Trend Report: 1970s Detective (Calling All Columbo Fans!)

Whether you're nostalgic for 70s television or feeling inspired by "Poker Face," the 1970s detective aesthetic is nothing but fun.

eHow may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story. Learn more about our affiliate and product review process here.
Image Credit: Instagram/@midcenturymam, Etsy/ARKYFLY, Etsy/LunaStoneVintage, Etsy/Spoonflower

To be clear: ‌Columbo‌ never really went out of style. If you ask us, Peter Falk's faux-bumbling homicide detective has always been cool. But there's been a resurgence in interest around the TV show and character in recent years—and the popularity of the TV series ‌Poker Face‌ has definitely helped.


If you're unfamiliar: Peacock's (fantastic) show stars Natasha Lyonne as Charlie, who uses her lie-detecting skills to solve murders while she's moving around the country on the run. Like ‌Columbo‌, the case-of-the-week style episodes start with the crime so the question is not "Who did it?" but "How will Charlie solve it?"

Video of the Day


Whatever the cause of the Columbo craze, he and his fellow TV detectives of the 1970s are definitely having a moment. Even if you don't know McMillan from McCloud or Baretta from Barnaby Jones, read on for ways to get in on the trend. You'll be binge-watching ‌Ironside‌ and ‌Hart to Hart‌ before you know it.


1. Deep-dive into '70s decor

The offices in 1970s detective shows were hardly glamorous by today's standards. (In ‌The Rockford Files‌, Jim Rockford ran his private eye business out of a ramshackle trailer parked in a Malibu parking lot.) If you want to incorporate '70s style into your home and everyday life, you'll need a source for real-time inspiration. Start by checking out @midcenturymam and other Instagram accounts that highlight mid-century decor before fully embracing the trend.


2. Rock retro sunglasses

Now that you're familiar with the '70s detecive vibe, it's time to wear it proudly. No self-respecting TV detective would venture into the California sun to solve mysteries without a pair of square aviator sunglasses like this reddish orange-tinted pair from Etsy seller LunaStoneVintage. Alternatively, copy Natasha Lyonne's look from the ‌Poker Face‌ poster with a pair of gold-framed reflective lenses.


3. Experiment with '70s wallpaper

This year you're into the '70s detective aesthetic, but who knows? Next year you might be all about minimalism or futuristic design. Hanging removable wallpaper lets you convert your own home office into a dreamy '70s-inspired space...for now. Check out the range of retro patterns in temporary wallpaper from Spoonflower on Etsy.



4. Boldly embrace '70s fashion

Our favorite 1970s TV detectives tended to wear pretty drab suits and ties, but there are much more fun ways to incorporate the decade's style into your current wardrobe. Follow @70srose on TikTok (or @rosenoraanna on Instagram) for inspiration. If you've ever aspired to dress like one of ‌Charlie's Angels‌ or Angie Dickinson in ‌Police Woman,‌ Rose's ensembles are not to be missed.


5. Respect the mustache

Okay, technically pop culture's most famous mustachioed detective, Magnum P.I., didn't appear on TV until 1980. And most of the famous TV detectives of the '70s were clean-shaven. But there's something about a '70s aesthetic that just ‌screams‌ for facial hair—plus, Benjamin Bratt's ‌Poker Face‌ mustache is pretty aspirational. If you can't or won't grow your own, grab a quirky mustache pin from Etsy maker JimClift.


6. Snag a groovy sticker

When you want to participate in a new trend without actually changing your wardrobe or home decor, a multipurpose sticker is the perfect solution. Whether you're popping it onto a laptop or water bottle or clipping it to the fridge, this handmade Charlie's Angels‌ sticker from Etsy seller TheBluOwl offers a fun and affordable way to embrace the '70s crime-solving aesthetic.


7. Think orange, red, brown and yellow

Many current home design trends favor neutral shades and bright colors like blue, green and pink. In other words, not colors that any '70s detectives outside of ‌Hawaii Five-O‌ might have had in their offices. If you want to update your space in a realistically retro way, bring in shades of brown and accents of red, orange and mustard yellow. Check out @70svintagelove for more inspiration.

8. Wear Columbo earrings

Wear your love for all things '70s detective on your ears with a pair of laser-cut acrylic and plexiglass Columbo‌ earrings from Italian Etsy artisan ARKFLY, who can customize the included notebook earring with language of your choice—after all, shows like ‌Barreta‌, ‌Kojak‌, ‌Mannix‌ and ‌Columbo‌ itself certainly maintain international appeal. You'll get compliments galore from fellow crime show lovers when you rock this bold jewelry in public.

9. Take notes the old-fashioned way

It's hard to picture Peter Falk taking notes on an iPhone. Classic TV series detectives always carried notebooks, and so should you. A real detective or private investigator probably wouldn't show up to interview a witness with a Columbo notebook like this one from Etsy seller AngieBealDesigns—but you're a maverick who makes your own rules. (Coincidentally, that's just like all the best TV detectives!)


10. Make your own Starsky sweater

If you've never seen ‌Starsky and Hutch‌, you've missed some iconic '70s fashion. David Soul's Hutch wore a leather jacket with a wide collar, while the signature look for Paul Michael Glaser's Starsky was a chunky white cardigan with a black design. Charlie even wears the sweater in the first episode of ‌Poker Face.‌ If you're all about that DIY life, you'll be thrilled to learn that Etsy seller ShadowsPatterns offer a downloadable knitting pattern straight from the 1970s, so you can create a Starsky sweater for every member of the family. How groovy!

Now, who's in the mood to sip some Tab and marathon a few 50-year-old detective shows? Oh, and just one more thing... Seriously, ‌Poker Face‌ is so good!


Report an Issue

screenshot of the current page

Screenshot loading...