Soul Chic: That 70s Show-room

One of the biggest trends to emerge this season is the styling of the 70s. To the people who grew up on Soul Train, loved to watch “Good Times” and all of the Blaxploitation films–the fashion industry is stating the obvious. And for those whom the above references seem unfamiliar, it is probably because it was before their time. Still, let some tell it, the 70s didn’t make a comeback, it never left. Rocking the trend with the same fierceness as Foxy Brown, or Cleopatra Jones can be easy it’s all in how you put it together.

Reference: Blaxploitation

While others looked to the waiting line at Studio 54 to see what people were wearing, we had Blaxploitation. Never before, have superheroes, pimps, and prostitutes looked so well-dressed. The long coats, vibrant colors, and draped capes made everything look even more dramatic. And the 70s were all about the drama. My favorite film from the 70s was “Cleopatra Jones”. Every scene showed Cleopatra looking more stylish than the last. She delivered the Kung Fu and precise shooting with no problem and looked sharp while doing so. Tamara Dobson was beautiful in the title role with a perfectly puffed Afro and high-waist loose pants to boot.

And of course, Blaxploitation cannot be discussed without mentioning the indelible influence of Ms. Pam Grier. In countless roles, she wore tight, form-fitting dresses and jumpsuits that would have fit in perfectly with any of the collections that appeared on the runways for this season. Platforms, feathers and gaudy fashion jewelry were the accessories of choice. Animal prints played a major role in her styling too. So emulating the Pam Grier as Foxy Brown or Coffy is all about finding those bold pieces and  having the diva swagger to pull it off. The below inspiration boards give some insight:

Reference: Willona Woods (from Good Times)

Another great reference for the 70s trend was Willona Woods from the popular sitcom “Good Times”. She was chic, sassy and sharp all at the same time. Willona liked to give a little and take it back–she flaunted style without selling sex. You could always see a class and sexiness in her looks. And on another note, she did a lot of color-blocking (another popular trend this season) she believed in bright colors and flattering silhouettes. But she always had that one piece that sold the entire look. She was into fashion since she worked at a boutique. Willona believed in presentation–she lived in the projects but flaunted the attitude of an haute couturier. To pull off the Willona look choose pieces that are basic in construction and style them with statement pieces. In other words, a long skirt with a tight top, a thick belt, and platforms. The coat for the accompanying the look should have a high-fashion flair. Accessories can be flirty and flashy, as they can be taken off at your own discretion.

Key items

I am obsessed with the Rachel Zoe collection. She embraces the 70s on her hit reality TV show, “The Rachel Zoe Project”, and in her debut collection. Her items are available in various high-end retailers, but more than that, she does a good job of capturing what 70s fashion was about nothing overly complicated, wearable looks and well-made clothes. Other brands like: Marc Jacobs, Tory Burch, and Gucci round out my list of designers who do the 70s thing well. Here are some key items to look for:

The 70s aren’t meant to break your bank or be overly-complicated. They represent a time when the Soul Train and Blaxploitation audiences were stamping their own style–defiant, statement-driven, and strong. P.S. look to different shades of brown and beige for the IT color.


–  James R. Sanders

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James R. Sanders regularly contributes to the Huffington Post and is the biweekly columnist for Black Star News’ Noir Style. He most recently completed his novel, “Born in Sin” and is a stylist and editor based in the New York area. He can be reached at:



  1. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?
    Plz reply as I’m looking to design my own blog and would like to know where u got
    this from. thank you

  2. That70sMan says:

    I think we need to not forget who made the 70s Blazploitation fashion pssoible, and it was not just the women: it was THE MEN! Why can’t we place emphasis on the male expression back then and why isn’t there a resurgence in men’s fashion with regard to bellbottoms , platforms, plaids, etc? Don’t you think it’s time that men are given the opportunity to rediscover these fashions? For me at least, I refuse to run with the times. I buy vintage and I buy the 70s pimp fashions and wear them with pride, regardleess of what peiopel think. For me, I live Soul Train and the 70s every day of my life. MEN LISTEN UP: THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX! Don’t be afraid to express yourselves because the 70s was and still is a beautiful time. Peace out!

  3. James, Although the word Blaxploitation does not sound complimentary, at least it gave people the opportunity to express themselves artistically and in turn provided the rest of us the opportunity to experience some great music and dress style leading to the 70s fashion that is still popular today. It was thanks to people like Don Cornelius who created Soul Train that brought previously unknown music, and artists to the public who in turn appreciated them and made the music popular. Even today their music and the clothing from the 1970s is inspiring both modern day musicians and fashion designers alike.

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