Are Skinny Jeans Being Usurped by the Flare?


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So if any of you are finding time to pick up a fashion mag these days, you may have noticed lots of chatter about flared jeans.  Reader Gretchen posted this question:

…I'd be really curious to read your take on Vogue's assertion that long and lean (especially with regard to somewhat high-waisted and flowing pants) is the new silhouette. In particular, Vogue seems to really have an agenda against the skinny jean/oversize top look (which is so friendly for my never-been-very-flat stomach).

What do you think? Is the skinny jean trend coming to an end?

And then reader Amy sent us an email:

 I was at the mall this past weekend and in the window display at GAP, the mannequin was wearing bell bottoms! EEK!! It got me super worried, hot, and bothered that skinny jeans will soon go out of style. I'm pretty sure I'm addicted to my skinny jeans, so I'm not sure what I'll do if this happens.

Any thoughts on if this is down the road sooner that we'd like? Or what to do if/when it does happen???

First things first:  Are Flares the "new" silhouette for 2011?  You bet.  Am I going to invest in a pair?  Yup – they'll be perfect on date nights with some sky-high platforms.  Flares are fabulous.  Does that mean the skinny is over?  Hardly.

Let me bring you back to 2007.  The wide-leg jean was being touted as "The New Skinny!!"  Celebs were rockin' it, denim brands from Hudson's to H&M were churning out various iterations and fashion mags everywhere were declaring the "Death of the Skinny Jean!"

I remember this time vividly, because I was newly pregnant.  And a high-waist, wide-leg jean was not something I could even approximate with my growing belly.  So I waited, with baited breath, until I too could rock this "new silhouette". 

9 months later, R was born….and the trend was all but over.  I was able to purchase a pair of high-waisted, wide-legged Sevens on super-clearance.  The upside was that these were the perfect post-partum jeans (held in my jelly-belly, didn't irritate my scar)…but they were O-V-E-R.

The skinny, however, came back in full force (although I would argue that it really never left).

So will the Flare silhouette be another flash-in-the-pan?  Or should we all abandon our skinny jeans?

This past decade, style-wise, has been a mash-up of style from decades past.  60's mod has been rocked with 80's influences.  We've seen sweet 50's housewife dresses paired with 90's grunge combat boots.  If this past decade were to have a fashion motto, it's "anything goes"….or really, "everything goes".  And all at once.

Despite the proclamations of certain fashion magazines, trends do co-exist.  Especially now.  Keep in mind that most headlines are geared to sell.  Not many of us would pick up a fashion mag with, "Nothing Changes in 2011!!" across the front.  And how happy would magazine advertisers be to see headlines that said, "BUY NOTHING!  Everything You Own Still Works!"

I find this new fashion philosophy ("everything goes") liberating.  And influenced, I think in part, by rise of fashion bloggers.  Never before has global fashion been so accessible.  It's downright inspiring to see Irina in Poland rocking her mother's old prom dress with the latest Louboutins and a snood.  Because of this global influence,  I don't see us, as a society, falling back on a solid set of fashion "rules", ie.  this is in, that is out. Even fashion mags that do publish their own In/Out stories tend to contradict themselves a few pages later.  I think trends, going forward, will have more fluidity than they have in decades past.  

That said, I do see the Flare trend coming on hard.  And it's really no surprise – the 70's have been coming into the forefront of our fashion consciousness for several years now.  And the Spring runways were chock full of 70's influences – crochet, macrame, long slinky dresses – in addition to bell-bottoms.  It's fresh, it's fun.  But the skinny silhouette was also heavily represented on the Spring 2011 runway: Balmain paired cropped skinnies with punk influences like studs and leather.  Burberry had some kind of biker-chick vibe with a whole lotta skinny goin' on.  While I would concede that Celine (one of the most influential design houses) showed tons of fluid, wide-leg trousers…my twist on the Celine SS 2011 look would be to pair those boxy tops with a pair of skinny jeans and platforms for a 60's-meet-70's vibe.

Mix and match. Wear what you love.

I suspect, however, that this is the beginning of the end of the skinny-jean-as-super-trend.  But before you freak out…I wager that we still have a good 4-5 years of the skinny jean reign, or at least a good 4-5 years of the skinny jean happily co-existing with other trends that will continue to pop up:  flares, wide-legs, cropped, etc. 

Why 4-5 years?  Well…they've been around for about 5 years now…add another 5 and it's just enough time for the current trendsetters to get a bit older….start having kids….and for the next generation of trendsetters to come into their own, declare that "skinny jeans are the new mom jean" and herald in a shocking new era called….the bootcut.

Here we go again.





