The early 1970s signified a step change in British fashion, especially for women. Decades of formality fell away along with complicated undergarments and “done” hair and make-up, to uncover a freedom which had not been experienced before. Trousers were officially acceptable and the new synthetic fabrics meant that less structured garments and more comfortable, naturally-shaped clothes and sportswear were widely available.
French couture houses, which had dictated the look of the moment for so long, lost a lot of their influence as the young and the fashion-conscious started watching TV and travelling more. The influence of American street style and ethnic clothing from Europe and India started to permeate the High Street.
“The key looks of the early 1970s – before the arrival of punk, glam rock and disco – were really natural and wholesome,” says editorial, TV and film make-up artist Rachel O’Dell. “Hair was natural and free-flowing, make-up was all about emphasising a healthy, bronzed glow, and clothing was comfortable, practical and just a little bit sexy, too. But essentially, it was all very unpretentious.”
With some of the key TV influences of the time being American programmes like Charlie’s Angels, denim, the archetypical workwear fabric, was suddenly re-positioned in the fashion-conscious psyche.
After only a fleeting appearance in the 1960s in the form of Yves Saint Laurent’s brushed denim trouser suits, jeans – as we now know them – had arrived. High-waisted, tight-fitting and gently flared in the early 1970s, they reached wide bell-bottom proportions by 1975, with Farrah Fawcett Majors being the ultimate style icon for the look.
Slogan tees, first made popular in the 1960s, were becoming increasingly mainstream, although unlike Vivienne Westwood’s and Katharine Hamnett’s politically motivated tees which came later, they were worn tucked in. The boho look also took off in the early 70s, with back-to-nature fashion standing for freedom, spirituality and anti-commercialism. Relatively affordable foreign travel also made it easier for shop owners and the public to source such authentic clothing.
“This natural, ‘cool California’ style is so easy to put together and very easy to wear,” says Trudy Fielding, stylist and owner at Vintage-Beau, which trades out from Retro Boutique, Leeds, and Antiques at the Mill, Cullingworth, plus many vintage fairs across the region. “Though creating the look with exclusively vintage items can be problematic as the jeans, slogan tees and sportswear from the era have usually been repeatedly washed and worn, unlike more couture items, which will have been looked after.
“The great thing is that the High Street currently has an extensive range of vintage-inspired items available, meaning that it can be easy to find the key pieces needed for a fully curated outfit. Mix and match new with authentic vintage investment pieces, such as a velvet blazer or suede waistcoat, or with quirky finds, such as original 1970s blouses, colourful cotton shorts or original sunglasses.
“Shopping for true vintage fashion is fun, and it’s obviously green and sustainable, but sometimes it can be frustrating if a sought for item doesn’t ever seem to turn up in your size. Also modern denim with its luxury of Lycra can be a little more comfortable than vintage denim, which has absolutely no give in it.
“So for me, mixing High Street on-trend pieces with authentic vintage really works, as it enables me to curate mini capsule wardrobes which offer different looks and combinations.”
Trudy sourced the new vintage items for the shoot from the High Street with Top Shop, H&M, River Island, Accessorise, New Look and Boohoo as her main sources of inspiration. Stripes as exemplified by the New Look trousers are one of the latest on-trend edits as seen at London Fashion Week, although rather than teaming with a matching blazer, Trudy gives the look a 70s twist, co-ordinating with the bright green dagger-collared vintage blouse.
Similarly, the original 1970s Jackie O style sunglasses add attitude to the overall look.
“There’s much to celebrate with the early 1970s fashions, namely the emancipation the new androgynous and practical clothing signified for women. Yet ironically, this pared-down unpretentious style also subtly drew out and heightened their natural feminine beauty,” says Trudy. “Bronzer, lip gloss, denim, a well-chosen top and this season’s must have baker boy hat are all you need to create your own California cool this spring.”
Vintage-Beau will be one of the stallholders at the Harrogate Vintage Fair, The Wesley Centre, Oxford Street, on April 7 and at the Hebden Bridge Vintage Fair, Hebden Bridge Town Hall on May 12 and 13. For more details visit yorkshirevintagefairs.com
Stylist: Trudy Fielding; instagram.com/myvintagebeau/
Vintage fashion: Vintage-Beau at Studio 4, Bradford; etsy.com/uk/shop/myvintagebeau
Vintage jewellery: Vintage Rummage Rooms; etsy.com/shop/Vintage RummageRooms
Vintage props: Alfie Robot Retro; instagram.com/alfie_robot_retro/
Hair and make-up: Rachel O’Dell http://www.rachelodellmakeupartist.co.uk/
Photographer: Steve Cockram; stevieroy.co.uk
Photography studio: Brussels Street Studio, Leeds; brusselsstreetstudio.com
VW Campervan: Thirteen-window, walk-through, split-screen bus; email, [email protected]
* If you have a fashion event or new designs you would like to see featured, email: [email protected] There’s more fashion and beauty tips and news on events and style around Yorkshire on https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/lifestyle/fashion