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Catching Rae

Parsing Trends: Fall Flares

Nili Lotan, Ralph Lauren, A.L.C., Versace

Nili Lotan, Ralph Lauren, A.L.C., Versace

Hold on to your panty hose, gals, because flared pants are sneaking on back into our lives! 



Clients always ask me: Can I still wear my flares? When will bootcuts be back "IN" again? When will skinny jeans go away, so I can stop feeling like I'm shaped like a lollypop? If this sounds like you, then you're in luck, because designers are finally re-embracing this flattering silhouette.

Figure flattery benefits of flares & bootcuts include:

  • Balancing out a wider hip/tush
  • Elongating the legs
  • Slimming the thighs


Flared leg styles are relatively new, surfacing mainly in the 19th century as a preferred style for Navy sailors and, later, cowboys. In the 60s, young people began to rebel against the trappings of their parental overlords and started shopping at military surplus stores, and the flared pant was adopted as The Unofficial Pant of Counter-Culture. This idea continued through the '70s with exaggerated bell bottoms, disappeared in the '80s, and resurfaced in the '90s with a spandex-infused, super-low-rise vengeance. 

Thus the associations with flared/bootcut styles include:

  • A relatively modern sensibility (not old-world)
  • Adventure
  • The unknown
  • Rebellion
  • "Roughing It" (Both braving the elements and fighting The Man)
  • Bohemia
  • Rock & Roll

Flares probably are NOT for those who are extremely feminine, gamine, restrained, or classical.

How to Wear Them

If you're considering flares this season, take note that the modern look is neat, dressy, and loooooong. Look for dark wash jeans, dress trousers, or very over-the-top and artfully distressed options. Pair the flared bottoms with matchy-matchy tops and jackets in a similar color or fabric (e.g., denim-on-denim).

Although plenty of editorial photos will show flared pants puddled on the floor, I highly suggest that most people avoid this look in real life. It will not only destroy the hems of the pants, making them look ratty, but it will also hinder your stride and drastically shorten your leg line. Instead, wear those flares with a heel, and hem the bottoms so they just graze the floor. 

If you love the puddled look but don't want to spend all day tripping over your pants, try pairing your flares with flatform shoes and having your tailor keep the fabric "break" in the pant leg when hemming. This will cause more of a bunched look in the front while keeping the fabric from dragging in the back!