Although denim jeans were associated with miners, I have often wondered if the popularity of hard-wearing blue trousers had anything to do with the fact that similar garments formed part of the uniform of United States soldiers until the end of the 19th Century. Looking at American Civil War films, the actors often seem to be wearing modern jeans - or do the film makers hope that nobody notices?
I think you'll find it has a lot more to do with denim being pretty damned rugged then anything else. Soldiers and miners alike typically work in some very harsh conditions and it's nice to have something to wear which is rugged, comfortable, and reasonably inexpensive.
As to film makers, I'm betting that they hope nobody notices any inaccuracies, and for the most part, it's a very safe bet. Role players, re-enactors, and historians would notice something amiss, but they've done the homework.
To echo Mr Standart, let's hear it for google, which says the first bell bottoms were mentioned in 1813.
Unless you mean as a fashion item, in which case I can recall begging for a pair of bell bottoms in 1973. They were so wide I had to take about three steps before the trousers would actually move. Being a small person, I lived in dread of a light breeze. I had visions of being wafted away, never to be seen again!
Wasn't the bulk of Charlotte Cardeza's fortune derived from her father who had manufactured jeans or some other kind of denim garment?
Our whole idea of what constitutes 'casual wear' has changed completely since 1912. What an Edwardian would have described as 'loose' or 'informal' would seem incredibly constrictive and uncomfortable to us now.
Jeans certainly have their origin in working dress aboard ships. Back in the 16th century, British sailors in India were cutting and stitching their own trousers from a locally-made heavy cotton cloth died indigo blue. This was sold in the port of Dongari. When I was a kid, jeans in England were still called dungarees.
In Italy, the Genoese navy later provided something very similar for its own sailors. These were died Genoese blue, but in use (especially after washing in sea water) they were soon bleached white. Fabric of this type was a popular export from Nimes in France ('de Nime') to the US. In the established style, this was generally died Genoese blue (bleu de Genes). That should explain most of the names!
Bell bottoms seem to have originated in the US Navy in the early years of the 19th century. There seems to be no clear favourite among the various speculations to explain the design, but I imagine it was because it made the trousers easier to roll up when swabbing the decks etc.
Seamen on the Titanic would have been wearing trousers which had a lot in common with modern dungarees or jeans, but you can be fairly sure that nobody was wearing a zip fastener. The invention didn't become commercially viable until a few years later.
I wore bell-bottoms in the early '70's, when I had less flesh than I have now. We used to sew decorative patches and embroider them. Flowers, symbols, butterflies, hearts. A colour riot. If only some of our efforts had been donated to a textile museum. There were marvelous works of youth-art.
I wish bell-bottoms were back in style. They were so easy to roll up. So unconfining.
At the risk of being pedantic, I have always thought that the wide-bottomed trousers popular among the hippy set were "flares" rather than bell bottoms. Flares were triangular when viewed from the side and could be made by inserting a triangular piece of cloth into the seams of ordinary trousers. True bell bottoms might be described as "half-conical" in shape, insofar as they flared outwards in a full 360 degree circle.
We probably have different ideas of what flares are. When I wore them, they were bell bottoms if they flared out gradually from the hip, getting increasingly wider all the way down, like sailor pants. Flares either flared out from the knee, or had insets of fabric , as mentioned above. They used to flap around and get caught in things Modern flares are better because the fabrics are more appropriate.
The dungraree uniform went out only a few years ago, shortly after I retired. I'm not sure exactly when, but new working uniforms were already under trials when I finally hung my own up for the last time. I'm not sure that what's out there now is really that much of an improvement but at least nobody has a heart attack over being seen out of the mainspaces in coveralls.
In all this talk of feathered glory, we've over looked that other staple of the dinner party lady, the Ostrich Feather Fan. I recently saw one in an exhibition, dating from 1910. It had a massive plume of feathers, and right in the centre, a real dead, stuffed and mounted humming bird. Three things occurred to me. One, what on earth did they do with it when it wasn't in use? Even folded it must have taken up an incredible amount of space. Two, you'd have to be pretty strong to life it. The metal work to secure the humming bird alone looked like the underside of the Forth Rail Bridge. And thirdly....yuk.... I'm fairly sure the sight of that beady-eyed little birdy staring back at me from the table would have taken my appetite away!
"Bell Bottom" was a style of pants popular in the 1970s; the idea that, like the shape of a bell, the pants legs opened up or were wider at the bottom.
I don't remember owning any of these jeans, but then I was 7 when that decade began. It was an "unusual period", to say the least: Ron Howard, on "Happy Days", had hair, John Travolta, on "Welcome Back Kotter", was thin, and it's now comical to think of the fashion fads popular in the Disco Era. I still remember when my father used to purchase the "Leisure Suit" (plaid and madras styles gone bad).
Of course this is in comparison to styles around 1912, when most people always dressed quite conservatively. My mom showed me pictures of school life in the 1930s, when it was accepted that boys wore dress shirts and ties when attending classes.
Nowadays we are more casual.
Example: in the Victorian and Edwardian Days young boys saw it as a passage to manhood to wear long pants. Now a lot of men, myself included, wear short pants whenever they can, especially in warmer climates (I've observed many men working for Fed-Ex and UPS wear their employer-issued shorts every day).
Levi Strauss has been around many years, and has adapted to changing styles. I will wager that most people did not wear jeans around 1912, whereas they now do, either as pants or shorts, today.