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Fashion in the 70s. Magnificent or…….?

In 1973 ‘The News’ Adelaide’s afternoon newspaper, took a look back at Adelaide in 1923 and compared the fashion and shopping in the city fifty years on. After another 40 years it makes fascinating reading to see how things changed and how much they have changed again;

Photo from Pinterest. We might have thought it looked very 'cool' back then but now it's "ouch"!

Photo from Pinterest. We might have thought it looked very ‘cool’ back then but now it’s “ouch”!

“In 1923 the scene was in and around mainly Rundle Street… it is today. There was Birks, Cravens, Marshalls, John Martins, Donaldsons, Fitch’s, Sneyd’s and Miller Andersons. At the other end, there was Foy and Gibsons and James Smith in Hindley Street.

Over in Grote Street there was W H Bruce and Moores were in Victoria Square, as they are today. James Blacks shoe store advertised men’s boots and patent and white buckskin for men at 24/6. After 50 years, the scene is still in Rundle Street.

Some of the old names vanished as Myers and David Jones moved in and Foy and Gibsons became Cox Foys but after half a century, the fashion seekers still head for the same locations. But if the scene hasn’t shifted, the goods have certainly altered and shopping patterns have changed.

Photo from Pinterest. Unisex fashion. Thank God it never really took off!

Photo from Pinterest. Unisex fashion. Thank God it never really took off!

What’s the difference in 50 years?

The department stores for one thing. The Girls and Maid’s section and Misses and Matrons departments are gone. Somewhere along the way the Teenager appeared to add a new dimension to fashion. The first juvenile fashion parade was started in John Martins in 1965 to head a new era of teenage fashions for teenage taste, and for teens with money to spend on clothes.

For women, corsets have undergone a drastic change. The bone four suspender rust proof constrictors became corselettes (lightly boned), the featherweight girdles of the fifties, the foam contoured foundations of the sixties to pull-on girdles of the power net nylon-stretch with nylon cups. Brassieres went the same way, through foam contouring attached cups to the strapless and finally to the natural look all ready to burn.

Bloomers stayed bloomers right up to the forties. From bloomers they became Milanese knickers and by the sixties they were panties, gussies and pantettes in every colour imaginable. Now they come in neat Cellophane packets, disposable paper briefs.

Trousers for women were big news in 1933 as the columnist reported, “women are ordering them in linen, flannel and even men’s suiting.” Boudoir went out…..and zip fasteners came in. Men’s wide bottomed trousers became the ‘zoot’ suit of 1943 with trousers only 16″ wide at the ankle.

Skirts ranged through dirndls (in the forties) and peg-tops, through the big letdown with Dior’s new ‘new look’ in 1948 to the shorter look a couple of years later. But from that moment it seemed like only a flash through to the full skirted, petticoated vogue to the mini-skirt, and who needs to say anything about Australian mini-skirts

Photo from Pinterest. Ahhh yes, the 70s in the office. You had to be there!!

Photo from Pinterest. Ahhh yes, the 70s, fashion in the office. You just had to be there!!

In 1963 the stores were advertising “revolutionary new ironless cotton shirts for men”, but that was small talk; the sixties saw the men blossom into peacocks with such a devestatingly flamboyant array of fashion that would send the shopper of 50 years ago into a tizzy. The men have the edge on this unisex business; they’ve acqired a taste for the flamboyant and the women are only trotting behind.

The seventies are magnificent for men”. Well that might have been the view in the early 70s. When I look back now on some of the fashion (especially men’s fashion) of the 1970s I cringe…..How about you?


53 Responses to Fashion in the 70s. Magnificent or…….?

  1. Max Jaeger December 19, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

    It was so much fun at the time just trying to find the coolest clothes that you could.

  2. meg January 5, 2015 at 6:22 pm #

    Does anyone remember the boutique Fata Morgana down a side street in the city I think, sold magnificent velvet and lace creations…. in the ’70’s.

    • Helen January 10, 2015 at 5:12 am #

      loved that shop, bought my wedding dress there. Am looking for vintage pieces to buy

      • Gayle Mullen April 19, 2022 at 10:47 pm #

        Hi I also bought my wedding dress at Fata Morgana rundle street adelaide and have now listed it for sale, feel free to contact me if interested cheers

      • Gayle Mullen April 20, 2022 at 12:39 pm #

        Hi my Fata Morgana dress is for sale Ive just listed it on F/B also I have my full length pink negligee nightie and Lace dressing gown that I bought at LaMar shop in Adelaide arcade in the 70s and I am selling that, only wore it for 1 night on honeymoon

      • Robyn January 2, 2024 at 12:43 am #

        I have a full length dress which I bought from Fata Morgan’s, late 70s for my sister’s wedding. I am now looking to sell it, in perfect condition .. beige/black with green flowers .. large flowing sleeves. Are you still looking to buy?

