THE 1970S brought platform shoes, maxi dresses, and bell bottoms to the fashion forefront. First thought to be apparel for rock stars and top models, bell bottoms became a popular ticket for fashionistas everywhere. And now they’re back, in a big bad way.

Bell bottoms were first worn by sailors in the 19th century and are still part of the uniform of the navies of some countries today. No one really knows the origin of the style—theories range from the fact that they’re easier to roll up, thus keeping the pants’ legs dry when sailors swab the deck, to sailors being able to get the trousers off quickly if they fell overboard.

An alternative of the ubiquitous skinny jeans that have been around for the past few years, bell bottoms are perhaps indicative of a trend toward bigger profiles. Maxi, free-flowing dresses were on the fall 2011 runway shows, indicating the return to a 1970s’ sensibility. And bell bottoms can be flattering, fitting snugly through the knees then widening up to the feet.

Eyewear moves right along with this development—ophthalmic frames are getting larger. Some consumers, in fact, are taking sunglasses and putting clear lenses in them. And this style is not just for the presbyopic crowd, young people are into the bigger look, too.

Beth Schlau
Vice President, Editorial


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