Bring It Back: Sexy

by Chelsea Hughes

Sexy is dead. It died sometime in the 1980s after the rise of giant shoulder pads, Kenny Rogers and corporate America.

By the time the 1990s rolled around, things weren’t looking any better. Hammer pants and Creed were no help. I knew sexy was gone forever when shawls for young women became popular in the early 2000s.

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Then in 2006, we were given hope that sexy would someday return when Justin Timberlake sang a song pledging to bring it back:

I’m bringing sexy back
Them other boys don’t know how to act
I think it’s special what’s behind your back
So turn around and I’ll pick up the slack

Despite his own dramatic transition from the ugliest member of N Sync to bonafide hottie, he failed to launch a full scale return of sexy.

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With the rise of hipsterdom, I have lost all hope.

Image sources: Unidentified gold prospector with horse and dog, Otago. Whites Aviation Ltd: Photographs. Ref: WA-03154-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. and


So I’d like to celebrate the height of sexy, the decade of decadence: the 1970s, when Saturday Night Fever gave us a Saturday night fever, Farrah Fawcett’s image adorned the wall of every teenage boy in the land and bow-chicka-bow-wow porn was broadcast on every TV channel*.

*I assume.

For this installment of Bring it back, let’s bring back SEXY. JT couldn’t do it, but maybe I can.


A man with a fro AND a mo? Yes please. The open shirt, the button down vest-plus-pants one piece suit and the strategically placed hand? The only way this guy could get any sexier is if he had a giant snake around his neck.

Nick Carr wearing an entry for the 1975 Benson & Hedges Fashion Design award. Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: 1/4-022824-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.


Look at the confidence on this man’s face! He knows he’s sexy. I’ve never seen a man make a bow-tie that big look so damn hot, and I’ve been to a lot of circuses. I don’t even care that his ‘Italian gold brocade’ coat was once covering a sofa. He’s flawless!


Philip Watkins models his Italian gold brocade full-length coat. Further negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1973/5262/20-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.


If ever there was a man that actually oozed sex, this is him. Hints of chest, arm and nose hair. Ginormous glasses that enhance his seductive look and a robe that suggests he might enjoy a quiet night in, whispering sweet nothings into my ear as we eat TV dinners and watch the latest episode of Love Boat.


Garment shown at the Benson and Hedges Fashion Design Awards in 1979 – Photograph taken by Albert McCabe Photography. Maysie Bestall-Cohen Promotions: Photographs of the Benson and Hedges and Smokefree fashion awards. Ref: PAColl-6428-03-12-13. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.


The top hat-cape-cane trifecta reels me in straight away. I haven’t seen a black vampire look this sexy since Wesley Snipes in the 1998 box office mediocre release, Blade.

P.S. I fully expect this outfit to inspire a future Johnny Depp/Tim Burton collaboration.


Suit and cape modelled by John Chico. Further negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1974/6231/10-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.



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