Why were there so many shirtless album covers in the 1970s?
November 14, 2016 7:08 PM   Subscribe

There's an incredible number of album covers in the mid-late 1970s where the (male) artists were shirtless - especially black artists. It was only for a few year period but was incredibly prevalent. It's also definitely not done in a 'sexy' way. It's often just a bunch of guys hanging out without shirts on. Is there a particular reason this came into vogue or was it just a quirk/fad of the era's fashion style?



.. you get the idea.
posted by basehead to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
It was only for a few year period but was incredibly prevalent.
I don't think this is true. A quick google will get you lots of current pecpop.
posted by unliteral at 8:30 PM on November 14, 2016

I don't know about "definitely not done in a sexy way". Maybe not trying to look like they're trying to be sexy but actually very much trying.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:45 PM on November 14, 2016 [7 favorites]

Could it have to do with the "streaking" craze that TIME called epidemic by 1973?
posted by johngoren at 10:51 PM on November 14, 2016

Because shirtless was preferable to the alternative, i.e., a very tight, god-awful, shiny polyester print shirt in colors not typically seen in nature?

If I were you, I wouldn't stare too long into the abyss of 1970s clothing (or lack thereof) choices.
posted by she's not there at 12:14 AM on November 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

Perhaps it relates to the general hippy/born-free vibe of the era?
posted by jojobobo at 1:26 AM on November 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think they're "sexy" according to 70s trends even if they don't seem that way now. Our standards change, and remember the mid-70s also gave us "Afternoon Delight."
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:50 AM on November 15, 2016 [5 favorites]

My dad moved to SF in 1971. He was neither black nor a musician but he sure did have a lot of pictures of himself hanging out with his friends without shirts (and sometimes without ️pants). They're not explicitly sexy or doing activities where you might expect shirtlessness, mostly hanging around shooting the shit. It was just a thing?
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 4:30 AM on November 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

Exceptional_Hubris: never noticed this before, but there are an unusual number of shirtless men in my 1970's era photos of friends.

Perhaps related, I don't recall seeing "No shirt, no shoes, no service" signs prior to the 1970s.
posted by she's not there at 7:25 AM on November 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

As a child of the 1970's men where shirtless pretty much everywhere. My childhood was a sea of shirtless men the second the weather got warm enough or the sun was out. Also nudity, a lot of nudity as it wasn't considered weird to be naked around kids then. I lived in Australia with a nice warm climate though so it's a bit of a beach vibe to start with and then it was part of the whole vibe of the time to be more open about bodies etc. Hell my bathroom growing up had artistic shots of naked men & women in old timey bathtubs in & no one thought it anything of it.

Oh also men with bad perms, so many bad perms. Clothing for men was also a lot tighter than now a days & shorts shorter & shirts open to the belly button. Men showed a lot of skin back then.
posted by wwax at 9:29 AM on November 15, 2016

It was just a thing?

Yep. It was hot, no one had air conditioning (or many fewer people did) and no one cared because we hadn't hit the repressive body-shaming Reagan Years yet. I grew up in the country and shirtless dudes was just a thing. Why sweat into a shirt you have to wash if you don't have to? My sister and I didn't even wear shirts in the summer much when it was hot until a bit before we hit puberty. Now I live in the country and it's still a little bit of a thing though not as much.
posted by jessamyn at 10:00 AM on November 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

It's also definitely not done in a 'sexy' way

Prince? Al Green?

In the 70's there were fashion trends toward androgyny. Men started portraying themselves as sex objects for the first time, not just sex gods. Another huge trend was toward anything "natural": food, hair, clothes, makeup, and of course, your own beautiful natural body. There was less of a stigma around the birth control pill than when it had first hit the market in the 60s, and straight people started putting off marriage longer and enjoying life as single, sexually active adults. So, flaunting your bod was in!
posted by Pearl928 at 10:48 AM on November 15, 2016

basehead - You're going to love this well-written article just posted to the blue.
posted by unliteral at 7:05 PM on November 28, 2016

« Older I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night   |   In the style of... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.