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Fashion Maniac: Oh What A Night

Fashion Maniac: Cheryl Gorski, Managing Editor – June 2011 – Keeping tabs
on Buffalo’s fashion industry, including models, catwalks, retailers,
designers, stylists, visual merchandisers and jewelers.

Features Editor : Phillip Johnson
All Photography & Managing Editor : Cheryl Gorski
Copy Editor : Chris Alfiero
Stylists : Cassie Elsaesser
Make Up :  Dani Weiser
Hair Stylist : Whitney Curry
Casting Director : Kimberly Cohen
Prop Stylist  : Todd Warfield, Lucy Mancuso, Michael Merisola

Oh What a Night – High Fashion’s Homage to the 70’s by Phillip D. Johnson
Fashion is nothing if not revolutionary and evolutionary at the same time. This is especially true of fashion and style trends from the 1970’s. I started attending the semi-annual New York Fashion Week shows back in 1991; and the first thing I noticed was that (1) there is really nothing “new” in fashion and (2) everything old is new again. I came to realize that most designers, while being truly talented, just put their own spin on designs from others who came before them.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  One can always improve upon a proven product.

For those of us who lived through it the first time, a glance back might have some us shaking our heads, and cringing at our fashion faux pas (hello!, the jumpsuit that didn’t really fit as well as we thought it would, the mini-skirt that did nothing for you except to show that you really should invest in pants). Every teenager wanted a mini dress like Marcia Brady’s (of TV’s The Brady Bunch) and young men admired John Travolta’s gleaming white three-piece Saturday Night Fever suit. Nothing was too much or too gaudy for the 70s.

For those of us too young to know better and enjoy embracing the retro looks from that decade, it’s a way for us to wear clothing that has been vastly improved upon with better cuts and infinitely better fabrics (Be gone, polyester!).


70’s Jeans
Prior to the late 1960’s, blue jeans, often referred to previously as “dungarees”, were not considered suitable fashion, especially for city dwellers.  Fashioned from sturdy denim materials, these were the clothes of workmen and farmers. Indeed, these dark blue beauties weren’t part of the main stream closet until the casualness of the hippie era came to the forefront, eventually making jeans an acceptable and common part of the wardrobe of nearly every person in the United States, regardless of age.
70s Jeans certainly looked a lot different than the straight leg, boot cut, riveted jeans worn by America’s laborers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The 70s was the era of the bell bottom jean, a style that most jean manufacturers now refer to as “flared”.

The first to wear bell bottoms were actually America’s sailors in the early part of the 1900s.  Later, in the early to mid 60s, bell bottoms were considered high fashion. But when jeans manufacturers starting making a denim version of the humble dungaree, mainstream America starting gobbling them up and they became one of the most well-known fashion trends of the 20th century.

Bell bottom jeans came in a few different styles. Some flared throughout the entire leg while others began the flare at the knee. Either way, the bottom was quite wide – hence, the name. So-called “elephant bells” were really wide at the bottom though equally as tight at the top as most 70s jeans.  Bell bottom wearers that weren’t happy with the width of their 70s jeans were known to open up the seams at the bottom and add a wild floral fabric wedge to make them even wider.

Most of the time, 70s jeans sat very low on the hips, not at the waist. These were called hip huggers and were often worn with midriff tops, showing off the belly area and top of the hips.  Sometimes they had wide belt loops so that wearers could don a funky-colored belt with their 70s jeans or even a macramé belt creation they made themselves.  Later in the 70’s, the stone washing method brought a new look to the world’s blue jeans. The faded, worn appearance of the stone washed jeans were perfect for the casual dressers of the 70s and stone washing was a trend that would last long after the 70s had disappeared.
The pre-shrunk jean was also first introduced in the 70s. These jeans were allowed to shrink by being washed multiple times before they were packaged up and sent to stores. This way, they stayed more true to size and would not shrink drastically when the consumer washed them at home. Pre-shrunk jeans are the norm today.


Ladies shirts ran the gamut from peasant-style, flowy tops that had become popular in the late 1960s to skimpy halter tops that were pared with equally-skimpy shorts known as hot pants. Sequined bra tops were also a common trend and, later, tube tops – a strapless sleeve of stretchy fabric that pulled over the head and covered the upper torso – were all the rage. For teenage girls and young women the crop top was often worn, sometimes with a halter neck or else tied in a knot above the midriff.

Fashion influences were peasant clothing, such as blouses with laces or off-the-shoulder necklines, inspired by those worn in the 17th century. Yves St Laurent introduced the (Russian) peasant look in 1976, which proved to be very influential. His YSL/Riva Gauche clothing line is an important touchstone for the decade and designers such as Marc Jacobs continue to show variations on the theme in their own collections throughout the years.

In many cases, 70s disco dresses were designed from very shiny, sparkly materials, often silver, gold, bronze, or some other metallic color. A typical material for these dresses was lame, which was shiny but still comfortable and not too heavy, given all those hours destined to be spent on the dance floor under the disco lights. It wasn’t unusual for some of these disco dresses to be decorated with sequins crystals or something else that added a little extra of what we now refer to as bling. Those dresses that weren’t made of lame or some other shiny material were fashioned from some other sort of lightweight fabric that would move easily when the wearer hit the dance floor. In many cases, these dresses included a bright, bold psychedelic pattern, either geometric or floral. Colors like orange, red, and yellow were very commonplace and the prints of a disco dress weren’t unlike the bold prints used on the wallpaper of the 70s. Disco dresses came in a few different styles though almost all of them were mini dresses; the hem usually landed about 5 or 6 inches above the knee. Some dresses were cut straight in an A-line style. Sleeve lengths for these dresses varied from sleeveless to long sleeve. Another popular style of disco dress featured a skirt that flared at the bottom, allowing for a little “spin” when
the wearer twirled around the dance floor. Often, the sleeves on these dresses were long and fit snug until they got to the elbow. From the elbow to the wrist, the sleeves flared in a similar fashion to the skirt portion of the dress.

