My Fashion Muses from the ’60s and ’70s

Vintage fashion seems to be making a comeback and I’m constantly on the lookout for cool retro jewelry and purses to list in my Etsy shop. Still, I have to admit it seems strange to see younger people wearing styles that I remember from my childhood in the 1960s and 1970s. Truth be told, I have often thought we were well rid of some of those looks! However, it’s worth looking back on some of the fashion influences that made an impression.

Denim was big and we all wanted to look casual and cool — your clothes were supposed to look like you’d lived in them for a while. Nothing new and shiny. Pure white sneakers were an embarrassment as were stiff, unfaded jeans and overly coiffed hair. Stars of TV sitcoms tended to be highly influential to tweens and teens. Remember, this was back before cable, videos, or DVR, so we watched a lot of  TV shows and when the regular broadcasting season ended, we watched them again in reruns (no summer programming).

Here are a few of the trends I remember.

  • The 1960s Denim Craze.

Personally, I’m old enough to remember when denim cutoffs were just that: our old jeans that we actually cut up with scissors and wore as shorts in the summer. Back then, no one was selling new jeans made to look old and beat up, so we designed them ourselves. We waited and waited for our new jeans to turn old and faded so we’d look cool. Then when they got threadbare they got a second life as shorts. We used the discarded scraps for patches.

Check out these teens from the 1960s. (photo from Vintage Everyday).

1960s denim styles

What was cool: Long flowing hair, frayed bell bottoms, jean jackets, wide buckled belts.

  • 1960s Capri pants.

Mary Tyler Moore rocked these on the Dick Van Dyke Show, and it turns out she had to do some lobbying to wear them on screen. The producers thought housewives should be seen mostly in dresses but Mary argued that no one she knew wore dresses around the house (yeah, Mary!) and proceeded to wear them on the show. According to IMBd, it was because of Mary that capri pants went on to become a huge fashion craze in the early part of the decade.

Mary tyler moore 1960s fashion

‘Who can turn the world on with a smile’? Love Mary as Laura in Dick Van Dyke. (Image from Violet Gray)

  • The mystery of 1970s fashion.

I was a kid in the 1970s and remember some very odd fashion choices, many of which can be seen in the photo below of the Brady Bunch (which ran in perpetual reruns). Wild colors, wide lapels, bell bottoms with patch pockets. And everyone’s dad had a “leisure suit” with matching turtle neck.

Brady Bunch 1970s fashion
The Brady Bunch looking very 1970s (Image from Mental_Floss).
  • The feathered hair, unzipped look. 

The Partridge Family was another one of our favorites in the 1970s. We loved sexy Keith with his long feathered mane and sensible Laurie with her long, straight (unfeathered) locks. (It often seemed like Keith took more trouble with his hair than Laurie). They played in the family’s rock band but acted as if they had normal teenage problems, too. The biggest fashion faux-pas here, by today’s standards, has to be Keith’s ribbed sweater with long, open zipper. At least to me it looks pretty lame, but maybe that look is coming back too.

Partridge family 1970s fashion
Keith and Laurie from the Partridge Family: who has the better hairstyle? (photo from Everything Susan Dey.)

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