As a 38-year-old “elder millennial” who lived through the first reign of yoga flares in the early 2000s, I didn’t expect to jump on the bandwagon when the stretchy trousers re-surfaced on TikTok last year. Wasn’t I ... way too old to embrace the elasticated bell bottoms that were popping up all over social media styled with oversized hoodies and tiny sunglasses? Well, spoiler alert: I got over my irrational fears thanks to an Instagram impulse buy, and I’m here to tell you that my favorite trousers of late are a pair of recycled-polyester flared leggings from a Los Angeles-based sexy-sustainable activewear brand called Wolven.
I first discovered Wolven after the great Aerie Crossover Leggings-gate of late 2020 when the mall brand’s waist-snatching tights went viral on TikTok, quickly sold out, and sent legions of leggings enthusiasts hunting down a serviceable dupe for the v-waisted silhouette. Wolven was one of the brands that offered a similar style in its selection of colorful, intricately printed leggings, bike shorts, and exercise tops that boast a healthy dash of California-cool sex appeal in addition to sweat-readiness. Initially, I came for the figure-hugging fit but found myself staying for the brand’s sustainable and socially conscious message — and, in lieu of the viral crossover-style waistline, a pair of Y2K-era flared leggings that I just couldn’t get out of my head.
Wolven co-founders (and husband-wife duo) Kiran Jade and Will Ryan manufacture their groovy workout goods ethically in China in a factory that’s certified by Intertek’s Workplace Conditions Assessment. The third-party company provides supply-chain transparency and ensures that factories are upholding equitable, humane working conditions and labor practices. In addition, they use a slew of lower-impact fabrics, including OEKO-TEX certified recycled-PET fabric and super-soft renewable modal and have partnered with Climate Neutral to offset the company’s carbon emissions.
I’d been considering the purchase of flared leggings for months, and Wolven’s was the first pair I encountered that boasted a significantly lighter footprint. (Interested parties can also consult conscious brands like Athleta and Girlfriend Collective for more wide-legged, sustainably-minded options.) The over-$100 price point gave me pause, so I finally pounced on the pair last summer during a rare sale on the best-selling style. I purchased a size small and found the high-waisted fit perfectly accommodating with a snug fit from waist to mid-shin. The flares were generous and a perfect length, barely skimming the floor when I tried them on without shoes and covering just enough of my sneaker when I ventured out of the house. Wolven’s flares come in a “vegan suede” finish, which boasts a toothy, slightly fuzzy hand feel that’s very different from your usual ultra-slick or buttery-soft activewear fabrication. The breathable recycled-plastic synthetic blend dries quickly and maintains a comfortable four-way stretch.
I found myself wearing them almost daily thanks to a perfect storm of conditions. First, it was the height of the late-summer quarantine of 2021, and I was also on maternity leave. Social interactions were limited to my husband, my newborn, and a lone cashier at my local grocery store. The stretchy construction was kind to my post-partum body, and the generous flared hem made the endless laps around my apartment feel a little more catwalk-y and put-together. I banished any qualms about the pants feeling out of step with my vibe by styling them with pieces already in my wardrobe, like crisp button-downs, oversized wool sweaters, and sky-blue Wallabees I’d recently acquired on eBay. As fall went on, I wore them out of my house more and more, paired with striped tunics and oversized t-shirts. The pants are now an integral part of my wardrobe.
Moral of the story to style enthusiasts of all ages: Trying out new (old) trends is fun, especially when you find a way to make them your own. Don’t live in fear like I did. Stepping out of your comfort zone can be a joyful experience — especially when you do it in a pair of comfy, low-impact yoga flares.
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