If you followed New York Fashion Week in September last year, you’ll know that we’re in for a resurgence of 70’s fashion in Spring and Summer 2011. Think Charlies Angels, Three’s Company, Welcome Back Kotter, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, One day at a Time, Love Story and The 70’s Show for a vivid impression of 70’s looks. Very fab!

Flared hems on jeans (and trousers) like bellbottoms and wide legs were huge in the 70’s. 90’s fashion introduced more modern interpretations of flared jeans: boot cuts and trouser jeans. Also very fab and definitely my favourite styles of flared denim.

The difference between different types of flared jeans are subtle yet important, and is achieved by changing two aspects of the design:

  1. The width of the hem of the flare
  2. The position on the leg where the flare begins

Here’s a rundown of the main flared styles:

  • Wide Leg Jeans are cut wide from the thighs down and do not taper in on the knee. The hem widths are normally also very wide. See the Gap wide leg jeans with pintucks, and the “Ginger” wide leg jeans below.
  • Bell Bottoms, also referred to as bell legs, are cut narrow from hip to thigh and flare out quite a bit from knee to hem, resembling the shape of a bell on the lower part of the leg. See the “Adriane” and “Martini” bell bottom jeans below.
  • Bootcut Jeans taper in at the knee and are usually the least flared at the hem of all flared style jeans. As the name suggests, bootcut jeans are flared just enough so that you can comfortably fit a pair of boots underneath them. Some bootcuts are barely flared at all, whereas other styles are more flared.
  • Trouser Jeans are more like a combination of wide leg and bell bottom jeans. They are fitted on top and flare out at the bottom, but aren’t as tapered at the knee as bellbottoms and not nearly as wide on the thigh as wide legs. See the Hudson Flare Leg and Banana Republic trouser jeans below.

Stores are already full of sorts of flared jeans. I’ve never been a passionate wide leg jeans or bell bottom girl so I won’t be rushing out to wear the silhouettes. First, I like the look best with really high heels and since I don’t wear those it seems silly to compromise the look. Second, I feel huge and uncomfortable in wide leg or super flared pants, like I’m going to take off and fly. There is just too much fabric swooshing around at my feet and I feel like I can’t get on with the tasks at hand. But I do like subtly flared jeans like bootcuts and trouser cuts, which I wear with low heels. And I never stopped wearing those styles, even when skinnies were at their peak and my preference was for a slim cut.

In the same breath, I have learnt to never say never when it comes to fashion and style. So if you see me sporting wide leg jeans or bell bottoms later this season, it won’t be the first time I’ve had to happily eat my words!

Over to you. Do you like flared leg jeans and will you wear the look?