Friday, May 18, 2012

You can't blame the 60s for flares

Earlier today somebody sent me a picture taken in the street in 1967 and demanded to know why nobody was wearing flares.

Despite what most contemporary art directors might think, flares hadn't really arrived in 1967. They were around - generally known as bell bottoms - but they didn't become the uniform of youth until a few years later. The costumes The Beatles wore on the covers of Sg Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour in 1967 were adventurous in most respects but their trousers were narrow and straight.

If you look at this picture of young men climbing the lighting towers at Woodstock, which was two whole years later in 1969, they appear to be wearing straight-legged Levi's.

The first pair of flares I remember owning were grey herringbone jobs bought at Harry Fenton. That would have been in the winter of 1969-70. Not long after that they became the only acceptable shape. Things stayed that way until 1977.

If you want to blame one decade for flares, blame the 70s, not the 60s.


  1. You were spot on David... 1973 to be precise.

  2. Flares are *the* fashion item associated with the 1970s. I'm amazed that some people believe otherwise.

    There are some belting flares to be seen on the more youthful characters in 1970s sitcoms. Man About The House is an excellent example of this.

  3. Well I bought my first pair in 1972, but this seems to have all the necessary info...

  4. I definitely had a pair of brush denim flairs pre-1970

  5. There's always been a lag between 'fashion' (sometimes, but not always, set by musicians) and what lurks in domestic wardrobes. Styles have to leap from the ambulant drawing-boards of the catwalk to mass-market availability, via those crucial gatekeepers who place orders with the rag trade.

    That lag has shortened with increased expenditure (and improved distribution) quickening the pace of wardrobe turnover, but that only heightens the sense of delay when looking at old images. Only a very select few looked Flower Power until the 1970s – and if you see a TV programme that looks very 70s, it's frequently early 80s. Despite the music media idea that all flares were burnt on the 1976 punk pyre, you're more likely to see a flapping-bottomed youth in an early-80s Grange Hill than at Woodstock. Which is where this post came in.