How Does the Re-emergence of '70s Style Fit into Our Current Political Climate?

Think psychedelic patterns, layered jewellery and, of course, flares, because we're talking '70s fashion - and how it aligns with modern politics.


Image source: Pixabay

As a student at Exeter University, I can safely say that the classic Exeter look is a flared black trouser, or in fact any kind of flares - the South London Diet Prada followers and gap year returners never seem to get tired of this '70s silhouette. More than once have I heard the jingle of layered bangles and chains, rounded tiny sunnies and beads (I am also guilty of owning a wide array of these student staples). You will see all kinds of '70s fashion references, from YSL to Halston, peeking out of every Killing Eve season, most notably a suave Villanelle donning a Halpern suit or a La DoubleJ A-line number. How and why have these gone-by prints come back to grace our wardrobes? I have no problem with it - I can raid my grandma’s closet to supply myself without spending a penny – but why the radical bell bottom after years of skinny jeans, why flamboyance and why flare? Of course, we relate the western world '70s we know with the sexual revolution, political changes and psychedelics.

Villanelle wearing a Halpern printed suit in Killing Eve.


My mind roams to Roe vs Wade and Vietnam, and I see how cyclical the times have been. Young men and women dressed to subvert, and I believe we are beginning to do the same. We look back to the silhouettes that defined revolution and subconsciously employ them to express our own confusion, our own new revolution of gender and politics. We look to the past to relate to the young people and cultural figures - like Cher, Yoko Ono, Stevie Nicks, Jane Fonda and Diana Ross - who changed the visual landscape of what it means to be powerful or female. Vivienne Westwood,

the ‘mother of punk’ has begun trending again through the re-sale of her Anglomania corsets and tartan print.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Fashion designers have always borrowed from the every-day person to trickle a seemingly unique tint into their collections - punk originated from '70s London counterculture and jeans were a worker’s garment, yet both of these styles are enduringly fashionable. Today, we see the same subversion as we did in the '70s; young people are bringing their political awareness into buying more vintage. Thrifting has spread through social media, and even influencers are beginning to encourage it amongst their brand endorsements, but what is truly revolutionary and what is polarised depends on our intent. There is very little point in emulating the icons of the past if we solely imitate the way they dress as a sign of the times. Why embrace the style of counterculture if the only people embracing it do nothing but casually drag it through the streets as a momentary trend? Of course, anyone can wear whatever they want, whenever they want, but if we are to commit to the resurgence of a style that symbolised so much political and cultural action, it is only fair that we should protest against the injustices we see. We have already seen an outcry through the Black Lives Matter protests, the deposition of Trump and more sustainability consciousness, but this country needs the radicalism and spirit of the '70s to come through more than flares and a Cher costume. If punk meant something then, whatever we choose to portray today must have the same passion and rebellion.