Vintage Style #17: The Colors of the Seventies

It's hard to pin down the collective tastes of a planet for an entire decade.  It's easy to say the seventies were all about browns and earth tones, but that's not completely accurate.  Sure, the entire country seemed awash in shades of brown for a few years in the 70s; however, the decade also had its share of super loud color expressions.

The "browning of the seventies" was really a reaction to the psychedelic color palette of the late sixties.  We'd had enough of The Magical Mystery Tour; now it was time for some marijuana infused color schemes of brown, light brown, dark brown, red-brown, or orange-brown.... and maybe just a little bit more brown.  Accent it with some Harvest Yellow, Avocado Green or more brown, and you're in business!

But, to complicate things, there was still a tendency to go really wild with colors.  Often combing colors that should've never been combined - namely red and yellow..... or orange and (you guessed it) brown.

Here's a few images of 70's fashions for women that threw out the dreary earth tones in favor of big colors.

That design you see in the background was seemingly everywhere in the seventies.  And check out the colors of the chick's outfit in the foreground.... for some reason I'm craving some McDonald's french fries.

Sweet Lord.  I'm at once repulsed and captivated by that rainbow shag.  Seems too much like something Elton John would have worn.

Oh shit, I can see the pastels coming on.... look out, the 1980's are coming.

Lemon yellow "perky polyester"... I'm at a loss for words.  That poor non-yellow girl at the end.... probably felt like a blue outcast.

These colors and patterns are so bold, it's almost like these three chicks are a team of superheroes.  Some masks and maybe a cape for the girl in blue, and I see a comic book series in their future.

Yikes.  Not sure how to take that waistline of giant red Ruotine pasta.... should've gone with the Fusilli.

When I'm old, I want scientists to cryogenically freeze me with specific instructions to not thaw me out until white go-go boots come back into fashion.  Gilligan like.

This is from 1970.  Evidently, peace, love and "flower power" were still in full effect.  Alas, I was too young to enjoy it.

Fashion on Display

If I had to choose a picture to place in a time capsule to demonstrate women's fashion of the seventies, I might just choose one of these two.  They say a picture says a thousand words.... well these say a million.

Fashion on Display

I'll end by saying that the title of this post is "bad fashion", but I really should've never labeled this series as such. I love these fashions, and I mean that sincerely. I certainly have a good time poking fun at them, but, at the end of the day, I prefer these styles to anything popular today. I'm just sayin'.

1972 The Complete Book Of Sewing


  1. I seriously adore your blog - is that not Shelley Hack (aka Tiffany from Charlie's Angels) in the middle of the very last photo?!?

  2. Ok GIlligan! Now you've really outdone yourself! Now its time to plug that great Thomas Hine book The Great Funk. Philip Langdon even had a chapter in a book Orange Roofs And Golden Arches called "The BROWNING Of America".

  3. - "I love these fashions, and I mean that sincerely. I certainly have a good time poking fun at them, but, at the end of the day, I prefer these styles to anything popular today. I'm just sayin'."
    I'm with you there Gilligan. Yes, the colors and patterns were bold, but they were bold with a purpose. If you look at the pictures you will see that the colors and patterns are indeed coordinated, not just randomly chosen just to be loud.

  4. 2nd from the right perky polyester girl wearing a miniskirt and a chicken on her top. '70s fashion doesn't get any more adorable than that.

    I'm with you regarding this vs. today's fashion for chicks. I just can't stand all the pre-ripped, pre-faded-only-on-the-thighs jeans with all the gaudy thick white yarn stitching around the pockets and studs & rhinestones all over hell. It's just too much shit going on. One might say the same thing about the love/flower jumpsuit in that Singer ad, but at least that was just one thing going on consistently throughout the entire outfit. It's much more pleasing than trying to deal with 5 different designs all at once.

  5. Gilligan, You know your stuff. Some of those outfits are down right frightening. I have never cared for the "dirty" earthy 70's look, so it's nice to be reminded about the loud colors too. I know people love to make fun of the styles from the 70's, but at least you will never see some dorky teenager with his pants hanging down at his knees from back then.

  6. The girl on the left in "perky polyester" could almost be Nellie Oleson from Little House On The Prairie caught in a time warp!

  7. I always wondered why it went from the bright colors of the sixties to mustard yellow and brown in the seventies. You have to admit though some things started in the sixties from thrift store diving like ponchos and fringed jackets REALLY took off in the seventies.

    I agree about the girls that look like superheroes. The Crochet Squad!

  8. Special thanks to the comment up there about that Golden Roofs book - just went and bought it!

    I LOVE the colors of the '70s, and yes, while they seem jolly now, were actually more calm from the Mod '60s looks!

    One piece of irony is that for a time, McDonald's had blue work uniforms, which flew in the face of THEIR VERY BUILDINGS AND MASCOTS rocking the '70s color palette archetype.

    I have two vintage Burger King uniforms (one male, one female) and lemme tell ya - brown, orange, and yellow never had it so good.