When we consider fashions from bygone decades, the 70s isn’t one that immediately springs to mind. You’re most likely to think about the psychedelic patterns of the 60s or the big hair and spandex of the 80s. Interestingly, however, the 1970s was a decade of major shifts in fashion for men! The era was marked by bold experimentation, daring — and sometimes outrageous — trends, and a willingness to push the constraints of everyday wear.
So what made the 70s such an exciting time for men’s fashion? Well, this decade was heavily influenced by social and cultural changes, as well as the rise of popular music and youth culture.
In this post we are going to explore the history of 70s fashion for men, we’ll chat about some of the key fashion icons of the era, the essential wardrobe staples of the decade, and how music and pop culture influenced 70s fashion. Lastly, we will examine how men’s fashion in the 70s reflected changing gender norms and the lasting legacy of this era on contemporary menswear.
History of 70s Fashion for Men
The 1970s was a decade of new styles and new trends, with a heavy focus on individuality and personal expression. Standout designers and brands of the era who you may be familiar with (they’re still around today!) included Yves Saint Laurent, Giorgio Armani, and famed US designer, Ralph Lauren (who’s known today for his popular polo shirts). Each of these fashion heavyweights all contributed to the era’s unique aesthetic.
70s fashion was influenced by the hippie movement of the late 1960s, which emphasized freedom and individuality. The decade grew to be characterized by bold and daring looks, bigger, brighter and wilder was certainly a popular look for men in the 70s!
Key Fashion Icons of the Era
Several fashion icons emerged during the 1970s, including actors, musicians, and style icons. One of the most influential was David Bowie, who was known for his androgynous style and bold experimentation with fashion. Other notable fashion icons (who you’ll certainly be familiar with) include John Travolta, who popularized the disco look, and Rolling Stones frontman, Mick Jagger, who was known for his over-the-top stage costumes and bold prints.
Wardrobe Essentials of 70s Fashion for Men
The 1970s was a time of experimentation. Key clothing items of the era included shirts with wide collars, bell-bottom trousers, and bright, bold colors. Leather jackets, denim jackets, and shearling coats were popular outerwear choices. Shirking common 60s textiles like wool, rayon and nylon; popular textiles of the 70s included denim, corduroy, and polyester. Meanwhile, precarious platform shoes, and chunky boots were popular footwear options.
Accessory-wise, the era was marked by bold belts, long gold and silver necklaces, and aviator sunglasses. Hats like the fedora and wide-brimmed sun hat were also popular for men looking to make a statement.
Influence of Music and Pop Culture on Fashion for Men
As we mentioned, music and pop culture were hugely influential on 70s fashion for men — this is highlighted further by the trendsetters of the decade. The rise of disco music in the mid-70s had a significant impact on men’s fashion, with outfits becoming more flamboyant and colourful. In huge contrast, the era was also marked by the rise of punk music, which emphasized rebellion and individuality.
One of the most iconic looks of the era was the Saturday Night Fever-inspired disco suit. This was a three-piece suit made from bright, bold colors, and featuring wide lapels and flared trousers. Meanwhile, punk fashion was characterized by ripped and torn clothing, safety pins, and heavy leather jackets.
Gender Expression in 70s Fashion for Men
The 1970s was a time of significant change in gender roles and expectations, and this was reflected in fashion for men. The feminist movement of the era emphasized equality and liberation, and this was reflected in fashion trends like unisex clothing and androgynous styles.
The androgynous look, in particular, became increasingly popular in the 70s, with men adopting feminine styles like tight-fitting shirts and unisex clothing. This trend was exemplified by David Bowie, who popularized the androgynous look with his gender-bending outfits. This trend challenged traditional notions of masculinity and femininity and opened up new possibilities for self-expression through fashion.
Legacy of 70s Fashion for Men
The legacy of 70s fashion for men is still evident in contemporary menswear today. Many designers continue to draw inspiration from the bold and daring styles of the era, incorporating elements like flared trousers and wide-collared shirts into their collections. The trend towards gender-neutral and unisex clothing has also gained momentum in recent years, reflecting the continuing influence of the androgynous look of the 70s.
Top 70s Fashion Trends for Men
- Flared Trousers: Flared trousers were one of the defining fashion trends of the 70s. These trousers featured a wide flare at the bottom, and were typically worn with high platform shoes.
- Wide-Collared Shirts: Wide-collared shirts were a key item of 70s fashion for men. These shirts featured large, pointed collars that added a touch of drama and flair to any outfit.
- Bright Colors: This was a decade of bold and bright colors. Men’s clothing featured a range of bright colors, including electric blue, fuchsia, and neon green.
- Denim: Denim was a popular material for men’s clothing in the 70s. Denim jeans, jackets, and shirts were all popular choices.
Platform Shoes: Platform shoes were a popular footwear choice for men in the 70s. These shoes featured thick soles that added height and drama to any outfit — alongside boosting the wearers centre of gravity!
How to Incorporate 70s Fashion into Your Wardrobe Today
Do you want to incorporate 70s fashion into your wardrobe today? Perhaps you have a hot date coming up and you want to make a statement? There are several key items to consider. Flared or bell bottom trousers are a great way to add a touch of vintage pizzazz to any outfit, while a boldly coloured, wide-collared shirt can add drama and sophistication.
If bold colours aren’t for you, denim is another versatile material that works well for a range of outfits. A denim jacket or shirt can add a touch of retro charm to any outfit, while a pair of denim jeans is a timeless wardrobe staple.
Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with accessories like aviator sunglasses or a wide-brimmed hat. These items can add a touch of style to any outfit, and help you express your individual fashion tastes.
As you can see, the 1970s was a decade of bold experimentation and daring fashion trends for men. The decade was marked by significant social and cultural change, as well as the rise of popular music and youth culture which influenced fashion changes for men and women alike.
These influences resulted in unique, eye-catching and daring styles that continue to inspire contemporary menswear today. From flared trousers and wide-collared shirts to bold colours and platform shoes, the key trends of the era continue to shape the way we think about men’s fashion.
A bonus tip: Visiting thrift stores and flea markets for retro fashions is a great way to reduce your eco-footprint! So whether you’re looking to incorporate a touch of vintage charm into your wardrobe or if you are just looking for a way to express your personal style, 70s fashion for men offers endless possibilities for self-expression and creativity!