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What you need to know about flare jeans

Fashion trends are like those characters on your favorite soap opera: they never truly die. Instead, they keep coming back, only slightly different. What’s old is new to a new generation and that generation puts its own unique spin on it to make it special. Case in point: flare jeans.

What are flare jeans?

How snug jeans are and where they sit on your waist are crucial considerations to getting a proper fit. A third aspect, however, is the legs. Not the length, but how tightly the pants legs hug the legs, specifically the lower portion beneath the knee.

Skinny jeans cling tightly to the leg, all the way down to the hem, almost like a second skin, while straight jeans have the same circumference at the knee and the hem. Flare jeans, on the other hand, are wider at the hem than they are at the knee. A flare can be anything from a bootcut, which is slightly larger to accommodate boots, to a broad, bell-like shape that has more style than function.

A brief history of the flare

The popularity of flare jeans can be traced back to the American Navy. Sailors wore bell-bottom trousers for their functionality. Because of the wider leg, they were easier to roll up and remove when they got wet. Also, they were reportedly popular because it gave someone a larger target to grab if a sailor went overboard.

In the ’60s, flare jeans were a symbol of the counterculture that moved into the mainstream when Sonny and Cher made them popular by wearing them on TV. After falling out of style, the trend returned in the late ’90s, only the flare wasn’t as emphasized. In late 2021, flare jeans returned with a vengeance and now, you can find them in all styles, from subtle to flamboyant.

Which type of flare should I wear?

Day-to-day fashion is all about balance. The key to a great look is choosing flare jeans that don’t overwhelm your natural body shape. Just as important, choose a flare that enhances that shape. For example, triangle and hourglass body shapes benefit from a more pronounced flare, while an inverted triangle (shoulders wider than hips) is flattered by a less pronounced flare, such as a bootcut. Tall, rectangular body shapes can achieve a striking silhouette with large flares, while petite sizes benefit most from high-rise flare jeans that steal a little length from the torso and add it to the leg.

Best flare jeans of 2022

Best Hudson Women's Holly High Rise Flare Jeans

Hudson Women’s Holly High-Rise Flare Jeans

These stylish women’s jeans have a high waistline, a fitted upper leg and a wide flare from the knee to the hem. They’re specifically designed for petite frames. Sold by Amazon

Best Levi's Men's 517 Bootcut Jeans

Levi’s Men’s 517 Bootcut Jeans

Ruggedly manufactured, these men’s jeans sit at the waist and have a slim fit around the seat and thighs. The lower leg features a slight taper for a comfortable bootcut style. Sold by Amazon

Best Women's LC Lauren Conrad Feel Good Super High-Waist Flare Jeans

LC Lauren Conrad Women’s Feel Good Super High-Waist Flare Jeans

Made from cotton, recycled polyester, rayon and Lycra, these stretch jeans are remarkably comfortable. They have a super-high waist and a stylish, but not overwhelming, flare from the knee to the hem. Sold by Kohl’s

Best Levi's Plus Size 726 High-Rise Flare-Leg Jeans

Levi’s Plus Size 726 High-Rise Flare Jeans

These jeans have a strikingly nostalgic aesthetic. They’re made from cotton and have a high-rise waist with a retro-inspired flare silhouette. Sold by Kohl’s

Best Wrangler Authentics Men's Relaxed Fit Bootcut Jeans

Wrangler Authentics Men’s Relaxed Fit Bootcut Jeans

The traditional style of these men’s jeans gives them a classic look. They are versatile and made with comfort in mind. These jeans sit at the waist, have a relaxed fit over the seat and thighs and feature a leg with a subtle bootcut silhouette. Sold by Amazon

Best Pantete Women's High Waisted Bell-Bottom Jeans

Pantete Women’s High-Waisted Bell-Bottom Jeans

When paired with the right top, these chic flare jeans make a bold statement. They sit up above the hips to accentuate your natural curves, have a removable tie belt and a thigh-hugging top with a dramatic flare at the bottom. Sold by Amazon

Best Calvin Klein Jeans Petite Slit-Cuff Flare-Leg Denim Jeans

Calvin Klein Jeans Petite Slit-Cuff Flare-Leg Denim Jeans

The slit cuff on these flare jeans makes them stand out. The high-rise waist and noticeable flare below the knees are designed to flatter petite frames. Sold by Macy’s

Best Jessica Simpson Women's True Love Trouser Wide Leg Jeans

Jessica Simpson Women’s True Love Trouser Wide Leg Jeans

This offering from the Jessica Simpson line is a modernized trouser jean that is carefully designed to create a head-turning silhouette for all body types. It comes in a variety of colors while the cotton and spandex materials ensure a comfortable fit. Sold by Amazon

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money. 

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