(Uncanny how much this looks like my mother and aunt circa 1970-something)
I can never wax poetic enough about how fashion and style was much more meaningful back then, before the perversion and insidiousness that is corporate America engulfed the garment industry, turning it into the defecating machine that it is today. What I'm referring to is a time when clothes were made, not produced, spirited, not despairing, and sensual instead of wanton. The last great era in apparel would have to be the 1970's and all the preceded it. I could be biased in this assessment, since the decade is undoubtedly my top favorite as far as style is concerned, but there's no denying that once the "Disco Sucks" phrase became a popular sentiment, the inherent glamour and grace of the time dissipated into oblivion, rarely to be seen again.
Before 1980, it was apparent that clothing possessed a more homemade quality. Although most of the apparel of the time was made on a factory scale, the majority of it, aside from imported European designs, were made in the U.S.A., with regard to quality and standard ethics. Yes, it was a time of political upheaval, liberation and decadence, but what was represented in what people wore, despite individual precepts, was a level of convention. No matter how extravagant, ostentatious, or opulent, there still remained an increment of appropriateness, no matter how transient. The climate was reflected in the music, which was upbeat and cheerfully fervent, with cleverly contrived elements of sex. There was nothing garish, or base level about it, only alluding to a yearning for joyful abandon. Mirroring the concept was roomy bell-bottoms, fluid prints and silhouettes, vibrant colors, spherically coiffed Afros and feathered bangs.
It was the last hurrah (at least fashion-wise) for women like Cher, Diana Ross, and Chaka Khan, who were able to bring together elements of sexuality while remaining subtly demure and glamorous all at once. It's impossible to replicate such an inherent characteristic, a fun sophistication that was once so commonplace, now a relic. I wasn't around the day disco died, but I do know that when it did, it took with it something with it--a reason to be a little reserved.