Fashion trends that 1970s kids will remember all too well

Who could forget some of these funky styles?

If you grew up in the 1970s, chances are you had a rockin' sense of style. Adults were donning leisure suits and bell bottoms, and stores adapted those trends to fit their littlest costumers, too.

At that time, it was impossible not to look good. But looking back, some of the best styles seem a bit ridiculous. We scoured catalogs from the most famous department stores of the decade and found some surprising trends amongst children's wear. Who knows, maybe you had one of these!

Images: Wishbook Web

1. Sesame Street Apparel

The iconic children's television show made its debut in 1969, opening up the floodgates for countless apparel items throughout the decade. Pajamas? Check. Umbrellas? You got it. Crocheted vests featuring Ernie & Bert? Of course. Even though the clothing styles have changed, Sesame Street is one trend that is still beloved by kids today. It's just on pay cable now.

2. Flame Resistant Sleepwear

In every catalogue throughout the 1970s, flame resistant sleepwear was prominently advertised. Whether it was your Sesame Street onesie or your heavy quilted robe, pajamas were built to protect. Recently, the chemicals used in flame resistant clothing have come under fire. But in the '70s, parents could rest easy knowing their child wouldn't burst into flame while they slept.

3. All Plaid Everything

Plaid was the hot pattern. Whether it was on vests, button ups, or bellbottoms, you could mix and match plaids to become a geometric fashionista. Paired with leisure suits that were so popular among adults, kids in the '70s couldn't go wrong. 

4. Denim

To counter the loud plaid patterns, denim also became big for kids. But we're not talking about denim jeans. We're talking about denim on denim on denim. The photo on the left perfectly depicts the denim craze that took over. These girls perfectly matched their denim jackets to denim bellbottom jeans. Bonus points to the girl with the quilted detailing on her shirt. 

5. Bell Bottoms

One of the most definitive '70s fashion trends wasn't just for adults. Kids everywhere mimicked their parents' and favorite celebrities' style by wearing the wide-legged pants. 

6. "Chubby" Sizes

Here's something that wouldn't fly today. "Chubby" sizes were available for girls and boys who were a little more, well, chubby. The blatant wording in the ads seems so displaced from today's politically correct world. It's nice that big retailers like JC Penney and Sears aren't calling kids chubby anymore. (By the way, there were even chubby sizes in shoes).

7. Western Wear

No, these aren't Halloween costumes. These are actual outfits from the 1970s. Retailers looked for inspiration from the wild, wild west by selling cowboy hats, fringed dresses and cowboy boots

8. Cowl Neck Sweaters

Not high enough to be a turtle neck, and not low enough to be a regular neckline — cowl necks struck a perfect medium for teenage girls in the 1970s. Cowl necks are still around today, and have even inspired the "funnel neck" and the "snood neck."

9. Matching

Maybe it was for your family's Christmas party, or for family photos. If you had a younger sibling in the '70s, chances are you wore matching outfits at some point. Matching clothes were the bane of any teen's existence, but they were a delight for younger ones. 

10. Celebrity Sleepwear

What better way to show your adoration for a celebrity by wearing their face on your pajamas? While Sesame Street and Disney adorned kids' pajamas, celebrities like David Cassidy adorned those for teens. Bonus points for the girl wearing the Mork PJs in the photo. 

11. Elongated Collars

There was a point in time when it looked like collars could just fly away from a button up shirt. The long, pointed collars of the 1970s were big, and the trend trickled down into children's fashion. The longer the collar, the better. The one featured in this photo almost touches the boy's shoulders — very nice! 

