Images of Fashion Designs from Early 1970s Dresses
1970's Dress Pattern Fashion History Pictures 1971
This page looks at pictures of fashion designs from a 1971 dressmaking magazine.
For a detailed analysis of the
1970s read the 1970s fashion history page.
These fashion history designs are taken from some pages saved from an old dressmaking pattern magazine
winter 1971/72. The styles are a good reflection of fashion styles worn by the average woman between 1970 and 1972.
Dressmaking patterns and catalogue books are a
great fashion history records of what the
typical women wore. Indeed, in the 1970s many women still enjoyed
dressmaking as a hobby. Quality dress patterns always picked
up on nuances of all the latest styles. Individuals seeking fancy dress
inspiration, or those who are wardrobe assistants
will find these fashion pictures invaluable guidelines. Theatrical,
carnival, re-enactment, or costume productions set in the
early 1970s always
need designs which realistically portray the era. These are preferable to the
extreme fashions that a limited number of people wore, and which are often
used to encapsulate the era.
The 1971 dress far left has many of the elements of an early 1970s dress. It has the all important floppy bloused long sleeve, a deep 'V' neck empire
line bodice, which is almost bra like in shape and a flared above-knee skirt. But best of all it's in a ditzy small print fabric so popular for granny print
dresses of the era.
You could probably find a similar dress in the stores today, but what
makes the picture look so 1970s, is the choker velvet band accessory at the neckline and the way the
hair is styled.
clear, primary and secondary colours were important in the
The block-colour shift dress was a favourite that continued from the looser
shapes developed in the 1960s. However, as an A-line shape it was simple - too
simple for some.
To make the style seem more novel, complex centre seams often featured a zip as a focal point, as in the red dress far left. Designers introduced yoke construction lines in no end of
combinations with lines above, or below the breasts. The
yoke became an area for bold statement designer jewellery pieces.
Scandinavian jewellery of the 1970s era was fresh and very forward looking with
its clean modern lines.
Attention was drawn to the seam detailing by heavy use of topstitching or saddle
stitching. This gave a fresh twist of 1970's individuality to dress styles.
Pinafore and shirtwaist styled dresses were an everyday choice for young working
girls in the early and mid 1970s.
shift styles like this beige dress left, frequently closed with a centre front
zip, or a long line of buttons.
Many of the shirt dresses with their battle dress pockets had a safari feel to them
with. Shirtwaisters with long or short sleeves were accompanied by elongated long collars. In the green dress right the collar has rounded edges.
The extended collar
became such a hallmark of 1970s fashions, that years later it also became a
cringe factor on old clothes lurking at the back of a wardrobe.
If you are looking at costume history because you going
to a 1970s fancy dress party, a close fitting darted skinny shirt or dress with
an elongated collar with rounded edges, will ensure you are hot on trend.
Other dresses of 1971/1972 had contrast white collar and cuffs. Sometimes
the shirtwaisters, or plain A-line shift dresses had big strongly
coloured artist bows at the neckline. Red, emerald green or yellow bows were also frequently
seen. The main dress fabric was often in check material and the bow would
be picked out in one of the check main colours.
Later 1970s dress skirts were cut with flare and were A-line shaped until
1979. The skirts of all 1971 dresses even, straighter styles like the two above, had enough wearing ease for leg movement.
1971 skirts generally had flare or pleat fullness like these left and right. The
inverted pleat skirt style was one of the most popular of the decade.
Bloused sleeves were a dominant fashion throughout the 1970s, but varying cuff
style depths and widths kept them updated season by season.
These skirt fashion designs of 1971 are all flared and the bloused sleeves all have 2inch
cuffs. Later cuffs became much longer until it was necessary to shape them
to the increasing girth of the lower arm.
All of these fashion designs were worn with quite low shoes, the square block
heels were about 2 or 3cm. The most interesting item shown in these 3 skirt
designs is the argyle tank top right. Tank tops became a symbol of
clothing for both women and men.
The alternative to some of the shorter dresses of the 1970s, was the long
evening dress or maxi dress. Long maxi dresses were commonly worn for
evening and day wear in the 1970s dependant on the woman's mood.
Short dress one night, long dress the next. All in one cat suit the night after,
skimpy mini dress or hot pants the night after that.
Some of the the most popular elements of the early 1970s fashions were the
caftan, either full length or as a tunic top; the halter neckline and the peasant
girl folkloric effect. The flowing caftan (often called a Kaftan) with generous wide sleeves and
covering roominess was almost always trimmed with metallic braid, contrast
fabric or gold embroidery.
Folkloric peasant styling was used with traditional Swiss/Austrian style embroidered braid finishing off garment edges. Eyelet laced belts tied up with shoelace fine ties or satin rouleaux drew on
folkloric elements found not only in Europe, but also in India. All that foreign travel, because of the availability of cheap airfares, was bringing a mixed bag
of ethnic ideas into mass market fashion.
This red long dress of 1971
shown right, has a peasant style eyelet and string tie belt. The exotic tropical print
also a very strong fashion fabric of the early 1970s era. Flower power at
the most striking level of design.
The halter neckline was used in all fashion clothing styles including swimwear, skimpy tops, catsuits/jumpsuits
and slinky evening gowns. Cutaway armholes were often the most revealing
part of an all encompassing maxi dress. Skirts with splits to the
thigh meant that no woman was outdone if her contemporaries had selected a
shorter dress instead. The halter top neckline resurfaced most recently as
a high fashion style of
The maxi skirt worn with a ruffled or frilly blouse was a very easy option in
1971. A woman bought a long skirt in velvet, crepe or courtelle jersey and then
teamed it with no end of blouses. Lace was a favourite fabric for blouses
and the photo above shows an ordinary woman wearing a lace blouse with long maxi skirt
at a famous 1970s nightclub in south Wales, Caerphilly and called The Club Double Diamond.
The maxi cloak shown far right offered a glamorous outdoor cover up for floor
These 2 trouser suit fashion designs left were patterns on offer to dressmakers.
trouser suit really established itself in the 1970s. In the
suits with matching jackets and trousers were considered suitable office wear.
Remember that jeans were not considered suitable office wear in 1971.
The rust suit left looks
quite formal to us today, but at the time it would have been considered
exceptionally relaxed looking.
The hip length tunic was practical and in this centre photo above taken in 1971,
two girls wear contrasting fashion outfits at a barbecue in Spain. Each
outfit was quite high fashion that year. Barbara wears a sage green
trouser suit, and the woman in the background, Francesca wears hot pants.
You can just see that the man has a ruffle frill on the centre front of his colourful shirt. The
fashion design image of the far right print dress worn over trousers, was a more
exotic feminine take on the trouser suit.
See more fashion history pictures of 1970s trousers suits.
Other alternatives for business women of the early 1970s were the tailored
jacket and skirt. These two styles are representative of 1971. The inverted
pleat skirt shown in both fashion patterns remained popular for years.
See more fashion history pictures of 1977s patterns including
styles, long dresses and dresses for young girls
on the next page.
For a detailed analysis of the 1970s read the 1970s fashion history page.
Please note - I do not have the full patterns, just these cover pictures. I do
not know where you might buy these particular paper patterns, so please do not
write asking for extra information on them.
Page Added 3 November 2007. Ref P656.
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