Retro delights: Flares

Flares have been in fashion for nearly 40 years. Susannah Frankel explains their consistent appeal
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Fashion is so steeped in nostalgia that it's not unreasonable to presume that any garment a designer doesn't choose to recycle must simply have been a bad idea in the first place. Consider, for example, the Donna Karan body with its evil press studs just where a girl would never in her right mind want them. These may have been a byword for style in the 1980s when everyone who was anyone wore them, but they caused something of a rift even between generally like-minded souls. Were you the type who fastidiously undid them of a trip to the ladies before struggling ad infinitum to do them up again, or did you simply pull them to one side? Yuk. Whatever, they have rarely had a look-in since, and suffice to say that few tears have been shed over the matter.

The same cannot be said of the continual reinvention of flares, which are about to impact again – and in a big way – at a high street store near you. My mother would order me shrink-to-fit Levi's with an uncompromisingly straight leg when I longed – in much the same way as a young girl with a black school uniform might pine after pink – to own a pair of flares. As a compromise, one Christmas I was given a pair of grey knitted Biba trousers with a kick at the ankle. These were definitely more of a boot cut than the full, bell-bottomed monty but I was in fashion nirvana nonetheless, suddenly leggy and glamorous, whereas up until that time I'd just looked like, well, like a boy.

For those out there who have found the dominance of pencil-thin jeans over the past two years something of a challenge, news that trousers boot- cut, flared and even rivalling a pair of Oxford bags in volume are back may provide solace. Such reasons may be partially pragmatic – flares are easier on shorter and less-than-perfect legs.

Bringing flower power, Woodstock and, before that, the loungewear-clad likes of Jean Harlow to mind, flares speak of insouciance, sophistication and just the right amount of decadence – if nothing else, it takes more fabric to craft a pair of wide-legged trousers. And there's nothing as uptight as an unwisely placed popper in sight.