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The High-Waisted Debate


Mischa Barton in High Waisted PantsSome of you may disagree with me on this, but I think it needs to be said: I don’t like high-waisted jeans and shorts. I find them ugly with very few exceptions.** While they may be “one of summer 2007’s hottest trends”, this is one fashion craze that I’m just going to skip.

To me, the high-waisted jeans we’re seeing right now look unflattering at best. This is because they draw attention to the crotch-meets-thigh area, which is where many women carry weight. This makes them uncomfortable and unflattering. As an extra bonus, they often bag in the tummy area (see Mischa Barton at right), creating a weird, diaper-like “pouch” shape. Unless the sizing is exactly right, it’s not so cute.

Sure, maybe Nicole Richie was able to pull off a pair of high-waisted short-shorts with ease, but she has tiny legs and nothing in the way of a butt. Even the equally skinny Mischa Barton managed to make her frame look out of proportion to her top half when she rocked a similar pair.

Therefore, I won’t be caught dead in anything resembling a mom-jean. I’m not at all interested in looking like I’m wearing a baggy diaper and/or pregnant just so I can follow a celebrity trend.

My take on the Micha Barton jean trend is that it won’t last, and I couldn’t be happier about that. While I have no problems with jeans that aren’t super low-rise, I think that the new mom jean extreme is too ugly and impractical to remain popular for long. I also think pocket placement is big and wash matters here. Baggy diaper-style medium wash jeans are a no. Properly fitted styles have more potential.

Sorry over-40-mothers of America, the jeans you’ve been wearing since 1985 are not making a comeback for long. It’s really time to move on.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you love high-waisted jeans or loathe them like I do? I’d like to know your opinions so feel free to leave them in the comments!

** The only exception to the uglyness of high-waisted pants is when they aren’t denim and are worn trouser-style for work as seen on Mary-Kate Olsen here. I will admit that the look is extremely classy and cute.

Posted on on June 13, 2007 / Filed Under: Trends / Tags: , , , ,

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36 Responses to “The High-Waisted Debate”

  1. 1
    June 14th, 2007 at 12:16 am

    I think that high waisted jeans look awful. Even Nicole Richie looked awful in them, in my opinion! I’m glad that the ultra-low-rise jean craze is wrapping up, but I hate the way fashion swings from one extreme to the other. I just want some nice mid-rise jeans for goodness sakes! I wish designers would stop trying to push the envelope and just make clothes that look great on people.

  2. 2
    June 14th, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Meg – I couldn’t agree more. I definitely love to follow the trends sometimes – it’s so much fun! But some of them are just too extreme to work (like high-waisted mom jeans).

    Maybe someday the fashion industry will get it right!

  3. 3
    June 14th, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    Ewww… They might look great on the runway, but I think they’re hideous. I am in favour of the mid-rise jean though. I don’t like low rise or super low rises, and I don’t like super high rises.. mid-point is great for me.

    The only problem is getting the public to ACCEPT the beauty of the mid-rise jeans so that i can bloody find a pair to buy!!!

  4. 4
    June 15th, 2007 at 8:23 am

    I TOTALLY agree with you. The only one i thought who looked cute in that pair is MK. My mom (she’s someone I trust regarding fashion stuff) told me to buy one pair coz I’m thin anyways and when I searched it in the internet I was like, “NO WAY, it looked totally absurd on Keira Knightley…what more on me!”

    Oh yeah. Question. Is it still in to wear skinny jeans?

  5. 5
    June 15th, 2007 at 11:06 am

    Fabulously Broke – Glad you agree! I’m with you – mid point is good. I’m a low-rise jean wearer myself but I am getting a little sick of pulling my pants up 8000 times a day to avoid flashing my underwear to everyone when I bend down to pick something up. It’ll be great when more jeans retailers start making mid-rises popular again.

    Gia – Yeah, MK did look really cute, but I just don’t know about regular people in the style right now.

    And with skinny jeans – they are still in for sure. The freshest way to wear skinnies right now is to get some in a bright color or white and keep the rest of your outfit neutral. You can also get some black ones and wear them like leggings under a longer top or dress for another cute look.

  6. 6
    June 25th, 2007 at 2:58 am

    I actually liked those high waisted jeans and I don’t think they look unflatering at all. I’d rather a woman wear high waisted than wear the low rises and look like a muffin top. Most women today wearing these low jeans look like muffin tops or a mushroom, they look terrible. Low rise jeans is not for everybody and I’ll tell you something else … being there, done that.

    In the 70’s we used to wear those low rises (in Brazil and in Europe) and when the high wastd jeans came back my girlfriends and I used to say the same thing. We would never be caught wearing high waisted jeans again.

    Well, guess what, we wore them, love them and then 25 years later the low risers were back again and I wear them. They look good on me, I’m thin, in excellent shape and have a beautiful muscled belly, even after two babies (I work out a lot) and I’m a size 2. My daughter says that she’d rather see me in low risers than her young friends because of these trend, the women’s bellies are bulging out and they do not look attractive. Way back when we used to wear low risers, we didn’t eat fat, so we were all skinny and had no belly fat. Today life is different and people eat a lot of crap and it shows on their bellies. Shame!! A high waisted would hide a lot of ugly bellies.

