Wearing the 1970s again

Lynnette Peck / 26 May 2016

The look of the clothes and accessories from the 1970s are back in fashion all over again...

It may have been more than four decades since we lived through the 1970s, but the look of the clothes and accessories from that era are back in fashion all over again. Almost every designer showcased 1970s-style clothes on the most recent fashion catwalks - from flared trousers, kaftans and wedge heels to floppy hats and pendant necklaces. 

We asked some fashion experts for their views on how to wear 1970s style fashion today, plus we look at some of the best pieces available to buy now that channel the seventies in a modern way.

Twiggy’s Spring 2016 collection for M&S

Twiggy is celebrating 50 years in the fashion industry this year; for her anniversary Spring 2016 collection for M&S she says “My main objective is to produce a range of stylish, affordable, fun, well-made clothes for every woman. I'm very particular about fabric and cut as well as the actual design. I think the new spring collection is also very wearable, whatever age you are. The Spring collection taps into key trends - such as all things tribal with khaki jackets - as well as the Seventies with lots of brown suede and tassel totes.”

Related: Twiggy’s tips for looking good

The fashion experts’ view of reworking the 1970s

Wendy Rigg
Editor of Jackie magazine in the 1970s (now Associate Editor of Reveal magazine)

“I think 1970s clothes can be really flattering for women wearing the styles for the second time around. Some say you should NEVER revisit the styles of your youth - yet I find I'm drawn to anything even slightly 1970s. I remembered a tie-belted coat I had, midi-length with oversized lapels, and searched everywhere for similar. I was delighted when I found a camel one in M&S and have worn it non-stop. It's a classic style but in my head it's fly. 

I love flares this time around too - indigo ones are so flattering and leg lengthening. And I'm totally buying into the pussy bow blouse, especially paired with the flares. I found some platform heels that aren't too high - red lacquered wood heels from Zara which again I wear with the flares. I even tried dungarees for a Jackie magazine reunion - and wore them under a fitted Zara Oriental print jacket. It worked because the jacket added shape. It's not how I would have worn them in the past, but it worked for that particular evening. 

I would love to wear my Victorian petticoats again, but sadly this no longer works for me. I also can't work the 'gypsy' headscarf I still have and used to wear incessantly. And I have tried! I'm slightly fashion dysmorphic in that I THINK something like that will work, but then I try it, and realise that sadly the window of opportunity has gone, for me at least.”

Amber Butchart 
Fashion historian, author and lecturer

“The resurgence of the 1970s this time around correlates with when the economic downturn really began to kick in. In many ways, the economic parallels also drove design decisions - bright colours can offer an air of escapism, while separates such as blouses and skirts or palazzo pants may be easier on the wallet than buying expensive dresses, as these allow for a mix-and-match wardrobe. This in itself has resonance with punk bricolage from the 1970s - the idea of taking objects and refashioning them to give new meaning or purpose. While the punk aesthetic isn't a big part of the current 1970s trend, this ethos certainly is.”

Josephine Fairley
Author, entrepreneur co-founder of Green & Black’s chocolate and lover of the 1970s 

“As the veteran of two broken wrists in five years I will not be attempting to wear flares over primrose Sacha platforms as I did in 1972, falling flat on my face everywhere from Way In to the Chelsea Drugstore.”

Neandra Etienne
Stylist and costume designer 

“I find accessories are a simple way to incorporate the 1970s into today’s look. Platforms for early 1970s or a tartan scarf for late 1970s punk can be easily added to an outfit. That’s what I love about this era; within one decade the style changed so much.”

Naomi Thompson
Personal shopper and author of Style Me Vintage: Clothes and Accessories 

“I've always gravitated to the 1970s as it generally doesn’t make one look twee or matronly. You can go as flamboyant as you want or stick to sleek lines and silhouettes. If you buy vintage it is also much more affordable than earlier fashions, though prices are rising. Avoid most of the 'new' fabrics associated with the 1970s such as Crimplene (not kind to hot flushes) or poly cotton (bobbles easily). Plenty of 1970s pieces were made in cotton or jersey silk - look for designer Diane Von Furstenberg silhouettes and wrap dresses. My absolute favourite which I think works for all ages is printed Indian cotton. Think long, laid-back summers. This will be a huge look again this year and original pieces are a great investment.”

Related: Choosing the best long-sleeved dresses

Buying the 1970s look

Jaeger Denim Button Through Skirt (£89 jaeger.co.uk

Boden Abingdon Trench Coat (£104 boden.co.uk

V by Very Plait Detail Super Flare Jeans (£30 very.co.uk

Pure Wool Braid Trim Floppy Hat (£25 marksandspencer.co.uk

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.