Activewear, Bangs & Leather: Reliving Olivia Newton-John’s Best Retro Fashion Moments

The OG queen of activewear reigns.

It’s undoubtedly a reflection of Olivia Newton-John’s talent, charisma and aptitude that her icon status endures decades after her biggest career moments. 

In recent years, the Grease star suffered another battle with breast cancer, which had returned after she was diagnosed with back in the early 1990s. In December 2017, Olivia confirmed that the cancer had spread to her spine, and she spent most of her last years at her Southern California ranch with her husband, John Easterling. She died peacefully there on August 8, surrounded by family.  

But right up until that moment, the singer was, and will always be one of the most well known names in music and Hollywood—the flood of tributes from her A-list friends in the wake of her passing prove as much. 

Why? Because there really was something about Olivia. She first rose to fame in the early 1970s when she appeared on the Australian talent show Sing, Sing, Sing—she won a trip to the UK for her musical prowess, and in 1971, she released her first solo album, If Not For You.

In 1974, the singer entered the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of the UK, singing Long Live Love—she came in an impressive fourth place, which propelled her to release the hit single, I Honestly Love You, which earned her two Grammys and a Billboard Award. 

At this stage, she’d not only cemented herself as a pop music icon, but she was also quickly becoming a fashion icon. With her 70s bangs, chunky jewellery and glimmering body suits, Newton-John was one of the most recognisable faces in music.

(Credit: Paramount Pictures)

In 1978, her appearance in hit musical Grease ultimately propelled her into the Hollywood hall of fame. She played the iconic role of sweet naïve Sandy, an Australian high schooler attempting to settle into the clique-filled California-based Rydell High School.

Sandy made a case for preppy midi-length dresses and headbands, but her famous transformation later in the film did the most. Wearing a full leather ensemble featuring a tight off-shoulder top and pants, Newton-John’s onscreen style set a precedent for leather dressing for decades to come. 

Of course, Grease wasn’t her only famous style moment.

Below, we relive Newton-John’s best retro fashion from over the years—her legacy will never be forgotten. 

Newton-John performs live as her career kicks off in 1970. (Credit: Getty)
Performing in a BBC television studio circa 1971. (Credit: Getty)
Pictured outside the Savoy Hotel in London circa 1970. (Credit: Getty)
The singer was pictured wearing oversized sunglasses in London in 1970—note the layered 70s chop, setting the hair trend of the decade to come.. (Credit: Getty)
Pictured at the Clareville Studios in 1971. (Credit: Getty)
An archived photo from 1972 featuring ONJ in a ribbed singlet and white capris. (Credit: Getty)
Spot the famous 70s styles: Newton-John is pictured here in 1971 wearing a satin shirt with puff sleeves and a black headband. (Credit: Getty)
The musician had reached peak suit styling by the mid 1970s. (Credit: Getty)
Wearing a summery white dress for a photoshoot in 1976. (Credit: Getty)
In 1976, Newton-John performed in Tokyo to a live audience in this bejewelled white dress. (Credit: Getty)
Then came her ‘Grease’ era. Newton John wore a bright red, pink and electric blue ensemble for the premiere in 1978. (Credit: Getty)
ONJ and John Travolta kiss at a ‘Grease’ party in 1978. (Credit: Getty)
The bodysuit of dreams. (Credit: Getty)
In her 80s hey-day, Newton-John reinvented the bodysuit. (Credit: Getty)
Pictured filming a Hollywood TV special in 1980. (Credit: Getty)
A summertime vision, ONJ was pictured in 1983 in a cowl-neck mint shirt and a yellow skirt. (Credit: Getty)
Newton-John attended the 1989 Oscars in a black dress featuring an oversized white collar. (Credit: Getty)
Newton-John started the 90s with classic bangs and a straight ‘do. She’s pictured here at the American Music Awards in 1991. (Credit: Getty)
ONJ and John Travolta attended the ‘Grease’ original theatre production’s 20th Anniversary in California in 1992. (Credit: Getty)

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