“You can have anything you want. If you dress for it.” – Edith Head (via Who What Wear)
Ever since I was little, there was one fashion trend that I was obsessed with – high-waisted flare jeans worn with thin black ankle boots. For obvious reasons, however, even if you live in the most fashionable children in the world, people will judge you; your peers decide what “cool” is, and what is not, for the general population. I fondly remember my elementary and early middle school days, where Abercrombie kids and Hollister Co. were symbols of every normal and cool kid. Consequently, flared jeans were worn on days I did not see my classmates, while Hollister skinnies were my go-to pants during school hours. Now that I am older and less bogged down by societal expectations, I want to wear “ugly” pants again, remembering why I fell in love with them in the first place.
On Startup Fashion, flared jeans have a rich history well beyond the bell bottoms of the 70s. In the nineteenth century, these wore worn by navy sailors as their standard manner of dress because of the lack thereof. No one knows why they became a mark of a sailor, but there has been speculation on this particular design (e.g. easy to remove over boots, easy to roll up to avoid getting drenched, easy to fill with water to use as a DIY floatation device, etc.)
By the mid-twentieth century, baby boomers made flared jeans a symbol of deviant behavior – behavior that does not conform to social norms and value, but not necessarily behavior that elicits negative response. Army wear, or thrift wear for the matter, was turned into street wear, something fashionistas today understand quite well. The young baby boomers rejected the department stores their parents loved and went to army surplus stores to kick start another popular trend today, reform fashion, where clothes are transformed to give it a “me” feel to it. 60s’ Anti-war sentiment meant clothing reform consisted of hippie logos, like peace signs and flowers in an edgy, counterculture look to their army apparel. Everyone wore the popular bell bottoms regardless of gender, rejecting the straight-leg pants the older generation wore.
In the 70s, fashion designers began to incorporate this style into their own work because bell bottoms were no longer counterculture; they were the newest “it” item to own. Sonny and Cher were known for their dramatic bell bottoms, which were laughingly called “elephant bells,” and served as the height of 70s fashion.
However, by the 80s, skinny jeans became the new ~in~ pants and they have been the trend since then. The 90s brought back the bell bottoms, but with an appropriate upgrade. These bell bottoms were of denim, to match the 90s denim craze, but were subtler and less dramatic than the original bell bottoms, favoring a small flare at the bottom, instead of having a flare that began at the hips.
Interestingly though, 2016 was filled with recycled trends from the 60s-90s that have been upgraded to fit today’s standards.
Céline’s S/S 2015 collection showed flared pants runway looks, and a brief look at and Abercrombie and Fitch’s stuff online also offer flared pants. We all know that if high fashion pays homage to the past, then we should be embracing them as well.
The beauty about flared pants/jeans is that it makes you look taller and skinner, and quite frankly, who would deny the chance to look like a model? I would love to add four extra inches to my height, but at my age, I know that won’t be happening, so you have to “fake it ’til you make it.” If I can’t be Kendall Jenner tall, then I will wear flare jeans that will give me the proper silhouette.
In my lacking wardrobe, I only own one pair of flared pants, and they’re my yoga pants. In all honesty though, everyone should buy a pair because they’re so lightweight and relatively comfortable. If anyone loves flared pants/jeans like I do, leave a comment with some recommendations please!
the girl who wants to make flared jeans classy like Audrey Hepburn did with the LBD
p.s. Below is a picture of the pants that are like the ones I currently own. I would list a brand, but I have no clue where I bought them, most likely because my mom bought them for me. (Thanks Mom!)