, or what the story is behind that one dress that she is wearing in that one photo in your family’s album. This curiosity would allow clothing to enjoy a second life; moreover, think how your grandmother would feel, seeing you get so excited by what she may have thought of as rags and watching you transform her beloved pieces into your own. And through seeing you in them, maybe she will remember how much joy that dress brought her when she was younger.

So let’s start constructing a ’70s outfit that your grandmother would be proud of!

The ’70s were one of the first fashion movements where women were finally able to experiment with more masculine silhouettes, moving away from the stereotypical ’50s dresses. Many ’70s clothing items were more gender neutral, from highwaisted, bell bottom pinstripe suits to suede embellished vests to bright-patterned silk blouses. For my next ’70s outfit, I envision a brown and orange pinstripe suit, paired with a silky orange blouse and a statement belt. 

What is a better way to complete your look than a wide, silk headband that matches the print and color scheme of your outfit? Or a skinny silk scarf tied around your neck? Or a white leather belt: It is the statement piece in a ’70s outfit. And of course, don’t forget those oversized, square sunglasses for sunny SoCal days. 

Now, let’s talk footwear. You can never go wrong with a pair of knee-high white boots. Whether you’re styling them with a dress, a skirt or trousers, they will always add the perfect ’70s touch to any outfit. If you’re looking for something more comfortable with a lower platform, throw on your trusty pair of cowboy boots! Or, if you’re skilled enough to roller skate, bring them out! Not only are they a quintessential ’70s item, but when you zoom past all of the pedestrians on their way to class, you will definitely be the topic of their conversation.

When it comes to makeup, let’s leave the baby blue eyeshadow in the past… instead, go for a bright cut crease paired with the longest false lashes you can possibly find. The ’70s didn’t exactly have the most revolutionary makeup looks, so just rocking that bare faced glow is perfect for honoring this era.

The ’70s had some of the best hairstyles by far. The mullet swept everyone away and I am ecstatic that it is coming back with a modern twist. If you are blessed with natural curls, you’ve already got the base down, but if you’re unlucky like me, my best hair product investment has been heated hair rollers –– they’re a quick, fun and easy way to give your hair the perfect ’70s volume and bounce. When it comes to hair, go big or go home! 

It goes without saying that the beneficial aspect of vintage clothing is sustainability. Not only can you make a day out of hitting up the Goodwill donation bins with your friends, but you are simultaneously reducing the popularization of fast fashion by investing in pre-loved pieces.

So get yourself to the thrift and dress for a day of roller skating down the pier before showing off your best boogie at every party.

Elizaveta (Lisa) Gorelik CM ‘25 is from Moscow, Russia. She likes painting by numbers, going on Starbucks runs and doing spa days.

Facebook Comments