Fads #11: Can You Tell It's From the 70s?

Ever watch The Antiques Roadshow? Are you impressed how the experts can determine the authenticity and date of an item after only a quick inspection? Well, you're in luck. Today you will receive your first lesson in determining if something is actually from the 1970's. Let's take a look at the magazine above and look for clues as to the date and authenticity.

Obviously, the first clue is the date printed on the cover, but that can be photoshopped. So, it's a clue, but not the whole picture. Another clue is the spelling of "compleat" in the text "The Compleat Cyclist's Compendium". No one spells it like this anymore.

The big giveaway in the picture is the socks...

In the 70s, we liked 'em high and we liked 'em with stripes. The chick on the magazine cover is sporting the rainbow tube sock, often called a Life-Saver sock. Rainbows were big in the 70s - look no further than Mork's suspenders as proof.

Then there's the glasses....

Rarely did anyone look good in a pair of glasses in the 70s. Unless you were John Lennon or Elton John, glasses generally looked awful. There just weren't many styles to choose from, and the technology to thin and shape the lens simply wasn't there. The most common varieties were the large metal or plastic frames that resembled some kind of heavy-duty protective eyewear. The woman on this magazine cover is sporting a very common style of glasses - quite nerdy today, but ordinary back then.

And how about the hot pants?...

We all know hot pants were big back then (just ask James Brown - he wrote a song about them). But you also need to reflect on the fact that a benign and mundane magazine like Apartment Living has a girl's ass in hot pants pointed squarely at you. If that's not a dead giveaway that this is the 70s, I don't know what is! I've commented on Retrospace many, many times the amazing extent to which everything was sexualized back then. Baby Boomers dictated pretty much everything in the media back then, and their libidos were in full bloom during the 70s.

However, the biggest clue of all may be it's "unpolished" look. Magazines today are computer enhanced to the nth degree. An Apartment Living magazine published now would have a girl photoshopped and airbrushed to death, and there wouldn't be a spade of grass out of place. Take a look at the magazine cover below - Metropolitan Home is actually what Apartment Living eventually became in 1979.

Notice the sterility of it all. The bar code, the perfectly arranged room (with no human life to be found), the crisp, neat fonts..... AAAARRRGGGH! I want stains on the carpet, an overflowing ashtray, and some chick with bad complexion in a tube top!

..... deep breath....(inhale)......(exhale)...... I'm better now.

Another clue is the mention of "robber stoppers". One of these days, I'll have to write a post on crime in the 70's. Mugging was rampant back then and paranoia over the sharp increase in crime was widespread. Crime is certainly worse today (except maybe in NYC), but I think we've grown accustomed to it in the USA.

Other clues....

The bike has a basket on the front.
The girl's hairstyle
The mention of "soaring" - do they mean "hang gliding"?
The ketchup-mustard color scheme: a combination of yellow shirt with red vest

Well, I could go on all day. Perhaps, you've noticed a few clues that I didn't mention. Please leave 'em in the comments section, I'd be interested to hear them.

[image source: Back in the Day: A Bit on the Long Gone, Dearly Departed, Apartment Life Magazine brought to my attention via nevver]


  1. Might also use clues like,

    The bicycle itself! A single-speed, "girl's-style" Schwinn with fenders and a reflectors!

    And of course, the price. 95¢!!! Holy moly!

    This looks like a far more interesting read, though, and the hands-down winner over "Metropolitan Home" should I be sitting next to the two waiting for a dentist.

  2. Hah! My daughter is 13, and she wears rainbow socks like that NOW!

    But I do agree with ya. The modern stuff has no character man!

  3. I work at a university, and those huge sunglasses are back in vogue for the young ladies. Cracks me up.

  4. Violent crime rates in the US have been in decline since 1994 or 1995, and in 2005 were far lower than they were throughout the 1970s. There really is less crime now.

    Check out http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/viort.htm

  5. C: - Great observations! BTW I think I might actually enjoy going to the dentist if he has this mag in his waiting room.

    Wings- "No character", well put. The home I live in is over 100 years old and I love it - when I visit these cookie cutter McMansions, they make me sick.... no character.

    retrohound- Yes, the big shades are back. The gargantuan prescription eyewear.... not so much.

    MPorcius- Fascinating! Like I said, I plan on writing a post on this but haven't done the research yet. Thanks for the info!

  6. In the "Dukes" picture, there are at least two wastes of pixels. Three if you don't like the Charger either ;-)

  7. We referred to those socks, in retrospect, as porn socks or three ring circus socks.

    mine we usually thigh high with khaki brown stripes.

  8. you inspired me to search for more three ring circus socked cuties


  9. Actually, the gigantic prescription eyeware IS back. Just walk down any part of hipster Brooklyn and you'll see plenty of pretty young girls with bad eyeglasses.

  10. I miss that magazine--it's fun seeing how much stuff has come back into style. And it was definately more interesting than all the slick mags out now. These actually look like people "live" in them instead of being places to be.