Grab your platforms and get ready to groove – bell bottoms are back in a major way! The flared silhouette has cycled in and out of fashion over the decades, but lately we’ve been seeing bell bottoms make a huge comeback. How can you make the iconic 70s style work for 2022? With the right fit, fabrics, and styling, bell bottoms can look modern, sexy, and on-trend.
A Brief History of the Bell Bottom Craze
First coming onto the scene in the late 1960s, bell bottoms were all the rage in the 1970s. Their popularity stemmed from the rising hippie and anti-war movements, when young people favored laidback styles and rejected the more formal fashions of older generations.
Bell bottoms originated from naval uniforms, where the flared leg allowed sailors to roll up their pants easily. Civilians later adapted the exaggerated flare for mainstream fashion. Early bell bottoms sat right at the hip bone and could have massive 24-inch flares! Fashionable femmes paired the statement bottoms with crop tops, platforms, and floppy hats.
Bell bottoms stuck around through the late 70s into the 80s but soon tapered off as disco looks faded. The 90s favored bootcut and straight leg jeans instead. However, bell bottoms never fully went away and kept resurfacing every decade or so. There’s just something about that dreamy flare silhouette that holds eternal appeal!
The Anatomy of Bell Bottoms: Key Features and Styles
So what defines true bell bottoms? For pants to qualify, they must have a wide, billowy flare that starts from the knee down. The flared leg opening should be substantially wider than the thigh and seat area. Styles can range from subtle flares to dramatic trumpet shapes.
Here are 5 of the most popular types of bell bottoms making waves today:
1. The Classic Bell Bottom
This style stays true to the OG 1970s aesthetic. The flare starts right below the knee and dramatically widens toward the hem, resulting in a bottom opening of at least 20 inches. Choose jeans or corduroys with a medium to high rise and elongating inseams.
2. The Hip Hugger
A lower rise coupled with the flared leg creates a seriously flattering silhouette. Hip hugger bell bottoms sit several inches below your natural waist and hug your hips in all the right places. The calf-accentuating flare draws the eye down. Go for this style in trendy fabrics like vegan leather.
3. The Dressy Bell Bottom
Why reserve bells for daytime only? Take your flares into evening by opting for luxe fabrics like silk, satin, or chiffon. The fluid movement of these dressy bell bottoms makes them ideal for cocktails, parties, dates, and beyond. Finish the look with strappy heels.
4. The Printed Bell Bottom
Make a vibrant splash in eye-catching printed bell bottoms! Psychedelic florals, groovy paisleys, and bold graphic prints are all fair game. This offers tons of outfit opportunities to get playful. Match your patterns or pair printed bells with simple modern pieces.
5. The Cropped Bell Bottom
For a fresh feel, go for bell bottoms with a cropped length. Hemmed an inch or two above the ankle bone, these short flares are perfect for showing off your favorite shoes. The abbreviated cut feels young and allows you to highlight heels, wedges or chunky sneakers.
Now that you know the landscape, it’s time to find your perfect pair!
Choosing the Most Flattering Bell Bottoms for You
Bell bottoms may seem intimidating to style. However, with a few expert tips, you can pick a pair that flatters your body type.
Consider the following when shopping:
- Identify your body shape. Are you pear, apple, hourglass, or rectangle? Certain silhouettes enhance your natural proportions.
- Mind the material. Stretchy fabrics like lyocell or spandex blend well with flares. Cottons and rigid denim work too. Avoid anything too lightweight that may cling unflatteringly.
- Find the right flare width. Petite girls should seek subtle flares. Taller women balance wider bells. The goal is creating the illusion of long legs.
- Get the ideal rise. Mid to high rise styles elongate the legs. Low rise suits shorter girls. Make sure the waistline hits at your natural waist.
- Choose proper inseams. Longer inseams allow more draping and stacking at the ankle. Cropped inseams can be more balanced on petite frames.
- Fit the thighs and knees. There should be enough room to stride comfortably. Oversnug fabric leads to unflattering pulls and creases.
- Perfect the hem opening. The flare should align with the widest part of your calves for smooth draping. Not too narrow or it defeats the bell shape.
With an idea of your measurements and body type, you can start trying on different bell bottom silhouettes. Be attentive to the above factors. Finding the most complementary pair may take some trial and error.
Once you slip on the perfect pair, you’ll know! Move through your full range of motion and evaluate the fit at several angles. When the bells seem like an extension of your legs, you’ve found “the one”!
How to Style Those Bell Bottoms Like a Pro
You found your dream pair of bell bottoms – now it’s time for fun with fashion! With the right styling tricks, you can make those flares look modern, sexy and completely now.
Here are genius tips for rocking your bell bottoms in style:
- Tuck in fitted tops to balance the volume of the bells. Cropped camis, tanks and blouses work well. Avoid boxy cuts.
- Cuff the hems for a laidback boho vibe. This also shows off your shoes.
- Cinch with thick belts at your natural waistline to define your silhouette.
