I'm seeing flares this fall

With the past weekend's shift to daylight savings time, our evenings fall early and fold in on themselves. You see the shift on the streets; dresses vanish, jeans surge ahead of every other bottom. 

A Montréal fashion writer recently bemoaned their ubiquity: "When am I going to see someone in anything else?" (Go to work in a bank?) In the metro last weekend, I must have spotted eighty women in jeans, and only the rare skirt over wooly tights.

NYDJ Billie mini-bootcut
This fall, there's a definite increase in wider-bottomed jeans, from "mini-bootcut" to definite flares, worn on all sizes and shapes. The bootcut is like a straightleg with a slightly wider bottom than the knee (depending on the maker, one to four inches), while the flare stays narrow through the thigh, then kicks out more from the knee, ending somewhere between 10 to 18 inches at the hem.

Why the change? The tourniquet tightness of skinnies means a tug each time you stand. Straight legs remain popular, but if you're in jeans often, a change is kinda fun.

Short legs look best in the narrower-bottomed end of the spectrum, and a top that ends at the high hip balances the flare better than the longer length often worn with skinnies.

Cue your classic rock playlist: they're even making bell bottoms again! Rag and Bone offer a retro elephant bell, with 21-inch bottoms. (In fact the original '60s bellbottoms were like the classic sailor's, starting wider in the thigh, and easing consistently through the leg, way out to that exaggerated bell.)

Remember these?
Only a few seasons ago, flares were harder to find. Now, they've joined the lineup from cult (Derek Lam, 7 for All Mankind, Current Elliot) to budget labels (Gloria Vanderbilt, Old Navy, Lee), from petite to plus, and one brand's flare is another's bootcut. 
The three flares below are made with nearly identical blends of cotton and 2% lycra, and all have have high rises, another jean feature making a solid return.  
Left, NYDJ Farrah Flare, $150; middle, Levis Hi-Rise Flare, $80; right, Talbot's Flawless Flare, $70. (Prices are in $US and you may do better at stores sales or online promotions.)

I'm happy the dominion of skinnies-and-tall-boots has relaxed, because even slim women fretted about how they looked, and who needs to get angsty about jeans, the most frequently-worn pants in our closet? (And if you don't wear denim, you'll still notice the uptick in flares in other fabrics.)

For those of us in cold climates, flares have another plus: they're easier to slide silk longjohns under as the temperature dips lower!


materfamilias said…
I love variety, but I'm taking my time over adding flared jeans to my wardrobe. The look is flattering, there's no doubt, and I did have a pair of cropped flares (Citizens of Humanity) that I can't remember why, oh why, I got rid of about 6 years ago (probably size change). But generally, in our wet climate, flares and wide-legs do nothing but soak up rain and wick up puddle water. Skinnies, meanwhile, tuck neatly into the boots that keep us fairly dry from knee down. . .
And there's the issue of heel height as well. I bought a pair of wide-leg jeans (Michael Kors) about 5 years ago, but they really looked best with a heel on me. Like many of my age peers, I'm not so willing to wear a heel all day anymore, but the trick of switching into flats at a certain point doesn't work with wide-legs hemmed for heels (although you'll dust your floor quickly this way!).
Still, I like the look, and I'm not sure I want to pass it by completely. I'm mostly likely to look for another pair of cropped flares, even wide-legged jeans at midi-length. And I'll enjoy watching the variety on the streets. . .
Duchesse said…
mater: I think you have the perfect solution in cropped flares! As for the rain/snow issue, I wore flares last winter and found that at least on city sidewalks, they did not drag and wick. (I wear winter-model Blundstones all winter and they have a thick sole.) If faced with seriously high snow I go into straight legs that can roll to whatever length makes sense.
LauraH said…
After much procrastination, due to the dreaded trying-to-find-a-pair-that-fits, I finally bought a pair of Talbot's Signature straight leg jeans last year, which is as close to skinny as I'm going to get. I found I liked the straight leg look although Talbot's have discontinued that particular line....sigh. And now flares are back...I can't keep up.

On a side note, I got around to trying leggings-with-a-tunic this fall in my search for something to wear to stretching class that will also carry me through the rest of the day when I'm on the move. The combination seems to be working well so far. I bought both pieces from Miik, lovely bamboo fabric and made in Canada, yeah.

Thanks for keeping us non-shoppers posted on what's going on out there. And for your enthusiasm for trying new things, it's been a big help.
Duchesse said…
LauraH: I know! Talbots have rolled their former three rises into one, the "Flawless" which AFAICT is a on the high side of mid-rise, like the old Signature- but have not tried. Milk make good looking activewear but leggings are not warm enough for here, once fall rolls in- at least for me.
I purchased a pair of NYDJ in a flared style last year and I wore them a few times before deciding that they were not for me...I am quite short. I consigned them and am still wearing skinny jeans...and tugging them frequently!
LauraH said…
I bought a pair of the Flawless cords and they are acceptable but don't fit me quite as well as the Signatures. Aside for the fit and the great colour, I love the fact that there is no contrast stitching on the Signature jeans. Haven't tried Flawless jeans though.
LauraH said…
should say ..."aside from"....
Rita said…
I put flares & bellbottoms into the same category as jumpsuits - something the fashion industry hauls out of the mothballs every so often when they run out of good ideas. But from what I've seen over the years, these things never stay around very long because they're awkward and not really fun or practical after the novelty wears off.
Duchesse said…
Rita: Impractical? The flare is, in many brands, the same bottom circumference as a bootcut, with enough room to slide over a boot, which is pretty practical. I agree the exaggerated, extreme bells would be less wearable.

Perhaps you are thinking of having to own different length jeans for various heel heights?. Because I always wear flat shoes or boots, all my jeans end up the same length. There is one "impractical" aspect, in that you cannot roll them up, should you like that option.

re"awkward": I have noted that when I wear the flare, it balances my hips, which I like. Awkward is trying to wriggle down a jumpsuit in a crowded bathroom stall after several glasses of wine, an image I recall from the 1980s.
Rita said…
That's exactly what I meant about the jumpsuit being awkward!

And, Duchesse, I love your phrasing, "evening folds in on itself". Very poetic.

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