by Shelby Balleza
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Prior to the disco era, fashion was simple, conservative. In other words, fashion was anything but flashy. With this era came a new opportunity for people to express themselves through cutting edge fashion. This era was about bold prints, flashy sequins and big hair. People flocked to disco clubs or “discotheques” to seek out new identities. Dressing up was a way of letting go of everyday life and becoming a completely new person wearing edgy costumes. New York City was really the epicenter of this newfound style. One of the most famous and largest clubs in NYC was Studio 54. Some of the most daring dancers who attended this club went as far as spray-painting their entire bodies with silver or gold. The beauty of the disco era was the wide range of ensembles and accessories available to accommodate any fashion taste. Disco fashion created an opportunity for everyday people to be somebody different for just one night, and dance the night away! This era was moving in a completely different direction in terms of clothing. In the sixties, outfits were subdued and conservative. Also, women didn’t really wear pants at all before 1965. With evolutions in music taking place every year, fashion was trying to keep up as well. For women of this era, this was their opportunity to be bold and really make a statement. Dressing to go out to the disco club was a very big ordeal. Dressing to the nines was important, because it could lead to attracting a dance partner. Fabrics were generally bright colors or bold patterns. Metallics were also very popular because they would reflect light off of the infamous disco ball above the dance floor. Many women would wear metallic halter dresses, or metallic hot pants with a halter-top. Pantsuits were another favorite, in solid prints, metallic or with embellishments. These commonly would have a plunge neckline or a v-neck. The pant legs would have a flare bottom, another huge up and coming trend. This look usually would be paired with sky-high platforms.
Platforms were all the rage during this time. Platforms came in a variety of options. There were platform sandals, heels, clogs, boots and sneakers as well. The amazing part of these platforms is dancers actually wore them on the dance floor all night! The disco club look was true inspiration for some of our fashion trends seen today.
Men also took new risks in terms of disco club fashion. I mean, who can forget John Travolta’s groovy all white suit he sported in Saturday Night Fever? Men wore tight flared out pants, with long sleeve shirts in very bold patterns. One of the biggest trends for clubs was the “leisure suit.” This suit replaced the traditional suit jacket with a casual shirt instead. Both the shirt and the pants were made from very thick polyester. Men still had to wear a shirt underneath because of the material. This suit really helped to revolutionize the suits men wear today. Fabric is still designed so that suits can be extra comfortable and durable for all day use.
Accessories, hair and makeup were another HUGE aspect of disco fashion. This always involved wearing glitzy accessories. Fur, sequins and flashy fabrics helped to add extra shine dancers graved. Pieces commonly worn only during special occasions were now acceptable to wear out to the club. Men usually wore a lot of gold jewelry, such as thick gold chains underneath their suits. Women were fans of huge dramatic earrings that would catch the light of the disco ball. Hairstyles were very revolutionary as well. There were several types of hair trends. These trends were specifically known as the feathered, wedge, shag and Afro styles. The feathered look was made popular by icons like Farrah Fawcett. Hair was cut into several layers, framing the face. When hair was blow-dried it formed numerous “feathers” hence its name. The wedge look is something I had never even heard of. This iconic look was a short look named also the “Hamil Camel” after Dorothy Hamill.” Resembling a bowl cut, this style differed by the cut in the back resembling a “V” instead. Men and women wore the shag look. This look consisted of shorter layers, and longer layers in the back. This look was a care-free look allowing dancing to be easy without worrying about a hair style falling out of place. This was the originator of the mullet, which came out in the 80’s. Lastly, the Afro is what we most commonly associate as the “disco hairstyle.” This look was also worn by men and women and achieved when the hair looked like a huge puffball really. This usually was achieved when the hair was teased with strong hold hair sprays or gels. Hairstyles were really a matter of preference. Frequent club goers preferred the short carefree styles, while actresses or models chose the straighter layered look. Whatever the chosen style, it was important it was perfect every time.
Makeup trends were just as important as clothes and hairstyles. Makeup trends were also very edgy and dramatic. Eye makeup was one of the most important aspects. Traditional makeup was not an option when going to a disco club. Colors needed to be bold and bright. Bright eye shadows were a common trend, paired with long eyelashes. Fake eyelashes started to be worn more commonly. Lipstick was worn in bright red or a bright colors shade. Rouge was also worn. Men even would sometimes wear a touch of make up for a night of dancing. Drag queens did frequent certain disco clubs wearing exaggerated eye make up. Every aspect of the disco outfit was important. Every piece of the puzzle was vital in making a true and bold statement.
Everyday casual wear of the disco period was also showing some changes. However, casual looks were a bit more conservative than the club looks. Women and men were wearing bell-bottoms. These jeans were usually high wasted with very huge flares at the bottom. These trendy jeans can still be seen in stores everywhere. Women wore a lot of flowy like dresses, like the maxi dresses. Maxi dresses were long casual dresses made out of light fabrics, at floor length. These dresses have recently made a huge come back in the fashion world. Platforms were also a huge part of even casual wear. Men and women wore platforms with everyday attire.
The important thing to remember about disco 1970s fashion is the importance of self-expression. This time period was about expressing one self though his or her own unique style. Everyone was more accepting of those who dared to be different; it was normal to be different. The point of disco fashion was to out do everyone else, and never settle for ordinary. BUY TICKETS TO OUR DISCO EVENT HERE!