The Definitive Guide to 70s style

by Jamie Wilson

Reviewed & updated: October 19, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA

We take a look at how to achieve a retro look with our definitive guide to 70s style, a breakdown of the good, the bad and the ugly. 

‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…’ Or so the old saying goes and what better way to sum up 1970s men’s clothing. Admittedly there were some very questionable styles that emerged from the decade of 1970s fashion. Lycra and nylon were having their day in the sun (a few too many if you ask us) and the perm was worn by approximately 89% of the population (but don’t take our word for it). Then again, the 70s did give us Studio 54, Farrah Fawcett and Fleetwood Mac so chin up, it wasn’t all bad. Check out how to get definitive 70s style.

Although you may feel a little hard pressed to find style inspiration from this eclectic decade of flared trousers, big collars and even bigger hair, hope is not lost. We delve into this iconic era and tell you how you can get the 70s look (minus the perm).

70s Fashion Trends Made Easy

So you want to dress in this iconic era? Well 70s clothes are the perfect way to add some individuality to your wardrobe. However to dress truly 70s you may need to take some risks and delve into some fashion you wouldn’t normally. 70s outfits are quite intense in aesthetic but paired with some new-age clothing you can really rule this trend.

Say Yes to 70s Style Double Denim

Denim is one that seems to transcend era in the style stakes. It is versatile and easy to wear. Denim during the 70s took a shift towards bell bottom flares and giant collared shirts.

If you’re not a fan of these epic proportions it is easy to emulate the look by opting for double denim. This was another key trend of the era with Bob Marley, James Brown and Steve McQueen stepping up to the plate.

Double denim was a key look of the 70s; it was accessible, versatile and easy to wear. If we think back to one fabric that has outlasted them all denim would undoubtedly be up there. Opt for double denim and avoid getting drowned out, by clashing shades; you could try a light wash shearling lined denim jacket and team it with a pair of darker jeans like this guy. If you’re really brave you could go for the flared bell bottoms and matching jacket two piece like James Brown, but we won’t hold it against you if you don’t.

Experiment with 70s Texture

The era was massively experimental in terms of ‘fashion’ (we’re using this term very loosely) and leather and suede were all a big deal in the 70s, much of 70s style clothing was based around texture. This guy gives a subtle nod to the era by teaming a suede bomber jacket with a turtle neck with you guessed it… more denim. Roll necks and turtle necks were often layered underneath shirts but if that sounds a bit too far out then layer under a suede or leather jacket and pair with a pair of light wash jeans.

70s Disco Fashion

Now 70s disco fashion is something that I would keep for the ladies. Unless you are going for the truly authentic look, then this one is hard to pull off in our modern day and age. However you can pay homage to this look with a bomber jacket, turtle neck and some nice wide leg trousers.


The 70s Leather Biker Jackets

The counter culture to the collars, the flares and the terrible perms were the punks with bands such as The Clash, The Sex Pistols and The Ramones all willing participants of the punk movement. It wasn’t all mohawks and safety pins. Their style took more of a laid back, low maintenance approach. The uniform of the punks was generally a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and a leather jacket. It’s an achievable look with maximum impact even for the least style savvy among us.

This is a great way to tackle dressing the decade without going overboard. The leather jacket is a classic 70s staple but it still retains a contemporary feel. Take a leaf out of the punk manifesto and add a classic leather jacket to your wardrobe for instant 70s style. Then let the hair take care of itself.

What to Avoid

The 1970s threw out some pretty questionable fashion statements so when you’re taking inspiration from a decade it’s always worth bearing in mind the styles you should avoid.

Belted Tank Tops

For all the things we love about 70s style, the belted tank top is NOT one of them. We don’t know why they were a thing, they just were. And they’re best left in the decade in which they took their first and last breath.

Cuban Heels

If the advert specifically refers to a shoe as ‘dramatically imported footwear’ then you seriously need to question if you actually need these in your life. We think, not.

70s Hippie Outfits

I wouldn’t say avoid this trend completely, especially if you can afford Saint Laurent. However on an average persons budget it’s hard to capture the beautiful essence that is 70s without looking frumpy or like an attempt of 70s dress up. If you still want to try this trend then your local vintage shops are your best friend, to pick up some authentic 70s clothing.

What Did People Wear in the 70s

So now we have the modern stuff down, let look at what people actually wore in the 70s. Clothes from the 70s consisted of a lot of colour and print, with a touch of glam and disco.

70s Shirts

The 70’s shirt had many variations from the long collared shirt to the tight T-Shirt. However it wasn’t all patterned contrary to popular belief, a lot of men’s fashion in the 70s was about the power suit with a sleek shirt.

70s Pants/Trousers

One word, flares. Even though other styles of trousers were worn in the 70s the flares dominated this era. Whether it was a straight leg that turned into a flare or just full on flare, these were the trouser of the 70s.

70s Shoes

Men’s 70s style shoes differ whether you are looking at early, mid and late 70s. Oxford shoes, Birkenstocks, earth shoes and cowboy boots were often seen. However one shoe that was seen throughout this era was the platform boot. The platform shoe was worn by everyone, however celebrity fans include Slade, Kiss, Alvin Stardust, David Bowie and Sweet.

60s and 70s Fashion the Differences

Now many people will call the 60s a revolutionary period in fashion and this true. However, much of what was consider revolutionary was based around women’s clothing. The Hippie clothing style started in the late 60s and trickled into the 70s. Where as the 70s fashion followed trend that was inspired from glam rock and disco.

Much of the 60’s fashion was inspired by the big fashion houses, Oscar de la Renta and Mary Quant. Most people will remember Angel Flint and Levi’s when they call for designers from the 70s.

Quick Guide To 70s Style

  • Remember to channel the 70’s but to add a modern twist
  • Avoid cuban heels, belted vest top and the hippie style
  • Turtle necks are you best friend
  • Take the 70s style trend that you want to be a part of and research it throughly – this is the only way you can channel the authentic look
  • Buy new as well as vintage, this is the best way to get the style right for this era
  • Like most trends they key is in the details, remember accessories and footwear are the best way to pull an outfit together

On That Note

Admittedly, the 1970s was not the most fashion forward era for men’s clothing but what we have learnt is that you can find style inspiration in the most unlikely of places.

Feature image from Pinterest

You may also like