On Going High Waisted

"It could be Soho...or it could be soccer mom in 1994."

Serious fashion query: what are your thoughts on high waisted jeans? I realize this is not some brand new, avant-garde trend, and that I’m a little behind the times on it. But I purchased a pair from Shopbop a couple weeks ago and have been experimenting with them. It felt like a fool-proof experiment, because for starters, I purchased the high waisted version of the beloved “photo-ready” skinnies I wrote about last year. They remain my all-time favorite jeans, so the same fabric in a different cut seemed like a good way to dip the proverbial toe in.

I’ve seen high waisted jeans on so many gals and thought they looked fab. But have you ever had the experience of trying on a trend expecting it to look one way — like an “after” shot — then you gaze upon yourself in the mirror and you feel more like the “before”? Well, that was my initial reaction. Total womp womp moment. I think after years of wearing mid and low-rise denim (thanks, 2000-2010!), the silhouette of these jeans was just so different, it quite literally took my eyes a second to adjust to it. So began trying said jeans on with basically every top I own, then realizing that wearing high-rise jeans in earnest would require buying several new blouses. (Side note: This is how the fashion industry gets us).

I played around with the look a little, and this past weekend, wore a tucked in black silk cami with the jeans, and ended up really liking the look — especially paired with these pointed-toe wedges on Friday and these booties on Saturday. Less successful was a bodysuit look, in which I tucked a fitted tank into the jeans and layered with an unbuttoned chambray shirt. “Is this ridiculous looking?” I asked Joe, “Like I’m trying to be a 21 year old cruising around Soho?”

“It could be Soho,” he replied, his face trying in vain to not show his true thoughts, “…or you could be a soccer mom in 1994.”

Mixed results, to be sure.

One article I came across while searching for style inspiration on Pinterest (hey, all those outfit pics DO come in handy!) pointed out that high waisted jeans can be a bit jarring to the first-time wearer, because they do a great job of emphasizing the hips. I don’t say this as a bad thing; rather, I think previous denim silhouettes have done such a good job of minimizing them that at first look, you do a double take when you remember what pants accentuating your curves actually looks like.

Current conclusion? It’ll take me a bit, but I think these things are growing on me. It would seem that high waisted jeans are what skinny jeans were to me in 2006: something I swore I’d never buy, then inevitably, became a staple.

Do you own any high waisted jeans? What are your favorite ways to style them? Also, if like me you were not born with a smaller chest, how do you dress your top half so that your curves look proportional? So far, the silk cami experiment worked because the bare shoulders balanced out the chest, but I’m struggling with the whole “t-shirt tucked in” look that so many gals can rock. Methinks that combo is just not in my sartorial future.

Next to discuss: the return of flared denim. Also known as “never give away any of your jeans that still fit.”

PS! A quick sale note you definitely need to know about… Many of the jeans featured here are currently 25% off at Shopbop, but for 3 days only. Their Friends & Family sale is on now, which gives you 25% off your entire order! Use the code INTHEFAM25, and get more details on the sale here, but hurry — the sale ends Thursday night. In non-denim related news, I will totally be taking advantage of the discount to scoop up this jacket!


  1. 10.13.15
    jillian said:

    I’m tempted to try the trend! I liked what cup of jo said about high-waisted jeans pulling in your stomach, and hiding a plumbers crack! lol. yes. please.

  2. 10.13.15
    Erin said:

    I loathe the high-waited jeans trend! I have a tiny waist, but large chest, so the waistlines come too close to my bust and are extremely unflattering. :( And since the trend is in such full swing, I can’t even find any jeans with a low enough waist to actually be flattering for me right now. Even what designers are calling “mid rise” right now still have an 8.5-9″ rise and it’s too high for me. I can’t wait for this trend to go away, or at least level out a bit!

    • 10.13.15

      This is sort of what I deal with as far as the chest goes (though I wouldn’t call my waist tiny, exactly!). I have a really long torso, and have found that helps me a little. I think that blousier tops look good — tucked in silk pieces, silk button downs, etc. But I feel you. Most of the looks that I see on Pinterest or in magazines I could NEVER pull off!

  3. 10.13.15

    High-rise jeans coming back in are like a hallelujah for me! I LOATHE low-rise jeans, which always slip below my hips and have me constantly hiking up my jeans all day (not a good look) – or constantly checking to make sure the back isn’t gaping when I bend over. High-rise jeans are the only ones that actually stay up on me and I find them a million times more comfortable and flattering – no muffin top, since they hold everything in. Most of the time I just wear them as regular jeans, without tucking anything in, so probably you can’t even tell they’re high-waisted. So for me it’s definitely more of a fit issue rather than a trend thing.

  4. 10.13.15
    sonya said:

    As a woman who is very hourglass shaped, I am scared to try them but I want to try them. I’m more of a mid-rise girl, and used to be a fan of low-rise but I am 34 years old and don’t need the entire world seeing my backside when I bend down/bend over/tie my shoe/etc. I have a small waist and it is just inevitable that there will be waist-gaping with any jeans, probably less-so with high waisted pairs. I was thinking of jumping into the trend with some high-waisted black skinnies. The last 2 pairs of jeans I bought were from DSTLD and I really like them, so I would go with their high-waisted pair.

  5. 10.13.15
    katie said:

    I’ve been wearing Madewell’s high riser skinny skinny jean since like 2012, I swear. They are just the perfect. perfect. jean. They hold you in (no “plummer butt”!), and as I have a petite frame (5’1″) with barely any hips, I find that I actually feel sexier, taller, and more feminine looking when I wear them. Also, I have a small chest and a tendency to not dress super feminine, (lots of chunky sweaters) so I like that my go-to jeans can make me feel that way. I’ll wear anything with my Madewell jeans. Button-up silk blouses (I have a few Everlane ones) styled with a half-tuck in front (or even fully tucked in) look especially spectacular, merging the comfort of jeans and a button-up with the sexiness of showing off my hips/waist with silk and a little décolleté showing. Also, try sweaters that maybe hit at waist or hip level, not too long, so that they show off your curves and how tiny the jeans make your waist look.

  6. 10.14.15
    Kathleen said:

    High-waisted is here to stay and I’m loving it!

  7. 10.14.15
    Joo said:

    I have a pair from Madewell and love it. It kinda tucks everything in and has that 80s retro feel. And you are right, pending how you wear it, you might look a little soccer mom-ish (unless you are 18 and look cute no matter what you wear)!

  8. 10.15.15
    kim said:

    i was super hesitant to try this trend (i’m 5’5″ on a good day with curvy hips), and after hearing a petite friend say that she loved the Citizens of Humanity Rocket (i think it’s similar to the carlie you have above–the measurements on ShopBop are the same), I tried them too. they are amazing! i normally have to wear a belt with just about all my jeans, and I don’t have to with these. plus the denim is super soft, and they look great with a longer top or with one tucked in. the only issue was that they were too long, so i cut the hem and left them frayed, but now they come in an ankle length.

  9. 10.19.15
    Joanna said:

    I love look 2 in your line-up – I think the simplicity of and classic elements in it makes it an outfit that would be the way in to this style of jean for me, especially since the jeans are black. I actually went shopping for new jeans the other day and many stores didn’t even have low-rise anymore – ONLY mid- and high-, and the mid-rise pair I bought absolutely feel like high-waisted jeans compared to what we all are used to wearing. I am personally totally rejecting the return of flare.

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