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Catalogs #18: The Greatest Year in Women's Fashion History


Spoken as someone who spends altogether too much time looking at old catalogs, I'd have to say that 1974 is my favorite year in women's fashion.

That's right - no need to re-read that line; you read it correctly the first time. In the entire history of women's clothing, since Eve first donned a fig leaf, nineteen hundred and seventy four is the best.

It had the best of all possibilities. The mod look was out, and so was the hippy look - let's face it, they were cool, but got old quick. Both these styles morphed into the glorious fashions of '74.  The colors weren't neon-LSD anymore, but still had a bold flavors of the mod.  Plus, you still had the hippie earth tones. Indeed, this was the year when brown ruled the earth.


Polyester has been a much maligned fabric, but for sheer practicality it cannot be beat. It is wash and wear - no wrinkles to be found. (For those polyester haters, please note that all Underarmour clothing is pure polyester, as is basically all athletic clothing today. Cotton sucks.) As an added bonus, polyester clings to your body like nobody's business, and the clothing in '74 could be quite tight.... making most garments basically a practice in exhibitionism.  Gilligan like.

The fashions of the latter half of the seventies were nice; however, much like the mod attire, the gaudy disco styles got tiresome.  The clothes of '74 were the perfect balance. You might even say that, if fashions were to stay the same for perpetuity, this is the year I'd choose for them to stall at.

Sadly, women's slacks entered the scene in this year; however, it was a small price to pay for the highest hemlines in history - this was the minis last year of popularity, and it was high, high, high.

So, without further ado, check out some catalog pages from the year that 1974.























27 comments:

  1. "I'd have to say that 1974 is my favorite year in women's fashion."

    Good grief! Never in a million years did I think I'd ever be hearing that. LOL!

    Wishing you every polyestered-dream of yours to come true,
    SparkleFarkle,
    (entered high school fall 1968 and graduated June of '72)

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  2. I was born in 74. i totes agree ;)

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  3. I've never mocked 70s fashion as so many have and I totally agree that these fashions are fantastic. The only thing is you didn't include any men's fashions as you have in other posts.

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  4. best year ever for women's style in clothes, shoes, hair, makeup.

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  5. Too much polyester and dowdy lines here for me. My favorite year for women's fashion from old catalogs I've seen is 1967--summer of love, bright colors, mod, etc.

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  6. Just reminds me of how much I hate platform shoes.....

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  7. "Sadly, women's slacks entered the scene in this year"

    Weren't women's slacks around for eons before 1974?

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    1. Ahem. I didn't mean pants were invented in '74. Women just didn't typically wear them much. I don't pretend to be a fashion historian, I'm just sayin'. I'm well aware of Capris and such, but pants were the exception, not the rule until the seventies were well underway.

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  8. I guess to each his own. I have no grounds to say you are crazy for liking 1974's fashion offerings, as I like the late 1950s and early 1960s for fashions. I'll have to say, I was born in 1973, and thus have no active memory of 1974, but I certainly remember people wearing clothes that looked like these. I also remember clothes like these just being what people wore, no big whoop. I remember my wine-colored plaid slacks and butterfly collars from the late 70s! My grandmother had a top that looked quite like the one the lady on the left in the third picture down is wearing. I think it might have been a different color.

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  9. I like these clothes. The waists were so tiny

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  10. Picture #4 with the three women - I'll take the purple pants of woman #1 and the sparkly purple shirt of woman #2 please.

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  11. Rocky FamosoFebruary 03, 2012

    If it wasn't for this persistent x-ray vision of mine, I might have to agree with you on the fashions.

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  12. I've always loved the fashions of the 70s...except perhaps for those wide leg pants. But I would totally wear those floral print dresses.

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  13. Yeah, I wouldn't mind being seen on a date with a girl in some of those outfits. Better than the slut-wear of today. Although the to-the-floor bell bottoms (are those elephant legs?) are kinda stupid. Still, the waistline is in the correct place, not down around the ass, leaving extra "girl" squeezing out the top.

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  14. I think the 9th photo down (the voluminous green flares) completely undermines the premise of this article! Whatever achievements 1974 attained (12 down), 9th photo down destroys.

    I'm still partial to 1969-70 and 1996-97 as my choice women's fashions years.

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  15. I wonder what that cone shaped edifice the models in the third row down are standing in front of is?

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  16. The bottom photo has inspired me to redouble my efforts to finish my time machine.

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  17. Some of these fashions are great, while in others, you see the relative dowdiness of some later 70s women's fashions coming in. If I had to pick one year that was the greatest in fashion, I think I'd pick 1971/2. Long hair, short skirts, uplifting colors.

    Another year I'd rate high is - you may find this funny - 1994. Why? As teenager of the '90s, I fondly remember one very sexy fashion that some girls wore at this time: short dresses/skirts with OVER-THE-KNEE/THIGH HIGH SOCKS. Plus, there was almost nothing tacky in the fashions of the mid-90s. The abominable 80s big hair and mullets (boys) were out, along with other garish 80s stuff (tacky-colored makeup, zebra-striped leggings etc); in general, basics were in, so that it was almost as if there was no strict fashion style to follow.

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  18. @Armpit Studios Oh yes, I agree with you on that one. I hate the way basic pants have been f***ed up in the past decade by the fashion industry. Everything has to be as small as possible, to have a "waist" that comes up to a little above the butt crack, so you have impractical, ill-fitting clothes that flash irrelevant skin at random times. I'll take 1974 bell bottoms with a snug, proper waist over that any day.

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  19. Bell bottom pants in 1974 were sweet. Gilligan, post a few pics of Elvis,circa 1974, to show people what real men's fashion looked like.

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  20. Thanx for sharing this post. I like some of the pic, that look very shown how women's trendy in older days.

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  21. Gotta agree with you Gilligan, 1974 is the best year in women's fashion. I'm a big fan of the wide leg pant's from the 70's and all of them in this post were positively dare I say SEXY, at least in my opinion. to me they look elegant, showed off the woman's upper legs and butt with class and make the woman's waist and feet appear smaller and looked great with a good pair of platform heels. all those form fitting sweaters and poofy blouses looked great too.those blouses matched the pants so well and vice versa. guess I'm just a sucker for anything 70's, my favorite decade.

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  22. Every year, spring and fall marks the release date of new fashion trends for the year are released by by most fashion houses in the industry. Well, eyewear and sunwear are no different; I just spent several days in New York City viewing hundreds upon hundreds of new releases of eyeglasses and sunglasses. The trend for this year seems to be the larger and more eclectic designs.

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  23. AnonymousJuly 24, 2013

    I was born in 1974, and to see the beginning of this fashion coming back in these days totally rocks- smooth style, chic, classy with a hint of fun, not serious, but serious enough to say I am woman!

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