Bellbottoms were trousers that flared out from the knee downwards and covered your shoes. The style was taken from old-fashioned navy uniforms from both the US and British navy. These style trousers were easy to roll up and keep dry and became synonymous with old fashioned sailors outfits.
In the 1970s, bell-bottoms were firmly in fashion. You could make your own jean bell bottoms by taking a pair of jeans, cutting open the seams to the knee and sewing in an extra panel of material to get the bell bottomed home made look. However this was a fairly 1960s retro look and by the 70s arrived you could buy bell-bottoms or loon pants as they were sometimes called in all types of material and colours.
The 70s version of bell-bottoms had a much wider flare than the 1960s style. In the 1970s the wider the better, with 24” or even 26” being the ultimate in cool. With the platform soles adding an extra few inches to height, it was important to buy bell bottoms that were long enough to cover your shoes. The look was to see the hint of a platform sole peeping out from underneath the flare, not the whole shoe.
Above the knee, bellbottoms often hugged the shape and were very close fitting. They were often hipsters or cut low waisted and often worn eye wateringly tight by men. It looked uncomfortable and did not leave much the onlookers imagination. Watch some of the old Top of The Pops shows and you will see this featured in many of the bands (or groups) of the time!
Girls usually wore their bell bottoms tight too and they were flattering if you had the right sort of bum! Quite often girls would wear them so tight they were hard to do up. The only way to get them on was to lie on the floor and pull them up that way. The resulting look could be very flattering. It made you look as if you had long legs and much taller and streamlined than you were in reality.
Bellbottom trousers were popular with both sexes and all ages. Although the fashion was to wear them tight, the crucial part was actually the width of the flare so most people wore them and they were perfectly comfortable. The bell bottom trouser was rebranded in the 1990s as boot cut and is still a fashionable style that is popular.