There is a secret vow shared by jeans-loving women over 50: no flares.
The thinking behind this is pretty obvious: you can look like a middle-aged woman trying to look like her teenage self in flares. They require heels if you want your legs to look halfway decent. They’re a bit theatrical. They trail in the dirt.
We’re all in complete agreement about this, yet lots of us still have a couple of pairs languishing in our wardrobes because, every four years or so, fashion flings a new batch at us and we succumb.
They’re flares! They remind us of sparkly eye shadow and Caramac bars. They look good in the changing room mirror with the borrowed platforms. They make us feel a bit ‘I’ve still got it’. We can definitely picture ourselves wearing them (hair swishing, skin glowing) . . . and then we never wear them.
In the great pre-Christmas clear out, when I finally threw out all the clothes I was hanging onto in case I was asked to a glamorous 1970s party or a holiday at the villa in The Night Manager, I got rid of my last two remaining pairs — including a dark-wash unworn pair bought in 2018.
Flares do come in all shapes and sizes, from marquee scale to kick flares, but the flare we’re talking about is just wide enough, lean, medium high-waisted. Pictured, Victoria Beckham
I then swore that was it. Never again.
What you should probably say, in the context of fashion, is ‘never again unless something significant changes’ — and it has.
The silhouette has flipped from big on top and narrow below to the other way around, so a flared trouser, whether flaring from the hip or gradually from a few inches above the knee, is the new normal.
It doesn’t look 1970s, it looks 2023 — and a lot more elegant than the jeans we’re used to wearing.
That’s because of the other significant change — the flare itself.
Flares do come in all shapes and sizes, from marquee scale to kick flares, but the flare we’re talking about is just wide enough, lean, medium high-waisted (too high and your bottom starts to look yards long; too low and you’re uncomfortable) and comes in the soft-with-a- hint-of-stretch denim we’ve dreamed of all our lives, because with that comes perfect fit. You want them to fit on the hips and lightly skim the thighs — no clinging.
Marks & Spencer has a dark wash pair with patch-front pockets that have caught the eye of fashion editors (£39.50, marksandspencer.com).
Part of the appeal of the new flares is they’re 50 per cent smarter than standard jeans and crying out to be worn with a nippy jacket, a pretty blouse and some mid-height heels.
Celebs like Gal Gadot (right) and the Princess of Wales (left) have enjoyed donning silhouetted flares
Pictured: Sara Sampaio wearing a chic, bright pink suit with flares during London Fashion Week
That’s the difference this time: we’re not wearing these flares with trainers, we’re putting on boots or chunky slingbacks and dressing them up a bit.
These ones finish just above the foot, but they shouldn’t be trailing in the mud. I like & Other Stories high-waisted flares (£75, stories.com) in dark blue.
FLARES: THE 2023 RULES
- WEAR with a comfy block heel.
- GO for a higher waist
- BUY snug, they will stretch
- START with a lean flare or bootcut
The bootcut is the entry-level flare, and if you polled every woman in the UK and asked her which jeans she felt most at ease in over the course of her lifetime, she might well say bootcuts in the 2000s.
If you want an easy bootcut then head to Zara, which does several styles including a contour and a high-rise mini flare (both £35.99, zara.com).
Personally, I’m sold on the slightly more substantial flare, and Zara covers that, too, with its ‘flare fit’ jeans (£29.99, zara.com). The slightly wider flare gives you more smart points.
I’ve worn mine with a velvet jacket, a silk shirt and silver heels; with an untucked boyfriend shirt and boots; with a pretty puff-sleeved blouse and block-heeled ankle boots.
I’m looking forward to wearing them with leopard-print slingbacks and a cropped jacket over a polo neck.
The ‘subtle flare’ from Me+Em (£175, meandem.com) are the best cut I could find, and worth the money because they’ve given me permission to get back into denim for ‘bit of an effort’ occasions (it feels like the 2000s in that sense). I’ll wear them to death.
A bit of advice. Get the jeans that fit, not the ones you have to take up — the proportions will subtly alter. Always dress them up a bit — flares and a baggy sweater will do you no favours. And don’t go for the very wide flares. That boat really has sailed for ever.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk