Jeans in the 70s
Before the 70s era, jeans were assigned to the working class, namely farmers and others who toiled outside in the dirt and mud.
But when the casualness of the late 1960s made its way into the next decade, jeans in the 70s (a.k.a. dungarees) weaseled their way into the closets of mainstream America.
Young people, especially, started wearing jeans daily and public schools slowly began adding them to the list of acceptable dress. College kids generally had several pairs in their wardrobe so jeans tended to be standard dress on America’s campuses in the 70s.
The most classic jeans in the 70s were bell bottoms. These were worn by both men and women. They tended to be quite tight at the top and flared only from the knee down to the ankle.
They were a must-have for anyone who was in-the-know and wanted to be the height of fashion.
The bottoms of these jeans were different widths and many wearers believed the wider, the better. For these individuals, there were “elephant” bells, which were extremely wide.
However, it wasn’t uncommon for wearers to take their regular bell bottoms and make them wider by splitting the seams at the bottom and adding a triangle of fabric to each side to make them wider. The fabric was usually bright and colorful and added some pizzazz to the pants.
For women, hip huggers were another jeans trend in the 70s. These pants sat several inches below the natural waistline, revealing tight stomachs and belly buttons. Thin women looked best in hip huggers though just about everyone wore them regardless of their shape.
Like other jeans in the 70s, they were very tight at the top. Often, they were worn with a self-made macramé tied belt, a leather belt, or a beaded creation of some sort.
Nearly every young jeans wearer in the 70s decorated their jeans in some way or another. “Studding” them was one way to do this. Wearers would add gold or silver studs to the bells at the bottom or along the pockets of the jeans.
In addition to adding studs, jeans wearers of the 1970s may have also embroidered some sort of pattern onto their jeans or sewed on some sort of decorative patch. In some cases, very artsy folk would draw graffiti on their jeans, especially in the early years of the 70s.
For much of the 70s, jeans were often paired with a short denim jacket, which would also be decked out with a variety of patches, embroidery, or other artwork.
Later in the decade, bell bottoms were out and stone-washed jeans became popular. Generally straight cut, these jeans were washed in a particular way so as to fade the color before they were sent to stores for display.
Hence, jeans wearers could now choose a lighter-colored pair of jeans and weren’t limited to the dark indigo color of days gone by.
Pre-shrunk jeans were marketed towards the end of the decade as well. These were washed multiple times before being offered for sale so that when the consumer washed them, there was little shrinkage left and a good fit was maintained.