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 RETURN OF THE FLARE SHOP THE FEATURE  RETURN OF THE FLARE

WORDS BY JULIA HOBBS

Vogue writer Julia Hobbs gets nostalgic about her enduring love for flares and shows us how to wear them this time around

Vogue writer Julia Hobbs gets nostalgic about her enduring love for flares and shows us how to wear them this time around

It’s 1999 and my early teenage self is sitting crossed legged on the floor of a best friend’s bedroom, Mariah Carey’s ‘Heartbreaker’ is blaring from a plastic stereo. Armed with kitchen scissors and a cheese grater we’re poised to hack the waistband off our brand new Madchester-style bellbottoms (I’d avoid trying this at home for risk of massacring – A.K.A “customising” - a decent pair of jeans, rather than personal safety per se).

Priorities: first, that we should look identical; second, to expose a sizeable stretch of sub-navel midriff; and lastly, to conceal a decent height heel. Together we stomped our way through that summer, channelling the sugary psych-pop vibe of Crazy Town’s ‘Butterfly’ video and sharing in the wonderful inaugural illusion of endlessly long legs.

Fast forward to 2015 and yes I’m back listening to psych pop, thanks Connan Mockasin, but it was the thrill of dressing my way towards a sinuous figure that stuck, and subject to a few key concessions I’ve embarked on a life long love affair with the funkish trouser. Sure, there are still days to keep it simple with a spray-on skinny, but there’s something indisputably soulful about the easy-going slinkiness of a kick flare. Rather than whittling your silhouette down to an androgynous straight line, the exaggerated curves of the “Almost Famous” cut offer fresh appeal this season. Take the new wave of girl crushes cutting lose: the perennially make-up free Camille Rowe, riffs on Runways’ front woman Cherrie Currie’s glam rock look, collecting faded blue bootcuts to wear with skin-tight tees and brown suede boots, while Selena Gomez and Karlie Kloss have put the model-off-duty uniform of drainpipe-jeans-plus-vest to bed – wearing body-con flares for airport runs. Flashback to a perma-smiling Jane Birkin sloping through passport control in her bellbottoms (rattan basket on arm) and you get why the look has stood the test of time. Get ready; the groupie’s favourite style piece has been re-mastered, placing the plump, perky bottom back in centre stage. Flares that pose a polished modern swagger have returned, give or take the frayed waistband.

 

HOW TO STYLE:

 

Day off:

If there were a rulebook on groupie style, chapter one would be all about downbeat and decorated denim flares.Up top, oversized is out: Instead, balance the volume of a wide leg with a second-skin tee – nautical stripes neaten up loose weekend flares, while a fitted denim jacket is the modern retake on Joan Jett’s boy-meets-girl ease. For day, pick a cropped flare that cuts off above the ankle and switch stomping platforms for a low-fi sneaker. Above all, invest in a sturdy leather boyfriend belt – the eye line, as all good groupies know, should be fixed around the waist.  

  

Polish up:

Dark, floor-sweeping denim works best for evening. Go glamorous: your jeans should be skinny cut, flaring out just below the knee. Contrast deep indigo blues with a silky pussy bow blouse and layers of lightweight necklaces, or embrace the glam rock possibilities: High-waisted trousers keep crop tops chic rather than cutesy. Well, how better to balance acres of denim than with a glimpse of flesh? 

Step it up:

Steer the focus towards your footwear – shimmering platform sandals elevate petite frames and enforce a dance-floor worthy strut. For office-passable style, sharpen up with a crease-front flare and swap a knee-grazing belted coat (a favourite cover-up of Bardot) for a sharp blazer: your uptown muse is Lauren Hutton. 

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: JANE BIRKIN HAILEY BALDWIN CHERIE & MARIE PATTIE BOYD ALMOST FAMOUS