Trends From the '70s We Don't Miss

Some things are best left in the past.

Trends from the 70s we don't miss.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Every decade has brought us iconic fashion trends that have stood the test of time...and every decade features more than a few fashion trends we would sooner forget. These trends from the '70s that we don't miss are no exception.

From space-inspired miniature dresses to bell bottoms, denim-on-denim ensembles, bell sleeves, and heavy, bright blue eye makeup, there are some iconic '70s looks that simply don't translate to the fashion trends we celebrate and admire today.

That's not to say that some of our favorite looks aren't from the '70s—from the "girl boss" pantsuits to the barely-there bra tops and cutout swimsuits, this decade of fashion and style set the stage for the very fashion designers that have shaped our outfit-loving worlds of today.

But there's nothing wrong with paying homage to the past...and then leaving it there. While there are a few '70s fashion trends that deserve another day in the sun, the following are less than desirable and can simply be appreciated for what they were: Necessary, but not forever.

Bell Bottom Jeans

English singer David Van Day, of pop group Guys 'n' Dolls, and a young woman, modelling fashionable outfits, 24th March 1975.

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Yes, we know that bell bottom jeans have been making a comeback of sorts, but can they just...not? This iconic '70s trend is best left in the past.

Shiny Platform Boots

A Soul Train dancer at Wattles Park for a 'Right On!' magazine photo shoot, Los Angeles, California.

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Look, we love a good platform boot as much as the next fashion-obsessed person, but the ultra-shiny, knee-high platform boots had their time and place in history. No need to relive it, folks.


March 1971: English novelist Jackie Collins (1937 - 2015) wearing a tie-dye t-shirt and patterned leggings.

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Tie-dye can be fun, don't get me wrong, but it's best left in the '70s or on the lawn of your old college dorm where everyone congregated and inexplicably played hacky sack for hours on end.

Wrap Dresses

Model wearing wrap dress from Sant'Angelo's Spring 1974 runway show.

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Wrap dresses dominated runways in the mid- to late-70s, changing fashion as people knew it. But as the fashion industry has continued to evolve, the wrap dress has been (sort of) left behind, only to be revolutionized in new and exciting ways that make the '70s version feel outdated.


John Travolta as Tony Manero in his famous disco-dancing pose in Saturday Night Fever (1977).

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Sure, Disco had its time under the sun but it belongs in the history books... where it can stay. From the elongated shirt colors to the suits to the dance moves to the platforms, it was all just a little too much.


Jed Allan as Don Craig c. 1972-1973.

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Corduroy is a bear, not a fashion statement, people. Full stop.

Hippie Chic

A woman attending Rolling Stones concert in drawstring silk pants and criss-cross bra top.

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Since the '70s, hippie chic has given way to Bohemian chic. What's the difference, you ask? Who is to say, but the latter dominates music festivals every year so it's certainly here to stay.


actor Dennis Hopper wearing a handkerchief bandana, blue jeans, jean jacket and a handlebar mustache.

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It's cannon that Dennis Hopper and only Dennis Hopper is allowed to wear a handkerchief bandana headband, blue jeans, a jean jacket and a handlebar mustache all at once. Sorry, we don't make the rules.


Enormous wooden shoe placed in St. Oedenrode, July 10, 1974.

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Clogs took the 1970s fashion world by storm, and while these shoes are certainly more popular elsewhere we're OK with them staying in America's past.

Conflicting, Loud Colors

Married American singers Cher And Sonny Bono (1935 - 1998), aka singing duo Sonny and Cher, circa 1970.

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It wasn't just the conflicting color patterns, the outlandish color palettes or the loud prints—it was all of it at once. Fashion in the 1970s was one never-ending color bomb, so we're fine with leaving that particular trend behind.


American actress Barbara Eden wearing a crocheted headband.

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So. Much. Crochet. From crochet headbands and vests, to crochet hats, skirts and bikini tops, crochet took over the '70s at one point and threatened to never let it go. Thankfully, and eventually, that fashion trended faded.

