10 Real Life Fashion Choices from the Early 70s

In keeping with the research for my book, I made a list of the early 70s fashion items which impressed themselves most indelibly in my memory (which is why most of the clothes I remember are for teen females):

  1. Dr. Scholl’s sandals.  I think every girl, but me, wore these sandals.  The wood soles hurt my feet. They were the height of fashion, plus easy to slip in and out of.  They went with both preppy and  hippie clothes.
  2. Bates Floaters.  My boyfriend wore these and insisted that he started the trend.  What do I know?  Maybe he did start the trend at our school.  I wore a girl’s version of low flat boot made of medium blue suede.
  3. Both genders wore huaraches.  You wore these Mexican sandals without socks, and then got them wet so that they molded to your feet.
  4. Jeans dramatically changed during high school.  At the beginning, jeans had a flare in the section between knee and hem.  But suddenly, the leg bottoms widened and we were wearing bell bottoms and wide legs.  The jeans were frequently hip-huggers, and I always favored button flies.
  5. The vest.  There were lots of variations.  At the beginning of the decade, the long pull-over sweater vest was a great look with the mini skirt. Another type of vest, of which I owned an army, was just past the waist in length, a pull-over with scoop neck.  My grandmother’s arthritis wouldn’t allow her to sew any longer, so she crocheted me at least a dozen of these vests with several colors or even variegated yarn.

    This is a child’s version of the vests my grandmother made me. Mine did not have the buttons at the top of the shoulders and the colors were coordinated.

  6. Underneath those sweater vests we wore thin nylon ski turtlenecks which we had previously worn under crew neck sweaters.  Sometimes these turtlenecks were a sort of unitard which snapped at the crotch.
  7. Early on in the 70s embroidered peasant blouses from India, often in a cream-colored cotton, and smock-tops were wardrobe staples.
  8. Long Indian-inspired earrings.  I loved them!
  9. Ponchos.  My poncho was my life in 10th grade.  I could hide in it and yet it made a statement.  Not sure what that statement was, though . . . .

    Mine was turquoise and a Mexican pattern–a very thick and quality woolen weave.

  10. Fringed suede shoulder bags and macrame purses were big, although quite frankly, so were Etienne Aigner burgundy leather purses.  Hippie or preppy–take your pick.  Since lack of money was an issue for me, I learned to macrame my own purses, but I also owned a fringed suede.  The Aigner bags heralded a movement toward an extremely preppy trend in the mid-late 70s.
    Etienne Aigner Bag

    Etienne Aigner Bag (Photo credit: vintspiration)

    The great thing about clothes in those days was that if I had the right pair of jeans, with a few turtlenecks in basic colors, my grandmother’s sweater vests gave me a different outfit each day.  My dad didn’t like to pay for fashion, but he didn’t have a problem buying yarn for his mother.

What kind of research do you do for your writing?  Have you tried making a list like this of items for a scene?


Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Memoir, Research and prep for writing

4 responses to “10 Real Life Fashion Choices from the Early 70s

  1. I enjoyed your list of high school attire. I recall how shocked I was that conservative dress codes were suddenly dropped at our high school a few (and I mean few) years after I graduated. When my sister and went to high school, for instance, girls were sent home for wearing culottes. This happened to my sister at least twice. So not long after I graduated, girls and boys were suddenly wearing jeans to high school. Apart from that, I liked that in college I could wear what I wanted, and I soon switched from skirts to corduroys, which were soft and warm. No more freezing legs. This attire exercise is great -> it speeds up the memory (and imagination) about a certain place and time.

    • lucewriter

      That must have been a shock to the system. We wore culottes in junior high, and between 8th and 9th grade, suddenly they could be short short culottes! I also switched to corduroys for the same reason in college. I had a pair of cream colored corduroys, too, and that was my favorite color in those days. Can you imagine the mud spatters on the back of the calves from the dirty snow ;)?

  2. You’re so organized! I will start to make lists now. Hadn’t thought about it. I LOVED Dr. Scholl’s sandals, though. I think you underrated them. I think they’re still available for purchase, probably on a website. I looked a couple of years ago, but I could’t make a decision now that they have other styles. I didn’t want to buy a new style online that I couldn’t try on, but if I found the ones I’m looking for I would have to buy them!

    • lucewriter

      Cheryl, I feel like falling over. They still make those same sandals?! They can’t look the same though, right? I feel like the lists helped me to pull things together. I’m doing another one for later this week, too. It’s kind of a version of my to do lists at home. If I write stuff on a list I can feel like I accomplished something and not have it hanging over my head ;).

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