Fashion and Footwear from the 1970s

It seems that platform shoes and chunky heels are back in fashion again. This style was huge in the 1970s. So I thought I would write about fashion and footwear from the disco decade, the 1970s.

Flared trousers were in fashion in the 1970s for both men and women. This style of trousers are also called bell bottoms, because the bottoms of these trousers flared out from the knee, kind of like the shape of a bell. In the 1970s both men and women wore shirts with big, pointed collars. Synthetic fabrics like polyester and rayon were popular in the 1970s. Think: John Travolta wearing his white polyester suit in ‘Saturday Night Fever’.

A party in East Malaysia in 1971. Note the shirt with oversized collar, and also the short mini dresses worn by the women. The footwear for women consisted of low, chunky heels.

A party in East Malaysia in 1971. Note the shirt with oversized collar, and also the short mini dresses worn by the women. The footwear for women consisted of low, chunky heels.

For women, mini skirts and short mini dresses were fashionable in the 1970s. Loose and flowing caftans were also popular among women. There were many different hairstyles that were popular in this decade. Both men and women sported afros. The Farrah Fawcett look was ‘in’. This was the hairstyle popularized by Farrah Fawcett in her role on the 1970s TV show ‘Charlie’s Angels’. This hairstyle featured wavy curls and flicks of the hair out to the side. Another hairstyle popular with women in the 1970s was long, straight hair worn with a centre part.

Shih Yen wears 1970s-style metallic gold high heels, part of her costume for a stage musical set in Vietnam in the mid-1970s.

Shih Yen wears 1970s-style metallic gold high heels, part of her costume for a stage musical set in Vietnam in the mid-1970s.

Some time ago I was a cast member in a stage musical set in Vietnam in the mid-1970s (no prizes for guessing which musical this is). I had 3 pairs of stage shoes for the musical; all the shoes were 1 or 2 sizes too small for me and made my feet hurt terribly. There were 2 pairs of shoes in gold. Metallic colours for footwear were quite big in the 1970s. There was also a pair of flat black canvas shoes. In the musical, these were worn by Viet Cong guerrillas. I have looked at old photos of the Viet Cong from that era and they actually fought in sandals that looked a bit like low Roman sandals.

Shih Yen's stage shoes on hideous carpet in the dressing room. These shoes were supposed to be from the mid-1970s, featuring metallic gold shoes. The flat, black canvas shoes in the middle were meant to be worn by the Viet Cong army.

Shih Yen’s stage shoes on hideous carpet in the dressing room. These shoes were supposed to be from the mid-1970s, featuring metallic gold shoes. The flat, black canvas shoes in the middle were meant to be worn by the Viet Cong army.

Quite apart from guerrilla warfare and the Vietnam War, the most distinctive style of shoe from the 1970s was without doubt the platform shoe. Platform shoes have thick, high elevated soles that can add 3 – 4 inches to a person’s height. Chunky heels were also in fashion in the 1970s. Both these styles made a comeback in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Think: footwear worn by some of the Spice Girls. And now platform shoes and chunky heels seem to be making another comeback.

In this photo from the mid-1970s, the woman wears a short mini-dress with chunky platform shoes, common fashion of that time.

In this photo from the mid-1970s, the woman has a 1970s perm and wears a short mini-dress with chunky platform shoes, common fashion of that time.