The fashions of the 1970s are back. But don’t dig out those platform shoes, leisure suits or super-flared jeans just yet.
This summer, women are sporting ’70s-inspired maxi dresses and rompers that are more appropriate for a barbecue or Sunday brunch than on the disco floor.
“History is repeating itself now, but with a modern twist,” says Erika Chloe, CEO of My Image Expert, an image and fashion consulting firm that works with clients in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Delaware. “The ’70s trend has been updated.”
While the one-piece 1970s jumpsuit is the inspiration for the modern-day romper, the look has gone through a transformation. The fabric is the biggest change, according to Chloe.
“The fabrics are more flowing, more feminine and lighter weight,” she says.
Casual-chic rompers made with lightweight fabrics can be found at clothing stores such as The Limited, which offers a halter-neckline romper in a mustard hue ($69.90).This shorts-style romper is made of charmeuse, a satin-finished silk fabric that can be worn day or night. Nordstrom offers its own lightweight silk romper — a three-quarter-length sleeve and shorts-style one-piece in a neutral colored mosaic print ($128).
The top portion of the romper also has taken on a modern twist.
Asymmetrical rompers such as the Rosette One-Shoulder Romper, offered in black at the Limited ($69.90), transform the one-piece from an outfit for a disco diva to something fit for a fashionista. Flirty ruffle additions have updated the look of the romper as well. Reality television star Lauren Conrad designed a floral romper with a ruffled top for Kohl’s ($50).
During the 1970s, maxi dresses became a popular alternative to the mini skirt. But while ’70s floor-length dresses usually came in extremely bright or tropical prints, many of today’s maxis are available in more subtle floral prints, says Paula Cooperman, the owner of Mill Crest Vintage, a vintage clothing store in Lambertville.
Nordstrom offers a kimono-inspired maxi dress with a small floral print on the bust area and a larger floral print on the rest of the dress. The dress is made of chiffon and is done in muted blue, purple and rose ($260). Nordstrom also offers the Patterson Talin maxi dress, in a very subtle green, yellow, red and gray floral print ($168).
Suit your body type
Prints are important to consider when selecting both the right maxi dress and the right romper for your body type, according to Chloe.
“When you pick out a print, you have to make sure that the print is proportional to the body,” Chloe says.
On full-figured women, a large- or medium-size print looks best, she adds. Large-printed dresses such as the Bailey Blue Floral Print Maxi Dress at JCPenney, featuring large red flowers against a black background ($50), can camouflage figure flaws, Chloe says.
Petite women should stick with smaller prints, as larger ones can swallow them up, Chloe says. JCPenney offers a black, yellow and red maxi dress with a small print that highlights a petite frame ($78).
You don’t have to buy something new to keep up with the ’70s-inspired trend. Many vintage stores sell authentic ’70s rompers or jumpsuits and maxi dresses. The look can be updated with a few simple accessories, says Cindy Ciullo, owner of Backward Glances, a vintage clothing store in Red Bank.
“If you go head-to-toe one era, you are going to look dated,” she says. “It is best to pair something older with a modern look.”
Belt it, sash it
Cooperman says she has seen a great deal of interest in both the romper and the maxi dress during the past few summer seasons at Mill Crest Vintage. To make rompers more relevant for today’s fashionista, Cooperman suggests pairing them with a belt or sash. Belts can also make a romper appear to be two separate pieces, says Chloe, which gives the look a more sophisticated feel.
Shoes can change a romper from casual to more dressy. Cooperman suggests paring a romper with a blazer and high heals, for a fashion forward look that is still appropriate for the office.
Accessories also can make a maxi dress appropriate for many different occasions. A pair of Espadrilles and some chunky jewelry can make a maxi dress work for an afternoon party, while sandals, a hat and a straw bag can transform the same dress into the perfect Sunday brunch look, Cooperman says.
It is that simplicity that has caused both the maxi dress and the romper to return, Chloe says. Because both items are just one piece, putting together an outfit takes less time.
“I think women have gravitated to those styles because they are simple, easy-to-wear, throw-on garments,” Chloe says. “In the summer, they are great for weekend trips because they are easy to pack.”
Chloe also thinks the economy has something to do with the trend. Because summer-style rompers are a shirt and shorts in one, they use less fabric than creating two separate pieces, saving manufacturers money, Chloe says. Maxi dresses also are cheaper to make than other dresses because they are straight and simple and don’t involve a lot of sewing detail.
Ciullo thinks people are just craving something new.
“People are getting bored with the same things, and they want something that will stand out,” she says. “Fashion is cyclical. It comes back around and around.”