The Jersey Wrap Dress, first designed by Diane von Furstenberg in 1972, became an extremely popular item, as it flattered a number of different body types and sizes, and could be worn both to the office, as well as to nightclubs and discos.


70s Accessories

A 70s outfit was not complete without the proper accessories to go along with the look. There were a variety of must-have accessories in the 70s that were indicative of different parts of the decade, with some 60s trends carrying over into the early 1970s and others emerging as the decade waned. In 1970 and for a few years afterward, the accessories one would have found during the hippie era of the late 1960s were still in vogue. Traditional belts were often replaced by beads or handmade Macramé creations. This also included crocheted or macramé vests, skull knit caps, and wide-brimmed hats. Ladies latched onto the Ali McGraw hat when the movie, Love Story, was released at the beginning of the decade.  Ms. McGraw made the Knit Hat the iconic headwear of the early 70s. Women were constantly knitting and crocheting these hats and vests for themselves and their friends, usually in a variety of colors. They were easy to make and each included a large flower on one side near the ear. (Of course, you could buy them in the stores as well. Women have been wearing headbands for years; usually for the utilitarian purpose of keeping hair out of their eyes (see the images of preppy women WASPs who lived in wealthy conclaves such as Palm Beach, Greenwich, Connecticut and the Upper East Side of New York City). 


But by the late 60s and early 70s, headbands were becoming more of a fashion statement than a utilitarian piece of head gear. These so-called “hippie headbands” were in vogue for several years and wearing one instantly turned you into a “Flower Child”. Generally speaking, one would see headbands wrapped around the hair and fastened underneath the hair in the back around the nape of the neck. However, hippie headbands were worn around the forehead. If they were long, they were tied and the remaining fabric hung down the side of the person’s hair. Some headbands were thin and were made of elastic. These were easy to put on and take off and added an understated accent to any outfit. Sometimes, they were studded with rivets or stones for a little variety. Some were made of a thin strip of leather and may have tied in the back or on the side. Sometimes these headbands were braided by using three thin strips of leather fastened together. Hippie headbands came in all colors, shapes, and sizes and it isn’t unusual to see them recreated today, especially with the return to retro clothing.

Clothing provided by:

Lotions and Potions | 789 Elmwood Ave | Buffalo NY (716) 886-6457

Models are Monica Leising and Holli Arnold.  Male model is Jack Drajem. Jack built the featured house in 1957 in W. Seneca. He also made the bed in 1975.

Leave it to the Fashion Maniac team to show that Buffalo has what it
takes when it comes to fashion trends and models who like to showcase
the latest and greatest. Check out the other shoots to see the national
trends and where to find them locally: United We Stand @ Tifft Nature Preserve, bathing suits on the Spirit of Buffalo, Black Velvet, James Scissorhands, kicks and handbags at Niagara Square, Morgen Love, bowling, blue jeans on tracks, 1950’s, rocking scarves, warrior, the workplace can be sexy, raingear and the twins, Li’l Black Dress, Lingering Nights, concrete jungle, Hay Fever, Freeze Frame, the custom hatter, night moves in Allentown, Spring into Summer, Who Did It?, Good Clean Fun, Love Never Dies, Buff Designs, and the sultry bridesmaid.


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Photos starting top left Clockwise: Kimberly Cohen, Andrew Brown,
Whitney Curry, Dani Weiser, Cheryl Gorski,
Todd Warfield, Cassie Elsaesser, Michael Merisola, Lucy
Perrone-Mancuso, F


Cheryl Gorski | Photographer & Creative Director | 716-895-1689 | 716-903-0600 | | Also on Facebook specializing in: Fashion, Head shots/modeling/acting, Editorial, Portraits, Bands/ CD/ Press Kits, Corporate events, Web photography, Run-way

Cassie Rose: Specializing in Visual merchandising, Styling, Fashioneditorial and Media arts, personal shopper, and blogger | E-mail is | Facebook-Cassie Rose | Twitter-CassieRosee

Dani Weiser: Makeup Artist | 716-348-1239 | Make-up teacher, weddings, T.V., Film, Print and SFX. Hollywood | Sunless Tanning – for apointments. website is Please call for any questions.

Lucy Perrone-Mancuso: Prop Stylist | Owner of Moda | 1509 Hertel Ave 725-6636 | Specializing in accessories, antiques, jewelry, furnishings, buy & sell, motion pictures/films, photo shoots.

Todd Warfield: Prop Stylist Extraordinaire | 716-289-1078 | Specializing in special effects, production of designing and building sets, theatre and photo shoots.

Whitney Curry:  Hair stylist  for photo shoots, films, bridal, personal | |

Phillip Johnson: Freelance Writer specializing in the fashion industry, and beauty |,  203-512-2528

Michael Merisola: Set Stylist & Expert in Antiques /Modern Furniture | Owner of Coo Coo U | 1478 Hertel Ave, Bflo, 716-432-6216 |

Andrew Brown: Hair & Makeup stylist and owner of Salon Rouge 700 Elmwood Ave | 716-884-1010 | Specializing in Up Dos for weddings, color, cuts, Halloween, Run Way and photoshoots.

Kimberly Cohen: Casting director and model/ actrss for movies, plays, photography and films | | Twitter: kmcohen | Facebook Kimberly Cohen.

Written by WCPerspective


Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

View All Articles by WCPerspective
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