Shane Watson: Flares are back – and they're hot not hippy!

How to dress like a grown up with Shane Watson: Flares are back — and they’re hot not hippy!

  • Shane Watson shares advice for embracing this season’s flares trend 
  • She suggests opting for high waist designs in a pinstripe or camel colour 
  • British style expert reveals a selection of High Street stores offering the look 

Maybe you saw the picture of the Duchess of Cambridge out and about in the Orkney islands last month wearing shades of caramel?

If you did, maybe you thought, ‘Ooh that’s a useful-looking smart camel coat’ (an old favourite from Massimo Dutti, since you ask). Or perhaps you thought, ‘Ah, that’s how you wear head-to-toe camel’ (with a tartan scarf to break it up).

Or, possibly, your response was along the lines of: ‘Wait a minute, are those . . .? Yes. They are. Tailored, high-waisted, long, flared trousers. Well, well, Kate’s wearing flares!’

And if it was the cut of her strides that caught your attention, then you will have either sighed and turned the page, or taken it as a sign, grabbed your jacket and headed out to do some urgent shopping.

Shane Watson takes inspiration from the Duchess of Cambridge (pictured) for embracing this season’s flares trend at any occasion

For flares fans like me, Kate looking smart and modern in them is just the excuse we were looking for. Once a flare lover always a flare lover, though even we appreciate it’s not the easiest trouser shape to wear.

There are three potential problems. First is the need for heels.

You can wear flares with flats, especially if you have the coltish legs of a catwalk model, but flares really need heels to unlock their stalking, swishy, uptown girl glamour.

Without heels, flares are more Mariachi band than Manhattan sleek; with heels, flares — so long as they’re lean in the thigh, high-waisted and not too bell-bottomed — make your legs look as good as they’re ever going to look.

The trouble is we don’t necessarily want the faff of wearing heels these days, particularly not with trousers, especially not for every day.

What’s the answer? Make the effort! Do as Kate does! Wear flares with a sharp crease for work, with a knitted top (Kate’s was golden brown), or after work with an unbuttoned slippery silk shirt — plus a decent-sized heel.


Shane said the flares trend will continue throughout autumn too, with a roll neck and boots and maybe a mid-calf coat like Kate’s (pictured right)

Accept that the look is polished and chic and requires more than a trainer to carry it off and find a shoe that works — it doesn’t have to be spike-heeled. Kate wore hers with chunky-heeled suede courts and showed how it’s done in grown-up, comfort-first style.

The second problem is the ‘how much will I wear them?’ question. The answer is simple: not all the time, but that’s ok as we do not suggest you trade in your jeans for flares.

Flares: the new rules 

  • Keep the flare on the leaner side.
  • Choose full-length rather than a kick flare.
  • Go for high-waisted.
  • Try a pinstripe or camel.

Flared jeans can be smart, but if I’m dressing up, I’d rather wear a dress or trousers than starchy denim. For me denim flares look over-the-top for casual, but not smart enough for smart. The answer? Skip denim and go for navy or beige — Max Mara does a pair not dissimilar to Kate’s (£161, tessabit.com) — or a light pinstripe (£85, stories.com) and wear with Charlie Girl flair.

You’ll be wearing these flares come the autumn too, with a roll neck and boots and maybe a mid-calf coat like Kate’s. Perfect for that is Frame’s flared golden brown needle cords (£182.83, lyst.co.uk).

Finally, the third hazard to avoid is the whiff of 1970s fancy dress. This is only an issue for those of us old enough to have worn flares first time around, and the answer is easy: steer clear of block print tops, bell sleeves, afghan waistcoats and love beads (not that you need to be told). Keep your look minimal, elegant and clean.

Wear shades of the same colour head-to-toe or go for monochrome. Make sure the hems of your flares almost reach the ground (there are plenty of cropped kick flares around but they’re harder to wear) and that they flare gradually rather than cling to your thighs and balloon out from the knee. If you just keep repeating ‘how would Kate wear them’ you’ll be fine.

Flares are best kept plain but should you want to ring the changes, try a flare with a front slit, especially chic with ankle boots (£55, stories.com). Also bear in mind that some ‘wide-leg’ trousers are a lot like relaxed-fit flares; Karen Millen does one in camel (£64.50, karenmillen.com).

Kate has spoken and now every smart dressing, trouser-wearing woman can give flares a chance. Can’t wait.

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