Bell Bottoms Day, which is celebrated on April 5, commemorates the fashion of the 1970s. Bell bottoms are also known as flares. These are a style of trousers and jeans that become wider from the knees to the ankles resembling the shape of a bell. Back in the day, bell bottoms were made from denim, satin polyester, or bright cotton. They were immensely popular among teenagers as they signified an outlandish fashion style.
History of Bell Bottoms Day
Commodore Stephen Decatur wrote one of the first recorded descriptions of sailors’ uniforms in 1813, describing the men on the frigates of the U.S. and Macedonia as wearing “glazed canvas hats with stiff brims, decked with ribbons, blue jackets buttoned loosely over waistcoats, and blue trousers with bell bottoms.” In the early 19th century before the U.S. Navy uniform was standardized, some sailors chose a style of wide trousers that had bell-shaped cuffs.
The leader of nautical fashion was often the British Royal Navy but it wasn’t until the mid-19th century before bell bottoms became part of the royal uniform. The bell-bottoms worn by the members of the navy were not tight on the thighs and flared from the knees to the ankles — rather, they were just very wide-legged trousers. The Royal Navy continued to use these wide-legged trousers until they were replaced in 1977 by conventionally flared trousers.
Although the trousers of the modern U.S. Navy uniform are still referred to as “bell-bottomed,” they merely feature broad straight legs. The wearer’s thighs fill the upper part of the trousers, creating a flared appearance at the bottom. This style has been popular for many years, maybe because the leg part of the trousers can be quickly rolled up, allowing the wearer to walk barefoot. There are no records, however, that indicate a precise chronology or explanation for the popularity of bell-bottomed trousers in naval attire.
Bell Bottoms Day timeline
Bell bottoms enter the fashion world through French designer Coco Chanel.
Bell bottoms become a fashion trend among men and women in Europe.
Eric Clapton and Bobby Whitlock compose ‘Bell Bottom Blues’ while the band Derek and the Dominos popularize it.
Women’s bell-bottoms are reintroduced to the public as boot-cut pants.
Bell Bottoms Day FAQs
What goes well with bell bottoms?
An open button-down shirt or a blousy tank with a denim jacket or a long cardigan looks great with bell bottoms.
Why were bell bottoms popular among hippies?
Hippies often wore bell-bottoms in the 70s to create “a relaxed, flowing silhouette” that embodied the characteristics of the hippie movement.
Are bell bottoms appropriate at work?
Yes, they can be worn with a blazer to make the entire ensemble look polished.
Bell Bottoms Day Activities
Wear bell bottoms
There is no better way to celebrate this unique day than to wear bell bottoms. So get them out of your closet and proudly put them on!
Buy cheap bell bottoms
You don’t have to buy expensive bell bottoms to celebrate this day. You can go to a vintage store and buy a cheap pair of boot-cut pants.
Give bell bottoms as gifts
It isn’t fun celebrating anything when you’re alone. Include your friends in the celebrations by gifting them bell bottoms or boot-cut pants to encourage them to celebrate this day with you.
5 Amazing Facts About Bell Bottoms
Most women then stopped wearing dresses
When wide-legged trousers were introduced in the 1920s by Coco Chanel, women of this era started to break free of corsets and dresses.
They were a symbol of counter culture
In the 1960s, wearing bell-bottoms symbolized the young generation’s “rebellion” against the culture of buying expensive, conservative clothes and replacing them with casual items from thrift shops.
Designed them for practicality
The U.S. Navy designed bell-bottoms for sailors as the wide legs of the pants made it easy to grab them in case they’d fall overboard; the trousers were also easier to remove should they get wet.
Carpenters also wear them
European carpenters have worn bell bottoms for centuries to prevent sawdust from falling on their feet or shoes.
Bell bottoms have variations
Loon pants (with an increased flare) and elephant bells (usually made of denim) were variants of bell-bottoms in the 1960s and 1970s.
Why We Love Bell Bottoms Day
Bell bottoms remind us of the 1960s and 1970s
Bell bottoms take us down memory lane. They remind us of the hip ‘60s and the disco era of the ‘70s.
We look good in bell bottoms
One good thing about bell bottoms is that most everyone looks good in them. They go well with just about anything.
Bell bottoms are very functional
They roll up easily and fit over robust boots. They can even be fastened at the bottom and filled with air to serve as a floating device.
Bell Bottoms Day dates