These knit or fabric fashions came in triangles, squares and rectangles, and could be made in thousands of different styles, making them an excellent accessory that could work with almost any look.
See several vintage 70s shawl styles here, straight from the age of disco!
Fall’s all shawl (1975)
From the Miami Herald (Miami, Florida) October 12, 1975
By any name or shape, the enormous piece of fabric to wrap around your shoulders or body is the newsiest updated item in any wardrobe. The fashion industry is talking about shawls becoming the hot item for this year’s resort holiday season.
EVENING GOWNS are being whirled out with swishy wraps in matching fabric. Other shawls wrap up poolside costumes and a wrap in pale, airy mohair will be taking women where a cashmere sweater once did.
But who wants to wait? Stores are suddenly filled with separate shawls — as inexpensive as $8 for a patchwork print on silky fabric to wrap around the shoulders of a sweater and skirt.
There’s lace, complicated woven satin ribbons, jerseys with chunky fringe, woolly numbers with designer names scrawled in a corner, and luxurious crochets and knits. Some of the shawls have companion skirts and dresses — everything from long gray flannel skirts with matching triangles to a short black cocktail dress nearly hidden by its enormous wrap.
EUROPEAN SWEATER dresses in subtle colors now come with crocheted wool shawls made from identical yarns. The largest wool and mohair shawls are meant to be wrapped as triangles around the shoulders of fall and winter coats.
What if you prefer to improvise? Dash to the bedding department and snap up a soft mohair blanket or the kind of plaid wool meant for motoring and football games. Either just wrap it around as is, or fold in half. You can even use a blanket from your bed.
OR BUY A SQUARE of the prettiest fabric you can find (if it is 54 inches wide, buy 54 inches). Sew fringe around the edge, then fold into a triangle to tie around whatever. Or crochet an open-motif triangle from wool to match a dress, considering that snippets of leftover yarn might make a kind of multicolor shawl.
Figuring out how to wear a shawl may keep you occupied for weeks. It can be wrapped around and held with your hands, knotted over one shoulder or even fastened with a big blanket pin.
The obvious question is what to do with packages and purses when all wrapped up. Possibly one of those small pouch bags to wear around the waist is the best solution to free your hands. (I’ll admit these are more decorative than functional and when it comes to toting groceries — if that’s your daily life, get shawled for parties instead.)
THERE IS ALSO the trick of what to wear over a shawl for cold weather. The cape from a previous season is the best cover-up if you plan to keep your shawl on beneath. But when wearing a coat, that’s the time to tie your shawl around the coat’s shoulder — at least in transit.
Shawls, however, are more practical than you might think after first struggling with one. When you get tired of wearing it around your shoulders, tie it around your waist as a kind of extra tier for your skirt.
And if the shawl floats away into fashionable oblivion, you still have a luxurious piece of fabric to use for making a halter or vest. Or, depending on how you decide to wrap up, maybe a blanket for your bed.
This shawl and skirt are a matched set (1970)
Two shawls made this outfit (1970)
Dramatize the feminine mystique with this hand-embroidered Spanish shawl worked into a skirt (above). The top, worn with the longest of beads, is a plain silk-fringed shawl. Skirt $125, shawl $90. From Holly’s Harp, Los Angeles.
70s shawl styles: A bright knit (1972)
A beautiful soft triangular fringed shawl in pink, yellow and orange knit with large needles.
Vintage white knit shawl with square pattern and fringe (1975)
Crocheted shell and shawl (1977)
This crocheted flower motif shell and shawl combine the gentle, feminine flair of the past with today’s bright, new look.
Pretty in paisley: Super shawl styles (1978)
From Good Housekeeping – January 1978
To knit or crochet right now and wear year-round — four fabulously beautiful versions of the season’s top fashion accessory, modeled by actresses Deborah Raffin (here) and Michael Learned.
Pretty Paisley, a wonderfully soft and cozy shawl, is crocheted in sections and then put together in this lovely pattern. Made in mohair-like yarn, “Mirabella” from Stanley Berroco, it measures about 52″ by 66″ (on the long side), without fringe.
A big crochet mesh shawl with a flower medallion
Rose Medallion, worn here by Michael Learned, is a flash of bold color, a spectacular cover-up for cool evenings – and an elegant departure from the actress’s wardrobe on the well-loved TV series, The Waltons.
The crochet-mesh shawl, a big 66″ by 94″ (not counting the extra-long fringe) is done in Reynolds’ “Mohair No. 1” yarn. The medallion is worked separately, then inserted.
Peasant-style shawl (1978)
Sophisticated Peasant crocheted and cross-stitched, has a bright warm feeling. You work the single crochet and embroidery in “Wool 4-ply Worsted,” the gold metallic stripes in “Camelot,” both from Columbia-Minerva.
Measuring about 65″ by 91″, the shawl pairs beautifully with a ruffled blouse and long skirt, as worn here by Deborah, currently starring in the movie The Good Time Band, and about to make her singing debut next month on CBS-TV’s Command Performance.
A tweed stripe shawl
Tweed Stripe shawl has a great casual look that makes it especially easy to wear, and it knits up so fast on large needles you’ll want to make one — or more — right away!
A combination of two yarns, Unger’s nubby “Knob Tweed” and “Cozy,” creates the textured effect. Measurements: about 50″ by 70″.
Versatile 70s shawl from Sears (1977)
Nubby, homespun-look fabric woven of cotton and rayon in an oatmeal color. Triangular shape — self-fringe trims two sides. About 72 by 30 inches at widest parts (including fringe).
Fringed shawls at Sears (1978)
Ours is a large, lightweight challis triangle lavished with deep knotted fringe. In three patterns with muted colors. Looks smashing worn so many ways … trailing casually over one shoulder or drawn about the body … tied in front or knotted at one shoulder. A definitive fashion statement, a fashion essential, and only $14
Fabric: Rayon challis in three different minis: paisley, large floral or small floral patterns. Detailing: Triangle shape. about 60×30 inches deep. Hemmed top: sides are trimmed with 5-inch wide knotted rayon fringe.
Crochet mesh shawl with long fringe (1978)
Wool challis shawls (1978)
Lightweight wool challis in a hand-screened print — violet and green on a beige ground. Generously large square: 50×50 inches, including the self-fringe on all sides. From Japan.
Simple shawls from ’78
Cool and colorful crocheted shawls (1979)
Cool crochets in breeezy new ways: On the lighter side for summer — airy crochets crafted in new vibrant brights or powdery pastels.
Work one simple clover pattern into many squares, then assemble for either of these two 36″ triangular shawls. Worn with sleek little matching caps and a flirty camisole with flared peplum.
Fringed shawl cover-up (c1979)
Fashion cover-up of soft, acrylic knit has a pretty all-over open weave pattern. Deep fringe accents classic triangle shape. Imported.