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80 Comments

MultiMediaMike 3 months ago
To be fair it wasnt called "chubby" we were 'Husky'
Carm2763 22 months ago
I remember wearing elephant pants and thought they were the coolest thing. They were bell bottoms on steroids...lol. The compliments I got. 😏
Matte8L4CK 22 months ago
70s clothes are the pinnacle of bad taste. I hated the clothes I had to wear: itchy synthetics, goofy patterns, flared pants....all I wanted was straight-legged jeans and black t-shirts but I had to wear plastic-kneed Toughskins that stuck to your skin when it got hot and acrylic knit pullovers. Nobody looked good in those horrible "fashions".
madmark1 22 months ago
I remember I used to wear a toughskin jeans back in school those things were the most uncomfortable pants they were very uncomfortable but I have to say they are very strong and tough very hard to rip toughskin jeans. Sears had a unique clothing line you could just look at something and tell that it came from Sears.
ELEANOR 22 months ago
Oh my goodness. Western wear in the 70's? I wanted to dress just like Dale Evans in the 50's!!! 20 years too late!!!
hrcopter 23 months ago
I like bell bottoms. Was born in 71 so missed out on wearing them. I did find a pair at a thrift store about 15 years ago and wore them to the office on casual Fridays. The looks I got. 😂
KJExpress hrcopter 23 months ago
I'd love to find a pair of bell bottoms and wear them once in a while, just to be different. 😆
Drujon 23 months ago
I think Husky sizes was nice way of saying clothes for fatties.
littledebbie 23 months ago
I would have loved to had that Shaun Cassidy night gown back in the day! I did have a Shaun Cassidy t-shirt tho
Karenmac 23 months ago
I think sears called girls “ chubby” sizes “ pretty plus”
eddiecantorfan 23 months ago
I love the song FUNKY TOWN
By Lipps Inc.. Either 1980 or 1981.
tootsieg 23 months ago
The article was spot on. In the early 70’s I worked as a salesgirl in the “little boys” department. The pictures brought back a lot of memories.
rwhyde 23 months ago
I think that’s Lori Loughlin in the Cowl Neck Sweater ad. She was a print model in the 70s & would’ve been about 12 in 1976
JellyrollJackson rwhyde 23 months ago
It’s her. Looks just like her before she had kids who went to Yale.
jg21 rwhyde 22 months ago
It is her! I wouldn't have noticed. Thanks 👍
Rob 23 months ago
I had some plaid pants when I was a kid in the 70’s. Wow were they ugly!
retired2019 23 months ago
Unfortunately I had a lot of chubby clothing from Sears. I still love cowl neck sweaters. Does anyone remember the Alden’s catalog? P. S. I don’t need chubby anymore! Hooray 😃
katlovemetv retired2019 23 months ago
Good for you!!! Hooray!!!
justjeff 23 months ago
Fashion - or the lack of it... I think as we got older we dressed for our own tastes (although some *did* follow the trends to be 'cool')...
Runeshaper 23 months ago
I was born in the 80s, but I had Sesame Street Apparel. Such a GREAT show! I can still remember watching it with my mom and counting to ten in Spanish (-:
BuckeyeBeth7 23 months ago
Some of these had longevity. 1, 2, 4, 8 & 10 made it into and some popular all the way to the end of the 80s. My celebrity sleepwear was Garfield though. I don’t remember Chubby sizes but do remember Husky. Did one replace the other or were they girl/boy terms? If so how did the boys end up with the less offensive/hurtful term?
KJExpress BuckeyeBeth7 23 months ago
Good question. I wonder if it depended on what part of the country you lived in? I swear I remember my mom buying a top for me that was classified as "chunky." I was skinny, but she liked it so much she altered it to fit me.
justjeff KJExpress 23 months ago
"Husky" was usally applied to a young man...
jg21 BuckeyeBeth7 22 months ago
I remember for girls it was pretty plus. I was always a pretty plus. Not now though. But yes Husky is less offensive
CaptainDunsel 23 months ago
I recall going clothes shopping with my mother when I was in high school at the very start of the 70s. She was mightily convinced that my chosen attire of plain, one color, button down shirts and regular slacks was far too drab to be one of the "popular" kids. No talking her out of it, so I dutifully trudged along and gave grudging assent to a large number of patterned shirts, bell bottom trousers and macramé belts.
Months later, Mom admitted glumly that I had "the best dressed closet in town." Never wore any of that hazerai.
justjeff CaptainDunsel 23 months ago
Funny, I'd thought it was speleld "chuzerie"... but what did I know.. Oy, gevalt!
CaptainDunsel justjeff 23 months ago
That takes real chuhts-paw!
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