A Look Back at London's Greatest 1970s Street Style

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Twiggy, Jane Birkin, Robert Redford and more show us how it was done. 

At the stroke of the 1970s, movements of individuality swept over London. With the British Empire on its last round of a downward spiral, England’s capital city transformed into the cosmopolitan metropolis it is today, but not without a hearty push from the revitalized and unprecedentedly independent world of street style.

Born of 1970s London were some of fashion’s greatest icons. Jean Shrimpton and Jane Birkin pioneered the effortless, ambiguously Western European sense of style, which informs a huge majority of today’s major trends. Woven handbags, uncomplicated fringe, and an embrace of imperfection overtook the style of the time, offering an excess of inspiration to some of Europe’s prominent fashion maisons at the time. Of course, Hermès’ Birkin bag was named for none other than Jane herself.

King’s Road in London saw generations of style transitions as the sight of many designers first or flagship stores. One of which began an entire subculture of style: mod. Mary Quant’s print-heavy, psychedelic designs dressed some of the major “It” girls and pop culture icons of the time, from Twiggy to John Lennon. In the 1970s, Quant’s pieces became mainstays in the wardrobes of fashion-forward Londoners and remained at the forefront of those setting the tone for the decade’s trends.

Related: Sophisticated Looks to Pack for Summer in London

Due to the nature of the decade and its emphasis on self-expression, a variety of familiar looks can be seen as quintessentially ‘70s. In London, punk, hippie, bohemian, and disco all reigned. Some icons of the time, namely David Bowie, found individuality in a combination of aspects of each. To have reverence for the style of 1970s London is to revere the cultures and ways of life that made it what it was at the time––what made each style, in particular, its own movement of expression.

Here, we embrace this reverence and take a look at some of the looks and fashion moments that embody the freedom and liberation of London in the 1970s.

The High-waisted Pantsuit

Model and actress Twiggy in a wine-brim high-waist pantsuit. in London with her Mercedes sports car, 1976. Getty Images

The Hot Short

Woman wearing hot shorts and curls on King's Road in Chelsea, London, 1971. Model with a bicycle in Kings Road Chelsea, London, 1975. Getty Images

The All-American Denim Jean

Twiggy & Michael Witney in denim strolling on Hampstead Heath. Caroline Coon wearing denim outside the London offices of Release, the organization she founded to assist young people facing drugs charges. Getty Images

The Mini Dress

Fashion model Twiggy with her producer and manager Justin De Villeneuve at Kensington Register Office in London for the wedding of Cynthia Lennon and Roberto Bassanini in 1970. Welsh pop singer Mary Hopkin, discovered by Twiggy (left), representing Britain in the 1970 Eurovision Song Contest in 1970. Getty Images

Stripes and Polka Dots

Models in stripes and polka dots pictured in King's Road, Chelsea in London on 1973. Woman in striped hot short set in London's East End in 1970. Getty Images

The Newsboy Cap

American actor and film director Robert Redford in a newsboy cap by the River Thames in London in 1973. Fashion Designer Kansai Yamamoto in a newsboy cap at The Portobello Hotel in London, 1971. Getty Images

The Basket Bag

Dinah Sheridan out shopping with basket bags in London with her actress daughter Jenny Hanley in 1971. Jane Birkin, her iconic basket bag in hand, and husband Serge Gainsbourg, shopping in Berwick Street market, London, 1977. Getty Images

The Dungaree

Gloria Reynolds, a shop assistant in London's King's Road, wears dungarees in 1973. British actress Julie Christie arrives at Heathrow Airport wearing a pair of dungarees in 1973.Getty Images

The Matching Fur Set

Jane Seymour in a fur hat in London, 1972. Olivia Newton-John in a fur hat in London, 1970. Getty Images