Retro Style 1970s Oxford Bags

Original Oxford Bags

Retro Style – 1970s

Do you recall the first item of clothing you bought for yourself just because it was fashionable rather than practical?  In my case, it was a pair of tartan “Oxford Bags”.  Of course, I’d worn items previously, that would have been  be regarded fashionable that would  now have a certain Retro Style.  But these had been bought by a parent.  For example, I’d worn a short tank-top with wide horizontal stripes in Black, Purple and White.  And I had worn a black and orange flower power shirt with a “Glider Pilot” winged collar. But my Oxford Bags were the first item of fashion I had picked out for myself.

Retro Style Leaders and Oxford Bags

At the time, around 1973, Oxford Bags were the height of fashion and were worn by such style leaders as Mark Bolan, David Bowie and Noddy Holder.   In fact, the entire cast of Slade wore Oxford Bags at some stage.  The Seventies Boy Band, The Bay City Rollers, adapted this look with cut offs and trainers. But where I lived, to adopt their style was peer suicide!    In a Magazine devoted to Retro Style, I should point out that my Oxford Bags were themselves an example of a retro fashion revival, having been a popular style during the Pre-War era.Original Oxford Bags

My particular pair of bags were in multiple shades of grey, red and black tartan. They were very baggy around the leg, but quite tight around the waist and had turn ups. They marked a transition from simple flared jeans and loons, to the baggy style with a higher waist band and multiple deep pockets.1970s oxford bags This particular pair are ladies and do not feature turn ups. Mine were more grey tones and looked more like the classic Pre-War variety.

Real style leaders would brag about the circumference of their flare or bag.   A friend of my sister ordered a tailor made pair of bags with a 72“ flare – per leg!  This seems implausible now, but I met this character at the Ashby Town Hall Disco.  His bags were Green and Blue Tartan and caused quite a stir.  Unluckily for him, the fashion was about to change to full High Waist Band trousers with more of a tailored look.

I wore my Oxford Bags with a Blue Short Lumber Jacket style with dog tooth edging around huge pockets on the chest.   The label, I recall, was, “South Sea Bubble”.   I loved this combination and it was really warm in what was another typically damp and cold winter in South Derbyshire.   Now, if you can find them, Oxford Bags are truly Retro Style!

By Paul Bates (thepaulbates)

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