  1. Flares AND skinnies have been my M.O. for years now ( I can’t help it, I’m from Boulder!). For those inspired rather than appalled by the trend I highly reccomend Jbrands Lovestory jeans (medium flare), True Religions belles (bigger) or 7 for all mankinds Rachel Zoe belles ( the BIGGEST and named after my fav stylist. These are exclusive to piperlime). This trend doesn’t have to be for the hippies- it can look so sophisticated and complements curves as well as all those shoes hiding in your closet that you won’t wear with your skinnies out of fear of looking like big foot ( or maybe that’s just me!). Great post Shana.

  2. I LOVE flares. I have HIPS and an ASS and they aren’t always complemented in skinnies. Flares, however, are much friendlier to my proportions and even me out a bit. I do love skinny jeans, however, and the best part of skinny jeans? The BOOTS! That’s one reason why I agree skinnies aren’t going anywhere anytime soon–look at all the cute boots that are available now! Great post, Shana.

  3. While I have both skinny and wide/flare and like them, you’ll never sway me (or go wrong in my opinion) with an well worn pair of levi’s with a straight leg and Frye harness boots. Ever. Thank god I kept my fat jeans, my oldest pair of levi’s, so big that when I’m not pregnant I can take them off without unbuttoning them, because here I am 31 weeks in and still able to get those suckers on with the boots!!

  4. I would love to have a post on what to wear with flare jeans and wide leg pants. As Scotti said, I love my skinny jeans as I can wear them with my favorite boots, and flowy tops to hide my belly on those bloated days. My fear with wider leg jeans is that the tops will be more fitted (aka less flattering).
    Thanks as always for the great fashion insight!

  5. SO, funny – and true! I agree with everything, especially when you take a look at the runways for Spring 2011 – some designers went whole hog with the flare look, but there were plenty of designers that kept a very skinny pant cut. Chanel, for one. And celebs are definitely still wearing skinnies, too.

  6. I agree with Scotti, I love skinnies in the fall and winter when my boots balance out my bum. Once we’re out of boot season though, I’ll be super happy to be able to throw on a pair of flares with wedges! Yes, flares involve tighter tops, but hopefully once I start waking from hibernation in the spring and start working out more and eating better, my belly will be able to handle more fitted tops. Let’s hope anyway…

  7. Ugh I hate flares. I like them in theory, but can never find any short enough, & it seems a shame to make the skinniest part of me (my calves & tiny ankles) way way bigger. I’ll stick with skinnies.

  8. Is this really back? In High School I wore my Mom’s vintage bells from the 1970s – super high waisted, SO COOL. I really do think they are flattering, bells + clogs … definitely a tried & true look for me! I’m ashamed to admit that I JUST started wearing my skinnies in earnest since the baby weight is officially gone, hence scouring this site for styling ideas. I knew it was time to get on the bandwagon when I realized I haven’t seen MY YOUNGER BROTHER (30) in anything but skinnies – I am talking super skinny – in literally years. I used to have a rule: if you’re old enough to have “done” a particular style before, when it resurrects 10-15 years later you’re not allowed to do it again. I.e. my Mom was not allowed to wear the vintage bells but I was. It’s painful to realize I’m getting old enough to eat my words!

  9. Amber – Girl, I love these recs. Remember when Shopbop had Lovestories in a color exclusive to shopbop? It was a perfect, medium 70’s style blue. Sigh. I was DYING for those jeans. Alas, I was preggo or postpartum or something and waited…and now it’s too late. Am waiting to see if JBrand reissues a lighter wash…
    Scotti – That’s such a good point. We all love our boots. Who wants to cover them up?
    Kim – Rock it, girl. LOVE this comment.
    Beth – We’ll work on this…I need to figure it out also. You can always do the boho / drapy top thing, but I’m pretty sure it also requires platforms…which aren’t always the best choice for moms. Hunh. I wonder if I can rock flats with bells? Scary….I’ll play around and do a post on this one.
    Jacci – It’s hard to argue with Chanel! BTW – Got your email and loved it. More to come!
    Yash – I’m with you. When I’m not running after the kiddos AND when I’ve lost the pooch, I’m seeing flares…
    Maman – Flares are SO hard when you are petite. By the time you get them altered, you’ve lost most of the flare. I wonder if Gap’s flares in the shorter length would look cute? But you’ll never go wrong with skinnys, either!!
    Amanda…My mom used to sight that rule also (worn once, can’t wear it again when it comes back)…but I tossed that one out the window. I swear things always come back a bit changed. If I really followed that rule, I would’ve had to skip the skinny trend, LOL! Yup. Totally ate my words on that one. 🙂

  10. Shana, I knew we were kindred spirits! I resisted the skinnies for exactly the same reason (been there, done that, thought I couldn’t go back). So glad you are helping me throw my old “rules” out the window. Thanks to this blog I resolve to at least stay somewhat current!

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