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How to wear 1970s fashion if you aren’t Harry Styles

Thanks to Gucci and Harry, 1970s style is back — this is how to add it to your wardrobe

Harry Styles wearing 1970s styles Gucci outfits.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Harry Styles may only model as a hobby when he isn’t 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. The two Gucci ensembles, personally curated by Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, went so viral over Labor Day Weekend that they overshadowed everything else at the legendary film festival. Styles has been collaborating 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 have leaned into that decade especially hard recently when outfitting Styles for brand campaigns and public appearances.

Ralph Lauren displaying his tie collection in 1970.
Getty Images

’70s outfits for men are still a thing, and here’s how to do it

While Gucci and Styles had the menswear community salivating, the looks they put together are admittedly too eccentric for even the most fashion-forward common man. However, that doesn’t mean the rest of us mere mortals can’t embrace the 1970s aesthetic. The decade provides some fun inspiration for anyone’s wardrobe with big lapels, bigger pants, and the biggest swagger. So we put together this guide on how to wear 1970s fashion if you aren’t Harry Styles.

The jacket

Jackets from the 1970s were all about wide lapels and bold shoulders while maintaining a form-fitting but not tight silhouette. The style offers a fresh alternative to the slim cut, soft-shouldered, narrow lapel look that dominated suiting in the 2010s. It is also a more refined look than the 1990s-inspired big, baggy suiting that has trended recently.

The king of ’70-style jackets has always been Ralph Lauren. His suits from then and now feature lapels that almost touch boxy squared-off shoulders while being tailored to hug the torso, have sleeves drop right at the wrist, and the body sits just below the hips.

The other standout feature of suiting from the 1970s was bold fabrics. Designers used usual colors and large-scale patterns compared to decades like the 1960s or 2010s. Rather than sticking to grays and blues, they played with warm colors and pastels. If a jacket featured pinstripes or a houndstooth pattern, it was much larger and really stood out. These kinds of fun and adventurous fabrics have made a comeback, spearheaded by Gucci and injecting some life into suiting that had gotten a little stale recently.

Adding a 1970s-style jacket or three to your existing wardrobe is the best way to dip your feet into that retro look. Since the jackets are tailored to a degree, they will match your existing slim-fit pants. If your wardrobe features mostly dark colors and subtle patterns, then a bold jacket is an easy way to spice things up. Blue slacks or jeans will go with even the most over-the-top retro jacket.

Just make sure you are getting the right size jacket. While the shoulders will feel roomier (because they are) you will want the sleeves and body to drop where you’re used to. You want the body of the jacket to fit a little looser than the slim cut you’ve been wearing but still hug your body’s silhouette. The shoulders should be boxy but the body and sleeves should not be baggy.

Harry Styles sitting with baby goats.

The pants

The cut of 1970s-style pants is an even further departure from slim-cut suiting than 1970-style jackets. Menswear has gradually moved away from skinny-fit pants when it comes to jeans and casual pants, but suiting has remained on the slimmer side. Some high-end fashion designers like Balenciaga have massively overcorrected and introduced outrageously baggy pants into suiting. The 1970s style tailoring is a much more reasonable alternative to slim fit.

The look is defined by a gradual — or sometimes extreme — flare from the knee down. Waists will generally sit a little higher than what you’re used to, but they will have a similar feel in the seat and hip, just with a little bit more room. Pleats have been around for the past decade or so, but they are much more prevalent with the 1970s look, so that will give you even more room in the hips and seat. As the hips move down to the knee you will have a form-fitting, tailored look, then things get funky. Below the knee, your pants will widen until you have a leg opening that is roughly twice as wide as the slim-fit pants you are used to. This also means that you will have a much fuller break — how the opening of the pants sits on your shoe — than you’ve been wearing for the past decade. Ideally, you want one full fold of the pants in the front as it sits over your shoe with the back almost touching the ground in the back.

Picking the right pair of 1970s-style pants is all about deciding how much flare you want. Very few people can pull off the wide, exaggerated flare that Harry Styles wears. For most men, a subtle look will do just right.  You want to find a pair of pants that will feel very familiar in the waist and hips, perhaps a bit roomier if you’re used to slim fit. The big difference will be from the knee down, and the deciding factor will be how the opening of the pants sits over your shoe. You want the back to be near the ground without touching, and you want the front to cover your tied lace without swallowing up your entire shoe.

