Bell-bottoms (or flares) are a style of trousers that become wider from the knees downward, forming a bell-like shape of the trouser leg.
In the early 19th century, when a standardized uniform did not yet exist in the U.S. Navy, some sailors adopted a style of wide trousers ending in bell-shaped cuffs.
The British Royal Navy had often been a leader in nautical fashion, but bell-bottoms did not become part of the standard uniform until the mid-19th century. These "bell-bottoms" were often just very wide-legged trousers, rather than shaped trousers that flared below the knee. They continued in use as a distinctive feature of the RN rating's "square rig" uniform until replaced by more conventionally flared trousers in 1977.
Although the trousers of the present-day uniform of the United States Navy are still referred to as "bell-bottomed", they simply have large straight legs. The wearer's thigh fills the upper trouser leg, making the bottom of the pants leg appear flared. This style has been popular for many years, perhaps originally because the trouser leg can be rolled up easily, allowing the wearer to work in bare feet, but there is no reliable documentation that confirms a specific timeline or reason for the popularity of bell-bottomed trousers in naval apparel.
Bell-bottoms have also been worn for centuries by European carpenters, which is explained by the fact that the widening legs prevent sawdust from falling onto their shoes or feet. Bell-bottoms are still worn by carpenters who decide to spend their time after the apprenticeship as Journeymen on the road.
In 1996, women's bell-bottoms were reintroduced to the mainstream public, under the name "boot-cut" (or "bootleg) trousers as the flare was slimmer. By 1999, flare jeans had come into vogue among women, which had a wider, more exaggerated flare than boot-cuts. The boot-cut style ended up dominating the fashion world for 10 years.
By around 2006, the bell-shaped silhouette started to fade as the skinny jean rose in popularity. Sharon Haver, the founder and editor-in-chief of online fashion magazine FocusOnStyle.com, commented "It's as if all the girls wearing premium boot-cut jeans threw them away one day, and the next day began wearing skinny jeans and flats."
Women's boot-cut jeans are tighter at the knee than men's, and flare out from knee to hem. Men's styles are traditionally straight-legged, although the pants came in a more flared style in the early and mid 2000s, but this was optional. The bell-bottoms of the 1960s and 1970s can be distinguished from the flare or boot-cut of the 1990s and 2000s by the tightness of the fabric at the knee.
Chicken a la King is a classic recipe that has stood the test of time. Our easy version of this saucy chicken favorite goes from prep to your table in under 30 minutes.
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, divided
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, cut into quarters
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup (1/2 pint) heavy cream
- 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 (2-ounce) jar chopped pimientos, drained