How to Modernize ’70s High-Waisted Shorts

by Sammy in Comment — Updated January 29, 2024

15 Ways You Can Own'70s Dresses

Hello and happy modern vintage style Monday, everyone!!

Just some quick news and thanks before I get into today’s post, which is all about (drumroll, please!) how to wear ’70s velvet shorts for summer!

But first, HUGE congrats to Miss Carmen of CAG Reinvented, who won last week’s Gratefulness Friday Vintage Giveaway with The Krickett’s Jewel!

Carmen told me over email that she plans on working her new vintage pieces into her Little Black Dress challenge, where she will wear the SAME LBD from the Uniform Project for 30 days, styled differently everyday and photographed for her site to share with all of us. She’s embarking on this style adventure challenge to raise money for the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation.

Rock on Carmen!!!

And on that note, if you haven’t entered this week’s Gratefulness Friday Vintage Giveaway, you have until midnight tonight to answer the question, “Describe a moment of pride/accomplishment” in the comments to enter to win!

Now, onto modern vintage style! You might remember these oh-so-very-special purple velvet high-waisted shorts a la the ’70s from that webisode I did on creating 5 bright outfits in a Goodwill store. After watching the vid, you’ll know why I just HAD to take them home with me!

Keep reading after the jump to learn how I modernized those velvet darlings for a very sassy Sammy summer style, and for inspiration how how to wear high-waisted shorts to your summer style advantage, too.

If you’re just stepping onto Sammy Davis Vintage for the first time or want to cruise back in time to see other modern vintage style posts, check out how I styled vintage polka dots, wore an ’80s bustier and rocked a marvelous ’60 maxi skirt!

As always thanks for being a vintage lover on this site right here, right now! I have some great posts planned for the week, including an EPIC guide to flea markets across the country that I hope all of you will contribute to so that it can grow into a one stop destination for market-lovers everywhere!

Got an outdoor market/ flea market suggestion from your hood? Tell me on Facebook, Twitter or by sending me an email, [email protected]!

xx, SD


15 Ways You Can Own'70s Dresses

THE LOOK: Happy-Go-Lucky High-Waisted … with a modern vintage twist!

THE INSPIRATION: I paired this great thrift-find of mine with a bunch of brights in the 5 Bright Outfits I Love video way back in the day (webisode vintage archives?!).

While I worked these shorts into a couple of seriously shining styles, it was the act of color blocking that inspired me to step away from the bold look … for once!

HOW I MODERNIZED IT: Although color-blocking is all the rage for summer, I wanted to mute things down a bit so that these velvet shorts didn’t scream … well, ’70s velvet shorts!

Give ’em a close look, and you can tell they’re vintage by the way the crotch is cut so high and the bottoms of the shorts are angled slightly. A pair of these from Urban or a similar store wouldn’t be cut so loose, either — you know something is pre-’80s often by just the way the cut of the piece isn’t so tight against the body. Body conscious pieces for the masses didn’t become en vogue until the ’80s when everyone from Jane Fonda to Olivia Newton John to Richard Simmons were encouraging us all to invest in the styles of spandex!

So, since the shorts were cut oh-so-vintage, I paired ’em with a fitted, slightly sheer and therefore slightly sexy blouse. It’s not a TIGHT blouse per say — but because it fits my body and accentuates my shoulders, bust and arms because of how it lays against my skin — tucking it into my shorts helps create a great silhouette that is accentuated with just the right brown leather belt to break up the “color blocking” and coordinate the look to completion.



15 Ways You Can Own'70s Dresses

THE SHORTS: ’70s purple velvet high-waisted shorts, a successful thrift find from Goodwill in Brooklyn on Livingston Avenue

THE TOP: ’70s button down sheer blouse with bishop sleeves, thrifted from my hometown Salvation Army

THE HAT: Straw hat acquired from a closet clean-out along the Eastern shores of Maryland

THE BELT: Gap, circa early 2000’s and acquired in my teens!

THE SHOES: Department store sale new red pumps — a necessary modern investment!



15 Ways You Can Own'70s Dresses

Interestingly, this modern vintage look was created using all vintage pieces with the exception of the belt and shoes. This look proves that with the right coordination, dressing in head-to-toe vintage need not look like it!

To recreate this Happy-Go-Lucky High-Waisted look, I first suggest investing in a pair of high-waisted shorts that are a fun color but in a darker shade. Remember those yellow shorts from Urban Outfitters I featured in the Marmalade Vintage video a few weeks back? Those are a bit TOO bright … and anything you pair with them, with the exception of a dark brown/black/grey top (and who wants to wear that in summer?) is automatic color blocking.

Since we’re trying to step away from color blocking, we want to stick with a darker shade on the bottom and a sheer, summer-inspired hue on top. Keep the look with a straw hat or even a fedora. The hat I’m wearing has a great flip up brim like a fedora, which is subtle style difference between a farmer’s that that might have you looking more country than chic.

I opted for a bright pair of heels, but you can manage the same effect with anything on bottom that’s close-toed. The reason I don’t suggest open flats (i.e. showing all your toes at once) is because the instant you show more of your feet, you’re making the look more casual. A pair of Oxford style lace-up flats or feminine, utilitarian style brogues for comfort will do the trick.

Look for shoes in better made materials, like leather or with a shiny gloss and other design accents (studs, jewels, multi-tones, etc.).

To recap how to recreate this look:

1.) Invest in a pair of high-waisted shorts in a darker color (but not denim for a more upscale appeal)

2.) Wear something on top from a light, sheer material in a soft, romantic hue — think lace, silks or soft polyester blends.

3.) Seek out straw head wear that’s more chic than country, like a straw fedora hat

4.) Strut your Happy-Go-Lucky high-waisted shorts style wearing close-toed shoes — if not heels, then some Oxford flats or lace-up brogues in vintage leather

5.) SMILE! (see picture below for example!)

15 Ways You Can Own'70s Dresses



15 Ways You Can Own'70s Dresses

Without the red pumps, this look is perfectly OK to wear for day. Heck, I’d even go grocery shopping in this!

But that’s not to say you don’t want to find a special occasion to wear your high-waisted shorts.

If you dress up the shorts with a button-down blouse like me, you have more style possibilities than if you’d just paired them with a cotton tee.

Avoid the discomfort of sitting in grass wearing a skirt or ’70s dress by wearing your dressed-up shorts to fireworks on the 4th of July. Or, opt to wear ’em at a poolside party (we have them on hotel rooftops in NYC with very expensive drinks — so definitely BYO your drink du jour!) so you can wear your shorts over a bikini suit for a very pin up-esque look.

I love high-waisted shorts because they cinch at the waist and allow me to relax that tummy for summertime. Wearing them with a shirt tucked in gives instant sex appeal a la a defined waist, or when worn with a cropped shirt to reveal a tad bit of skin without feeling the need to whip out our “wanna-be” six pack.


15 Ways You Can Own'70s Dresses

Anyone ever make a wish while blowing on one of these weeds? I love the act of creating beauty with something that has been deemed negative by others. These are not weeds if we choose to view them as flowers of opportunity.

I wish you all happiness, health & harmony today — with your style and with your SELF!

1 thought on “How to Modernize ’70s High-Waisted Shorts”

  1. Stunning pictoral Sammy, love that you featured the high waist shorts. I have recently fallen in love with this look too. Those in a bright blue hue are fab!


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