  7. 7
    June 25th, 2007 at 9:53 am

    Crissy – I agree with you that low-rise jeans aren’t for everyone. I’m a size 4 and even if I feel like I might be having the slightest bit of a “fat day” I won’t rock the low rise jeans because they won’t fit right. The muffin top look is gross – I agree with you on that.

    On the other hand, the super-high rise jeans are just insane looking! Sure they might hide the muffin top but they also create bulges and the diaper look seen above. There needs to be some kind of middle ground that will look good on the majority of the population. Hopefully we’ll see that soon.

  8. 8
    June 25th, 2007 at 3:22 pm is right. Neither extreme is flattering on most people. That’s why I prefer mid-rise jeans. They don’t create muffin-tops or show crack, but they also don’t add extra material where you don’t need it. Unfortunately, mid-rise jeans are still harder to find than their extreme counterparts in many places.

  9. 9
    June 26th, 2007 at 7:02 am

    Well , high waisted jeans are not bad at all, they dominated from mid 70s to early 90s, obviously there was a reason. Those jeans mischa is wearing are badly fit and have nothing to do with the high waist. I think people havent seen high waists in a while so it looks weird to them , i remember people swearing of skinny jeans and now look so, in some way or another high waisted jeans will enter the mainstream , it happened in the 70s , when hip huggers of the early 70s gave way to the higher waisted styles which dominated the mid late 70 and whole 80s….so just wait …

  10. 10
    July 17th, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    idk i would rather have my jeans a litte too low because you can always wear a longer shirt to cover anything you want to hide! but you cant ever cover up unflattering bulk…magazines have been pushing this look for years and it just isn’t working for me…it has a little breeze under it’s wings right now but not enough to take off commercially…besides they are the most uncomfortable things iv’e tried in my life, not to mention im not a big fan of wearing anything my mom would wear…sorry mom

  11. 11
    July 18th, 2007 at 8:39 am

    Kate – I totally agree with that! I’d rather have less layers of fabric in areas that are larger to create more balance. I don’t think the high-waist look will actually take off either!

  12. 12
    October 18th, 2007 at 7:29 pm


  13. 13
    October 18th, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    ewwwwwwwwww hoW in the Hell can anyone wear them!!!!!!!!???????

  14. 14
    March 28th, 2008 at 8:25 am

    Gia, I dont think skinny jeans are going anywhere now that people are realizing that it is better to have jeans that fit right into your boots rather than having to fold your flared/bootcut pants to fit into boots because I know for a fact that by doing that it makes it bunch around my ankle and just plain uncomfortable if not painful.

  15. 15
    August 30th, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    I think that high-waisted pants show off a female’s natural waist, the smallest part of the torso. They don’t allow muffin-tops, which I HATE. [Check out Cybill Shepard in The Last Picture Show, that’s how they’re supposed to look!]

    On the other hand, I suppose that only slimmer(but not just skinny!) body types could get away with wearing them more… And the mom-pants argument is a good point, but if you buy the right cut and style you won’t look like your mom. Mischa’s jeans in that pic are just embarassing, those pants just suck!

    But I’m really done with low-waisted pants, they hit at the widest part of our bodies and that’s not flattering on anyone.

  16. 16
    November 3rd, 2008 at 1:38 am

    I think too high or too low are equally unflattering, HOWEVER, Chloe Sevigny is living proof that a normal sized woman CAN pull off high waisted, and she has been rocking high waisted shorts, pants and jeans since way before it was “in” again. She also admitted that she has a “pouch” and high waisted jeans act as a corset effect sort of…anyway, I think it defines the waist and if correctly fitting, make one appear more streamlined.

  17. 17
    July 14th, 2009 at 4:57 pm (i have ordered these)
    these are a gorgous pair of high waisted skninnys. I think skinnys look great with a high waist but i hate these washed out blue straight legged or flared mum jeans!!!!!!!!
    they’re disgusting.

    Dark blue skinnys look fab – i’ve just ordered these pair.

  18. 18
    October 22nd, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    I adore the skinny cigarette pant look, but only if the leg follows the trend and fits snug all the way through. I am a size 00 and anything that gives me that hourglass look I crave is top in my book. Trend or no trend, wearing whatever is popular is always a bad idea because eventually something is bound to come into fashion that doesn’t flatter your particular body type. Wearing something classy that fits right and flatters your shape is always on trend, no matter what is being pushed at you. Take a tip from Coco “Fashion fades, only style remains the same.”

    Wear what you want just be aware of what looks good on you and you’ll always be fashionable

  19. 19
    October 22nd, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    A great pair of skinny leg high waisted jeans in my opinion:

  20. 20
    November 16th, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Mischa’s jeans are just a really bad fit and the pockets are very unflattering. High waisted skirts, pants and shorts are adorable and they are not a throw back from the 80’s they are representative of the 50’s, a very glamourous era.

  21. 21
    December 29th, 2009 at 9:14 am

    hey high waist can be nice sometimes
    some can work it some cant(anything looks good if u can work it)
    i like high waisted skirts and short shorts
    high waisted jeans 4 me should be dark washed and skinny and a good fit
    its quite classy.

