THE rise, fall & reappearing of BELL BOTTOMS

History of Bell Bottom Pants

Fashion is for the classes & follow up is for the masses. Uniqueness is for the fashionables & repeating is for the regulars. The origin of bell bottoms dates back to the early 19th century when US Navy wore trousers with wide ending. This was typical from ship to ship. The British Royal navy was considered fashionable in the early 19th century but bell bottoms did not pick up with them till the mid of the century & it was the British fashion cycle which brought the Bell bottoms to street fashion in mid sixty’s. Soon the hippie culture was caught in the grip of this trend with tie dye shirts, beads & big round glasses (aka Zeenat Amaan in Hare Rama Hare Krishna).

Fashion scene on Indian streets took to bell bottoms around 1968. Every new trouser was flared bigger than the existing in the market. The film Industry was the leader in showcasing fashion & Super Star Rajesh Khanna wore bell bottoms with loose fitting kurtas, the hit song gulabi ankhen from the movie The Train is a classical example of this fashion igniter. Rishi Kapoor & Neetu Singh were idols of fashion & the bell bottoms they wore in the movie Bobby, Kheel Kheel Mein, Rafoo Chakkar were trend setters. Amitabh Bachhan’s height & wide collared jackets coupled with 36inch bottom (flare) in the movie DON was a remarkable trend setter for bell bottoms. The same era saw variations in bell bottoms, flared from the bottom of the calf( knee ), parallels same diameter from calf till the ankle also termed as Elephant bells & modern day boot cut also termed shoe cover was flared at the bottom to (cover) hide the shoe length. Even the regular trousers got converted to bell bottoms by sewing colorful/matching/different pattern fabrics on the leg seam below the knee, to create a flare.

By the end of 1980s the disco culture came in vogue & bell bottoms of all variants started disappearing from the high street and started being replaced by narrow bottoms. In India, the industrial revolution of 1970s also played a part in making bell bottoms out of place as workers found it inconvenient to work in factory shop floors with wide bottoms as it resulted in many industrial accidents & were uncomfortable at the shop floor in the chemical, mechanical industry, construction sites etc. Soon the bell bottoms of 1960, 1970, 1980 went out of site & became a vintage clothing at the dawn of 2000. As the saying goes- fashion is like a season cycle & repeats itself after a gap. The low waist, hipster trousers/jeans, pleated trousers, unpleated trousers are all in & out as per the life cycle definition— till the classes wear it’s fashion & as and when the masses follow it’s obsolete. The 2000 saw more skinny jeans & trousers. The earlier wide leg jeans or the flared variant where the bellbottoms hung on the body were not the trend, it was the body hugging on waist & hips & flared below the knee that became the inspirational, elegant & stylish look.

Fashion fiestas are the mood enhancers of the time, fashion always is on evolving path. Summer, spring, autumn there will always be a trendy reason for a particular season & when it comes to bottoms —trousers/jeans wrapping your lower body that fits & figures the contours is essential ingredient in the women’s wardrobe. The designers lobby remade woman look great & tall, skinny & leggy again in bell bottoms.

Come 2010 & Indian fashion diva Deepika Padukone got christened as the reinvention of the 70s bell bottom culture (the movie Om Shanti Om was around the 70s era & the starting point for her film career). The era of bell bottoms came back with a bang giving woman of every age a taste for comfort, functionality & sensuality. The curiosity for the return of bell bottom era for women is attributed;  firstly the style goes good for women who have long legs & heavy to medium hips & also need emphasis on the legs & divert attention from the upper body. Secondly bell bottoms give more feminine & edgy touch, further it makes woman look more stylish, fashionable & the complimentary dresses need not be trendy or costly.

To achieve the right & trendy look, the art of creating true bell bottoms is to make the women more contemporary & stylish and the modifications in bell bottoms by the current designers is a complimentary welcome. The right pair fits like a glove from waist, hips & thighs & widens as it flows below the knee & even takes the diameter of waist on reaching each feet. Wearing a bell bottom pant/jeans makes the wearer look taller & slimmer with the illusion of having narrower hips & if the wearer has heavy hips this is the perfect wear for them. Tank tops, waist belted peasant blouse, tuck in blouse/shirt are the best compliments to be worn with the bell bottoms. Else one can also choose the perfect wear that balances your figure like high waist bell bottom is good for the top heavy figures to hide the stomach fat. Platforms, wedged sandals & heavy set boots add the style quotient with bellbottoms.

Attitude, self confidence, poise, great matching accessories, graceful walk & above all a SMILE -are the most important elements that brighten any outfit at any time to surely turn observers/critics heads your way especially, if the lower half has BELLBOTTOMS.

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