Once delegated to the sad ranks of “mom jeans,” high-waist jeans are making a huge comeback…and the refined styles definitely aren’t the denim your mother is sporting (unless she happens to be a very hip mom).
High-waist jeans had a major surge of popularity in the ‘70s and are now returning to the racks as women discover how flattering they can be to a variety of figures. The high rise can help define curves, flatten the belly, lengthen the legs – and just like regular-rise jeans, high waists come in a variety of cuts and washes to suit both individual shapes and style preferences. If you are a fan of skinnies, boot-cuts, flares, or straight-legs, you’ll be able to find an applicable high-waist version out there.
First Time? Some Tips
Chances are, unless you were a teenager in the ‘70s, you have never tried a high waist jean yet. We’ll start off by warning that certain body types do not fare well in extreme high rises.
If you are very short, or have proportionately short legs for your body, the high waistband may land at an awkward or unattractive point on your figure. Women with very large busts or hips tend to have challenges, as well. This doesn’t mean you can’t try a more moderate high rise—just perhaps steer clear of the most dramatic ones.
High waist denim also usually has fastenings and/or embellishments that you may not be used to. Matelot/sailor fastenings, a longer zipper or button placket, or even pleats or a tie belt can be part of the design. Many do not have belt loops at all, so if you’re used to belting your jeans, going without can seem strange at first.
The jeans may also just plain feel odd if you are used to a low rise (which most of us are, as that style has ruled the denim world for the past couple of decades). It just takes a little time to get used to—and take heart, you can finally bend over without worrying about your thong poking out!
While it may be tempting to try out vintage high-waist jeans from your local thrift store or auction site, the best place for novice stylists to start is at a department store or boutique with a good selection of denim styles. The staff should be able to guide you to various modern pairs that will be easier to work with.
How to Style
The whole point of high-waist jeans is to show off the waist, so choose your top accordingly! Cropped styles work perfectly, as does tucking your shirt in (again, this may feel slightly strange to attempt without a belt, but rest assured the look is polished). You can also try a tank and open cardigan. Just make sure the waist is on display!
High waists really spotlight your rear end, so unless the denim is quite thick, you’ll want to consider your underwear carefully to avoid unsightly lines. Make sure you choose a thong style or a no-show panty.
Finally, most women will find that a heeled shoe works best with this style of jean in order to maximize leg length; the height is essential if you’re rocking a wider-legged pair of pants in order to not get lost in all the denim. Anything from pumps to boots work well. If you have long legs to begin with, a flat can look great—try them with a skinny pair of high waists!