The 1970s was a decade of change. Dubbed "The Me Generation" by author Tom Wolfe, the young adults of the '70s found value in self-reflection and personal empowerment. The counterculture revolution of the 1960s made way for hippie-inspired lifestyles, including free-flowing hair, psychedelic experimentation and increased interest in non-U.S. cultures. As feminism gained momentum, women's hairstyles became somewhat more androgynous, with many of the popular looks being sported by both men and women alike. Many hairstyles that had sprouted during the 1960s, such as the Beehive and the sharp Sassoon cut disappeared almost entirely, while others such as the flipped bob and the mop evolved into new styles. Looks like the afro and pixie cut remained popular through the middle of the decade, but the 1970s saw its share of new, innovative styles that would leave their mark on generations to come.
The 9 Iconic Hairstyles of the 1970s
1. The Shag
Jane Fonda's hairstyle in the 1971 film Klute inspired a nation to follow suit. The short- to mid-length style was characterized by evenly progressed layers from shortest at the top of the head to the longest at the bottom for an overall "shaggy" effect. The look was worn by men and women alike in varying lengths and interpretations.
2. The Feathered Look
This iconic look was made famous by actress Farrah Fawcett, who stepped out in the soft, feathery hairstyle on the set of Charlie's Angels. Arguably the most popular looks of the decade, the style involved mid-length to long hair, brushed back and outward at the sides, giving the appearance of the feathers of a bird. Feathered hair was worn by men and women, celebrities and non-celebrities, and its influence can be readily observed in contemporary hairstyles.
3. Straight and Sleek
Born from the hippie movement, long, straight hair became highly fashionable during the '70s. The look was all about appearing natural—little to no product was used, though naturally curly women were prone to ironing strands in order to get the stick-straight look of celebrities like Maureen McCormick, Ali MacGraw and Peggy Lipton.
4. Facial Hair
Facial hair, in the form of sideburns, mustaches and beards, saw an explosion in popularity during the 1970s. The look ranged from long and unkempt to perfectly trimmed and sculpted, and was very much influenced by hippie culture. Superstars like John Lennon and Frank Zappa helped to popularize facial hair for the first time since nearly the 19th century.
5. The Pageboy
Although this style first began appearing in the United States in the 1950s, it didn't truly take off until 20 years later, when England-born model and actress Joanna Lumley brought the pageboy back into style. The new version was shorter, with hair cut anywhere from shoulder-length to just below the ear. Hair was flipped under, and bangs were a prominent feature of this look. The pageboy was worn mainly by women, but men could be spotted wearing variations of the style as well.
6. The Wedge
Dorothy Hamill took the world by storm when she created new figure skating moves and snapped up national, international and Olympic championships. But she didn't only set new standards in figure skating, she also set a new standard in hair with her iconic wedge haircut, a short hairstyle that featured a general "bowl-like" shape with angled layers that hung above the shoulder. The style was an instant hit, gracing the heads of young and mature women alike.
7. Long Locks for Men
Beginning in the 1960s and carrying over into the following decade, men could be seen sporting longer and longer hair styles. Though still a symbol of rebellion among the youth, longer locks on men became somewhat more accepted during the 1970s as rock stars began to don the look. Bands like Led Zeppelin played sold-out shows, rocking their long, curly hair, and wannabe rock stars and admirers everywhere followed suit.
8. Brow-Skimming Bangs
Bangs were nothing new by the time the 1970s rolled around, but unlike the fringe of the previous eras, '70s women chose to wear the style in a softer, longer and looser manner. Bangs were grown out to enhance and draw attention to the eyes while serving as the perfect complement to long, natural hair. Stars like Joni Mitchell, Olivia Newton-John and Jane Birkin helped to bring the look into the mainstream.
With a newfound and increased interest in non-U.S. cultures, many Americans began embracing the influence of Jamaican and Rastafarian lifestyles during the 1970s. The legendary musician Bob Marley helped to perpetuate Rastafarian culture in the United States, and with it, the dreadlocks hairstyle. Though dreadlocks had been around for centuries, it wasn't until the '70s that they saw increased popularity among African-Americans.