Back to 1973: the food and the fashion

The reason for my embracing winter in Australia and taking a trip to New South Wales’ Southern Highlands?

An invitation too good to refuse, that’s what.

My good friend Mrs Woog is turning 40 next month and she happily agreed to start her birthday festival at a BabyMac-hosted dinner, which celebrated all things 1973 … the year of Mrs Woog’s birth.

So, it was back to 1973 for me and a gaggle of other top chicks.

This excited me for a number of reasons, not just because there was a promise of smoked oysters on Jatz, but because I was there in 1973. I was a six-year-old and had clearly embraced my love of all things fashion (not to mention the ability to strike a pose) with this VERY SHORT number on my first day of school.

Nikki Parkinson first day of school 1973

Wear are my shorts, mum? Geez. The boy? My best friend because his parents owned the corner store on the next block. In my mind this represented access to an unlimited supply of one cent lollies.

As the only person at Mrs Woog’s first 40th birthday celebration to have actually been out of nappies in 1973, I offered up menu and music advice. Strictly speaking my knowledge of such matters related to the ’70s years post 1973 when I was old enough to study and absorb such matters but what’s a few years between friends … especially when Abba, Sherbet, Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell are served up with coloured cocktail onions and devils on horseback.

How’s the 1970s table-scaping? BabyMac’s alter ego, Beverley, was in full flight.

BabyMac's 1973 dinner party

So much food colouring all in one place … who could resist?

BabyMac's 1973 dinner party

For the young and uninitiated, devils on horseback are grilled prunes wrapped and bacon. You either love or hate them. Me, it’s about the love. How chic does our hostess with the mostess look?

BabyMac's 1973 dinner party

When we sat down to dinner to a main course of beef bourguignon on potato mash, whipped up by Kim from new Sydney-based food catering business Allconsuming Food, the only sounds coming out of the 10 women seated around the table were unintelligible groans of appreciation.

1973 dinner party | Beef bourguignon | catered by Allconsuming Food

Knowing what desserts were to come, we wisely waited some time before carving up this New York baked cheesecake …

1973 dinner party | baked New York cheesecake | catered by Allconsuming Food

… and this chocolate mousse caramel tart arrangement.

1973 dinner party | Chocolate mousse caramel tart | catered by Allconsuming Food

I’d love to tell you that both desserts looked way better than they tasted but I’d be lying. They tasted out of this world. Lucky for me, the dinner party dress of choice in the early 1970s was the kaftan.

A style of dress I happily embrace with or without a ’70s theme because of its non-waist-constricting qualities.

Camilla kaftan | Available for weekly hire online at GlamCorner

Camilla kaftan* available for weekly hire from GlamCorner for $129| Metalicus long-sleeve dress layered underneath for warmth| Jaime Mascaro knee-high boots | ASOS assorted layered necklaces and hoop earrings | Cuffs borrowed from a girlfriend

Is hiring a gown for a special occasion not THE BEST idea? This kaftan arrived in a big box a few days before I was to travel. It was covered in a suit bag ready to hang on my arrival at the Southern Highlands.

I got to feel very glam in a garment that even if I had the budget to buy, I’d maybe wear sporadically at most. Mind you, I got a taste of Camilla’s attention to detailing and fabrication. Could be a dangerous situation come summer.

Yesterday, I posted it back to GlamCorner in a prepaid post bag that came with the garment. No dry cleaning costs and insurance included (should damage occur).

That’s what you call a guilt-free wardrobe win in my books.

Mrs Woog … I think we did the 1970s proud. Enjoy your Birthday Month of Festivities.

Mrs Woog and Styling You's Nikki Parkinson

Are you old enough to remember the ’70s? Favourite party food? What can you remember your parents wearing?

PS. Want more 1970s dinner party inspiration? Download the winter 2013 edition of BabyMac’s Beverley magazine.

Item marked with * was sent to me for editorial consideration
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  • Ms_Critique

    Oh god, that chocolate caramel tart looks ridiculous. I wasn’t around in the 70s but I was having a chuckle with a friend remembering when I’d have her over after school and we’d snack on Jatz and French Onion Dip. We thought we were SO sophisticated!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      It was! And IMO nothing quite as sophisticated as French Onion Dip … except maybe Corn Relish Dip ;)

  • http://www.mdkaos.blogspot.com/ Mummaducka

    I’m a “68 drop so I too was starting school in ’73 so I remember bootles of milk at scool and all those cubed cheese and cabanossi treats! along with french onion dip! That one has never died here. have to say that pineapple, banana and apple fritters also rank very highly!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Yes! I had two years of those bottles at school. I was just “up the road” from you in Goondiwindi (that’s where the above photo of me was taken!) … and had an interesting conversation on Saturday night about cabanossi vs cabana … in QLD it was all about cabana!

