Why Christine McVie was the unsung heroine of 70s style
If you think of the wardrobes of the women in Fleetwood Mac, the message is as clear as the music. Listen to the opening bars to Go Your Own Way or Dreams and just try not to conjure up images of skinny bell-bottom flares, shrunken waistcoats, balloon-sleeve blouses and those signature blonde bangs. Like all the best bands in the world, the Fleetwood Mac look defines them as much as the music. The world bought into both.
As with most groups, it was the peacocks in Fleetwood Mac that often garnered the highest praise for their style. Frontwoman Stevie Nicks’s much-mimicked floaty 70s dresses were just that little bit more ethereal, her statement sleeves just that touch more oversized in comparison to keyboard player Christine McVie’s more subtle floral maxi dresses and fringed shirt-sleeve cuffs. Even drummer Mick Fleetwood’s signature top hats somewhat overshadowed McVie’s preferred headwear of bowlers and berets.
So it is Nicks who has been endowed with enduring “style icon” status, with designers like Hedi Slimane and Alessandro Michele bringing her original boho vibes to fashion houses Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci during their tenures as creative directors there. But McVie snuck from behind her piano into our sartorial subconsciousness nonetheless. Because this more subtle Fleetwood Mac member represented what women actually wanted, and could actually wear. Maybe not so much those vertiginous platforms, but she had a quiet confidence in style that perhaps came from being the talent behind some of the band’s best songs.
It’s a familiar look that filtered into the wardrobes of women all over the world in the 70s; a tiered corduroy maxi skirt paired with a long suede boot; a crushed velvet jacket worn on repeat to dinner parties until at least 1987 (so treasured it’s been passed down through the generations).
During the 70s, a decade of wardrobe decadence, McVie veered towards the power of simplicity. She was often pictured in a pair of perfect fitting jeans, teaming her high waists with a simple white or black T-shirt. She was effortless in blue denim with chunky oversized hoop earrings and aviator shades. It’s a look so classic that photographs of her from that era feel completely current, thanks in part to her signature choppy fringe and shoulder-length hair, now favoured by a multitude of millennial Instagram influencers.
Her relative lack of flamboyance created a sense of inclusivity and warmth; the many pictures of her looking away from the camera while Nicks makes piercing eye contact giving the impression of that solid, but somewhat shy member of the group.
Bare 70s shoulders were replaced by sequinned shoulder pads in the 80s, a decade when McVie stepped into the spotlight more thanks to the rise of MTV and the success of songs she penned from the album Tango in the Night. Videos for its hit singles Little Lies and Everywhere featured McVie wearing that distilled ease of a watered-down version of the classic OTT Fleetwood Mac vibe.
A white cotton dress paired with a wide brim hat – a combo that current guitar pop darlings Wet Leg would surely approve of; simple crisp shirt with a pinstripe blazer. And it’s this item in particular that McVie continued to favour in later life, often pictured wearing impeccably tailored black blazers with simple matching trousers and T-shirts.
The Fleetwood Mac style was just as much McVie’s as it was Nicks’s. And perhaps, more importantly, it was just as much ours. She was every woman’s Fleetwood Mac; if Nicks is Gucci, McVie is Ganni – no scrimping on the style, but with the wearability often lacking from a catwalk collection, or indeed a rock star’s on-stage wardrobe.