Robert Redford in aviator sunglasses.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The accessories

Accessories are where you can have the most fun when introducing 1970s style to your look. The decade featured very big sunglasses, ultra-wide ties, flamboyant pocket squares, eloquent scarves and neckerchiefs, and lots of jewelry.  Accessorizing in the 2010s was understated, often featuring one bold item as a cherry on top of the look. For the 1970s, as well as today, accessorizing is about layering as much on as you can. Take all those stand-alone accessories from your collection and put them all on at once if you want to.

Sunglasses are the best place to start when adding a touch of the 1970s to your look. It used to be hard to find big framed sunglasses that didn’t come from high fashion brands at excessive prices. They’ve become more popular recently, and more and more affordable brands are introducing them to 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 figuring out if a pair is actually  ’70s big is to look at the width of the lenses. When you find a pair you like, click on the details and look at the dimensions. You want the width to be 60 or above to get that retro look.

  • For ties, you want to follow the same golden rule as always — the width of the widest part of the tie should match the widest part of the lapel. So if you’re wearing a wider lapel then you want a correspondingly wider tie.
  • For any other neckwear, it should be elaborate but classy. If it looks like a scarf or neckerchief that a rich grandmother would wear then it is appropriate for the look.
  • Pocket squares should be very ornamental, featuring bright patterns and detailed scenes. You also want to fold them so they look like a big flower growing out of your breast pocket.
  • As for jewelry, you really can’t wear too much, so go to town.

The shoes

Slip-on shoes have become standard issue for men recently. This happens to go hand-in-hand with the emerging 1970s look. Men’s leather shoes from that era were sleek with a smooth toe and often featured a big, bulky heel. Loafers or Chelsea boots are the best places to start. Finding a pair with a bigger heel can be tricky so if you already have a smooth-toed loafer or Chelsea boot, then that will work. Cowboy boots are also a good alternative because they have a smooth toe and a big heel.

Of course, you can also wear sneakers with your ’70s ensemble, as Harry Styles loves to do. If you are going to do that then you should stick to 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 any kind of contemporary running or basketball sneakers. Essentially, you want to wear era-appropriate sneakers — so if they don’t look like sneakers that were worn in the 1970s, then don’t wear them.

Get thrifty

Gucci is almost single-handedly responsible for making 1970s fashion popular again but for most people, buying Gucci is about as realistic as walking a film festival red carpet with Harry Styles. Don’t worry. there are plenty of ways to achieve that same retro look for a fraction of the price. The best way is by going to your local thrift shops and searching online resale markets. Plenty of clothing and accessories that were actually made in the 1970s are out there in the second-hand marketplace. The condition of the merchandise won’t always be great but the prices will be. You can easily find a vintage jacket and scarf that are indistinguishable from Gucci’s current line.

Browsing through local thrift shops is a fun way to support your local economy and practice circular fashion consumption. There are plenty of second-hand marketplaces online, but eBay is the best place to find genuine 1970s clothing. The best part is that most of the vintage goods you find on eBay come from independent thrift shops all over the world. Searching for just the right retro gear on the eBay app is way more rewarding than scrolling through social media because you end up with new clothes at the end.

More 1970s style tips

Here are more ‘70s fashion tips to channel that groovy vibe like Styles. Wide belts that are bold and chunky belts in leather or suede cinched at the waist will bring on the 1970s. Wear statement jewelry like large rings, chunky necklaces with pendants, and layered bracelets. Don’t forget your head — fedoras, wide-brimmed hats, and bandanas were popular choices for adding a touch of individuality.

What about patterns and textures? Don’t shy away from stripes, paisleys, florals, and corduroy. You want to wear natural fabrics like cotton, linen, and wool. And as far as grooming goes; long hair, facial hair, and mustaches were all embraced in the ‘70s, so feel free to experiment with your look.

Harry Styles with Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele

Don’t fear the funk

Menswear in the 1970s was exciting and eccentric. Embracing the spirit of that decade is a way to have fun with fashion, especially suiting. The ornate textures and colors are refreshing a menswear scene that was getting a little 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.

Fashion has been all about experimentation and finding your own unique look since we came out of the 2020 lockdown. 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 inject 1970s style into your wardrobe. If you’re comfortable with that, then add some accessories and keep building on the look. If nothing else, dressing like you’re from the 1970s is a lot of fun.

Brad Lanphear
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Brad spent a decade on the front lines of New York's fashion retail industry. He did time with Abercrombie & Fitch, Rugby…
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