70s-style, high-waisted flared jeans are making a comeback

The most popular denim styles change every year, sometimes even season to season, leaving those who wear previous trends looking, well, a little out of date. Just within the past decade we've seen boot-cut, low-rise, distressed, colored, acid wash, and skinny jeans rise and fall in popularity. We've even been introduced to surprising fads like pyjama jeans and jeggings! If Spring '11 Fashion Week was any indication, the recent '80s and '90s fashion revivals have made way for a return to the 1970s.

Designers like Marc Jacobs, Rebecca Taylor, Tracy Reese, and Chris Benz all sent '70s-inspired silhouettes down their spring runways while the flared and wide-leg pants characteristic of the disco era were included in collections by Anna Sui, Tory Burch, Derek Lam, and Jason Wu to name a few. Many of these flared pants were accompanied with a high waist—a controversial style in fashion, as many feel it is not always the most flattering cut. But fashion experts are praising the style and saying '70s style denim is an inevitable trend we should embrace this year.

"This is a trend that is not on the horizon, it is happening as we speak," says Stephanie Solomon, Bloomingdale's operating vice president of fashion direction. "The best news is that yes, it is a silhouette that flatters every single woman. It’s a myth to say that it doesn’t. They make you look taller and thinner." Browse websites and hit the racks and it quickly becomes clear that '70s-style flared denim is already readily available. "Most of our jean manufacturers have offered high-waisted wide-leg jeans, and we have bought them in a big way here at Bloomingdales. J Brand comes to mind as one of my favorite styles," says Solomon, who says they’re already seeing a big interest in their stores. "As soon as you get into the dressing room and you realise you’re taller and thinner, that sale is made. It also is a very fresh looking silhouette—one that we have not seen in a long time."

Photos: 2011 style trends

High-waisted jeans can be a tricky fit, but Solomon says finding the perfect pair is about trying on several pairs and styling and wearing them correctly. She says a peasant blouse or singlet will complement the flare nicely. “The biggest mistake would be to not tuck it in, because that way you’re losing that silhouette. Once your waist is defined, it elongates the leg.” You must also choose your footwear carefully. “That flare needs to be draped over the top of the shoe, that’s important. It could be a platform, it could be a flat, but never a pointed toe stiletto. It’s the wrong balance. The shoe should be a little bit chunkier than a delicate high heel stiletto.”

Patrick Robinson, the Gap's executive vice president of global design, is also on board with the trend. “The new fit of the season for women’s denim is the wide-leg high-waisted flare," Robinson said. "This style is a modern interpretation of '70s influence which is a key theme for the spring season. To enhance the sophistication of the look, you can pair it with a fitted button down blouse or a light washed denim shirt." The Gap already has several pairs of these '70s style jeans for sale.

Photos: Leather trend

Even if you're game for trying the new-old trend of a wide-leg, high-waisted, flare jean this season, don't give up on your favorite old jeans for comfort sake, Solomon says. As for skinny-jean devotees, Solomon adds the popular style is by no means over, but it's already not looking as fresh. She also notes that "skinny jeans are less flattering on a lot more body types than the wide leg jean." As for the future, you can expect higher waists and wider legs for months to come. "And this is not just jeans,” says Solomon. “The pants silhouette in general is moving towards that wide flare bottom throughout the market."