If the seventies was the decade that style forgot then what on earth is there left to say about the eighties? You show me a bell bottomed jean, I’ll show you a ginormous shoulder pad. Got a problem with polo necks and pendants? Then how about perms and back lighting? I’m being defensive, I was born in the seventies and although I winced when I looked back at my childhood photos as a teenager, now I can only see an achingly cool time when summers were endlessly hot and Christmases were snowy. To look at images from the seventies is to look at a decade that is instantly recognisable by virtue of its very wearable and often unisex trends. Skinny rib striped tops, platform boots, and flared trousers were worn by everyone from Rod Stewart and Jane Fonda to Rod, Jane and Freddie and it somehow suited everyone. You didn’t see a muffin top or an underbum in those days.
The seventies saw the arrival of the wrap dress by Diane von Furstenberg, the Timberland boot and Manolo Blahnik’s first
shoe collection for women. So far so fashionable. There were the openings of the first French Connection, Laura Ashley and Monsoon stores. And lest we forget, this was the era that gave us Abba. Need I go on?
If you are thinking I’ve changed my tune simply because we are on the brink of a seventies revival then you’d be half right. Following the
success of the film American Hustle and its fabulous costumes, I started to see the seventies in a different light and when I looked back over old family photograph albums I decided that actually everyone looked really cool, from babies (me) to old ladies (my granny) the look was laid back, colourful and body conscious. Will my son look back in the same way when he is my age and wonder at our great sartorial prowess? Somehow I doubt it – skinny jeans and slouchy boots – are we really so stylish here in 2015 that we can claim previous decades are inferior?
I suspect the more time we put between the present and the past, the easier it is to stomach our fashion mistakes – “I was young and stupid”, “I didn’t have any money”, “Knicker-bockers and golfing socks were THE thing then” – or was that just me?
and so currently I’m digging the seventies wardrobe (man) and loathing the boot cuts and liquid eyeliner I wore in the nineties. The fact is that the seventies have now been revived so many times since the actual seventies that we now know not to step out in a white polyester trouser suit looking like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever (just me again right?) and can aim for a subtle take on Diane Keaton as Annie Hall or a young Debbie Harry.
I mostly did wellies and sunhats with nothing in between when I did the seventies the first time round so this time I’m going to be a bit more discerning (or perhaps wearing nothing but a hat and footwear is discerning?) And then if anyone asks where I got my outfit, I shall say, “I got it from the decade that style suddenly remembered”.