Another hangover from the 60s. Pants which were tight at the top and baggy at the bottom.
They were based on naval uniform pants which had ‘bell’ shaped legs to guarantee a quick removal over clunky boots if you happened to fall overboard.
The wide-legged look was rebellious in the face of the straight-legged form of the conservatives, and a mass counterculture was made.
Not since the 1940s, when teenagers adopted the workman’s jeans as part of their uniform, had denim been so shocking.
Hippies turned the denim pant into an artist’s canvas and a platform for protest: trimmed in ethnic ribbons, patched with peace signs and smiley faces, and painted with flowers and protest slogans, the bellbottom jean shouted out loud.
Being hip meant more than flowers in your hair and love beads; without the free-flowing bellbottoms grazing your Waterbuffalo sandals, you wouldn’t dare protest war and injustice.
Desperate for the style, teens took to creating their own bellbottom jeans. By slicing open the outer side seam to about knee height, you could insert a triangular addition, a gusset, into the side seam and create your own belled denim jean.
This alteration created another craze, and bellbottoms ballooned out with fabric gussets of velvet or Indian batik, or even more denim.
These outrageous widths were known as elephant bells. Eventually evolved into that supreme fashion icon of the 70s, Flares!