This Early-2000s Trend Is Making a Comeback — and It's Still Cool

Brace yourselves, millennials.
By Jenn Barthole
November 12, 2020
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Fashion trends are cyclical and styles that you never imagined would come back (fanny packs and dad sneakers, anyone?) manage to slide their way back into hearts and closets. The latest trend to make a surprise return? Bell-bottomed pants, or as the kids are calling them these days "flared leggings" — and, no surprise here, the TikTok crew loves them.

The resurgence of this iconic flared pant silhouette is happening in both denim and activewear. For millennials, the mention of denim bell-bottoms conjures up images of disco queens and Farah Fawcett cruising on a skateboard. The activewear version, which is essentially leggings in a bootcut silhouette, brings up memories of the “yoga pants” that so many now-20/30-somethings wore in high school — with the roll-over waistband and pant legs likely tucked into UGG boots — back in the early 2000s.

The Gen-Z/Tik-Tok generation who are just discovering “yoga pants" might call them "flared leggings," but you can trust that they are basically the same thing, just reimagined for 2020. To further confirm the legitimacy of the trend, the style has been spotted on mega 20-something influencer Emma Chamberlain, who is known for her effortless cool-girl style.

Even the best activewear and athleisure brands such as Lululemon, Free People, and Spanx have released different versions of the style with modern high-waisted fits suited for doing a light yoga flow or going for a coffee run. These pairs take the classic style and give them just enough of a 2020 refresh — think: high-performance fabrics instead of stretched-out cotton and no colored waistbands, rhinestones, or words stamped on the butt — to make them palatable for those of us who get a sense of terrifying déjà vu just thinking about flares.

And when it comes to the resurfacing of early-2000s trends, flares, really, are the least offensive of them all. (Can we collectively agree that super low-rise jeans, whale tails, and the denim skirt-over-leggings looks shall not return, ever??)

Whether you call them yoga pants or flared leggings, why not lean into the nostalgia? These comfy pants are back just in time for an extended quarantine spent at home — meaning, you have plenty of time to get comfortable with this foray into fashion past before sporting it in public — and, guaranteed, there’s a style for you.

Credit: Lululemon

Buy It, $98

If Lululemon is making them, you know flares have hit the big time. With these Groove pants, you get the weightless feel of the brand's butter-y soft, sweat-wicking Nulu fabric with a trendy cut that you can wear while WFH, flowing, and everything in between.

Credit: H&M

Buy It, $13

Thanks to soft, stretch cotton jersey, the breathable H&M pants will keep you cool and comfy whether you’re WFH or on a low-key outing. And at just $13, these are a perfect low-cost way to try the trend.

Credit: Amazon

Buy It, $20+

With nearly 3,700 5-star reviews, these stretchy, non-see-through flares come equipped with side pockets for your phone and are available on Amazon for under $30.

Credit: Free People

Buy It, $78

Style up this boho, knit version of the retro-style flares, made by Free people. The thicker fabric and wide-leg silhouette can easily be worn with ankle boots or low heels (or, you know, at home with fuzzy socks).

Credit: Spanx

Buy It, $148

These are the most flattering pair of flares you’ll find, thanks to Spanx’s smoothing ponte fabric. They give you a great butt lift and even come in petite and tall sizes for a more custom fit.