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Beauty through the ages - the funky Seventies

A time of angel wing hair, paisley and the micro-mini

Author: Charlotte Kuchinsky October 21 2008

Farrah Fawcett, 70's icon

Beauty in the Seventies took a definitive turn. Some of the styles and trends of the 60’s carried over but the decade also spawned new trends.


In the earlier years, many women kept their hair long and smooth with just enough body and volume to give it some bounce, but the late 70’s brought about copycats who were seeking to capture at least a piece of that “Charlie’s Angels” magic. The Farrah (Fawcett) layered haircut became the “in” hairstyle as women with cuts of varying lengths spawned angel wings. Of course the cut meant a slight change in the way that hair was styled; gone were the juice can rollers in favor of slightly smaller versions or, better yet, the suddenly popular curling iron, which along with hair mousse became a must-have part of every woman’s beauty kit.

Not every woman opted for the same haircut, however. Some went for loose curls or waves instead. African Americans (and others!) embraced Afro styles that were quirky, fun, and made a bold statement. Overall, hair began looking and feeling the way it should - natural. Hairsprays were still used but the need for “hold” gave way to a more important need, which was to look like there was no hairspray used at all.

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The 70’s also changed the way that women wore make-up. The 60’s pale complexion with drastic eyes and super pale lips gave way to a more natural “beach” look. Women began tanning with zeal, a trend that would continue for decades. That golden glow was necessary if a woman really wanted to look like she lived and played outdoors, so those who could not afford to spend time in the sun looked for beauty products that could give them the same effect. Bronzers became popular, and self-tanners, such as they were, came out of the woodwork in all of their orange glory. During the latter part of the 70’s tanning booth businesses began cropping up all over.

In other areas, however, women chose to lighten up. Gone were the ten coats of mascara making some eyes look like tarantulas. In fact, some women opted not to wear mascara at all during the day, and even if they did, it was carefully applied and never overdone. White eyeliner was routinely used on the inside of the eyelid in order to make eyes appear larger and more waif-like. Other eyeliners were abandoned altogether or gave way to a softer, more natural look. Eye shadows were pale and less of a statement, as women sought to accentuate the eye more than to dramatize it. Matte shades gave way to pearly soft looks that added an amazing look of innocence. The look of pearls carried over into lipstick and nail polish as well; both which also went pastel or even nude in shades of whisper pink, delicate orchid, angel peach, and beige gold.

Skin became a major focus, especially for those who were opting not to wear foundation. Instead of old standard cold cream products like Noxema, women of the 70’s were looking for a line of skin care products that were meant to make their youthful skin look even better. They got their wish as hundreds of new beauty products hit the market with something for virtually every type of skin.


Fashion in the 70’s was fun and interesting. Much of it had at least a hint of ethnic inspiration. Turbans made a resurgence along with wide scarves tied around the head. Bold geometric and floral prints carried over from the 60’s, and were joined by the first vestiges of paisley prints that would become a mainstay of the next decade.

Clothing was loose and flowing. Both men and women chose tunic-length tops with billowing sleeves. These were often worn over equally billowing pants in soft, barely-there fabrics. Dresses became less popular as denim began to take hold; bell-bottoms were still acceptable but other leg widths were also introduced. Skirts went everywhere from just below the bottom all the way down to the floor, depending upon the woman and the occasion. The mini gave way to its cousin the micro-mini, which made the act of bending over dangerous for any woman wearing one.

Boots remained popular but wedge shoes with inordinately high heels were equally popular on and off the dance floor.

Men chose to drop the standard business suit look in favor of more a casual leisure suit, most often done in the popular fabric of the time - polyester. They also gave up their dark, dreary colors in favor of something a bit more colorful or decidedly pastel. A few went straight for that white disco suit, thinking that what was good enough for John Travolta was good enough for them.

Jewelry & Accessories

Women’s handbags were mostly made from natural fibers and were crocheted or knitted.

Meanwhile jewelry became big, bold and chunky. For once, men were often wearing as much or more jewelry as their feminine counterparts. Gold was in, and the flashier the better. Women opted for ethnic-looking beads and hoop earrings twice the size of anything ever worn before.

The 70’s lives on!

The 70’s was a true period of transition from the wildness of the 70’s into the slightly more focused direction of the 80’s. Nonetheless, the decade left its fashion mark, which are currently being recreated in some of the fashions of the 21st century.

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