Since their inception, bell bottoms have not taken a single decade off as far as popularity goes. From their functionality to their uniqueness, bell bottoms have always had an allure that has made them irresistible to everyone. Men, women, kids and adults alike can’t get enough of bell bottoms and we understand why.
Bell bottoms are the perfect way to take any outfit from drab to exciting and are flattering on every body type. Their design naturally elongates the legs and compliments every shoe design. Dress them up or dress them down. Bell bottoms can be worn casually at a roller skating rink, and they have been recently seen on runways and met with the same excitement as newcomers from the previous generation.
History of the Bell Bottoms:
Despite how fashionable they are and will continue to be, bell bottom pants originated in the 19th century for reasons completely void of the influence of fashion. They were first worn by sailors serving in the US Navy who were not yet provided with a uniform.
This style was later adopted by the British Royal Navy as a part of the official uniform in the mid-19th century. Bell bottom pants were picked primarily because the wide leg of the trousers could be easily rolled up which made them functionally ideal for sailors.
It wasn’t long until bell bottoms made their way from sailor uniforms to mainstream fashion in the 1960s but truly peaked in popularity in the 1970s. Bell bottoms reached icon status when they were worn by Sonny and Cher on “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.”
Following this, bell bottoms exploded into such wild popularity that they became the defining clothing item of the decade. Usually worn with clogs, Cuban-heeled shoes, and Chelsea boots, these combinations are still popular today.
The Many Comebacks of the Bell Bottoms
In the 1990s, bell bottoms made their first comeback under a new moniker: boot-cut jeans and pants. Boot cut pants were redesigned to feature a slightly smaller flare. The bell bottom-style pant often was embellished with ruffles, embroidery, studs and other designs to make them more modern to compliment the accessory-focused fashion of the ’90s.
Following that popular resurgence, bell bottoms continued to make sporadic comebacks each decade and consistently influenced fashion over time. The current resurgence of ’70s fashion can be traced directly back to Alessandro Michele.
Soon after Alessandro Michele took over as Creative Director of Gucci, bell bottom pants as well as other retro staples from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s became synonymous with the house. Vogue described his debut collection: “A Gucci girl is an ingenue with an eccentric side, one who looks as though she's picked out her clothes at estate sales and vintage stores, and mixed them magpie-style with handfuls of heirloom rings, chunky rimmed glasses, the occasional pompom hat, and fur-lined horse-bit loafers,” said a Vogue.com writer about Michele’s debut collection in 2015.
Long-time Gucci fan Harry Styles has flaunted his love for bell bottoms as part of his personal style as well as his stage wardrobe with a slew of other male celebrities and fashion houses following suit.
Perhaps it was also Jeremy Scott’s Fall 2017 collection which featured a pair of fuschia bell bottom trousers that set into motion the migration back to ’70s fashion and the maximalist ensembles that has peaked from 2019 through early 2021. More recently, Hedi Slimane’s Celine 2020 Ready to Wear collection featured bootcut jeans and prairie dresses, a clear callback to the flower child fashion of the ‘60s.
Thrilling’s Groovy 70s Style Picks
The ’60s and ’70s have had a major influence on fashion, but no silhouette of the time has had such an iconic embrace as the bell bottom pant. We’ve selected some of our favorites below.
Start with a classic. Light wash denim goes with everything, and these soft jeans are comfortable enough to lounge in at home and versatile enough to go with everything in your closet.
Leather bell bottoms? We think yes. This bell bottom jumpsuit features a cheeky front zip with a tailored bodice and satin lining. Use them as the high-waisted leather pants of your dreams and layer them with a band tee shirt, or rock it on its own as a unique statement piece.
These bell bottoms are as authentic as you can get. These vintage bell bottoms are actually from the 70s. These denim pants would pair just as well with a platform boot as they would with a pair of well-worn Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars.
Bright yellow? Check! Halter top? Check! Bell bottoms? Check! This all in-one-outfit covers all your needs from day party to disco.
Get into the groove with this suede vest and bell bottom pant set. Add a funky shirt, a crop or bikini top, or even a tank. This no-fail ensemble is perfect for a evening out.
We’ll take your pants and vest set and raise you this metallic three-piece set. Shimmer and shine through the night with a mock neck tank top, bell bottom pants, and a suit jacket to match. It even comes with a belt to really pull the look together.
Named one of the Top 5 Fashion Icons of the Decade, Anna Sui brought her rock star chic and impeccable construction to the bell bottom trend with these floral brocade pants. We think Harry Styles would approve.
Speaking of rock star-approved looks, these 90’s plaid bell bottoms blend flower child flare with punk revival grunge for a flattering, unique statement pant you won’t find anywhere else.
These bell bottoms are definitely office-appropriate. Level up your business casual with these hourglass pinstripe pants, then take them out on the town for happy hour.
It doesn’t get more classic than Levi’s jeans, and these authentic 60’s bell bottoms are as vintage as they come. Wear the same bell bottoms the hippies did with like-new purple bell bottoms. These pants came from a time before Levi’s adopted universal seat pocket stitching and concealed button flies, so they’re really a find unlike any other.
Bell Bottoms Are Here to Stay
If you’re ready to dive headfirst into the wonderful world of 60s- and 70s-inspired bell bottoms, jumpsuits, and everything in between, head over to Thrilling’s online marketplace. We’ve collected the coolest, most unique items from over 300 secondhand and vintage boutiques throughout 100 American cities.
Each item is shipped and sold from indie businesses and boutiques across the country because Thrilling understands that small businesses are the cultural and economic backbone of the country. 95% of our partner boutiques are owned by women and BIPOC—and so is Thrilling itself.
In addition to celebrating diversity and supporting small businesses, shopping at Thrilling is the most environmentally-friendly way to zhuzh your wardrobe. Upcycling and reusing previously loved pieces reduces waste and reduces your carbon footprint.
Can’t quite find something you’re dreaming about? Email us at email@example.com, and we will search our partner stores, including our offline inventory, to help you find your dream piece.