What to wear to a 70s themed party?

It’s a dilemma every girl has….

As you read this I may be suffering from a hangover but last night we held a 70s/80s/90s themed party in our village pub. This has become an annual event and always seems to come on the most depressing Saturday of the year (mid January, a long way from pay day etc). Coupled with the bad news about the passing of Bowie* (and may I add Alan Rickman) there seemed even more of a need to cast our troubles aside and get on the dance floor…

The party is dead simple: we hire the pub’s function room (£35), create our own playlist and let the festivities begin. We decorate the walls with album covers.

And nearly everyone who comes along gets dressed up. For the past few years I have stuck to the 80s for my clothing inspiration, but this time I wanted to go back to the 1970s and so last week I went shopping for an outfit.

I had a quick trawl through the Yellow Shop in Bath which has a good selection of vintage clothing.


I also popped into the Julian House charity shop which has a dedicated vintage section. I chose two pink nylon dresses to try on but forgot what I was writing about in this post about vintage clothing, ie dress sizes have changed. A size 14 from the 60s/70s is now a size 10 and there was no way I could even zip them up!


I then went along to the new Dorothy House vintage shop in Bath. This such a gem! It has a ground floor filled with classic outfits and accessories and on the next floor is a lovely coffee shop (post to follow).

Dorothy House Vintage Clothing Shop, Bath

I found these two 70s classics to try on:

vintage 1970s outfits: blue evening dress and black jumpsuit

This dress made me feel like Margot Leadbetter (from The Good Life). It fitted well but was slightly too long:

1970s evening dress

This £12 (!) jumpsuit, though, was the outright winner!

1970s inspired flared jumpsuit

Although it has flared trousers and the plunging neckline is reminiscent of Studio 54 style I don’t think it’s originally from the seventies. The label states that it’s made in China and is composed of polyester and spandex. According to the brilliant Vintage Fashion Guild website here spandex wasn’t widely used in clothing until the eighties.

The jumpsuit fitted perfectly. Funnily enough it’s the second black jumpsuit I’ve bought in two months having never worn one before. I love wearing them as I still think they are dressy but low maintenance (you don’t have to shave your legs to wear them). I wore the jumpsuit with these lovely silver shoes I picked up for £1 in an Oxfam sale:

silver shoes from Oxfam


Couple with some oversized sunglasses I felt like Liza Minelli at Studio 54

Liza Minnelli, Studio 54

what to wear to a seventies themed party

I am seriously tempted to wear the jumpsuit again, although I think I’ll remove the gold studs from the sleeves. I’ve recently discovered the brilliant Over 40s fashion blog, Fake and Fabulous, and Sam has a great post here about wearing jumpsuits. I will be following some of her tips and ensuring the seventies lives on….

*we did, of course, include a Bowie tribute segment.

My ‘vintage’ collection

Having spent the last thirty years trawling charity shops and jumble sales I have a few little gems that I have kept onto. I realise that being in my mid-forties means I can no longer fit into the size 8s and 10s I could as a teenager but I have been unable to part with some of my more wonderful finds. Thankfully I have three daughters and one niece so I am holding onto these items so that they may be able to wear them in the future.

At present I have two boxes of ‘vintage’ clothing which are stored away.

vintage clothing box

They contain a range of clothing, including a few items I bought in the 1990s. There is this early 90s ‘grunge’ dress that I bought while living in the US in 1992/3.

1992 'grunge' style dress, bought from Nordstroms dept store, California 1992

I also have a red two piece suit from Karen Millen that I wore to my wedding reception in 1999.

Then there are the finds from my student and school days which I have kept onto because they are unique:

lace blouse

My white Victorian style blouse picked up from Birmingham Rag Market in 1990/1. I wore this for my university graduation in 1994.

I was fortunate enough to begin my second-hand shopping in the mid eighties when charity shops and jumble sales were frowned upon yet, conversely, held the most amazing items that would sell for more than 50p now!

These two summer dresses have been with me for decades. I can’t remember where I picked them up from (possibly jumble sales in the late 1980s). I believe they are 1950s, or early 1960s. They have the telltale signs of metal zips and the brilliantly designed bra holders (small straps sewn in that clip your bra into place – genius invention). I was able to wear them until a few years ago and am deliberating over whether to get them altered so that I can wear them again.

1950s style summer dress

1950s summer dress

1950s dress: metal zip and white bra carrier strap

1950s dress: metal zip and white bra carrier strap


Blanes of London label

Blanes of London was a clothing company from the 1950s and 1960s, according to Vintage Fashion GuildThis website also says that if the label had a diagonal background then it dates from the 1950s. A quick search on the web revealed similar day dresses from Blanes on sale for $130-$180, although I have no intention of selling this one! (NB vintage sizing is higher numbers than today. I comfortably wore this size ’14’ when I was a size 10; being size 12 now means I can no longer squeeze into it)

One of the most precious collections in my box are my baby dresses from the early 1970s:

1970s baby clothes

With label names like ‘Rob Roy’ and ‘Little Imp’ and their heavy use of nylon they seem to come from another era. They are also incredibly short. While I have kept onto them for years there weren’t many of these dresses that I could put my own girls into as the styles have changed so much.

1970s baby dress

This is the one dress that my girls did wear, with leggings or trousers:

1970s baby dress

My collection also includes a couple of designer named items that I picked up in charity shops in Bath. I am always on the lookout for tips on how to store them better (especially as I now realise how much the jumble sale Blanes dress is worth!). I don’t feel sad that I can no longer fit into the clothing. As I have mentioned before with good quality items we are only the temporary custodians. I hope that the 1950s dresses go on to tell many more tales when my daughters wear them…

New Year’s Eve – in a Seventies’ style

I don’t know why but I had it in my head that I wanted to dress in a Seventies’ style for New Years Eve. It may have been the thought of the prawn cocktail and curried eggs that our friends were serving as 1970s canapes at the beginning of the evening. It could also have been the record player that my lovely husband bought me for Christmas which has reunited us with a lot of our parents’ vinyl (Neil Diamond, Stevie Wonder and of course Abba). Anyway we took a post Christmas trip into Bath, scoured the charity shops and picked up two suitable Margot and Jerry outfits for the evening:


His was an Austin Reed suit (£12.99 from the British Heart Foundation Shop). Mine was a green acrylic/wool blend dress which cost £10 from the Julian House charity shop (which I previously blogged about here). I also had to buy the matching knuckle duster ring for £4. The dress is by David Gibson of Regent Street and I am guessing, from the label and sizing, it’s 1970s.


Button details

Button details

I wore the dress without the belt as it was, ahem, a little tight.

I wore the dress without the belt as it was, ahem, a little tight.

It’s hard to do justice to the shade of green which looks more jade in the photos. If I was the say it is a 1970s shade of green I hope this makes sense. I actually really love it and am determined to wear it again for everyday. A friend actually commented that it looks fairly similar to this one currently on sale at Hobbs for £159! And this is why I love shopping second hand!!

Anyway needless to say we had a great New Year and didn’t crawl home until three am. We took our record player round to friends and danced until the early hours…

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