Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Pictorial Analysis of Bellbottoms

While my personal bellbottoms are waiting patiently for a waistband, I thought I'd take a stroll through the pages of the Sear's Catalog of the 1970's. Thanks to my sources (e.g. random googling) several facts have revealed themselves:

1. Bellbottoms reached their height (or should we say width?) in 1975.

2. Bellbottoms have their origins in sailor pants, a style which was also fashionable in the 1930s.

3. For sailing folk, the flared legs made it easy to put boots on and to roll up the legs in case of high water. Both features are, of course, still useful to us today, sailors or not. ETA: Ladykatza noted that the main reason for the flared legs was that if a sailor ever found himself overboard, the pants could quickly be removed, tied off at the ends, and used as a flotation device. I knew bellbottoms were a fashion statement; I didn't know they were a safety device!

4. I wasn't able to find a concensus on the definition of bellbottoms other than that the hem is flared. How much do they flare? Are they fitted at the waist and hips, flaring below the knee (hip-huggers)? Or are they wide-legged? The choice is yours.

5. Bellbottoms came in a WIDE variety of fabrics.

6. Despite their obtrusive nature, bellbottoms need NOT be made in unobtrusive fabric!

Seersucker: an excellent choice for picnics.

Plaid and polka dots: another excellent choice for picnics.

Twill: solid and sturdy.

Red and blue: good for patriotic Americans, Brits, Cubans, Norwegians ... and plenty of others with red and blue in their flags.

I won't lie. Double knit acrylic is not my favorite fabric. But you can't beat pull-on styling WITH cuffs.

Maternity: there's no reason to forego style just because you're expecting.

Denim: pair with a Western shirt for the rugged look.

Plaid: What can I say? Effortless.

More double knit: a matching cardigan and front leg seams add that extra touch.

Corduroy: a versatile favorite.

Corduroy jeans-style bellbottoms.

Dress it up with tweed.

Nothing elongates better than stripes.

Well, I don't know about horizontal stripes.

Tired of the same old flared legs? Try a geometric print.


  1. Oh my my my.


    Oh my.

    Where's your pants?

  2. What I really like is the fact that they are high waisted! I am tired of having a muffin top. I want my dignity back when I bend over. :-)

  3. oh dear.

    words fail me.

    (I'm 99.9% sure my mom had that red gingham maternity top when she was pregnant with my little sister.)

  4. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I remember my mom sewing me bell bottom pull on pants out of double knit fabric.


  5. Wow, lots and lots of bell bottoms.

    You know I actually bought a piece of fabric recently. I am not sure what it is. It was stretchy and the prettiest pale yellow color. I thought when I bought it, is this double knit? Its thicker like double knit and well it just looks like double knit LOL. I was thinking yoga pants or some shorty comfy shorts with elastic waist.. :O)

  6. I would like to add a little fact to #2: The MAIN reason for sailor bell bottom pants is so that if they fell over board they could quickly take them off in water, tie off the ends, and use it for a flotation device. How do I know this? I married a sailor.

  7. Um, just awesome. Or groovy. Definitely groovy.

  8. My, oh my. That is certainly interesting.

    Do tell, Joy, what color/print will yours be?:)

  9. Wow. I made some 70's-inspired pants last fall, but they didn't make me look groovy. I am MOST excited to see what modeling inspiration you are going to follow ! I'm hoping for the sports car hood.

  10. Awesome! My fave is the Young Teens yellow trouser suit. I think I had something similar in purple, with braid. Wow!

  11. They are cool. Am totally loving the corduroy ones and expect to be knocking them off for myself sometime very very soon!

  12. Nice review...only ones that throw me are the maternity sets...I don't think I could go for that look...

  13. Where are the pics of MEN'S bellbottoms? Of didn't they even exist? Either I wasn't paying attention to men's fashion at the time (so what's new?) or I've long since forgotten. I mean, of course, other than those issued by the United States Navy.


Sorry to add word verification. Too much spam lately....


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