Pretty much everyone over the age of 25 can look back on their youth and think, “What was I wearing?!” After all, what’s on trend is never constant; what you might have considered cool a decade ago you wouldn’t be seen dead in now. But only one generation can really claim to have lived through the absolute worst in men’s fashion: anyone who grew up in the 1970s, the decade that fashion forgot. These catalog photos will have you cringing with embarrassment at what was once thought to be the height of style.
Apparently, showing off your waistline was important to men in the ’70s. How else do you explain the existence of jumper belts? They certainly weren’t a practical choice, after all; your cardigan isn’t exactly going to fall down.
Men’s fashion in the early ’70s was characterized by bright colors, as this ad demonstrates. The old guys in white vests and long shorts are obviously fashion-illiterate compared to the colorful, figure-hugging matching combo the guy on the left is sporting. Obviously…
Apparently dressing as a pimp in the 1970s wasn’t just the style choice of a select few. No, it was actively encouraged as a fashion statement. As the ad says, “One good thing leads to another.” All you need is a hat, coat and cane. Yeah, we’re not sure this would fly in 2016.
We’re not sure what’s more terrifying about this movie stuntman’s style: those shorter-than-short shorts or that massive mustache. Either way, the open shirt look isn’t doing him any favors. And what was with the obsession with matching clothes?
For a time, 1970s fashion was simply carried over from the hippie ’60s. Hence this ludicrously bright poncho. Stare at it for too long and you might just go blind. Still, that’s probably preferable to looking at whatever the guy on the left is sporting.
Even the bartender knows these guys haven’t got an ounce of fashion sense between them. The look on his face pretty much sums up all our feelings on their garish color coordination. This is exactly why ’70s fashion needs to stay forgotten.
Remember when nighties weren’t the sole reserve of ladies? No? Well, luckily for you this Sears ad is here to remind you that, yes, in the ’70s these were considered acceptable. As if dressing like Waldo wasn’t bad enough.
Have you ever felt a sudden urge to match your attire to your sheep? No? Well then, you clearly didn’t grow up in the ’70s. Even branding animals was apparently an elaborate fashion statement back then.
This guy looks far too pleased with his matching vest and cap. Unfortunately, they still don’t quite cover up the horrendousness of that striped shirt – nor mask the fact that the entire ensemble makes him look like some kind of terrifying mountain troll. Not his best fashion moment, for sure.
Yes, apparently in the 1970s a construction worker’s hardhat was a legitimate fashion choice. We can sort of understand the vest, although probably not in those colors – but the flared bell bottom pants? This is just all kinds of wrong.
We’re not sure which of these adverts is more disturbing. Perhaps it’s the fact they’re displayed side-by-side: the guys on the left look like they’ve just escaped from the vested man’s basement. Indeed, string vests and Y-fronts are the sort of thing you’d surely have been ashamed to wear even back then.
Was sitting around in your underwear while reading a common occurrence in the 1970s? If this ad is anything to go by, then yes, this is the sort of semi-nude cultural activity you’d aspire to if you bought these odd briefs. What a confusing decade.
What’s most disturbing about this picture isn’t necessarily what the guys are wearing, although of course, that’s pretty egregious too. What’s worse, is what they look like in the places they’re not wearing anything. Was there really such a call for oiled men in the ’70s?
These guys might be better stepping back in. After all, nobody would really want to venture outdoors looking like this, right? If your parents grew up in the ’70s, try showing them this photo. It might bring some horrible memories flooding back.
The language used in catalog adverts in the ’70s seems to be going to a lot of effort to avoid calling them “clothes.” Then again, we’re not sure that this purple onesie-cum-suit can really be labeled as such anyway.
The ’70s are known for platform shoes and flares – and while the trend of wider pant legs died down towards the end of the decade, it flared up (sorry) first. Bell-bottoms became increasingly popular, and as this ad shows, they were available in a variety of “interesting” styles.
The priceless look on the guy’s face on the right seems to be one of dawning realization as to what he’s actually wearing. But how can he complain? Surely suits don’t come much cooler than this. Just look at the size of those lapels – all that’s missing to truly capture the ’70s style is a giant gold medallion.
These matching jumpsuits truly are meant for before or after anything. As long as “anything” means life, which is when you really shouldn’t be wearing them. Even the advertising copy is inadvertently hilarious, describing the clearly unisex outfit as “masculine.” Nice one, guys.
Novelty underwear was apparently a smash hit in the ’70s, as were truly awful rhyming puns. Then again, who wouldn’t want to be seen rollerblading down the street in nothing but knee-high socks and a pair of Y-fronts?
At least these jumpsuits aren’t matching in color, even if the styles are perilously close. The fascination with single-piece clothing items may never have truly gone away – onesies are the pride of the 2010s, after all – but at least we’ve moved on from the travesty that is the jumpsuit.