As a throwback tribute to the recent revival of everything 70s-inspired on the runways of A/W 2015, we delve into the history of one of the most prominent trends of the late 60s to 70s—the bell-bottom pants.
Back in the mid-19th century, the first recorded variation of bell-bottoms came from pioneers of the nautical trend: the British Navy’s uniform included wide-legged trousers used for functional purposes as it was easier to roll up and remove over boots.
Fast forward to the late 60s where fashion norms were broken by non-conformists (women wearing trousers in public were considered unsophisticated), this trend veered from high fashion to the hippie movement with barefoot Woodstock-goers donning bell-bottom jeans with vests. This was also when Levi’s designed their 517 line specially to pair with stiff leather boots.
The pants’ status solidified in the 70s thanks to Sonny and Cher who wore them in various colours, styles and materials on their popular self-titled show, and later became the trend of the decade—Elvis’s gold-studded white jumpsuit had exaggeratedly flared bottoms, and who could forget John Travolta’s disco-glam loon pants with his bangin’ dance moves in Saturday Night Fever?
In the mid 90s, bell-bottom pants were redefined as boot-cut pants with a less-exaggerated flare below the knees, making it versatile in the workplace and for casualwear. Despite the trend phasing out during the mid 2000s, we’re seeing a resurgence of boot-cut culottes on the runways on A/W’15. While we can’t tell the direction of this fad in the coming seasons, one thing we’re sure of is that it isn’t going away just yet, so treasure all your denim pieces from past decades as you’ll never know when it’ll be all the rage once again.
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