- Pair with wedge heels or platforms to emulate that 70s aesthetic.
- Go sleek and polished with a tucked blouse, blazer and classic pumps.
- Add lower-profile shoes like loafers, clogs or ballet flats for a casual flair.
- Rock concert tees and booties with Destroyed denim bell bottoms for a grunge-inspired edge.
- Make them shimmer for evening by wearing with strappy heels and silky camis.
- Stack bangles and wrists accents to complement the rich draping and movement.
With the enormous variety of bell bottom styles and rise options, you can easily dress them up or down. Be bold and experiment with different looks. Elevate your bells from day to night by swapping out key accessories and footwear.
Your Top Bell Bottom Questions – Answered!
Still have some burning questions about rocking bell bottoms? Here we tackle some of the most common FAQs.
Q: Are bell bottoms still in style?
A: Vintage styles like bell bottoms never go out of fashion when styled in a modern way. The flared silhouette made a huge comeback around 2018 and remains popular with no signs of going away. The key is keeping your flares looking fresh.
Q: What tops to wear with bell bottoms?
A: Fitted, tucked-in tops balance the volume of the wide legs. Pair your bells with camis, tanks, halters, cropped blouses, or bodysuits. Avoid boxy cuts. Show off your waistline with cropped and tucked-in styles.
Q: How should bell bottoms fit?
A: The waist should sit comfortably at your natural waist – not hips. Thighs shouldn’t feel too tight. Allow enough room to walk and sit easily. Flares should align with your widest calf points. Hem openings must drape right over your shoes.
Q: What shoes work best with bell bottoms?
A: Go for chunky heels, wedges, platforms, clogs, or boots. Stacked and block heels also work well. Avoid spindly stilettos or flats. You want substantial shoes that balance the flared legs.
Q: Can petite women wear bell bottoms?
A: Absolutely! Go for a high-waisted cut with a cropped or ankle-length hem. Choose a subtle flare – no massive openings. Pair with platforms or chunky heels. This helps balance your proportions.
Q: Are bell bottoms still fashionable?
A: With the right modern styling, bell bottoms remain eternally chic! Tailored cuts, smoothed fabrics, minimal flare, and ankle-grazing hems keep them fitting into 2022 style. Just add the trends of the moment on top. Bells bottoms work for all generations.
Flaunt Those Flares: How to Modernize Your Bell Bottoms
Looking to refresh those vintage vibes into contemporary looks? Make your bell bottoms undeniably current with these easy updates:
- Seek clean finishes without distressing or embellishments
- Choose sleek, stretch fabrics like ponte knit rather than denim
- Opt for solid colors or minimal patterns instead of busy prints
- Wear narrower flare widths that start right below the knee
- Add a cropped length to highlight your shoes
- Pair with a fitted turtleneck bodysuit instead of a crop top
- Finish the ensemble with an oversized blazer, structured tote and mules
- Cuff the hems over combat boots with socks peeking through
- Go monochromatic with same-color top and shoes
Small styling tweaks make a massive difference in looking fresh and runway-ready. You want classics like bell bottoms to complement – not overwhelm – the rest of your outfit.
Let your bells become a timeless blank canvas you can style in endless ways. Then you can flaunt those flares for years to come!
Why Bell Bottoms Are a Chic Addition to Your Wardrobe
Once associated strictly with hippies and free spirits, the bell bottom has evolved into a sophisticated closet staple. Here’s why you should consider adding this versatile style into your wardrobe lineup:
- Bell bottoms are universally flattering. The elongating flare slims your thighs and balances curvy hips. The silhouette suits all body types when tailored properly.
- They add a retro flair without a costume feel. Bells capture that essence of the era’s spirit, but modern fabrics and minimal detailing keep them contemporary.
- Bell bottoms pair seamlessly with other items. Tops, outerwear, shoes – everything works! Dress them up or down effortlessly.
- The leg-lengthening qualities are undeniable. Flares make legs appear longer, leaner and impossibly chic. It’s an optical illusion worth harnessing.
- They deliver comfort and mobility. The roomy cut allows you to move and groove freely. Form meets function with bells.
- Bell bottoms offer incredible versatility. Wear them to the office, dates, travel and more. Simply switch up styling details to tailor them to the occasion.
- They add retro flair to any ensemble. Even the most basic pieces get a boost of personality when paired with bell bottoms.
As you can see, bell bottoms continue to endure in fashion because of their uniqueness and versatility. They may have 70s roots, but this flattering style feels at home in any era.
Go Boldly into Bell Bottom Territory
With their dramatic flares and carefree vibes, bell bottoms make a vibrant style statement. But as we’ve shown, they can also carry a sophisticated, contemporary edge. Once you find the perfect pair tailored to your body, you can fashion those bells into a variety of envy-inducing looks.
Next time you spot bell bottoms, don’t hesitate – it’s time to embrace the flare! Channel your inner ’70s muse and strut your stuff. Here’s to bringing the funky retro style into the future. Bell bottoms are back – and here to stay!