Jumpsuits, slinky fabrics, and sparkly stilettos are suddenly all the rage, but did you know they first became fashionable during the seventies? Disco fashion of the 1970s is making a comeback, but some are put off by the over-the-top glam and color brought by this era’s style. But if you need some retro style advice for your wardrobe, or if you’re attending a ‘70s disco-themed party, refer to this guide to check out the things to wear, and the pieces that are making a comeback.
What’s with the Disco Era?
During the 1970s, the disco craze swept America’s nightlife scene. Nightclubs started to play dance music from records instead of hiring live bands to play. The discotheque was the coolest place to be – the place where you can learn the newest dance moves, to let off stress and steam from work and life, and to catch everybody’s attention with the right outfit.
In the disco, psychedelic funk music, Afro-American soul, and syncopated beats were celebrated as it comes together in one movement where people can dance freely and have fun. Older generations were frowning upon the sexual liberation and all the dancing from the disco movement, but the discos continued to thrive.
It was also the birthplace of the most iconic fashion eras in the 20th century. Every fashion trend from the ‘70s involved loud colors and tons of sparkle so that people can be visible in a dimly-lit club. Turquoise blue, bright orange, metallic purple, and fuchsia were the popular color choices for clothing and makeup.
Disco also paved the way for dress codes and a door screening policy. Disco-style clothes were not seen being worn during the daytime, but during the nighttime, it was standard to wear disco clothing to match the environment of mirrored balls, strobe lights, and frequent spotlights in people dancing on the dancefloor.
Popular ‘70s Disco Fashion Trends
Disco fashion for women often revolved around these two options: bell-bottom pants paired with a small top or a dancing dress. The trick is to balance the silhouette and throw in some flashiness by either going for a metallic color, a bright hue, fabric with crazy patterns, or a mix of these elements.
For men, fashion is also as loud and exaggerated as women’s disco outfits. They dance in flared bottoms, slim-fit wildly-patterned shirts tucked in bell bottoms, and colorful scarves. Suits, such as the three-piece suit was also the more popular flamboyant outfits of the men during the decade.
Here are the most popular sartorial pieces to pick when going for the ‘70s disco look:
Jumpsuits are very popular today, but the louder, more colorful versions were all the rage in the ‘70s disco scene. In the late 1970s, skin-tight spandex jumpsuits became popular, which foreshadowed the ‘80s fitness wear craze. Even the men wore jumpsuits for disco, but it’s often paired with an inner collared shirt.
Today, jumpsuits are more common for women. It’s a bit hard to go to the bathroom with one of these, but it does save you the trouble of picking up coordinating tops and bottoms. It’s effortless.
Metallic dresses were all the rage in the 1970s. In a dark discotheque, the easiest way to be seen is to wear something metallic so it can reflect the disco ball lights. Usually, metallic disco dresses have halter necklines or exaggerated sleeves with high hems.
Skinny jeans were not for disco – flared bell bottoms were the real deal. It’s stylish, and it flatters thicker calves, plus it’s very comfy for dancing. Usually, it’s paired with a crop top, halter top, sequin top, tube top, or any fitting top to balance the loose silhouette. For petite women, dramatically flared jeans are not recommended, as it can make them look even shorter.
Corduroy flare pants
For men, corduroy flare pants were iconic. On the disco dance floor, these pants are often made of polyester because it’s a flexible material. To look like a stud in the disco, this pair of pants is often paired with a loose button-down shirt or a disco shirt, rhinestone belt, and cowboy boots.
The wrap dress, created by Diane Von Furstenberg, was a ‘70s style staple, but the wrap dresses during the disco era aren’t the same as the trendy wrap dresses we see and wear today. It’s often made of silky and metallic fabric because the disco is all about being visible and being able to dance and move freely.
The men in the ‘70s disco scene often wear disco shirts – a slim-fit, button-down shirt with an exaggerated collar. Men usually open up the chest (hello, chest hair!). These shirts are often in earth tone suede, paisley swirls, flashy sequins, pastel plaids, or metallic tones. Men usually pair it with white flare jeans, platform shoes, and accessorize with a gold chain necklace. Women who wear disco shirts often keep the bottom unbuttoned so they can tie it up to bare their torso.
Hot pants and knee-high boots
Hot pants were a perennial favorite at the disco. It’s called “hot” pants, though they are extremely short shorts because it makes a wearer look hot. Some women wore opaque tights underneath to echo the miniskirt, while others went bare. Hot pants were made of luxury fabrics like velvet and satin for fashionable wear, rather than more practical materials when it’s worn for sports or leisure. It’s often paired with knee-high boots to cover up the legs and fitting long sleeves. Knee-high boots were also hot in itself during the decade.
Tops with plunging necklines
Both men and women wear plunging necklines at the disco. For men, shirts were worn unbuttoned to reveal the chest. White suits were worn with plunging necklines and wide lapels. For women, plunging neckline tops are commonly worn to attract attention, and it’s balanced out by long sleeves or pants.
When the silhouettes got slimmer during the late 1970s, the drama went to the hair. Styles like Afros became common on both sexes. While the hairstyle was once hallmarks of counterculture, it hit both the discotheques and mainstream America.
To complete the glamorous look, women wore mid-high sandal heels or metallic and shiny stilettos. The extra height the heels give made women become more visible in a dancefloor full of people.
Platform shoes heightened the glam of the disco dresses. It pairs both disco dresses and bell-bottoms well.
Men also wore platform shoes to match their dance partners wearing high heels.
For those keeping their retro groove, Hawaiian shirts are a common choice. It’s usually paired with vintage pleated pants and loafers.
The white three-piece suit is an iconic disco outfit for men, as popularized by John Travolta and his infamous Saturday Night Fever performance. This slick look is super popular, and it’s the first image that may pop into your head when you think about ‘70s disco fashion. The dancing male emoji even looks like John Travolta’s dance pose.