June 4, 2024 | Samantha Henman

20 70s Trends That Need To Come Back—And 20 That Should Stay There


Retro Rocks

The 70s, AKA the “Me Decade,” were full of fashion risks—and while some had their reward, not everything needs to be fondly remembered. We’ve sifted through the good, the bad, and the ugly of 70s trends, and sorted out which ones need to come back—and which need to stay gone forever.

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Bring It Back: Nike Cortez

There’s a famous photo of Farrah Fawcett on a skateboard, wearing a red top, blue jeans, and a pair of Nike Cortez sneakers. It looks just as cool today as it did back then—and the lightweight, comfortable sneaker is a great option for a casual, everyday look.

nike cortez '77bedroom.eyes, Flcikr

Keep It There: Knee-High Socks

Remember Love’s Baby Soft ads? There was a little too much fixation on young women and the clothing and accessories that characterized their look in the 1970s—including knee-high socks. They became popular alongside miniskirts, but while one is acceptable, the knee-high socks should be left to the schoolgirls.

Girls wearing Knee-High Socks 1970sThe Texas Collection, Baylor University, Flickr

Bring It Back: Crochet

Before we lose you, let us be clear: not all crochet is created equal. As charming as a colorful granny square is, there’s no reason that a top stitched out of them needs to be worn in the year 2024. However, simple crochet tops, sweaters, and accessories in neutral colors—namely, cream—have an air of timeless boho style.

Woman in Crochet TopDmitry Ovsyannikov, Pexels

Keep It There: Corduroy

While most fabrics—specifically, synthetics and denim—have experienced innovations that have made them more comfortable and wearable in the past 4-5 decades, corduroy has stayed basically the same. It’s stiff, it’s too hot, and it’s almost always in an unflattering shade of brown. Until they can figure out a way to make it better, keep it away.

Giant Corduroy pants - close upGordon Joly, Flickr

Bring It Back: Lamé

There’s a say that metallics are basically neutrals—but if you want a metallic that actually stands out, you can’t go wrong with gold or silver lamé. No disco diva would be caught dead without a drapy, liquid-metal lame dress in the 70s, and for good reason. They’re flattering, eye-catching, and glamorous.

One Vintage lame dressOuti Les Pyy / OutsaPop Trashion DIY fashion, Flickr

Keep It There: Massive Collars

Much like circular sunglasses, there’s not a large lapel or massive collar I can think of that doesn’t look like someone’s attempting a 1970s throwback Halloween costume. These monstrosities need to stay where they belong—five decades ago.

Photo of the singer William Oliver Swofford - 1970Digitized color transparency, Picryl

Bring It Back: Fringe

No, we’re not talking about hair (although it is a good look)—we’re talking about fringe on clothes. While it’s often done wrong, there’s something about a beautiful brown suede or black leather jacket with fringe that still looks good, all these years later.

Woman Wearing a Leather Vest with FringeAlena Darmel, Pexels

Keep It There: Cutout Swimsuits

Cutout swimsuits may be like a bridge between a bikini and a one-piece—but they’re actually a bridge to insanity. In theory, they look good…but in practice, they often highlight exactly the spots you might want covered, or end up looking bulgy or gaping in the wrong places.

Girl wearing swimsuit and holding summer matress.Krakenimages.com, Shutterstock

Bring It Back: Jackie O Sunglasses

As we mentioned earlier, there’s nothing more glam than a big, oversized pair of sunglasses—and no one understand that Jackie O. The former First Lady wore sunglasses from a variety of brands, including Nina Ricci, Traction, and Francois Pinton. Savvy shoppers today will notice that Ray-Ban has a model named after her.

70s woman with sunglassesThomas Hawk, Flickr

Keep It There: Circular Sunglasses

There’s nothing I love more than an over-sized 70s pair of sunglasses. There are few things as chic—but the moment they’re round, they just tend to look like you’re doing 60s or 70s cosplay. If there’s a stylish way to update this style—I haven’t come across it.

