1970s Dresses & Skirts: Styles & Trends


Much of the experimental, so-called “hippie” style actually originated in the early 1970s. Flower power was in full swing at the beginning of the decade and it showed in the flowing, floral patterns that decorated many dresses from that era.


Many women had different dresses for different occasions. They wore evening gowns at home, which were silky smooth, loose fitting and very comfortable. They were also known as ankle sweepers. Instead of wearing fluffy slippers like their mothers, the fashion-conscious seventies woman was encouraged to wear mid-height heels for added “excitement.”

The hemline was all over the place. Both short dresses and long dresses could be worn in almost any situation. Typically, younger women preferred the shorter skirts.

Belts were a very popular accessory to a 1970s dress. As were bows, necklaces and jackets. Other dresses had dramatic collars.

One new style that became quite popular were pants that looked like a dress. They were called Palazzo pants. They look like really exaggerated bell-bottoms, and if a woman stood with her legs close together it looked like she was wearing a long skirt or dress. While Palazzo pants aren’t technically a dress, they are still unmistakably seventies.

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Designers had and used every fabric at their disposal and they were very experimental. The common dress was typically some kind of blend. Knit dresses were very popular throughout the 1970s.

For more glamour, women in the seventies would wear a bare-backed dress, or a dress was extremely low-cut. In fact, the seventies saw some of the most risque dresses worn in public in America’s history up to that point.

1970s dresses also liked a bit of ethnic flair. Indian patterns and Native American patterns were some of the most popular. Asian patterns also had a good run in the mid-seventies. Certainly women loved wild colors and floral patterns in the early seventies. That changed later on — the mid-seventies were dominated by pastels and women in the late 1970s preferred earthy tones like browns, light blues and tans.

One thing that is impossible to miss while studying 1970s fashion: women wore pants more than they wore dresses. As the decade wore on, page after page of catalogs are filled with different types of women’s pants. For everyday life, the dress had taken a back seat to pants (aka trousers, slacks) — a trend that continues to this day.

Skirts were made very much like dresses. The hemline could be at the ankle, the knee or as high as you can imagine. If a woman wanted to wear a shirt or a blouse, but didn’t want to wear pants, then the skirt was the obvious choice.


Pictures of 1970s Dresses & Skirts


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10 thoughts on “1970s Dresses & Skirts: Styles & Trends

  1. Susan Anderson

    Monkey boots .sta press trousers.Ben sherman shirts bovver boots . Sheepskin coats .schol sandels. Feather hair cuts. Hotpants xx two tone tonic trousers. Mini midi and maxi skirts. Braces . Skinhead. Oxford bags .kilts . crepe soled sandals.

  2. David

    Stay press trousers, Harrington jacket, brogues ,with tassels ,sitting in the bath with Levi jeans getting my skin blue!!! A Levi and wrangler denim jacket and of course a number of Ben Sherman shirts some with button down , some with rear pleat is there anything left to say other than real quality and style that looks great today not bad for 50 yrs of so called fashion I call it undated wardrobe what do you think ?

  3. lisa

    I remember the blue jean overall dress I matched it with jean platform shoes the ones with the long strings lol I liked this guy down my block he was on his porch with some friends and when I passed to impress him he started to laugh at me im still haunted by it 🙁

  4. Marcy

    I remember platform shoes and boots.I mainly had the wedge heel shoes,sandals and boots.I had a gray coat that I wore 78-79..
    that had an attached scarf
    I remember wearing courduroy pants and jumper dresses with turtle necks
    I also remember cowl necks sweaters…bell bottom…penny loafers…clogs…zippers(pants)..polyester printed shirts…swedish knit pants.
    I can name more I grew up in the 70s -80s


  5. Mj

    Earth Shoes and boots…loved them they were comfortable and would probably still do well today if they were brought back…mine were like a desert boot type of earth Shoes.
    Prewashed Jeans do it yourself. Buy a packet of stuff at Pants Coral to soften and fade your jeans out. Oh and LEVIS 10.99 a pair..no women’s jeans you had to find men’s/boys jeans that would shape to fit your hips and corduroy Levis as well.

  6. Karen

    Hot pants with short sleeved long open front tunic top trimmed with daisies
    suede mini skirts with a
    matching tasseled waistcoat
    Levi’s shrunk to fit by sitting in the bath ( sorry mum for blue stain) blue stained legs
    Long button front denim coat dresses worn
    Over a tank top and hot pants
    Lace front knee high platform boots
    Jeans seam undone at bottom of the leg and a huge triangle of denim or different material sewn in to make the biggest flares ever…
    Zigzag patterns on tops, skirts, dresses and tunic tops
    Lots of orange and browns colours
    Ridiculously high Platform shoes how did I ever manage to run in them?
    Afro hair was fashionable as well
    Oh the memories my first two children are children of the 70’s
    And the start of cut off denim shorts sigh!

  7. Marilyn

    Making a Jean skirt out of a pair of jeans. Tripping on the cuffs of bell bottoms getting off the bus. Everyone laughed. ( School bus) then tripped up the stairs to my house. Everyone laughed again.
    It wasn’t an act. I just fall alot.

  8. Daniela

    Do you remember when stores used to sell skirt/blouse sets? The skirt and blouse were an ensemble and so chic- those were the good days in fashion. Nowadays if you try to match a skirt with a top it is so difficult and you still end up dumpy looking…. Often shops carry skirts that never have the matching top. Fashion became terrible and sloppy.


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