How TV influenced styles in the 1970s

In the pre-Internet days, TV sitcom stars were fashion trendsetters

Many of us who grew up in the 1970s were heavily influenced by popular TV sitcoms. Keep in mind, that this was before cable, videos, DVR, and anything Internet-related. Television was our chief source of at-home entertainment and, compared with today, our choices were limited. We all watched the same shows at the same time, and when the regular broadcasting season ended we watched them all again in summer reruns.

Mary tyler moore capris
Mary’s casual style (photo from GreginHollywood).

Mary Tyler Moore was a big early influencer and fashion pioneer. As co-star of the Dick Van Dyke Show, she started a huge fashion craze around capri pants, successfully convincing the producers that pants were a much more realistic choice than dresses for housewives. Women everywhere applauded and stopped pretending that they preferred cooking and cleaning in a dress. Everyone wanted to look like Mary, with her slim capris and ballet flats. (IMBD)

Of course, there are many more classic shows from that era ( has a list). Here are a few more that stick in my mind, and that highlight fashion trends of the day.

 The Partridge Family

Girls were in love with Keith’s long feathered mane and Laurie’s long, straight style. Check out the jean jackets, too.

Susan Dey and David Cassidy played siblings on The Partridge Family. (Photo from WeHearit).


Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha in Bewitched (photo from BrainSharper).

I wanted to look and be like Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery). No only did she always look perfect, she could also fly, become invisible, and generally solve problems at will with a twitch of her nose.

Happy Days

This show had a huge influence on fashion, particularly Fonzi (Henry Winkler) in his standard uniform of white t-shirt, leather jacket, and denim jeans. Girls wanted to date him, guys wanted to be him.

Henry Winkler as Fonzi. (photo from Parade)

Brady Bunch 

The Brady Bunch is a perfect time capsule of the 70s. All the kids wore bold colors, wide lapels, and bell bottoms with patch pockets. Everyone’s dad had a leisure suit with matching turtle neck.

Brady bunch
Brady Bunch cast: total 70s. (photo from Mental Floss).
Angels Farrah, Kate, and Jackie: The hair! (photo from

Charlies Angels

Three gorgeous models played by Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett-Majors, and Jaclyn Smith cast as private detectives. Girls coveted Farrah’s long feathered waves and teenage boys hung the famous swimsuit poster on their walls. These stars made bell bottoms, turtlenecks, and vests look downright sexy.

That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading! Subscribe to get our e-newsletter delivered to your inbox every Friday.

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