Women's fashion in the '70s embraced new aesthetics, some styles were practical and others not so practical, but without a doubt groovy. The pantsuit found its place in the office, while skirt lengths varied from the micro-mini to the flowing maxi with flowery prints. Accessories took on new importance, from everyday shoes and macrame belts to sky-high platform heels. Fashion of the '70s came from a blend of influences--the hippy style, disco culture and functionality for women's growing presence in the workplace.
A Place for Pants
While women wore pants occasionally during much of the 20th century, they became more commonplace and accepted in the 1970s. Pants ranged from bell-bottom denim jeans, frequently embellished with patches and embroidery to the popular polyester pantsuit, consisting of a matching blazer and pants. While pants were still not suitable for women for every occasion, they now found a place in classrooms, shopping centers and even some offices.
While pants were becoming more popular, women still wore skirts, both for dress and casual occasions. Skirts were available in varying lengths: mini, midi and maxi. The mini was short and above-the knee, the midi just below the knee and the maxi reached tall the way to the ankle or grazed the top of the feet. Mini skirts and mini dresses were typically worn to the disco, usually paired with platform shoes or boots. Midi skirts were ideal for working women or students and were worn with flats, heels or boots. Maxi skirts were often flowing and flowery, commonly worn by hippies or had a frillier, Victorian-inspired style.
Tops of All Types
Shirts and blouses varied widely during the '70s; from those with lace and ribbon trim to loose peasant-style tops. Women commonly wore button-down shirts or high-necked blouses with pants or skirts for work. Sporty tees and even the tube top -- a narrow, strapless band of fabric that covered the bust -- were suitable for casual wear. Lightweight jackets and coats in a variety of lengths were of matching lengths to pants or skirts. For instance, an ankle-length maxi dress was often worn with a maxi coat.
Like the fashions of the 1970s, the accessories varied from professional to playful. Working women carried large leather handbags and favored practical shoes with low, chunky heels. Outside the office, handmade accessories played a key role, from macrame belts to quilted patchwork handbags. Hand crafts were in style and girls and women made many of their own accessories for casual wear. For evening wear, sparkle and shimmer reigned, including decorative platform shoes and sparkling jewelry.