Lingerie By Decade- 1970's

Here we go! We're moving right along on our mini-series; Lingerie By Decade. Click here to catch up on the evolution of underpinnings over the years. 


By the end of the 1960's social activism, equal rights, and environment protection are on the forefront and in the news. With the feminist movement women are literally letting go of all that binds. The bra becomes a political message and it becomes clear that not wearing one can symbolize equality. Bras were burned and it became a big deal to assert your freedom. All of a sudden not wearing a bra is in style. This also coincides with a natural movement. Natural hair, natural colors, a softer look become fashionable as a result. 

Jane Birkin

Jane Birkin

Cool girls don't wear bras. T-shirts become popular and a natural look underneath is all the rage. The ultra-shaping pointy bras of the 1940's-1960's are out. Nipples are in. 


If you need to wear a bra, don't worry! Manufacturers have thought of it all! 


Due to softer jersey garments seamless undergarments become popular. The effect is to not look like you are wearing anything underneath. Flesh tones, while limited in shades, are popular. 

La Perla SS 1976

La Perla SS 1976


Shapewear as we've known it so far becomes uncommon. Women are moving more and laced up and stiff rubbery shapewear is out of style and old fashioned. One piece bodysuits become popular and are a great alternative, especially underneath your jersey wrap dress.


Pantyhose replaces stockings and garters. If you needed some shaping it is now built in to your hosiery with what we now call control top!


Nightgowns and sleepwear follow suit. Long and lean. Languid and minimal. The frou-frou-ness of the 1960's is gives way to a more romantic look.


It's interesting to note that while women are gaining more power, the look is softer and more yielding than in previous decades. Towards the end of the decade that starts to change as Janet Reger hits the scene in the UK. She brings back a decadence to lingerie with the notion that women can have both. Meaning a career in a man's world and be ultra-feminine. This will influence lingerie makers (like Victoria's Secret shown below) and bring us straight into the 1980's with the return of the 3 piece set. 

Victoria's Secret. Late 1970's. 

Victoria's Secret. Late 1970's. 

Stay tuned for next month's installment. The 1980's! 

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Bobbins: Label Love-Sonia Rykiel

Label Love is a new segment of my Fashionable History series here on the blog. I'm excited about it since I do a lot of research on the vintage labels I find and have so many designers that inspire me! What a wonderful way for me to share them with you! To kickstart this blog series is one of my absolute favorites; Sonia Rykiel. 


Sonia Rykiel was known as the "Queen of Knitwear". As someone who loves and lives in knits and who knits I have always gravitated to her collections. However, I feel that she gave me so much more than just her famous knits. She offered style with ease and an undeniable and seemingly effortless Parisienne chic. Often mimicked but completely her own. The news of her passing last week at the age of 86 saddened me.  I hope this tribute does more than educate. I aim for it to show how her work and aesthetic still shines today.


In 1961, Sonia was pregnant and couldn't find any decent maternity clothes that accentuated her figure. So she made herself a sweater dress which started her foray into fashion. By 1968, she opened her first store on Paris' arty Left Bank. At that time fashion was starting to loosen up. Her British contemporary, Mary Quant, was designing mini skirts and freedom in movement and attitude was in the air. Sonia designed clothes that women could wear to work and still be stylish. Just like Coco Chanel in the 1930's Sonia focused on knits with a gamine, boyish silhouette while still undeniably feminine.  

1963. Francoise Hardy wearing a Rykiel sweater.

1963. Francoise Hardy wearing a Rykiel sweater.

Sonia's line took off in the 1970's. Perfect for every day and perfect timing for the Ready to Wear revolution. Sonia reinvented knitwear to be flattering and special. 

Models in Rykiel. Early Seventies. 

Models in Rykiel. Early Seventies. 

By the 1980s she, as most designers of her time, expanded her line to many product lines including fragrances, lingerie, cosmetics etc. By the 1990s she was global. Never a designer to shy away from affordable lines and collaborations she did collections with Les 3 Suisses, La Redoute, and not that long ago H&M. She felt it was important to reach everyone. In the mid-nineties her daughter Nathalie became Artistic Director. In 2009 Sonia retired. She was awarded the Legion of Honor by two French Presidents. 

1990s. Helena Christensen in a Sonia Rykiel ad. Reminiscent of 1930s Coco Chanel. 

1990s. Helena Christensen in a Sonia Rykiel ad. Reminiscent of 1930s Coco Chanel. 


  • Stripes 
  • Disco lurex
  • Slogan sweaters
  • Sporty and fun
  • Parisienne
  • Exposed seams
  • Berets

Sonia's first slogan sweater read "Sensuous". That sums up Sonia, perfectly.