  22. 22
    December 29th, 2009 at 9:16 am

    btw i think they look nice on nicole

  23. 23
    March 21st, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    This is a bit late, but I just wanted to say that I LOVE high-waisted shorts/jeans/skirts/ ANYTHING! It’s quite flattering and makes my legs look longer. And I am sure as hell not a size 0 i’m a size 2/4 so yeah. low-rise causes love handles.

  24. 24
    July 19th, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    I think Mischa’s jeans are a terrible style for her! I like high-waisted jeans…but it totally depends on the design. In particular I like the corseted, or naval button-detail styles (ala kim Kardashian), because they split the body shape and don’t make it look like one continuous bulge. Also in my opinion I don’t think they suit people with larger middle section…apple shapes??

    I agree with the comments about trends becoming a social norm. Not all styles are intended for every female figure…but they tend to grow on people…..I think skinny jeans are a the perfect example of this
    …as they are now being made in all sizes are rises.

    If a high-waisted jean is cut so the fabric is snug around the waist, as opposed to bulging around the waist, it could totally cure muffin tops.

    Heyhooo….we’ll see if it filters into the mainstream like the skinny.

  25. 25
    August 18th, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    They flaunt a girl’s curves- what’s wrong with that? Zephyr, high-waisted pants only add 20 pounds if you have the wrong fit (like Mischa does). There are several great ways to wear them if you give them a chance. They look great with crop tops, for example.

  26. 26
    September 22nd, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    oh god no. high-waisted jeans make everybody look like they have a muffin top. ugh, no thanks.

  27. 27
    November 7th, 2011 at 12:22 am

    I found this discussion after seeing high-waisted jeans were the predominant style on an online clothing store. I am horrified that this style is coming back. I went to high school in the 80’s and I hated them! They were uncomfortable and unflattering. They poofed out all the wrong places while getting uncomfortably snug in others. I have always been very thin, and trust me, high-waisted jeans looked horrible on me. I agree that low-rise jeans are unflattering on larger frames. I think mid-waist are the most flattering on anyone, big or small and am lucky I still have a few pairs of mid-waist Levi’s in my closet. I refuse to wear this new trend!

  28. 28
    February 29th, 2012 at 11:34 am

    I love high waisted stuff! I own some high waisted, ripped up denim cut-offs and I don’t look like a mom at all because I wear funky shoes, shirts, jewelry and makeup with it. I also own some tan 50’s esque trousers and if I wear them with a black tank, they’re super cute! I don’t like the jeans shown here, but I wouldn’t knock all high waisted stuff. It’s all about how you wear it, like with all fashion! and I’m a size 4, myself.

  29. 29
    May 27th, 2012 at 1:01 am

    I don’t care if they add twenty pounds. I find them comfortable and nice on me. I am a size 12 and they look great on me. I always hated super low-rise jeans, not because of muffin tops but because my butt could never fit in them. I also hate seeing crack. High-waisted jeans and shorts are awesome and can flatter many body types.

  30. 30
    July 13th, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    I am a huge fan of high waisted shorts. I own one pair that I bought from a store pre-made and my other two were originally high waisted jeans from Goodwill (Levi’s and Calvin Klein’s) that I have cut and styled myself. They fit great into my wardrobe when I’m feeling a little vintage-y. If styled correctly, they can be the perfect compliment to an outfit. I understand that it’s just not some peoples thing, but I guarantee if you came to my house and let me style an outfit for you. You would love them as much as I do :)

  31. 31
    November 11th, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    I absolutely adore high waisted things! :O I can understand that on some people it can look unflattering, thus the trend can be botched in most cases. But I love how it looks on curvy/hourglass women! It cinches the waist, accentuates the bum, and highlights the legs (if it’s shorts or skinnies). If you wear them with the right outfit, they can look amazing. See, I don’t think the trend is supposed to be bringing back the mom jeans, but more of what i said above. Also, as I have big thighs but a fairly small waist, I’d rather highlight my waist than my thighs, and thus I’m not a fan of low rise jeans + awkward length shirt. Just my opinion!

  32. 32
    August 4th, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    Hahahaha I think this is hilarious! In 2007 everyone was basically against this trend and now in 2013 it’s still around and even bigger than it was then! I don’t think this trend is going out of style anytime soon!

  33. 33
    August 30th, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    My two cents: trends are followed obsessively without regard to personal style because of the individual’s insecurities. All cuts of jeans are currently available because of different body types. Muffin tops are not supposed to pop out of low-rise jeans…low rise were designed for women who had smaller hip width but round prominent buttocks, that girl would not look good in high waisted jeans, but wider hips would look good in high waist because the jeans emphasize your curves by cinching the smallest part of the torso to give you more balance. That’s what personal style is about, BALANCE. Say it with me BAaaLlAaance.

  34. 34
    September 22nd, 2013 at 5:40 am

    The thing is the its low rise jeans which are a fad. “high rise” jeans are actually just normal rise jeans. The natural waist is at or above the belly button. Not two inches below it.

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