    • Bev April 12, 2015 at 3:40 pm #

      Yes, I remember Fata Morgana boutique. I bought my wedding dress from there in 1975.. It was exactly what I wanted and many people said how lovely it was.

      • Chris June 21, 2019 at 5:36 pm #

        Hi Bev
        I bought my wedding dress there too.
        They just opened their shop and was unpacking my wedding dress.
        Amazing dress, I must try to sell it

    • Barbara P August 22, 2015 at 8:54 pm #

      I remember Fata Morgana. It was downstairs on Rundle Mall, near the Silver Dragon Chinese Restaurant. I used to yearn for one of the beautiful velvet coats but my wallet was never full enough to afford it.

    • Susan Wright February 25, 2017 at 1:52 pm #

      I won a 100 dollars worth of clothes from Alice,s In Gear from a fashion drawing, great memories!

      • Graham Payne June 26, 2023 at 12:58 pm #

        Howdy Susan,
        I was reading an article about Alice’s In Gear in the 60’s Adelaide. I was a small kid growing up but grew up faster after the Beatles came to Adelaide and loved going to the many Mod clothing shops in the city. I was wondering if you can remember where it was located, please?

    • phillip shegog January 25, 2019 at 8:43 am #

      Wasnt its owner a lady by the name of Evelyn Neiss or something like that,I used to share a unit in Launceston with a friend of her`s called Sandy,who ran the Fatamorgana boutique in Launceston!

    • Gayle Mullen February 12, 2021 at 5:59 pm #

      Yes I remember bought a dress from Fata Morgana and wore it as my wedding dress. I still have it, but happyt to sell it as it will never fit me lol

    • Lee Bradford August 29, 2021 at 8:46 am #

      Absolutely! I bought a dress for my wedding from there.1976.. A few years prior my brother paid for a beautiful black layered flowing satin full length dress I wanted with magnificent flowing sleeves. I loved it and still have both dresses.

    • Yasmin November 27, 2022 at 5:22 pm #

      Yes! I am still in touch with the owner (Evelyn Neis).
      The shop was downstairs in the Richmond Arcade.
      The bell sleeved range was copied from a piece of clothing I owned.

      • Heidi January 6, 2024 at 11:08 pm #

        I have a vintage Fata Morgana
        Black Velvet Jacket purchased in Adelaide
        Still in excellent condition.
        As it doesn’t fit me anymore I was thinking of selling it
        I can send photos if your interested

    • Lisa April 10, 2023 at 4:47 pm #

      Yeeeessss! I loved that shop.

  3. Helen January 10, 2015 at 5:06 am #

    i adored Fata Morgana shop, bought my wedding dress there. I am looking for her vintage clothing

    • gayle April 17, 2018 at 5:52 pm #

      yes meg I still have my wedding dress I purchased at Fata Morgana adelaide, was on Rundle street east end, Its got the big bell sleeves

      • Chris June 21, 2019 at 5:43 pm #

        I bought my dress there too.
        The shop was just opened and was unpacking my wedding dress and bought straight away it had Edwardian sleeves and square neckline, Probably same as yours. They gave me a long piece of the same fabric which I used as a headband tied at the side and ends flowed to ground. Amazing dress I should try to sell it.

        • Jenny Pump November 9, 2020 at 3:35 pm #

          Still for sale

        • Gayle Mullen February 12, 2021 at 6:01 pm #

          Hi Chris mine has the stunning batwing sleeves and Ive never seen anything that even gets close to mine

        • Rida July 6, 2021 at 4:01 pm #

          Hi Chris, is the dress still available?

  4. Judi Hirst January 12, 2015 at 7:10 am #

    Oh yes I had mustard coloured corduroy bib and brace hot pants! I also remember thinking I was very trendy in a nautical themed mini skirt outfit….and a family friend suggested I have a party and invite my hem down to my ankles!!!

  5. Deidre May October 27, 2015 at 10:57 am #

    I remember Fata Morgana with love – love for a special top which was made especially for me from the owners’ mothers’ curtains believe it or not – heavy brocade with so many special touches – cost me $175.00 back in 1975 …. which was an absolute fortune! I wore that top until its eventual death, because it was absolutely threadbare!! I always think of Fata Morgana whenever I see Stevie Nicks, because I could imagine her shopping there!

    • Alex April 26, 2016 at 10:34 am #

      I loved Fata Morgana. I bought a lace dress from there and still have it – haven’t worn it for 35 years.

  6. Alex July 15, 2016 at 3:55 pm #

    Alice’s In Gear was a great shop too! I bought some beautiful clothes from there. That was my introduction to trendy Carnaby Street clothing, and after that, I had to go to London.

  7. Larna birch . nee burtt August 12, 2017 at 10:44 pm #

    Fatamorgana. Basement under richmond hotel/arcade rundle mall. Bought my wedding dress there in 1978 , still have it . GREAT STUFF?

