Fashion Through the Decades: How the ’70s Influences My Personal Style

A woman in a pink, velour outfit standing in front of a building in downtown L.A.

On the Saturday mornings of my childhood, you could find me camped out in front of the TV watching one of two things: cartoons or “The Brady Bunch.” Arguably the most popular television show of the 1970s, my brother and I watched season after season of “The Brady Bunch” until we had seen them all. If you’ve never seen the show before, it follows the hilarious antics and heart-touching tales of six step-siblings (three daughters and three sons) united by their parent’s marriage along with their frenzied housekeeper, Alice. 

Although I enjoyed watching the stories unfold and listening to the unfamiliar ’70s lingo, there was another reason I tuned in every Saturday morning—the outfits.

“The Brady Bunch” sisters, particularly Marcia and Jan, appeared on the screen wearing outfits like floral-patterned dresses with Peter Pan collars and high-waisted skirts cinched with thick belts paired with tall brown boots. The sisters’ laid-back yet lively outfits complemented their charming personalities and sharp wits. This was my first introduction into the fun, effortlessly cool fashion era of the 1970s. 

This was my first introduction into the fun, effortlessly cool fashion era of the 1970s. 

Fast forward 10 or 15 years into the future, and I find myself in a tiny consignment store the size of my bedroom. Hidden beneath cross-body bags and woven wallets piled on the floor sits the most unique purse I have ever laid eyes on—a 1970s vintage carpet bag. A funky pattern of gold, green and red flowers pops against a brown background, and brass hardware creates a streamlined look. My first real vintage purchase, this bag spurred a love for incorporating ’70s inspired pieces into modern looks as I paired it with ripped jeans, a black tank top and ankle boots.

I seem to discover 1970s inspiration almost anywhere. Just recently, I was digging through old family photos at my grandmother’s house and fell in love with the everyday style of the 1970s I saw. I took note of the chunky stripe patterns, tall socks with sneakers and wide-legged pants that my father and his siblings wore. Even my grandfather sported a stylish mock turtleneck sweater in one photograph.   

Now while shopping or browsing Pinterest boards, I find myself drawn to bold patterns and high-waisted silhouettes. One of my go-to outfits is a pair of high-waisted, flare-cut denim jeans, a loose kimono with a striking floral pattern, white sneakers and a wide headband. For a dressier evening, I might switch out the sneakers for chunky heels. This simple yet vibrant outfit helps me to express my confidence and bravely take on the day—no matter the twists and turns I’ll likely face.   

My first real vintage purchase….spurred a love for incorporating ’70s inspired pieces into modern looks.

I’m not alone in this love for mixing the old and the new. Many staples from the 1970s are considered back in style again, as many women flock to trends like high-waisted pants and middle hair parts. In hopes of finding a unique piece, I tend to stick to the racks of thrift stores where clothes pour in from all eras and walks of life. One impact that ’70s fashion has had on me is that I’m no longer afraid to experiment or try something new.

The influence of the 1970s on my personal style seems perfect for this moment in history. In navigating a shaky post-grad future and a global pandemic, these outfits present to me an opportunity for self-expression that goes beyond mere fabric to cover myself. These bold patterns, fun silhouettes and easy-going elements allow me to convey a part of myself that braves the unknown, adapts to new challenges and, best of all, discovers joy along the way.

What fashion trends do you appreciate from the 1970s? What time period influences your style the most?

Image via Aki Akiwumi, Darling Issue No. 20

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