From ridiculously tall platforms to ridiculously short shorts, we're looking back at the fashions that made the Seventies so funky. Far out!

Dedicated followers of fashion

Elton John
Elton John with his platforms collection, via Terry O'Neill 

The Seventies may have been the decade that style forgot, but at least the clothes were fun. And there were advantages—platforms were a god-send for short people, for example.

Among the not-so-tall Glamrockers who took advantage of them to boost their stage presence were Dave Hill of Slade and Elton John, both of whom pushed heel height to extraordinary proportions.

Dungarees came out of the workplace to become an unlikely fashion item. Polka dots, stripes and checks on t-shirts, blouses and even shoes were popular.

By the mid-Seventies women were matching textured and coloured tights with blue suede sandals on rope wedges or white leather platform shoes.

 

“If Britain was so sickly in the Seventies, where did people get the money at the time to buy so many records and bold pairs of trousers?”
Andy Beckett, from When the Lights Went Out: Britain in the Seventies

 

The height of fashion

1970s platform shoes
Image via Slade Story

Glam rock had its own distinctive fashion that drew on, and in turn influenced, 1970s fashion in general.

The most obvious crossover between Glam and non-Glam fashion was the platform shoe. Extreme examples of this chunky style footwear had soles and heels measuring upwards of 2 and 5 inches.

For the vertically challenged they were the answer to a prayer: worn with a pair of flared loon trousers, they gave everyone the long legs of fashion models. Platforms were worn to work as well on the dance floor, and men wore them as well as women.

 

Dress statement

Lady skinheads from the 1970s
Image via Dangerous Minds

There was something to suit all shapes, sizes and levels of sophistication in Seventies clothes, and what people wore said something about who they were.

At the sassy end of the spectrum, fashion outlets such as Mr Freedom boutique, which operated in the King’s Road, Chelsea. Then, in Kensington, chic numbers like the halter-necked spotted sundress or the short striped version.

Skinheads wore no-nonsense clothes that emphasised their working-class ethos and above all did not look ‘hippy’. Sheepskin coats, Doc Martin boots, jeans or Levi Sta-Prest—worn with braces and stopping short above the ankle—were all popular, as were pork pie hats.

 

Who wears short shorts?

1970s hotpants
Image via Stephen Markenson

For women, 1971 saw the entry of hot pants—tiny, figure hugging shorts that exposed the thigh, often worn with knee-length boots or high heels.

Hot pants could be slinky and satin for the evening, or workaday and denim, and they were even worn in fashionable society.

Royal Ascot actually amended its dress code to allow the wearing of hot pants but stipulated that women had to ensure the ‘general effect’ of their dress was ‘satisfactory’.

Hot pants were, in a way, the Seventies’ answer to the Sixties’ mini skirt, but they had to compete with other 1970s favourites like the midi and maxi skirt. As far as hemlines went, this was a decade of anything goes.

 

Battle of the sexes

Men's fashion 70s flares
Image via Me Appropriate Style

A staple unisex item were loons, low-slung hipster trousers that hugged the backside and thighs before flaring out dramatically from the knee. Naturally they came in all colours, even tartan, and all sorts of fabrics, from brushed denim to crushed velvet.

Men and women of all shapes and sizes wore them. On top, the perfect match was, for women, a scoop-neck t-shirt with flared drawstring sleeves. For men, perhaps a cheesecloth shirt, with enough buttons undone to reveal a hairy chest or pendant—a shark’s tooth if you were cool, a medallion if you weren’t.

Men cultivated their sexual attraction by growing their hair long, cultivating sideburns and splashing on aftershave. Old Spice was popular, as was the less sophisticated Brut—as advertised by Henry Cooper and Kevin Keegan—and to the teenagers’ delight, Hai Karate.

For women, Revlon launched Charlie in 1975, targeting the young generation of Cosmopolitan readers. 

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