Gallery of Bad 1970s Fashion

Instead of disgusting retro food, I’ve found a huge collection of bad 1970s fashion. Why? Mostly because I’ve been seeing a lot of bad 1970s fashion on my Pinterest feed and started a board for it.

If you’re my age or older, you may remember these looks. Then you may curse me for jogging your memories. For those of you younger than me, consider this a history lesson…as in those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them. I realize that some of you, by virtue of when you were born, will have no idea what I’m talking about here. That’s what Google is for.I was a child in the 1970s and, at the time, I saw all of this through the eyes of an innocent little girl. Now, I see 1970′s fashion through the eyes of a forty-something adult who now knows, after the fact, what was really going on back them. The 1970s is The Decade Good Taste Forgot.

Well, in Good Taste’s defense, it went on a booze, acid and coke-fueled binge beginning in 1969 and didn’t hit rock bottom until 1974. It would take years to clean up the mess that Good Taste left behind while it went through detox and rehab. Here’s a sampling of some really horrid 1970′s fashion. I found most of these via Pinterest and a 70s blog called Plaid Stallions. Images link to my Pinterest page, which link to the original post at Plaid However, the captions are all mine. Well, most of them.

Clothing for the Visually Impaired

The 1970′s were known for clothing made from fabric that not only didn’t breathe, but featured patterns and color combinations that I’m sure were meant for the visually impaired. Despite what were probably good intentions, these never really caught on with the visually impaired.  Rumor has it, these patterns hurt their eyes and gave them headaches, just as it did to the rest of us.

  If you look closely at these patterns, there are hidden messages in them. Much like those pictures they make you look at during your eye exam where you have to tell the doctor what number is hidden inside all of those colored bubbles.


 ”You kids turn that crap down!”
“But Dad, we’re not playing the stereo!”
“I wasn’t talking about the stereo. I was talking about your damn shirts. TURN THAT CRAP DOWN!”


Whenever you hear someone say “Cocaine is a helluva drug”, this is what they are referring to.



I’m not exactly sure which hurts more: this shirt or the daggers this man is hurling at me with his eyes.



Before his storied career with the Commodores and as a solo artist, Lionel Richie earned a living modeling the latest in High Waisted Trousers  for the Visually Impaired Made From Petroleum Based Fabrics.

The Jumpsuit

Ah, the jumpsuit.  It wouldn’t be the 1970′s without the ubiquitous jumpsuit.

I’m not sure if the pained look on the male model’s face is due to the fact that some forty years in the future, people will electronically hoard this image on a futuristic thing called a “web site” which is called Pinterest, for the purposes of mocking his powder blue terry-cloth hooded jumpsuit, or if the pained look is because the crotch on his jumpsuit is a tad too tight.

Speaking of tight…

Note to the person who was in charge of creating this ad: If you’re going to include in the ad copy references to the tightness of the garment in relation to it’s sexual allure to the female members of the species and which part of the male anatomy it will show off, you might want to a) make sure that the jumpsuit actually shows off said part of the male anatomy, b) the male model should actually have some junk in the trunk, if you get my drift and c) you might want to hire a photographer who won’t make every photo taken during the shoot look like someone’s picture on a sex offender registry web site.

Now the ladies were not excluded from the jumpsuit. Oh no. Clothing manufacturers everywhere made sure the fairer sex was included in the jumpsuit craze.

From left to right:  A. Fit & Fabulous!, B. The Carol Brady, and C. My Boobs are So Small, Even Hideous Horizontal Stripes That Make Everyone Look Morbidly Obese Can’t Find Them.


In the 1970′s, casual meant two things. For the guys, it meant the leisure suit. For the ladies, it meant the caftan. For the rest of us, it meant a bad taste in our mouths that we couldn’t get rid of until the early 1990s.

Behind the smile is a man gritting his teeth in agony as his tender nipples chafe against the scratchy petroleum-based fabric of his leisure suit.

Little boys were not left out of the leisure suit craze, either. In fact, my infant brother was baptized wearing a baby-sized leisure suit back in 1976.

