The sometimes forgotten ‘70s, the era that popularized disco, bell-bottoms and Charlie's Angels, is back in 2015 with fashion that reflects the "me decade.” Having personally experienced a number of fashion fortunes and misfortunes during this period, it's hard to believe that a new generation is embracing it as cool. As a 1970s newlywed and mom, I wore hot pants (denim with matching denim boots), tube tops with gaucho pants, and my all-time favorite, a plaid miniskirt with matching plaid maxi coat. A lime-green, crocheted, fur-trimmed cardigan—another holdover that I could never part with—seems as perfect today as it did back then.
From the streets of San Francisco, New York and Benicia, designers and customers have raided vintage and consignment stores, rediscovering a sense of liberation and nostalgia from 40 years ago. Ready-to-wear has also captured the trend, with floppy hats, fringed clothing and the maxi dress, which translates to lots of ages and body types. Some other looks that have withstood the test of time (besides my sweater) are the iconic wrap dress and the pantsuit.
In 1972, Diane von Furstenberg created the simple but flattering wrap dress, made from jersey, that took you from the office to the discos. It became a symbol of women's lib, had renewed popularity in the 1990s, and again in today’s current collections. André Courrèges is credited for bringing pants into the professional dress code in the 1970s. The pantsuit was often barred in the workplace, and was even deemed inappropriate on the Senate floor until 1993, because it was too masculine. Thankfully, we evolved from that sexist approach. As an example of how far we've come, during Hilary Clinton's run for President, the pantsuit became her working wardrobe on the campaign trail. It got a lot of attention, culminating in her August 2008 address at the Democratic National Convention, where she thanked the sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits.
Besides politicians and executives, the pantsuit is also showing up on the red carpet, sometimes replacing the evening gown. Recent celebrity sightings showed white suits reminiscent of John Travolta's dance number in 1977’s Saturday Night Fever. The reinvented version has variations of slim-legged pants or a shorter, cropped silhouette. Jackets are fitted, and usually worn without much underneath, showing lots of skin.
Interestingly, Benicia is reinventing itself too. From its heyday as the antique capitol of the Bay Area in the 1970s, it is reestablishing itself as the place to reconnect with the past. Gradually, First Street store fronts reflect the change with vintage and antiques taking space alongside 27 restaurants/bars, a growing number of art galleries, gift stores, clothing boutiques and over 30 salons and spas. I recently counted 10 stores that offer antique furniture, vintage clothing and retro items. Some stores are long established, a few are jockeying for larger spaces, and new businesses are testing the water with smaller square footage and affordable rent.
The mix makes for a "far out" day of exploring, dining, shopping and possibly getting a makeover. Who knows what a fringed purse, white suit or mood ring might do to transform your look into a 1970s diva or disco dude. Dynamite!