Harry Styles may just model as a hobby when he’s not busy being one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, but he still managed to take over the 2022 Venice Film Festival with just two looks. Personally curated by Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele, the two Gucci ensembles went so viral over Labor Day weekend that they overshadowed everything else at the iconic film festival. Styles has worked with Gucci for years, replacing Jared Leto as the unofficial face of the brand. While everything Gucci creates is heavily inspired by the 1970s, they’ve been leaning particularly heavily towards that decade of late, accessorizing styles for brand campaigns and public appearances.
Admittedly, while Gucci and Styles are currently making the menswear community salivate, the looks they put together are too eccentric for even the most fashion-forward common man. That doesn’t mean the rest of us mere mortals can’t embrace the 1970s aesthetic, though. The decade offers some fun inspiration for any wardrobe with big lapels, bigger trousers and the biggest swagger. So we put together this guide on how to wear 1970s fashion if you’re not Harry Styles.
Jackets from the 1970s were all about wide lapels and powerful shoulders while maintaining a fitted but not tight silhouette. The style offers a fresh alternative to the slim-fitting, soft-shouldered, narrow lapel look that dominated suiting in the 2010s. It’s also a more sophisticated look than the 1990s-inspired big, baggy suits that have been trending lately.
The king of seventies jackets has always been Ralph Lauren. His suits, then and now, have lapels that touch almost square shoulders, while being tailored to hug the torso, sleeves drop right at the wrist, and the body sits just below the hips.
The other prominent feature of suits from the 1970s was heavy fabrics. Designers used common colors and large-scale patterns compared to decades like the 1960s or 2010s. Instead of sticking to gray and blue, they played with warm colors and pastels. If a jacket had pinstripes or a houndstooth pattern, it was much larger and really stood out. This type of fun and adventurous fabric has made a comeback, spearheaded by Gucci, and breathed some life into suits that had been getting a bit dated of late.
Adding a 1970s-inspired jacket or three to your existing wardrobe is the best way to dip your feet in that retro look. Since the jackets are fitted to a certain extent, they will match your existing slim-fit trousers. If your wardrobe consists mostly of dark colors and subtle patterns, then a statement jacket is an easy way to spice things up. Blue pants or jeans will go with even the most over-the-top retro jacket.
Just make sure you get the right jacket size. While the shoulders feel more generous (because they are), you want the sleeves and body to drop where you’re used to. You want the body of the jacket to be a little looser than the slim fit you’ve been wearing, but still hug the silhouette of your body. The shoulders should be boxy, but the body and sleeves should not be baggy.
The cut of 1970s-style pants deviated even more from slim-fitting suits than the 1970s-style jackets. Men’s fashion has gradually moved away from skinny pants in jeans and slacks, but suits have remained on the slimmer side. Some high-end fashion designers like Balenciaga have massively overcorrected and introduced outrageously baggy pants into suits. The 1970s style cut is a much more sensible alternative to the slim fit.
The look is defined by a gradual – or sometimes extreme – flare from the knee down. The waist generally sits a little higher than you’re used to, but they feel similar in the seat and hips, just with a little more room. Pleated pleats have been around for about a decade, but they’re much more common in the 1970s look, giving you even more room in the hips and buttocks. When the hips move to the knee, you have a form-fitting, tailored look, then things get funky. Your pants widen below the knee until you have a leg opening that is about twice as wide as the usual slim-fit pants. It also means you’ll have a much more complete break – the way the pants’ opening sits on top of your shoe – than you’ve worn them in the past decade. Ideally, you want a full pant crease in the front as it sits over your shoe and the back almost touches the ground in the back.
Choosing the right pair of 1970s style pants is all about deciding how much flare you want. Very few people can pull off the wide, over the top swing that Harry Styles wears. For most men, a subtle look is just the ticket. You want to find pants that feel very familiar in the waist and hips, maybe a little roomy if you’re used to slim fits. The big difference will be from the knee and the deciding factor will be how the opening of the pants fits over your shoe. You want the back to be low to the ground without touching and the front to cover your tied laces without swallowing your entire shoe.
