In the 1970s fashion was funky with wild colors, shapes and patterns not seen in nature. Jeans were no exception. Whether they achieved that 1970s look via outsized proportions, like bell bottoms, or as a result of psychedelic embroidered patterns, it's easy to identify the jeans of The Me Decade.
Next to leisure suits, few fashions scream 1970 like bell-bottom jeans. From the waist to the knee these jeans are fairly ordinary, but at the bottom they flare out into a large bell-like shape, hence the name. These jeans were patterned after the bell bottoms of the Naval uniform, a surprising inspiration for a decade known for an anti-war counterculture sensibility.
Long before the Bedazzler, the cool kids of the '70s bought and made jeans that were embellished with studs, rhinestones, embroidery and decorative patches. Some bold fashionistas paired the embellishment trend with the bell bottom trend, sewing swatches of colorful fabric to make the bottoms of their jeans even wider.
Although the designer jean craze didn't really take off until the Regan Era, the late 1970s saw mass-marketed jeans by some well-known fashion brands. In 1979 Gloria Vanderbilt, socialite (and mother to Anderson Cooper), sold 6 million pairs of jeans that included her signature and a distinctive swan logo. Jordache designer jeans with their European styling also made a splash in the late 1970s. Calvin Klein jeans, and the infamous "Nothing comes between me and my Calvins" Brooke Shields commercial, didn't show up until the early '80s.
Denim Jackets and Jean Innovations
In the '70s, denim wasn't just for jeans. Short, form-fitting jackets made of denim were also quite popular, sometimes featuring embroidery and patches like their denim pant counterparts. Some denim trends were more about function than fashion. The 1970s also introduced the practical "pre-shrunk" jeans, as well as the still-popular stonewashed, or pre-faded jeans.