Woman with oversized sunglasses.Amryas Wolf, Flickr

Bring It Back: Batwing Sleeves

Stevie Nicks’ witchy boho style captivated music fans and fashionistas from the 70s on—and one of her signature looks was a gauzy batwing shawl. Adding a batwing or even a bell sleeve is a quick way to turn a simple top and jeans combo into something exciting and unique.

Female model in green silk dress.triocean, Shutterstock

Keep It There: Terrycloth

Terrycloth has a time and a place—but this is a rule that they didn’t seem to know about in the 1970s. Though a pair of lightweight terry shorts might be acceptable by the pool, the terrycloth rompers, zip-ups, and matching sets of the 1970s need to stay there.

Ugly terrycloth outfit - Mossimom01229, Flickr

Bring It Back: Peasant Tops

For years, we’ve reached for a blue and white striped button-up on hot summer days when a breezy blouse is needed—but it’s about time for the classic peasant top to take its place. There’s really no bad way to wear a peasant top. They pair well with skirts and almost any shape of pant.

Peasant Blouse, In Orchidkelly, Flickr

Keep It There: Pale Blue Eyeshadow

For nearly 20 years, thick, chalky, pale blue eyeshadow had a chokehold on the population—and to this day, we still have no idea why—other than the fact that all eyeshadow was chalky back then. While there are beautiful, sheer, pearly, creamy formulations available today, most people should skip the pale blue shade in favor of other, more flattering colors.

Woman Posing with Blue Eyeshadowolia danilevich, Pexels

Bring It Back: Flared Jeans

There’s something about a pair of lightly flared jeans—somewhere between bootcut and bellbottom—that is nearly universally flattering. Whether you’re choosing high-waist, low-waist, or somewhere in between, a simple pair of flared jeans is a timeless pick.

Girl Wearing Frayed Flared JeansJeanne Griffin, CC-BY-SA-4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Keep It There: Bellbottoms

Then, on the other hand, there are bellbottoms. While we accept many of the post-skinny jeans-era silhouettes, bellbottoms, which are tight on top and start flaring somewhere around the knee (and never stop flaring) are simply too much of a time capsule look to be taken seriously. They’re just simply too wide and unwieldy at the bottom, compared to flares, to be wearable.

Bellbottoms jeans - 1970sKellie CA, Flickr

Bring It Back: Wrap Dresses

When looking for an easy outfit, ask yourself: WWDVFD? That’s “What would Diane Von Furstenberg do,” for the uninitiated. The legendary designer popularized wrap dresses in the 1970s, likely not knowing what a massive impact she would have. Anyone who has a wrap dress in their closet can tell you they’re easy to wear, effortlessly chic, and look good on pretty much everyone.

Faux Wrap Dress And Bright Red TightsJamie, CC-BY-SA-2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Keep It There: Leisure Suits

One day, we’ll look at all the matching top-and-bottom sets that populate the racks of fast fashion chains the same way we do leisure suits: as horrifying relics. Leisure suits were like a mosaic of “don’t”s—often made of polyester, featuring huge lapels and unnecessary pleats, and in colors that would burn the retinas of everyone around.

People in Leisure suits dancing.Daniel Hartwig, CC-BY-SA-2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Bring It Back: Puka Shell Necklaces

This might be a controversial take—but we need to bring back puka shell necklaces. In the 70s, “beachy” California culture accessories like puka shell necklaces took the world by storm. While men with bleached tips and surf shorts may have ruined them for us in the 1990s, they look pretty good with a breezy striped button-up on a hot summer day.

Young woman looking down wearing puka shell Necklace.Dee Browning, Shutterstock

Keep It There: Rainbow Suspenders

For some reason, bold, stripey suspenders—including the rainbow ones donned by Robin Williams in Mork & Mindy—were a massive trend in the 1970s. And while there’s no way that anyone today could make them look good with any conceivable outfit, we’ll also go out on a limb and say that they also looked horrible in every iteration in the 1970s. They’re proof that novelty isn’t enough to make something wearable.

