How to Dress for a '70s Disco

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When you're at home getting dressed for a '70s disco party in a sequined minidress or velvet leisure suit, you might feel a little self-conscious about going out in such a retro look. But a good '70s party is packed with people in over-the-top disco costumes that they might not wear anywhere else. Disco fashion was all about looking glamorous on the dance floor, so think about both form and function when you're evaluating your party outfits and remember that everyone looks amazing under the lights of a disco ball.

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Start with shape

Whether you're making a disco outfit from your own clothes or planning to shop for new pieces, start by thinking about clothing shapes. Shape is everything in disco fashion. You can easily mix and match pieces that fit the disco aesthetic once you're clear about what that looks like. (A lot of the silhouettes that are associated with disco fashion can be worn by someone of any gender depending on comfort level.) Disco fashions were all about going out at night, so people tended to wear clothing that accentuated their body shape and showed off some skin.

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Flared pants, sleeves and collars were common design elements during the disco era. If you want to wear long pants, go with the most exaggerated bell bottoms you can find. High-waist and wide-leg pants, bell-bottom jumpsuits and leisure suits are also on-target for a '70s party. Or take an opposite approach and show off plenty of leg in short shorts (aka hot pants) or a minidress.

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As for a disco shirt, pick a sleeveless tank, halter top or bodysuit to show off plenty of skin. If you'd rather wear long sleeves, opt for a button-down shirt with the first several buttons undone. Use double-stick tape under your collar points to keep them flared out toward your shoulders. A peasant-style shirt with bell sleeves also looks appropriately '70s for a disco party.

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No bell bottoms? No problem: Make your own!

Add fabric inserts to make DIY bell bottoms from a pair of old jeans or other pants. Cut open the ankle seam and sew or pin pieces of fabric into the openings. You can also transform an old T-shirt into a disco-friendly top by cutting it into a halter or by cutting off the sleeves.

Choose groovy colors and fabrics

Dressing for a disco-themed party is the perfect opportunity to pull out sequins, rhinestones, satin, velvet and other luxe or over-the-top fabrics. Pair a sequined tank top with a velvet miniskirt, for example, or veer toward the hippie end of the fashion spectrum. That might mean neutral colors and natural fabrics: Think brown corduroy pants and denim. When in doubt, tie-dye fabrics in bright colors always scream "1970s."

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Recreate an iconic look

Some of the most iconic figures from the disco era are hard to imitate when you don’t have Halston or Gucci designing for you. But there’s one famous disco look that you may be able to recreate: John Travolta’s famous white suit from ‌Saturday Night Fever‌. This costume is the perfect way to repurpose an old three-piece white suit. Just add a black button-down shirt unbuttoned halfway to the navel and get ready to strike a pose.

Pick dance-worthy shoes

As the Bee Gees sang, "You should be dancing!" You're not going to be able to stay off the dance floor when Donna Summer comes on, so footwear is critically important at a disco party. A woman who was headed to a trendy disco club in the '70s might have worn platform high heels or go-go boots. Any style of platform shoe or a pair of tall boots could work with your '70s outfit.

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You can also defer to comfort—and make sure you don't twist an ankle while boogieing—by wearing Converse or loafers.

Add finishing touches of glam

You have your bell-bottom pants and sleeveless T-shirt, tie-dyed minidress or leisure suit all ready to go. But how should you finish your '70s fashion look? Style your hair and makeup to add shine and volume to your look. Curl long hair into the famous Farrah Fawcett flip. Style shorter hair to give it as much fluff and curl as possible.

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As for accessories? Mini disco ball jewelry, headbands that go across the forehead, big hoop earrings, peace sign necklaces, chokers and round hippie glasses are all silly but on-brand for a '70s costume.

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