Bucket Hats

Actress and singer Olivia Newton-John films her first music video for her 1975 pop single 'Follow Me' from the album 'Have You Never Been Mellow' in 1975.

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Look, not all of us are singer and actress Olivia Newton-John in a music video for her 1975 pop single "Follow Me"—not everyone can just pull off a bucket hat.

And by "not everyone," we mean no one. No one but Olivia Newton-John.

Caftan Dresses

Halston Summer 1973 Ready to Wear Collection Runway.

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Caftan dresses were all the rage on runways across the globe in the 1970s, but the large pieces of draped fabric just feels outdated these days. While this comfortable and often simple-chic look has a time and place, it's usually while on the beach enjoying one's beige grandma era.

Extended Collars

Actor John Travolta in the film 'Saturday Night Fever'.

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Honestly, who decided that extended collars were a good idea? Show yourself!

While this quintessential '70s fashion trend dominated dance floors and disco halls across the country, it eventually faded... and we're not mad about it.

Polyester Pantsuits

Jacyn Smith, Kate Jackson, and Farrah Fawcett on the set of "Charlie's Angels".

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The '70s ushered in the ultimate "girl boss" pantsuit, and for good reason—more women were entering the workforce, hellbent on showing the world that anything a man can do, they can do better.

But these pantsuits—unlike some of the suits featured today—were also designed to be both comfortable and durable. Along with elastic waistlines and practical designs, many of the '70s pantsuits were made with polyester—a much more affordable material. Hey, we're all here for smart economic fashion decisions, but we can all collectively leave the polyester behind.

Hot Pants

Japanese artist Yoko Ono wearing hot pants and platform go-go boots at an art gallery.

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Hot pants crawled so the early aughts so-called "booty shorts" could run.

Again, we're all for showing all the leg and hot pants certainly do the trick. But what are they, if not glorified shorts? Fashion has certainly evolved since hot pants came on the '70s scene, so we can leave this particular trend in the past with the platforms and tie-dye.

The Oversized Blouse

Singer and actress Cher poses for a photo session in a Bob Mackie blouse.

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Even though the iconic, incomparable Cher wore loose, oversized blouses in the '70s and slayed, they feel outdated and ill-fitting these days. When you combined the overly-large blouses with their often vibrant colors and conflicting patterns, and this trend just wasn't meant to last.

Patchwork Denim Jeans

Soul Train dancer Vicki Abercombie during an 'Office Studio' fashion shoot for Right On! magazine, United States, 27th February 1975.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

No. No, no, no, no, no. This trend absolutely needs to be buried in the past never to see the light of day again.

Arm Cuffs

model wearing a halterneck dress and a variety of armbands and bracelets, UK, 27th November 1973.

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We're big fans of huge, eye-catching statement pieces, especially when it comes to out-of-the-box jewelry. So while the '70s trend of wearing a copious amount of arm cuffs was iconic for its time, like every other aspect of fashion the world of accessories has moved forward and—for the most part—has left arm cuffs behind. We're OK with it.

Bra Tops

A woman wearing a halter bra top, poses with her head at the centre of disco lights radiating outward, circa 1975.

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The only reason the bra top trend should stay in the '70s is because now people just wear their bras and lingerie as tops. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Satin Suits

Rod Stewart, posed, wearing a yellow satin suit.

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A satin suit? In this climate? That just seems... uncomfortable. While this suave ensemble was certainly solidified as an iconic fashion trend in the '70s, it is best left behind with the disco balls and questionable dance moves.

The Handlebar Mustache

View of two unidentified musicians as they perform outside Trinity Church (at Broadway and Wall Street), New York, New York, June 19, 1970.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

No. Nope. No, Sir. Absolutely not.

Moving on.

The Shoulder Pad Jumpsuit

Koos Van Den Akker Spring 1980 Ready to Wear Runway.

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The end of the '70s seemed to warn the fashion world that shoulder pads were incoming and they were going to have a white-knuckle grip on the '80s. While we love a good pantsuit and shoulder pads have their place in fashion history, the combination is outdated and not worth bringing back. DOA.