  8. DeeDee October 26, 2017 at 3:19 am #

    I loved that shop, so sad when it closed, wish I knew where you could buy the clothing from then.

  9. gayle April 17, 2018 at 5:54 pm #

    Im selling my original Fata Morgana dress I bought in the 70s, if anyones interested, Its white with huge bell sleeves, I can show pics if interested

    • Susan February 23, 2019 at 11:54 am #

      Is this still for sale? What size? Photos? I can’t see date on your comment. Probably well past. Sue

      • Holly June 10, 2019 at 2:34 pm #

        Hi Susan – I have a Fata Morgana long burgundy velvet coat, its double breasted and stunning. If you are interested I can send you more information.

        • Rida July 6, 2021 at 4:06 pm #

          Hi Holly, I’m interested in the coat. Could you tell me how to get in touch with you?

      • Gayle Mullen February 12, 2021 at 6:05 pm #

        Hi susan its white silky material size 10=12 and has that really nice crimp edge no hems, and the big batwing sleeves

      • Gayle Mullen February 12, 2021 at 6:09 pm #

        Hi Susan I still have the dress if interested please send an email to me kind regards Gayle

      • Gayle Mullen April 19, 2022 at 10:51 pm #

        Hi Susan yes I still have the dress I have just advertised it for sale, will try to upload pics cheers

      • Gayle Mullen April 19, 2022 at 10:57 pm #

        hi susan I still have it, its size 12 if interested send me a email and I can send pics, Its actually listed for sale on face book this week, cheers Gayle

    • carol teagle September 29, 2020 at 9:10 am #

      Is it still for sale

      • Gayle Mullen April 19, 2022 at 10:52 pm #

        Hi Carole yes its still for sale, I have just listed it on facebook

    • Jenny Pump November 9, 2020 at 3:34 pm #

      Do you live in Adelaide ?

      • Gayle Mullen April 19, 2022 at 10:53 pm #

        I live in SA still and have just advertised it for sale through facebook regards Gayle

  10. Christine Slide July 4, 2020 at 11:44 am #

    My friend Julie worked there and used to wear their overalls all the time! She looked fabulous!!!

  11. Maureen Jones October 18, 2020 at 3:34 pm #

    My sister and I used to visit that shop, I loved their fashion it was so different. We could never afford them and always felt like we weren’t welcome because we always said we were ” just looking” I have purchased a top and dress since, they are way too small but I just had to buy them. I miss those days

  12. Gayle Mullen February 12, 2021 at 6:07 pm #

    If anyones interested in my Fata Morgana dress its for sale, I bought it in 1977 and the first shop was under richmond arcade then they moved further down rundle street and thats where I bought it, drop me a message if interested in it. email is cheers

    • Rida July 6, 2021 at 3:59 pm #

      Hi Gayle, I sent you an email about the dress.

      • Gayle Mullen April 19, 2022 at 10:54 pm #

        Hi Rida I cant find the email can you please send me another one kind regards Gayle

  13. Mirja June 10, 2021 at 12:38 am #

    I bought my wedding dress there too. It cost around $80 and is made of old doilies and tablecloth/curtain materials.

  14. Sharyn Marie Brady July 31, 2021 at 10:50 am #

    Often think of visiting Fata Morgan a in the 70s. Loved it still do. I bought a beautiful pi nk smock top with embroidery. Wish I still had it. ❤️

  15. Phillip August 8, 2021 at 8:36 am #

    Does anyone remember Denver Outfitters shop, bought my first Paisley Shirt there in 1969?

  16. Vimal Punitam October 6, 2021 at 5:21 pm #

    Does anyone remember The Cage shoe shop in Regent arcade ? Had a spiral staircase going up and would only fit about 3 customers at a time.
    1973 it stopped current Italian fashion designer glam rock shoes& boots..
    Good about headroom near the Adelaide Central Market proprietor Daniela Poole.
    Yes Alice is in gear was groovy.
    Banana room & Sophie ….

  17. Vimal Punitam October 6, 2021 at 5:34 pm #

    What about The Cage in the Regent arcade in the early 70s. !! Spiral staircase leading up to a round glass room there could only be about 4 customers at a time. .It’ stocked the latest Italian imported glam rock shoes & Boots.
    Alice’s In Gear… what a gem !.
    So was the Banana Room with the vintage museum upstairs.
    I couldn’t afford to get an Evelyne Niess designed Fata Morgana dress for my wedding I just bought old doilies put it around the neck.

    • Gayle Mullen April 20, 2022 at 12:36 pm #

      I also bought a black velvet top with gold thread of a bird embroidered on it and that came from the Banana Room shop, and I still have it

  18. Yasmin November 27, 2022 at 5:30 pm #

    Coco’s in Rundle Street was another fabulous bohemian clothing store.
    I remember meeting The Master’s Apprentices upstairs in the owner’s private residence.

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