Accessories are the most fun way to bring 1970s style into your look. The decade was marked by very large sunglasses, ultra-wide ties, extravagant handkerchiefs, eloquent scarves and neckerchiefs and lots of jewellery. Accessories were understated in the 2010s and often included an eye-catching element as the icing on the look. Both in the 1970s and today, accessories are about wearing as much as possible. Take all of these standalone accessories from your collection and wear them all at once if you want.
Sunglasses are the best place to start if you want to add a 1970s touch to your look. It used to be difficult to find overpriced large frame sunglasses that weren’t from high fashion brands. They have become increasingly popular lately and more and more affordable brands are introducing them into their collections. Trying them on in person is the best way to see if a pair is appropriately oversized for you, but most of us buy sunglasses online these days. The key to finding out if a pair is actually 70’s tall is to look at the width of the lenses. When you find a pair you like, click on the details and see the dimensions. You want the width to be 60 or more to get that retro look.
- As always, when it comes to ties, you should follow the same golden rule – the width of the widest part of the tie should match the widest part of the lapel. So if you wear wider lapels, you’ll want a tie that’s correspondingly wider.
- For any other tie, it should be elaborate but classy. If it looks like a scarf or bandanna that a rich grandmother would wear, then it’s appropriate for the look.
- Pocket squares should be very decorative, with bright patterns and detailed scenes. You should also fold them so that they look like a large flower growing out of your breast pocket.
- When it comes to jewelry, you really can’t wear too much, so head downtown.
Slip-on shoes have become a standard topic for men lately. This goes hand in hand with the emerging 1970s look. Men’s leather shoes from this period were elegant with a smooth toe and often with a large, voluminous heel. A loafer or Chelsea boot are the best places to start. It can be difficult to find a pair with a larger heel. So if you already have a sleek loafer or Chelsea boot, then this will work. Cowboy boots are also a good alternative as they have a smooth toe and large heel.
Of course, you can also wear sneakers with your seventies ensemble, as Harry Styles likes to do. If you do, stick with classic flat-soled tennis shoes. Something clean and white like an Addidas Stan Smith or a Nike Killshot II would be ideal. Chuck Taylors are too retro and you don’t want to wear modern running or basketball sneakers. Essentially, you want to wear sneakers that are contemporary—so if they don’t look like sneakers worn in the 1970s, then don’t wear them.
Gucci is almost single-handedly responsible for making 1970s fashion popular again, but for most people, buying Gucci is as realistic as walking the red carpet at a film festival with Harry Styles. But no worry; There are many ways to achieve the same retro look at a fraction of the price. The best way is to go to your local thrift stores and search online resale markets. There are many clothes and accessories on the second-hand market that were actually made in the 1970s. The condition of the goods will not always be good, but the prices will be. You can easily find a vintage jacket and scarf indistinguishable from Gucci’s current line.
Browsing through local thrift stores is a fun way to support your local economy and practice the circular fashion. There are many second hand marketplaces online, but eBay is the best place to find authentic 1970s clothing. The best part is that most of the vintage goods you’ll find on eBay come from independent thrift stores around the world. Finding just the right retro gear on the eBay app is a lot more rewarding than scrolling through social media because you end up with new clothes.
Above: Harry Styles with Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele
Don’t be afraid of the radio
1970s menswear was exciting and eccentric. Embracing the spirit of this decade is one way to enjoy fashion, especially suiting. The artful textures and colors refresh a menswear scene that’s been getting a bit dull at the end of the last decade. If you feel like your wardrobe could use the same refresh, then don’t be afraid to get funky. Since we came out of lockdown in 2020, fashion has been all about experimenting and finding your own unique look. You don’t have to be one of the most famous pop stars in the world to dress like a Gucci model. Even if it’s just a new pair of boots and a great vintage jacket, you can bring 1970s style into your wardrobe. Once you’re happy with that, add some accessories and further elevate the look. Last but not least, it’s a lot of fun to dress like you did in the 1970s.