This Farrah Fawcett Hairstyle

Studio headshot portrait of American actor Farrah Fawcett smiling while wearing a dark blouse and a chain.

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We say this out of respect! Farrah Fawcett's iconic hairstyle is one for the ages, but there's really only one person on the planet who could pull it off so flawlessly and that was Farrah Fawcett. Some moments of fashion and beauty greatness just aren't meant to be duplicated.

Cutout Swimsuits

Five finalists of the 'Miss JOFA' (Jamaican Overseas Families Association) competition posing in swimsuits at the Royal Garden Hotel in London, December 8th 1973.

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Cutout swimsuits are equal parts cute and fun but those tan lines! You can miss us with those tan lines, no thank you. Hard pass.

Leather Pants

David Bowie, in brown leather pants, singing on stage.

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Look: David Bowie can do no wrong—we will forever stan a gender-bending fashion icon. However, leather pants? The climate just won't allow it! We know that Ziggy Stardust would understand.

Bell Sleeves

Soul Train dancers during a photo shoot for Right On! magazine, United States, 21st May 1974.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Oh, bell sleeves—where do we even begin? They had their decade-defining moment, to be sure, but bell sleeves were often featured on print-heavy maxi dresses and loose-fitting blouses and just did nothing for either look.

Double Denim

Loretta Lynn poses for a portrait wearing a blue denim suit with cows in the background leaning up against a fence in circa 1972.

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Some denim? Yes. All the denim? No. Take it from Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake—who both took a page from the '70s when they wore a matching, all-denim look—there is such a thing as too much jeans.

Waist-Long, Straight Hair

1975-Glamorous portrait of singer Cher Bono.

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Cher is the undeniable '70s Queen, so we don't want to offend but the very simple, waist-length straight hairstyle is certainly outdated. While waist-long hair is still in, texture and layers are the name of the hairstyle game, and we're here for it.

Bright Blue Eye Makeup

Rita Hayworth (left) and her daughter, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan (right), visit Eartha Kitt at the Mark Hellinger Theater in New York, following Kitt's performance in the musical 'Timbuktu', June 7th 1978.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While at a time iconic, the '70s-inspired heavy, bright blue eye makeup style has gone by the wayside... and we're not all that mad about it. While this statement eye makeup look has enjoyed a resurgence from time-to-time, it's best left in the past.

Knee-High Socks

Fashion model Sally Bodington wearing a patched playsuit, over the knee socks and clogs, UK, 19th March 1971.

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Knee-high socks can certainly have their moment, especially when paired with the right ensemble and fabulous shoes. But more often than not they can also com off as infantilizing and, well, just no.

Space Dresses

29th January 1970: Two models wearing white gaberdine dresses and matching white boots.

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Perhaps the fashionistas and designers of the '70s thought we would be much further along in our technological advances than we are now. Maybe they thought we would all be living on the moon or Mars by now and would need to dress accordingly. Either way, they were wrong... so these space dresses can stay firmly in the past.

Danielle Campoamor
Weekend Editor

Danielle Campoamor is Marie Claire's weekend editor covering all things news, celebrity, politics, culture, live events, and more. In addition, she is an award-winning freelance writer and former NBC journalist with over a decade of digital media experience covering mental health, reproductive justice, abortion access, maternal mortality, gun violence, climate change, politics, celebrity news, culture, online trends, wellness, gender-based violence and other feminist issues. You can find her work in The New York Times, Washington Post, TIME, New York Magazine, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, TODAY, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, InStyle, Playboy, Teen Vogue, Glamour, The Daily Beast, Mother Jones, Prism, Newsweek, Slate, HuffPost and more. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and their two feral sons. When she is not writing, editing or doom scrolling she enjoys reading, cooking, debating current events and politics, traveling to Seattle to see her dear friends and losing Pokémon battles against her ruthless offspring. You can find her on X, Instagram, Threads, Facebook and all the places.