Fashion Evolution: The Filipino Style of the 1970s and 1980s

Jan 7


Brian J White

Brian J White

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The 1970s and 1980s were transformative decades for Filipino fashion, mirroring global trends while infusing local flair. The era saw a departure from traditional attire, embracing the Hippie movement's ethos of peace and love, and the rise of Filipino nationalism, both of which significantly influenced clothing styles. From the modest maxi skirts to the vibrant disco sequins, and from the emergence of denim to the comfort of sportswear, these decades marked a significant shift towards personal expression and comfort in the Philippines' sartorial choices.

The 1970s: A Blend of Modesty and Vibrancy

Embracing the Maxi and Victorian Influences

In the early 1970s,Fashion Evolution: The Filipino Style of the 1970s and 1980s Articles Filipino women began to move away from the mini skirts of the previous decade, opting instead for the more conservative maxi skirt. This shift towards modesty coincided with a resurgence of Victorian-inspired fashion. Dresses adorned with long fleshlight sleeves, intricate laces, and elegant collars became the rage, reflecting a nostalgic appreciation for the past.

The Rise of Bell Bottoms and Casual Menswear

Bell bottom pants, characterized by their flared bottoms, slowly gained popularity and would dominate the fashion scene for years to come. Men also embraced this trend, often choosing bright colors to make a statement. Turtlenecks, sweater vests, and colorful patterned polos became wardrobe staples for the Filipino man.

By the mid-1970s, a more casual approach to menswear emerged. T-shirts began to replace formal attire, signaling a shift towards laid-back fashion. Denim jeans and sweatshirts also started to make their mark as everyday wear.

The Disco Influence and Sportswear Comfort

Sequins, Miniskirts, and the Bakya Craze

With the advent of Disco culture, bell bottom jeans solidified their place in Filipino fashion, now available in a variety of bright colors. Women dazzled in sequined dresses, often in miniskirt lengths, paired with bell bottom jeans. T-shirts became a popular choice for women, and traditional wooden clogs known as 'bakya' experienced a surge in popularity.

Shoulder Pads, Neon, and the Curly Hair Phenomenon

The modern dressing movement of the late 1970s and 1980s saw women, particularly young adults, incorporating shoulder pads into their outfits. Teenagers gravitated towards neon-colored clothing, and miniskirts made a comeback. Hairstyles became a focal point, with many women sporting voluminous curly hair.

Men's Fashion: Bright Colors and Skinny Jeans

Men's fashion underwent a transformation, with brightly colored t-shirts and polo shirts paired with skinny jeans for a casual everyday look. Young boys followed suit, donning light and neon-colored jackets, polos, pants, shorts, and t-shirts. The iconic Converse All-Stars sneakers became a staple among teenagers, reflecting a growing trend of dressing to show allegiance to sports teams or cultural interests.

The Rise of Athleisure

Sportswear transcended its functional roots to become a popular choice for daily attire. Leggings, jogging pants, headbands, and legwarmers rose to prominence, emphasizing the era's shift towards comfort and personal satisfaction in clothing choices. This trend marked a departure from dressing to impress others, focusing instead on individual comfort and self-expression.

Fashion Statistics and Trends Rarely Discussed

While much attention is given to the iconic styles of the 1970s and 1980s, some lesser-known statistics and trends provide a deeper understanding of the era's fashion landscape. For instance, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) does not have specific data on fashion trends from these decades, but the global influence on Filipino fashion is evident through the import data of textiles and clothing during that period, reflecting the country's engagement with international fashion trends.

Moreover, the influence of local cinema and television cannot be underestimated. Filipino celebrities and movie stars of the era often set fashion trends, with fans eager to emulate their style. The local film industry's portrayal of contemporary fashion played a significant role in popularizing certain looks and accessories.

In conclusion, the 1970s and 1980s were pivotal in shaping Filipino fashion, reflecting a blend of global influences and local culture. The era's fashion evolution from modesty to vibrancy, and from formality to comfort, marked a significant shift in the Filipino approach to dressing, one that prioritized personal expression and comfort over societal expectations.