Fashion for the 70’s- Past Predictions


1970s design fashion

Adjust your color TV sets- its bound to be awash in a sea of harvest gold, avocado green, earthy browns and burnt oranges.

Mad Men is moving into the 1970s.

As Don and the gang enter this new decade, speculation abound of how they will all look in this brave new polyester world…will Pete don a Leisure suit or will Peggy opt for a midi over a mini?

Real folks leaving the tumultuous sixties wondered about their own lives and as the new decade dawned, predictions ran rampant.

For the January 1, 1970 issue of Life Magazine editors asked avant garde designer Rudi Gernreich to envision clothes for the future in a piece entitled “Fashion for the 70’s,” where the reader is presented with the designers brave new look of the future.

Gernreich was well-known for approaching fashion with a social conscience, and that sensibility is clearly reflected in this article  where there is nary a mention of the ubiquitous leisure suit or glittery disco wear.

Fashion For the 70’s

future fashion 70s SWScan09700

One Life Magazine article from January 1970 featured predictions from avante garde designer in a feature called Fashion for the 70’s.

“We know already that this next decade may well be enough to make us lose our hair, if only in protest, but now Rudi Gernreich, America’s most avant-garde designer, tells us we may lose our eyebrows and eyelashes as well,” begins the Life magazine article.

“He’s often right. That’s why Life asked him to make some fashion predictions and illustrate them with sketches.”

“According to him, the nostalgic and circus look of today’s clothes is a sinister sign that we are not facing up to the problems of contemporary life.”

“The clothes of the future will have to be functional. Gernreich foresees a time just ahead when ‘people will stop bothering about romance in their clothes.’”

“Tomorrows woman will divest herself of her jewelry and cosmetics and dress exactly like tomorrows man.”

Fashion, Gernreich predicted, will go out of fashion.

“But without hair won’t our heads get cold? No, because both sexes will wear helmet shaped Dynel wigs ®- white for summer, black for winter.”

“When everyone is striping down to what Gernreich calls “their barest honesty” even sunglasses will be de trop. Instead, we will all wear colored contact lenses, partly to see better but also to shield our eyes from air pollution.”

“The utility principle will allow us, says Gernreich, to take our minds off how we look and concentrate on really important matters.”


Fashion for the 70's  Rudi Gernreich Predictions from  Jan 1, 1970 Life Magazine

Fashion for the 70’s Rudi Gernreich Predictions from Jan 1, 1970 Life Magazine

“Winter or summer, male or female everybody will dress alike.

“In cold, wintry weather, predicts Gernreich, “both men and women will wear heavy ribbed leotards and waterproof boots.”

Long before online shopping, he correctly predicted:

“It will be impossible to drive to stores because of traffic, so all clothes will be ordered from a catalog or TV set.”

Predating PETA, he also was right abut the sea of synthetics we would be drowning with in this Quiana consumed decade.

“And since animals which now supply wool, fur and leather will be so rare that they must be protected and weaving fabric such as cotton will be too much trouble, most clothes will be made entirely of cheap and disposable synthetic knits.”


Fashion for the 70's  Rudi Gernreich Predictions from  Jan 1, 1970 Life Magazine

Fashion for the 70’s Rudi Gernreich Predictions from Jan 1, 1970 Life Magazine

“Clothing will not be identified as either male or female says Gernreich,” correctly predicting the unisex craze…maybe.

“So women will wear pants and men will wear skirts interchangeably. And since there wont be any squeamishness about nudity, see through clothes will only be see-through for reasons of comfort.”

Perhaps in a nod to his topless bathing suit that caused a sensation in the 1960’s, the designer  predicted:

“Weather permitting both sexes will go about bare chested, though women will wear simple protective pasties. Jewelry will exist only as a utility- that is, to hold something up or together, like a belt, or for information, like a combination wristwatch weather indicator, compass and radio.”

“The esthetics of fashion are going to evolve the body itself. We will train the body to grow beautifully rather than cover it to produce beauty.”

Seventies Seniors

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Fashion for the 70’s Rudi Gernreich Predictions from Jan 1, 1970 Life Magazine


“And for the Elderly, a big bold cover up.”

“The present cult of eternal youth is not honest and certainly not attractive, says Gernreich.”

“In an era when the body will become the convention of fashion, the old will adopt a uniform of their own. If a body can no longer be accentuated, it should be abstracted. The young won’t wear prints but the elderly will because bold prints detract.”

“The elderly will have a cult of their own and the embarrassment of old age will fade away.”

The real world of 1970 looked a bit different.

1970 fashion men and women

Vintage fashion go-togethers 1970 Sears Spring Catalog


1970 fashion women

Vintage fashion 1970 Sears Catalog

Copyright (©) 2015 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved

Then and Now Mad Men World of 1969



  1. That was such a distinctive time period for clothing.


  2. Those clothes! So amazing and people were very experimental in fashion!


  3. Micki Allen

    Can one ever have too much avocado green? I think not.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Where can I get my own senior caftan?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I remember my family’s first color tv. Forget the brand, but I can still hear, “Too much green. No….get rid of the purple. People don’t have yellow faces. Get out of my way. Let me fix it.” You just couldn’t get the color right.


  6. Chad R. Herman

    What is the american dream? Did Fitzgerald get it right, maybe Keroauc, maybe Thomspons…either we we continue striving for something that is constantly evolving and always elusive to our grasp no matter the millions and the decades we live through.


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