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Once a Hippie Statement, Bell-Bottoms Are Now Back in Fashion 

The denims are occupying store spaces, wardrobes and conversations once again.

Updated
Fashion
3 min read
Deepika Padukone in bell bottoms. (Photo: Instagram/DeepikaPadukone)

Men perish, empires crumble, but clothes – they remain – their thick fabric a stubborn souvenir of a time gone by; ephemeral fashion of an era remaining its most visible testament forever. After all, what remains of the 1960s hippie movement if not for its psychedelic prints and swagger bell bottoms?

The denims that bear their origins in the nineteenth century are occupying store spaces, wardrobes and conversations once again – call it an outcome of the cyclicity of fashion or its preoccupation with certain decades of history.

Kareena Kapoor in bell bottoms. (Photo: Yogen Shah)
Kareena Kapoor in bell bottoms. (Photo: Yogen Shah)
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How a Nautical Necessity Came to be Bell-Bottoms As We Know Them

Man of War’s Men. Drawn from life by George Thomas. Illustration showing mid-1800s sailors in uniform, published in the Illustrated London News in early 1854. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Man of War’s Men. Drawn from life by George Thomas. Illustration showing mid-1800s sailors in uniform, published in the Illustrated London News in early 1854. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Like all great fashions, bell-bottoms too bore nautical origins. They were first employed by the US Navy in the nineteenth century, mostly because the wide ends would inflate if a soldier fell overboard. And this new shape also suited them while doing industrial, messy work as they could simply be rolled up.

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1970’s Fashion Stamp. (Photo: iStockphoto)
1970’s Fashion Stamp. (Photo: iStockphoto)

Bell-Bottoms: Amitabh Bachchan’s Savior

But it wasn’t until the counter-culture movement of the sixties that bell-bottoms were catapulted to being a symbol of alternative fashion. By the 1970s, they had become a mainstream sell out, and had even begun to be imported by Bollywood.

Amitabh Bachchan’s gangly legs found solace in these and made his a look one that lakhs of impressionable fans across the country wanted to imitate.

Big B’s bell-bottoms look in Deewar. (Photo Courtesy: Trimurti Films)
Big B’s bell-bottoms look in Deewar. (Photo Courtesy: Trimurti Films)

Neetu Singh, one of the biggest actresses of the time could also be seen adorned in these.

Neetu Singh in bell-bottoms.
Neetu Singh in bell-bottoms.
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They Are Back

The flares have flattened with time. In the 90s, when bell-bottoms made a comeback, they were introduced as boot cuts with a few inches of their girth snipped off to make them more “accessible”.

This year, when two of the biggest Bollywood actors made appearances in bell-bottoms in quick succession, it was to be taken as a clarion call – asking all with-it people to buy them once again.

Kareena Kapoor at a Ki and Ka promotional event. (Photo: Yogen Shah)
Kareena Kapoor at a Ki and Ka promotional event. (Photo: Yogen Shah)

Social Media Has Been Seeing A Lot Of Them Too

Girl posing in a pair of bell-bottoms. (Photo: iStock)
Girl posing in a pair of bell-bottoms. (Photo: iStock)
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To cater to the “fresh” demand, stores have been stocking bell-bottoms once again – for a generation whose only interaction with the original, rebellious hippies of the sixties has been digital, and for whom its nautical origins are probably no story.

Let’s rejoice at the new fashion now, shall we?

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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