Rainbow suspenders.mizmareck, Flickr

Bring It Back: Daisy Dukes

Although Bermuda shorts made a recent comeback, let us be the first to make the controversial statement that shorts…should be short. “Daisy Duke” shorts as we know them come from the TV show Dukes of Hazzard, but short shorts are flattering on a surprising number of body types and can work as a 70s boho look, with an old concert t-shirt, or with a plaid shirt for a country touch.

Female mannequins wearing daisy dukes.Unknown Author, Peakpx

Keep It There: Long Bowl Cuts

Unless you’re one of the Ramones, the long bowl cut needs to stay where it belongs, back in the 1970s. Of perhaps all the 70s haircuts—good and bad—the long bowl cut had to be the least flattering.

Kid with Long Bowl Hair Cut.Doug Haslam, Flickr

Bring It Back: Boho Chic

A good boho look is proof you can combine multiple trendy elements from an era without it looking costume-y. Take Ali McGraw in the 70s, for example. She was able to combine bohemian-inspired elements like sandals, flowy dresses, long hair, and natural makeup with ease. But there’s a dark side to this one…

Woman wearing Boho clothes.Manoela Veloso Passos, CC-BY-SA-2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Keep It There: Bad Boho

Unfortunately, in the five decades (!!!) that have transpired since the 1970s, there have been revivals of boho looks that have completely ruined it for us. These include any combination of flower crowns, long pendant necklaces, feathers, faux-suede hats and boots, headbands worn across the forehead, and too much turquoise.

Bad boho tries to be 1970s, but ends up looking stuck in 2010.

Woman in white Boho dress.Parekh Cards, Flickr

Bring It Back: Aviator Sunglasses

Aviator sunglasses are timeless and look good on both men and women. For a true 70s look, opt for a light lens that doesn’t obscure the eyes—like the ones Gloria Steinem wore.

Gloria Steinem at news conference with sunglasses - 1972Library of Congress, Picryl

Keep It There: Crocheted Beanies

Yes, we did endorse crochet—but the format has its limits, and its in the form of a beanie. The crocheted beanie—and we’re talking a loose crochet here, not the beanies your grandma might crochet you—is far too often worn slouchy, and much like bad boho, represents the worst of the 2000s more than the best of the 1970s.

Girl wearing Basic Beanie crochet.Amancay Blank, Flickr

Bring It Back: Feathered Hair

While Farah Fawcett’s iconic feathered do was out of style in the minimalist 90s, it’s recently made its way back into circulation thanks to updated takes on the cut that use razors to enhance hair’s natural wavy texture. A feathered shag is flattering on a surprising number of people—and while it might not reach Farrah’s hairsprayed heights, it’s an easy, breezy, beachy look.

Farrah Fawcett - 1976Rob Corder, Flickr

Keep It There: Mullets

While mullets are making a comeback—again, for what feels like the hundredth time—we’re not convinced that this hairdo looks good on anyone, unless they’re approximately 20 and have impeccable bone structure. Even then, people who look good with mullets tend to look much better with literally any other hairstyle.

Man with mullet haircut.Brendon Gloistein, Flickr

Bring It Back: Clogs

In recent years, clogs have made a comeback for the first time since the late 90s—and we’re not talking Crocs. Clogs are comfortable, add height, are easy to wear and style, and are a refreshing reprieve from sneakers, boots, and pumps. What’s not to like?

Man wearing black clogs.di0genes2001

Keep It There: White Shoes For Men

The disco era brought us a lot of fashion mistakes for men—including one of the most egregious, white shoes. Specifically, loafers. By the end of the decade, they were such a garish joke that they became a gag in National Lampoon’s Vacation, where Cousin Eddy gifted Clark Griswold a pair.

