Business fashions changed greatly over a 20-year span in the mid-20th century. In the 1950s, people dressed quite formally for work in an office each day. The '60s era of peace and love ushered in more casual styles. The generation of people that became adults in the '60s had a slightly more relaxed view of business clothes when they entered the workforce in the '70s.
Men still wore suits to the office, and they came in a wider range of styles than they had before. Men wore three-piece suits with a vest, tie and jacket for formal business meetings. They also still wore classic, two-piece, single-breasted suits with ties. New in the '70s, men wore leisure suits to work. They were often polyester, with a more casual cut to the jacket, wide lapels, a more casual flare to the pants and were worn with no tie. Men's '70s suits were often a bold solid color or a pattern such as plaid.
Men's Shirts and Knit Sweaters
Men's business shirts were loud and bold in the '70s. Men wore them beneath leisure suit jackets or often on their own. They were often a rather clingy material such as nylon or polyester, and were not cut to be roomy. They often had full landscape designs, flowers or many other eye-popping designs on them. Men also wore lightweight knit sweaters that ranged from turtlenecks to V-necks with short sleeves. They wore these shirts or sweaters with polyester pants that were narrow at the top and had wide pant legs.
On the heels of women's lib in the late '60s, many women were in the corporate workforce in the '70s. Like their male counterparts, they loved polyester pantsuits. Women's pantsuits were cut to be more suited to the female form, with jackets or vests that tapered in a bit at the waist where there was often a belt made from the same material and color as the jacket. Men and women's dress pants were cut very similarly in the '70s. They were narrow and hugging around the hips and thighs, and quite wide in the pant leg.
Women's Skirts, Dresses and Gauchos
The miniskirt was still in style in the '70s, but was worn more often for social occasions or in a casual work setting. Corporate dress for women was just a bit dressier. Women wore nylon or rayon dresses in bright colors or patterns, in a style that often buttoned or zipped up the front and came to the knee. Women also wore bell-shaped skirts or gaucho pants, which came to the knee and were so wide they looked like skirts. They wore these with wide-collared shirts and accessories such as scarves tied around their necks.