Whatever happened to …

… bell-bottoms?

Thanks to my friend Alfred Thompson for this one.

Inspiring me with a topic is as simple as this.

And here we are.

Once you reach our age, you fully realize that fashion isn’t necessarily about looking good – it’s about the fashion industry wanting to make money by selling something new that everyone just has to have.

I remember that time when bell-bottoms came along. I used to wear one pair of Lee very straight-legged and tight pants. Then, Levi came along with bell-bottomed pants and all my friends were wearing them.

In a heartbeat, I went from stylin’ to outdated. Or as stylin’ as an elementary school kid could be. I could have looked like this. (at least according to Bing Create)

Staying on top of the latest trends wasn’t something that was easily afforded in our family at that time. We only got new pants when the old ones got torn beyond stitching or patching repair or if we happened to grow out of them.

The trend affected both boys and girls at the time.

Of course, it wasn’t just for blue jeans although that’s where I first noticed that I was looking dated. Dress pants came along and seemed to have an impact. For our prom, I bought a plaid pair of pants with bell-bottoms. As I looked at our prom photos, I just looked stupid. My wife remembers it as butt-ugly. I also remember the lime green tuxedo that I rented for my wedding and the bottom of the pants had a flair as well.

Thanks to Alfred’s inspiration, I did a fashion check while walking the dog at the Navy Yard recently. A lot of the trend seems to be to wear incredibly tight stretchy pants with no flair or a bit of a flair at the bottom or just going straight to blue jeans. It’s different from my early years where everyone had to wear the same type of style. I envy people today.

At the time that bell-bottom pants became a thing, it also became a problem. Our major mode of transportation in our town was by bicycle and these floppy things could easily get caught in the chain as we peddled. There was a solution although it meant spending a bit more money – buying a pant clip. That also caused a problem with where to store it when we went to class.

You probably can’t tell but I just got back from the morning dog walk. I actually spent time looking at the pants in my closet before going and there’s nothing there that would even approximate the bell-bottoms I remember. To be honest, I think that’s a good thing for me. You may have a different opinion.

So, for a Sunday, what are your thoughts?

  • do you remember when the bell-bottom fashion entered your life? Did you buy some?
  • do you own bell-bottoms today?
  • now, I’ve known Alfred for as long as I can remember. He always wears a Stetson hat! Could you imagine him (or anyone) wearing bell-bottom pants with a Stetson? If you’re curious to see what the hat looks like on him, check out his Twitter profile
  • do you know what a pant clip is?
  • do you know someone who would have been on the top of the fashion list and be the first one in your group to wear bell-bottoms? What would they be wearing today?

Thanks, Alfred, for the inspiration for this post. If you have an idea for a future post, please reach out to me.

I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below. If you have a picture of yourself in bell-bottoms, that would be an awesome addition.

This is a regular post around here on Sunday mornings. They’re all archived here.

This will be the second last post on this blog for 2023. My Weekly Update gets posted at 5pm this afternoon.

To all the readers …

Join the Conversation

  1. Bell bottoms seem to be having a comeback, I’ve seen quite a few while walking at the mall recently… I am no fan of slim/skinny jeans and would not go to the extreme of bell bottomed pants (and less at my age…), but I do like the boot cut style, as you can imagine, they are wider at the bottom… to fit your boots… or, wide calves… I do know what pant clips are as I commute around on my bike, as an alternative I tuck the right leg of my pant in my sock, not very aesthetic, but does the work…


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