It was America’s sweetheart Brooke Shields who said nothing came between her and her Calvins, but if an Australian denim brand selected one of us to spruik its products, she’d definitely declare “nothing comes between me and my skinnies”.
Australian women are obsessed with skinny jeans. While the rest of the world has moved on to embrace boyfriend jeans, mum jeans and the return of the 501 (not that it ever went away, fashion types have simply rediscovered it), Australia’s females are still pouring themselves into sausage casings and spray ons. But why do we persist with the skinny jean? Skinnies may be easy but they can be uncomfortable and unflattering and are so ubiquitous they are now simply boring, which on planet fashion is the worst crime of all. So women of Australia, let’s try something new. Let’s dare to flare.
Did you see the spring/summer 2015 runways? The seventies are back, baby. The decade that style forgot is now foremost in fashion’s mind, as seen on catwalks including Gucci, Tom Ford, Balmain, Victoria Beckham and – don’t speak! – the fashion holy grail, Celine. These brands are all trying to persuade us that flares are a hip and happening thing once again, and as a welcome antidote to the all-pervasive skinny jean, I happen to agree. This season I’m trying a bell-bottom instead, and I encourage you to do so too.
But wait, I know what you’re thinking. Flares are unappealing and unwieldy – did you know they were created for sailors in the 19th century so when they fell overboard there was plenty of fabric to grab them with? But you’re wrong. Yes, flares can be challenging and must be worn with the confidence of Amy Adams in American Hustle, but try a pair and tell me that they don’t perk up your bottom, lengthen your leg, shrink your waist and elongate your silhouette.
Here are the keys to pulling off a flare with flair: the shoe, the hem and not taking a costume party approach to your top half. Always wear flares with a heel to balance out all that excess fabric, and opt for sturdy platforms or wedges over spindly stilettos. Take your chosen heel with you when shopping for flares, and if the length still isn’t right visit a tailor to have them taken up or down so they graze the ground gently, rather than puddling at your feet.
Denim flares paired with a bohemian top or a crisp white shirt are great for the weekend or a night out, as championed by a young Jane Birkin in the south of France in the 1960s, and again by Kate Moss in a high waisted pair and simple sweatshirt in the 90s. A high waisted pair of denim flares in deep indigo can do double duty at the office when teamed with a blazer and blouse. Nothing says sophistication like black silk flares and a tuxedo jacket for evening; it was a look so beloved by Bianca Jagger on the dance floor at Studio 54 that she had Yves Saint Laurent make an ivory version with a flared skirt for her wedding to Mick Jagger in San Tropez in 1971.
Take another leaf out of Bianca’s book and remember that when wearing flares one must never overdo the accessories. Pile on a fedora, oversized sunglasses, chunky belt and floral shirt and you’ll look more like an extra from Don’s Party than someone currently enrolled to vote. Keep it clean and confine the party to your pants.