It’s about this time every year that the world at large, and not just those in the know such as yourself, start to look to the new year’s trends and ponder about the larger direction of clothing. Every December we see this fact played out time and time again, both in the correspondance we receive and in the activity across Fashionising.com, with questions such as are skinny jeans still in fashion becoming increasingly frequent. And the short answer is: yes, skinny jeans are still in fashion – they’re going nowhere, at least in terms of trends, fast. But while that’s a fact, 2011′s fashion trends show the inverse to be true: flared jeans and flared trousers are back for both men and women for as a spring 2011 fashion trend.

Read on to find out more about the return of flares.

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derek lam flared jeans
Flared jeans at Derek Lam SS11

Are flares and bell bottoms back in?

The simple answer is yes, flared jeans and bell bottoms (as well as wide-leg pants to an extent, but we’ll save those for another day) are back in. The reason why is almost as simple: skinny jeans have become so common, such a staple in most everyone’s wardrobe, that people are seeking an alternative. At the same time you have the rise re-rise of 1970s fashion as a major influencer of trends across 2011.

topshop unique flares
Flares at Topshop Unique SS11

Bell bottoms and flares for men

Often when it comes time to write about a fashion trend we start with the women’s interpretation of it and then, usually a year or so later, we write about the menswear take on it. Not so with bell bottoms and flares for men – this is a trouser and jean style that is happening for both genders. Of course, as it is with most fashion trends, the men’s interpretation is subtler in fact to describe them as bell bottoms might be something of a misnomer. Bell bottoms, you see, conjures up mental pictures of jeans whose hem is wider then your foot is long – but this isn’t the style that’s on trend for men in 2011. Instead you’re looking for a pair of jeans or trousers slightly wider than a boot cut, but with a slimmer thigh and waist that makes the hemline even more defined.

Acne have nailed the men’s look as a part of their spring / summer 2011 collection, with two interpretations of men’s flared jeans pictured below. The first is a look perfect for early autumn / fall 2011 trends while the second is more suited to spring / summer and, being hatted, has something of a beachwear overtone to it.

bell bottom mens

men's flared jeans

Bell bottoms and flares for women

Unlike the men’s version of the bell bottoms / flared jeans fashion trend, which is about a toned down style, the women’s take needn’t be.

baggy jeansWhat it isn’t, however, is overt. Cast your mind back to 2007 and you might remember the last time the issue of flares and bell bottoms faced us was courtesy of the baggy jeans trend. And I loathed it. As you can see on the right, people were actually opting to look anything but good. Given my strong distaste of the style, it goes without saying that the return of flares pants and jeans in 2011 is not to be interpreted as a return to baggy jeans. Anything but.

It’s also not a return to the boyfriend jeans style that was popular throughout 2008 and 2009.

Instead bell bottoms and flared jeans for women in 2011 are all about a neo-1970s style that has the following elements:

  • a hem that is at least as wide as your foot – the men’s hem that you can see on the pictures above doesn’t apply to the women’s interpretation of the trend
  • loose at the knee – I’ve already see some takes on the trend where the jeans are cut very slim down the thigh and the knee and then flare out from below the knee cap. This is a 1990s interpretation of flares and not the style that’s on trend in 2011

derek lam flared jeans
Derek Lam SS11

There is also one other style elements you might consider: a high waisted cut, which is desirable for the full 1970s vibe though, if you’re pairing the jeans / trousers with a more modern look, a low cut waist will work just as well.

ADAM flared pantsHigh-waist and subtle flared leg at ADAM SS11

Bell bottoms: styling inspiration

Images: style.com.

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