Early 1970s fashions revived the late 1920s and early 1930s fashions.  The ‘midi’ (calf length) skirt was never universally worn, but the mini, worn under a ‘maxi’ coat was popular with many.  The seventies fashions tended to express a home-crafted, environmental awareness, encouraged by the anti-establishment hippie movement. ‘Back to nature’, crochet, knitting, patchwork (and its print versions in synthetics).  Nostalgic, ethnic styles – gypsy, Indian, Bedouin, Afghan – all mixed with derivatives of 19th and early 20th Century fashions.  Dress rules vanished, casualness was everywhere, evening gowns were replaced by exotic separates.  Wedge heels and platforms were revived with new materials like polyurethane for soles, wet look vinyls and vivid colours.

25a Allen Family Wedding, 1973
The bride wears a ‘Victoriana’ dress, with a high waist (1820s), choker collar (1880s-90s) and pagoda sleeves (1850s).  Combining various eras was quite common in dress of the late 1960s and early 1970s, as all Victorian details, genuine or reworked, were considered acceptable, even those pre-1837 and before Victoria’s accession!

From a contemporary photograph

Main Garment
25b Shirtwaister dress, Bassett’s ‘allsorts’, early 1970s
This dress is a classic shirtwaister revival from the late 1930s. The fabric is a copy of a material used as counter drapes in sweet shops during the inter-war years, and was featured in an exhibition at the V&A in the mid 1970s called ‘The Fabric of Pop’. It is particularly relevant to Maidstone’s textile collections as it features a print of Bassett’s liquorice allsorts.  Bassett’s and Trebor Sharps of Maidstone merged.  Our Bassett’s dress is home made and surely was worn by someone (with off-beat, arty taste) for a great party.

Bought for the Museum Collections

25c Shelf bra, purple padded nylon lace, late 1970s
The famous Gossard Wonderbra, launched in 1968 comprised 26 separate parts.  Designed to produce maximum lift, separation and shaping to the breasts, its impressive décolletage effect ensured its continuing popularity into the 21st Century.  This example is in violet nylon lace and Lycra net, which enhances its authoritative sexiness.

Purchased for the Museum Collections, early 1990s

25d Shoulder bag, floral embroidered canvas, c.1973
‘Hand crafted’ looks in accessories, even ones mass-produced, was very popular in the seventies.  A conventional shape, but wildly random dyed and machine embroidered in the ‘flower power’ style, this young girl’s shoulder bag was probably bought at a cheap chain store on the local high street.

Provenance Unknown

25e Platform sandals, floral fabric and leather, 1976
Reminiscent of the 1940s wedge heeled, peep toe sandals, these examples are true platforms, designed to increase the wearer’s height by a dramatic 10cms.  Bought from the closing down sale of ‘Platform 9’ (a specialist shoe shop in Maidstone, now the Oxfam Bookshop), by a past Museum Curator, along with a pair of superb metallic leather platform boots.  When these ‘specimens’ were presented to the Museum Committee in 1976, they evidentally were not impressed!  Now they are regarded as gems of our 20th Century fashion collection.  They have a high cross over ankle strap and a 1940s style printed textile, combined with beige leather panels.

Purchased for the Museum Collections.

1970s – What’s New?

Jellies, 1970s
Bright plastic sandals introduced during this decade for adults and children.

Legwarmers, 1970s
Traditionally worn by ballet dancers, these long woollen, footless socks were worn around the calves and ankles to maintain body heat before, during and after exercise.  During the fitness cult of this decade they became fashionable worn over lycra leggings.