The year 1973 was the year of the classics, the thoroughhreds, the well-tailored, elegant woman for day and the ultrafeminine sexy lady for evening. Moving away Irom the menswear influence, in 1973 a woman again looked and dressed like a woman. It was the year or the "Great Gatshy" and the "Jazz Age" looks.
Fabrics, soft-flowing and liquid, illustrated the fashion revolution. Silks abounded, as did lookalike-silks, jerseys, synthetics such as Qiana. and—for summer—seersucker. Colors covered the spectrum. Hunter green, deep wine, burgundy; natural colors from bone to wet sand, including camel and gray; bright pastels; and the primary colors, red, yellow, and green, were the most important.
Day and Evening Wear. The year was supposed to herald the return of the dress, but even with promotion by major designers—American as well as European—the dress did not quite make it.
For the younger generation the word was denim. Mainly they wore jeans in blue denim, plain, faded or brushed, embroidered, appliqued, sequined, studded, hand-painted, or imaginative combinations thereof. For fall the biggest news was recycled jeans, old, torn or patched, the more worn-looking the better.
Bottoms were teamed with shirts, bustouts, and knitted tops that ran the gamut from the plain underwear look to the embroidered, sequined, or painted.
Although many designers showed a wide variation of hemlines, length never became an issue. Hemlines ranged from just above the knee to 3 or 4 in. below. Halston, who had dominated the fashion scene in the United States in 1972, was a great believer in the below-the-knee version. The big skirt, at mid-calf length, was accepted well in Europe but failed to make it in the U.S. Long and ankle-length skirts made an impact for day and
took over in strength for evening. The Saint Tropez or swirl skirt—long, in a mixture of fabrics, patterns, or colors—was one of the fashion winners for fall.
Pants, overall, remained the key segment of any woman's wardrobe. Well tailored, softer in styling, and more feminine than in 1972, they were everywhere, in beautiful wool and synthetic fabrics and patterns for day, soft and flowing for night.
Sweater dressing grew to even larger proportions than before and was effective in enhancing "leftovers" from 1972.
The outerwear sweater took the fashion spotlight for fall. It ranged all the way from the "drop dead" look—the fur-trimmed, shawl-collar wrap (an excellent example was done by Bill Blass)—to the volume-priced untrimmed styles.
Halston, one of the leaders in sweater dressing, showed the year's most beautiful long sweater dresses with matching long cardigan coats.
Dressing for evening was divided into two categories: "bareness" and "coverup".
The bare look included halter dresses, one-shoulder dresses, slip dresses, strapless dresses, and low-cut ruffle dresses—the last named beautifully done by Oscar de la Renta. Some halter dresses had soft cardigan jackets. The fabrics were magnificent and opulent, stressing chiffon and georgette, and the colors and prints were striking.
The "coverup" story was high necklines, long sleeves, full skirts, always in soft fabrics, flowing, moving, and—yes—sexy. In this area solid colors were way ahead. The look was beautifully done by Mollie Parnis, among others, in elegant and sophisticated creations.
The short after-five cocktail and dinner dress, promoted by many of the designers in the United States and abroad, became a factor in American fasHon but a comparatively minor one. The American woman, it seemed, still preferred the long ultrafeminine look for evening.
And then. came the fall explosion. Something new had to happen, and it did: sequins, paillettes, boas, feather trims, lurex, and metallics. Reactions to the lavish look were divided: some called it great, some called it gaudy. Both qualities were there, and the effect depended solely on how the dress was executed and who wore it.
Many manufacturers produced excellent examples at all price levels, and the lavish took over the fashion story for fall.
For day the look was also soft, loose, flowing, and much more feminine, thanks to such outstanding young designers as Clovis Ruffin, Scott Barrie, and Stephen Burrows, who showed tents,
blousons, the chemise, and many new versions of the shirt dress and the two-piece dress.
Far and away the most smashing, beautiful, and elegant looks came out of the designer market. Many were impossible to copy at lower price levels; however, some of the more moderately priced manufacturers were magically successful in producing these new fashions for the volume customer.
Coats and Suits. Coats had a rough year. With the high cost of wool and the unavailability of fabrics, prices rose astronomically, and the combination caused a disaster for the coat manufacturers.
Beautiful "pretends" in leather and suede took over the scene. The imitations were so realistic that they were practically impossible to detect. Although the pretends were not inexpensive, they were far better priced than real leather and suede, which had undergone the greatest price increases.
The waist-length jacket in pretend fur—mostly called "peace" or "bicycle"—took the younger generation by storm. To own one of these jackets, preferably worn over jeans and a milar or sequin-trimmed top, was the accepted status symbol for the fall.
Fine fur coats, in casual sporty styles, many priced just a little above the pretend furs, became important for the more fashion-minded women.
Skirted suits tried to make a comeback, and many good-looking suits were available at the designer level. John Anthony, among several others, showed some outstanding ones. Although the look rapidly filtered down to volume-price lines, its acceptance never lived up to expectations.
Accessories. Shoes were on their way up, up, up. Platforms became higher and higher, and many girls looked—and walked—like stilt-walkers. The higher the platform and the more colorful the combinations, the more popular the shoes.
As the fall season progressed, however, it became easier to find plainer, more tailored shoes for day wear, and the chances for footwear to be-come wearable again were seen in the offing. In boots, the pant boot took over the scene.
For evening, straps returned, with tapered toes, cutout toes, sling backs, and even pumps.
Jewelry gave us heads as the fashion keyword, and during the summer the thin chain—better known as the nothing chain—joined in. The most popular beads were the large colored ones in graduated sizes. Big button earrings in every color of the rainbow were the thing to wear throughout the year, as were loop earrings in all sizes. Bracelet made a strong appearance; they were seldom worn alone, but in combinations that could include anything from the bangle to the antique band.
Handbags added several new fashion impacts. Latigos were a must with the jeans crowd. Fabric handbags in both casual and evening looks, gained increasing acceptance. The knitting bag and the Bermuda hag (fabric bags with wooden
handles) were other new additions. Fashion news also was created by the flat briefcase with cutout handle and shoulder strap.
Hats appeared on the scene again. The renaissance was not dramatic enough to shake up the millinery industry. but young people started to wear hats as part of their outfits. Knit cloches, watchman caps, and berets were worn not only in winter for warmth but in lighter fabrics in sum-:nor for fashion. Cloches and floppy wide-brimmed hats in felts. wools, and patterns kept hat bars busy. Turbans became a must for the fashionable woman.
Hairdos followed the general trend—shorter, smoother, with movement, and always feminine.
"Black Knee-Length Hose Must Also Be Worn" If postmen in the United States looked different during the spring and summer of 1973, it was be-cause of an edict from the postal service allowing its 250,000 letter carriers to wear walking shorts. When the authorities announced the change would "improve employee working conditions and the overall post office environment", the mailmen replied with a single word: "Cool!"
Choose your fashion year below
Choose your fashion year below