Brut Jr., plastic gold chains, stick-on chest hair, and the key party playset sold separately.

Some women, particularly those who had the time to sit around all day, chose the caftan. The caftan was a flowy like garment which was classier than the muu-muu.  Muu-muu’s are for, a-hem, the big-boned gals. The stylish and hip wore caftans. Plus you also showed your tolerance for other groups of people by embracing their culture and co-opting the garments that represent their culture.

The Real Housewives of the Bicentennial. Mrs. Roper and Maude Finley approve.

If you don’t think I’m right about this whole “co-opting other people’s cultures” thing, you can order a set of Zulu jewelry to wear with your caftan.

Every time I see a caucasian wearing a caftan, I think of the person who tries to show that they’re not bigoted and they “understand” the plight of a minority group by telling you how many black/Native American/Hispanic/Gay/Lesbian/Transgender/Bisexual/Asian/Bosnian/
Sudanese/Muslim/Jewish friends they have. And it makes me cringe. Wearing a caftan in public is the 1970′s equivalent of people who go to WalMart in their PJ’s.

Just don’t.

Embellishments Nobody Asked For

Many outfits in this era featured some rather creative embellishments. Nobody asked for these, but I guess people were so high, they didn’t care.


Patches and embroidery were popular back in the 1970s. The couple in the lightening pants and vest look like a cross between Kaptain Kool and the Kongs and Mario and Luigi. For those who are too young to remember, I present you Kaptain Kool & The Kongs. This was children’s TV when I was young.

Embellishments came in all types. Just look at this one.


Nothing says “Hey, come and get me” like a target painted in the middle of your chest. To add insult to injury, the words “kick me” are embroidered on the back of the man’s shirt.

From the “Getting In Touch With Your Feminine Side” Department…

One clothier offers these ruffled shirts, with detachable ruffles.

Yeah, like any self-respecting man who hates neckties would wear this as a substitute. Unless they were high. Or drunk. But I can’t say that there isn’t enough booze, coke, pot, LSD, meth or prescription pain killers that would make this even remotely attractive, much less compel someone to wear this.

And finally… I’m not sure what controlled substance inspired this, but craft store pompoms purchased in bulk strung together does not equal:

• Corn rows
• Cleopatra’s head piece
• Traditional Eastern European Head Gear
• Anything a sober person would put in their head.



It just equals a big helping of FAIL.

That’s all for today. I can’t handle this much more bad 1970′s fashion. In fact, just looking at polyester and dacron and whatever synthetic fabrics these clothes were made from is making me sweat profusely and itch a lot. But never fear, there will be more opportunity for people to groan as they remember wearing things like these and for the younger generation to point and laugh at the hideousness that was 1970s couture.

Bonus: This is a picture of me from the 1970s.  This was taken on my third birthday, which would make this January 23, 1973. Did you know that on that day, the Paris Peace Accords were signed, which formally ended the Vietnam War?

my 3rdbday


While the shirt I wore was relatively benign as far as 70s fashion, I can’t say the same for the kitchen curtains. Yeah, those are a special kind of fugly. Years later, they would be modified to cover our basement windows.

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  1. Gawd this is funny! The tough guy lookin’ all bad ass in his powder blue jump suit. I still can’t get over the thought of my dad in his plaid shorts, black sheer knee socks and white slip on shoes. Damn, but the 70s were a fashion nightmare.

  2. Living through the 70′s I can safely say I disliked the fashions so much I lived in jeans and t-shirts. I have to wonder if that is why so many people still do? There were some nice clothing out there too. I feel I have to at least say that to keep the 20 somethings knowledgable. Sears was full of things like the above however.

    I had to laugh at the curtains in the last shot. I have a friend that did her Dining Room walls in that pattern in wallpaper, and it is still in her dining room! I don’t have the courage to tell her how out of date and “Fugly” it is. (Good word for it)

    One of your pictures was shown on Google +, in a community that enjoys vintage. Thanks for the entire post not being a let down and for all the pictures.You nailed this one but good. I laughed out loud at some of them.


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