Men wearing white Loafers.Dana Lookadoo, Flickr

Bring It Back: Denim On Denim

Perhaps another controversial take—but we love denim on denim, AKA the “Canadian Tuxedo”. After all, denim jackets have joined jeans in the pantheon of fashion basics—and we can’t just always wear them with dresses. If full tone-on-tone denim from top to bottom is too much for you, try mixing a light and dark denim, or, gasp, blue and black denim.

Woman Wearing Denim Jacket and Denim JeansBrian Jiz, Pexels

Keep It There: Plaid On Plaid On Plaid

Now, on the other hand, there’s the plaid on plaid on plaid trend of the 1970s. While we’re all for pattern-mixing, there’s a fine line between taking fashion risks and looking like a couch swallowed you. In far too many plaid on plaid outfits, that’s the inevitable outcome.

Man Wearing Plaid BlazerShahi Zidan, Pexels

Bring It Back: Horseshoe Mustaches

Handlebar mustaches? Absolutely not. Horseshow mustaches? Hear me out…While the classic shape can give a little too much Hulk Hogan, when styled correctly, with grown-out hair and, say, a denim on denim outfit—a horseshoe mustache can add just the right amount of 70s swagger.

Man with Horseshoe mustache.Chris Gladis, Flickr

Keep It There: Floppy Hats

While floppy hats were all the rage in the 70s, spotted on everyone from Brigitte Bardot to Yoko Ono, in recent years, they’re become a played-out throwback that are far more bad boho than they are boho chic.

Young Woman in a Black Floppy Hat.Antonio Bracho, Pexels

Bring It Back: Tie-Dye

Considering its prevalence in clothing—and internet tutorials—in the past few years, there’s not really a need to bring tie-dye back, per se. It’s already back! But it should stick around. As anyone who’s found the perfect soft, lived in tie dye shirt or brought an old, ratty concert shirt back from the dead with it, tie-dye can feel so much like a second skin that it’s basically a neutral.

A Person in Tie Dye Sweater Doing Thumbs DownAlex Koch, Pexels

Keep It There: Polyester

Much like today, there was no shortage of synthetic fabrics in the 1970s—with one key difference. When you wore polyester back then, you were basically a ticking time bomb for body odor. There was no way to stay cool, calm, and collected in classic polyester. Thankfully, synthetics have come a long way since then, and this issue has mostly been resolved—it’s just a problem we need to remember when spotting cute 70s pieces while vintage shopping.

Man in Gray Shirt Wiping His Face With Face TowelKetut Subiyanto, Pexels

Bring It Back: Head Scarves

While some items on this list, like tie-dye and clogs, have been back for a while, head scarves are just starting to make their way back into the mainstream—so why not be ahead of the trend? Like Jackie O in the 70s, a chicly-tied headscarf is a great way to elevate a simple look…and (shh) to cover greasy hair.

Woman Wearing HeadscarfJames Gana, Pexels

Keep It There: Ponchos

…And just because you can cover something, doesn’t mean you can. While we can appreciate the functionality of an actual poncho—like the kind you’d wear while camping during a rainstorm—70s style knit ponchos with bright patterns do NOT need to come back. They’re not flattering and they add nothing to an outfit.

Woman Wearing Brown PonchoTobi, Pexels

Bring It Back: Disco Diva Looks

While we can leave leisure suits in the past, there are so many elements of the disco look that are still flattering and fun to this day: drapey dresses and fabrics, shine, glitter, incredible platform shoes, wide-leg pants, bright colors, and wild accessories. Done right, disco looks are always fun and an antidote to boring.

Woman in a Dress Posing on the Disco Background.Astrid Sosa, Pexels

Keep It There: Real Fur

Speaking of chic, starlets and socialites of the era loved draping themselves in fur coats and accessories—but there’s really no reason to buy real fur new in 2024. If you do want the soft and glamorous look of fur, opt for faux, or shop vintage to stay cruelty-free.

The 1970s-1974 Jours de France-fashionMo, Flickr


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