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Trouser tribulations of past and present

By Frances Burscough

A new fashion trend is doing the rounds for Spring/Summer '17 which, as fashion commentator for the Belfast Telegraph, I feel it is my duty to bring to your attention. Jeans with windows. Yes, you read that correctly: Jeans with windows.

Some bright spark in the fashion industry cottoned-on to the fact that revealing random body parts is very trendy. So they took a traditional pair of jeans and cut rectangular holes at the knee covered with clear plastic, creating a window effect. If you don't believe me, then please feel free to Google them. Type in "Clear knee jeans" and wait to be appalled. Topshop are the main culprits but soon they'll be everywhere from Fiorucci to Florence&Fred. It isn't known yet whether a double glazed version will be available for fashion followers in colder countries.

All of which reminded me that many of the worst fashion faux pas have been trouser-related. So here is my own personal list of the most terrible trews of all time:

Harem pants. If you were a New Romantic teenager in the eighties, or a new age hippie in the nineties, or if you've ever been a concubine in a Turkish harem, then you will probably have owned a pair of these. Harem pants are the ones that are loose fitting at the waist, with a very low crotch. I'm guessing they are suited to hot climates because they allow cool air to circulate where it is needed most. However, Western people just do not look good in them, ever. The worst example was surely MC Hammer, who wore a gold pair' in the "U Can't Touch This" video of the mid eighties (and, frankly, would you want to?). The best example was surely Yul Brynner in The King and I.

Knickerbockers. Another catastrophic keck craze that reared its ugly head in the decade that style forgot, were the New Romantic knickerbockers of the 1980s. I wore a gold pinstripe pair on my 18th birthday night out and I bloody loved them too. Oh, the retrospective shame I've subsequently felt! Also known as "Plus fours", they were first made popular in the early 1900s for golfing, tennis and riding on a penny farthing. Whoever thought it was clever to bring them back in the 80s (I blame Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran) needs spifflicating.

Dungarees. Yes, like everyone else in the 1970s, including Pan's People, David Cassidy and Noel Edmonds on his Multi Coloured Swap Shop, I had a pair of dungarees that I've since lived to regret. Mine were made from salmon pink corduroy no less and I wore them with a frilly blouse with gigantic puff sleeves. What was my mum thinking, sending me out dressed like that?

Cargo pants. A more recent trouser tribulation from the nineties, but cringeworthy of note, nonetheless. These were part of the "fake utility wear" trend of the mid-to-late nineties that included camouflage fabrics galore and lots of straps, chains and buckles - all serving no actual purpose whatsoever. Cargo pants were generally baggy and low-slung but with numerous superfluous pockets in places that you couldn't easily reach. I thought I looked so cool and tough in mine as I went on the school run. Subsequent photographic evidence suggests otherwise. Especially the picture of me with a baby's bottle sticking out of my mid-thigh pocket.

Flares. Fashion folk will always try to bring back flares, but these were so synonymous with the sixties and seventies that they could never work in the twenty first century. My favourites were bell-bottomed flares made from navy blue velvet with little red flowers printed all over them. That was when I was a kid in the 60s. In my early teenage years I opted for parallels with creases down the front, but they were flared and touched the ground, practically swamping my platform shoes and stripy socks.

Also worthy of note: Half-mast Capri pants; peg-topped trousers; culottes; lederhosen; trackie bottom, pantaloons and hotpants.

We'll save them for another time, unless Belfast fashion week throws up another monstrosity in the meantime.

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