  • http://vicky-lifeonthehill.blogspot.com.au/ Vicky Finch

    1970 is the year of my birth, so yep, I remember the 70s. And disco. And cocktail onions, orange and brown dinner sets, orange melamine benches….

    Looks like you all had a fabulous time. What a brilliant way to celebrate turning 40

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Brown and orange were so the go Vicky! I remember my mum having and orange wooden spoon ;)

  • Joanne

    I am going to a seventies party this weekend. There will be plenty of vinyl on the turntable as well as all the food that has been mentioned and more. I am in charge of making the pigs in blankets . We are having the cocktail onions and cheese on toothpicks stuck in oranges for extra effect. Looking forward to it. So many memories. I will be taking my best singing voice as well.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Love! And I’d forgotten the pigs in blankets until they were mentioned below. Definitely remember the cocktail onions and cheese on toothpicks in an orange half. Classic.

  • Martine@themodernparent

    Always finishing off the night with nougat and after dinner mints!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      After dinner mints I so remember!!!

  • The Plumbette

    Nikki you look absolutely stunning! Good to see a picture of the birthday girl too! What a great celebration!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Such a great celebration – and on the first for Mrs W! She’s got a whole month of them.

  • PrincessEatsPeaSoup

    Devilled Eggs, anyone? I vividly remember the cubed cheese with green and red cocktail onions on toothpicks and Devils on Horseback.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Oh YES. I loved Devilled Eggs. Loved them.

  • abeachcottage

    what fun was had by all xx

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      So much fun … transport me back now!

  • http://www.jfgibson.com.au/ Jodi Gibson

    1973. A good year. The year my hubby was born. Looks like a great night!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      A very good year … and yes was a great night, great weekend with fabulous women.

  • Simone P

    My Mum still has (and is still on the table) a tablecloth that she received as a wedding present back in 1971. The table was made by my Dad (a carpenter) when my parents moved into their newly built house in 1973, which was also the year of my birth. The table cloth is a thick linen in striking burnt orange and brown stripes and match the chair cushions that are a delightful gold and orange floral pattern. My parents entertained every Friday night and I have very vivid memories of their glamorous ( for regional WA in the early 70’s) in flowy tops, skivvies and flares standing in the brown and gold wallpapered dining room sipping port and listening to Neil Diamond. Food of choice were little boys, devils on horseback, coloured pickled onions and cheese and bacon toastie strips.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Oh that’s so classic, Simone … if only that tablecloth could talk!

  • Julie

    Cheezels and cheerios/cocktail sausages (not much has changed around here!) with a crate of coloured fizzies for the kids on very special occasions ie. Christmas! I remember Mum’s fawn (no such thing as taupe or beige back then) suede, sheepskin-lined long boots……I stroked them a lot!! (possibly because I was only knee high in the 70s) Cool party pics Nikki xx

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Cheezels and cheerios (small boys!) … and I would have lovingly stroked your mum’s boots too!

  • Stacey

    Yes to hiring dresses for special occasions! I have used Dressed Up for a couple of events and they were fantastic. I’ve hired Rachel Gilbert dresses twice now for 1/10 of the cost of purchasing outright. No dry cleaning, just lodge at the post office within a week of receiving it and send it back!

    Looks like a fab weekend Nikki. We all need a ladies weekend once in a while.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Such a good way to do it Stacey – and yes a ladies’ weekend is very good for the soul!

  • Kelly

    I just made the 70’s – just. I don’t remember too much from then, my childhood memories were all about the 80’s. What a great idea for theme party – especially for a milestone birthday! Love your hair style Nikki too!!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks Kelly – hair how to on the blog next week! The ’80s for me were my teenage years so very memorable!

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    Yep I am afraid I turned 10 in 1973 ,and Abba ,Sherbet and Joni Mitchell were on my cool things to listen to and also I thought I was so cool in my first pair of purple cords,I,not the brand I wanted but oh so cool anyway.I still have the Purple and cream poncho My Nana made for me to go with them My favourite foods were of course pickled onions red and green and mashed potato in devon that was a huge hit back then.
    I love your pic of your 1973 self and yes your dress was short but they only came in 2 lengths back then short or long ,no in between.I have a few choice pics of myself in little tartan skirts and knits.I love that Camilla kaftan….. beautiful,I agree Nikki maybe a tad dangerous to buy some but I think they would be investment pieces.Mrs Woog enjoy your Birthday Festivities and you looked very hot too as did Beth I love her kaftan she said on IG it was an original 70s number and come summer I am sure she will get tons of wear out of it,myself I am happy they made a comeback.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Mashed potato in Devon … how could I have forgotten?! Served up at adults and kids’ parties!!

      • Lisa Mckenzie

        Yep one of the faves back in the day!!

  • Sonya

    Two words… tuna mornay. Still love it.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Of course! Total yum.