Current fashion, both in stores and on the street, is all about skinnies, jeggings, straight legs and tapered trouser silhouettes. Less popular baggy and slouchy styles, despite their roomier appeal, also taper at the hem. And judging by what I see on the runways, slim-fit legs and tapered styles are still the dominant silhouette. 

Although flared jeans and trousers like bootcuts and wide legs have taken a backseat, they never went out of style. In fact, I’ll argue that they’re making a bit of a comeback. They’re appearing on runway shows again when for many seasons flares were out of sight. And we’re seeing more of them in retail stores. 

I totally support the comeback because flared trousers and jeans have their advantages. I can think of six straight off the cuff: 

  • Flattering for Most: The silhouette evens out proportions. Some of my clients with pear and inverted triangle body types prefer wearing wider trouser and jeans hems because they are forgiving and flattering.
  • Elegant: There is something about the swoosh of a draping hem that is ultra elegant. Tight styles to my eye, aren’t quite as elegant no matter how you slice and dice it. 
  • Comfortable: A pair of fluid wool trousers can be more comfortable than a tight tapered style. 
  • Retro: Flared hems have a fun ‘40s and ’70s appeal. 
  • Refreshing: Amidst a sea of tapered styles, flared hems look refreshing. 
  • Ventilating: Loose, flared trousers provide excellent ventilation in hot weather. 

If flared jeans and trousers are so fabulous, why do slim silhouettes continue to reign supreme? Here are some thoughts: 

  • Impractical: Flared legs are extremely incompatible with wet, snowy and slushy weather. Soggy hems are uncomfortable and unstylish. Excess swooshing fabric around the ankles of extra-flared styles makes walking up and down stairs less easy. Flares also require committing to a heel height in order to achieve perfect pant lengths, making them less versatile. 
  • Unflattering for Some: Flares can look overwhelming when they are too wide, especially on a petite and/or small framed person. 
  • Less Fashionable: Tapered legs are still the dominant fashion silhouette. 
  • Less Insulating: Slim fit styles are warmer in cold weather because they are more insulating.

I believe that tapered leg silhouettes, whether they are skinny, straight or baggy, continue to be the fashion and retail norm because they are practical. And as long as the mass market keeps purchasing them, fashion buyers will keep putting them in stores. 

As an ’80s gal, my heart is with tapered leg jeans and trousers. They are streamlined, insulating, less fussy, versatile, look great with flats, and practical for the wet Seattle climate. But in the same breath I will also say that I enjoy wearing bootcut trousers in wool blends because they are retro, refreshing and comfortable, and I love the way they move.

I’ve devoted a pinboard to fabulous street style outfits that feature flared trousers just because they are so rare these days. Perhaps they will inspire you to wear flares more frequently. Weather permitting, and just to change things up

DL1961 The Joy Flare JeansDL1961 Milano Boot Cut Jeans

Alice + Olivia Eric Wide Leg PantsFree People Stripe Bali Flare JeansGenetic Denim Dark Boot Cut Jeans

Frankie B Jeans Florence Trouser FlareJ Brand Jeans Love Story Flare

Theory Pants Avano Kapture

Trina Turk Geraldine Lace Waist Trousers