5 Flattering Ideas for High-waisted Pants


Do you have the figure, or courage, for high-waisted pants, like Jessica Simpson does?“Do you have the figure, or courage, for high-waisted pants, like Jessica Simpson does?Chris Gordon/WireImage/Getty Images

This just in: High-waisted pants — which have been spotted only on middle-aged moms since about 1983 — are making a comeback. Those in the know are calling them a breath of fresh air after the extreme low-rise trend of the past decade or so. Kim Kardashian, Jessica Alba, Pink and the Olsen twins are high-waist wearers. Are you brave enough to give them a try?

Here’s a secret about high-waisted pants: They’re actually not "high-waisted" at all. They’re higher than what we’re accustomed to, but they hit at your natural waist. And the effect today is more Katharine Hepburn than Marcia Brady — the denim is softer and stretchier, and jeans aren’t the only option. Head to any mall, and you’ll find trousers, straight-leg pants, flared jeans, skinny jeans and flowing palazzo pants, all with high waists.

Even though high-waisted pants are more forgiving than they used to be, they’re not universally flattering by any means. They work with a variety of body types, and you don’t have to be a supermodel to wear them, but it can be a tightrope act trying to find the right style.

Here’s a partial list of the roadblocks you might stumble across in your quest: If you’re lacking in the derriere department, you’ll probably find that high-waisted pants flatten your backside out even more. If you have wider hips, high-waisted pants might emphasize them a little too much. They do eliminate the dreaded "muffin-top" effect created by low-rise pants, but if your belly’s even slightly lumpy, the pants will probably bulge at a pretty unattractive spot. And because high-waisters work best with fitted, tucked-in tops, you can’t rely on a flowing shirt to cover your flaws.

If you are able to find the perfect pair of high-waisted pants, pulling off a flattering outfit is also a trick. The slightest misstep could send you hurtling into mom-jeans territory. But fear not: We’ve put together a list of five ideas that will eliminate the guesswork — and possibly save you from a fashion disaster.


  1. Find Your Style
  2. Make Sure They Fit
  3. Tuck in Your Shirt
  4. Wear Heels
  5. Belt It

5: Find Your Style

It might take a little trial and error to find the correct style of high-waisted pants. The right ones will elongate your legs and show off your curves while keeping your body proportional — the wrong ones will look really, really wrong. You’ll probably get the idea pretty quickly. In the end, you could find that there’s only one style that works best, but that’s fine — it’ll narrow down your search and help you focus.

4: Make Sure They Fit

Once you’ve decided on a style of high-waisted pants, you can’t settle on just any pair — they have to fit absolutely perfectly. Even the most expensive, well-made designer jeans will suddenly look mom-esque if they’re too short, pulling across the hips or sagging in the crotch. So if you love a pair that’s just a little bit off in the fit department, get them tailored. It’ll be well worth it.

A Cautionary Tale

Poor Jessica Simpson. In one 2009 concert, she might have done more damage to the reputation of high-waisted pants than the entire 1970s ever did. Clad in an ill-fitting pair of jeans cinched by a wide leopard-print belt, she did her curvy figure no favors.

3: Tuck in Your Shirt

Now that you’ve found your perfect pair of pants, you need to find the right top to go with it. It’s kind of a tightrope act, here — the wrong shirt could totally ruin the effect you’re creating with the pants. The exact style of the shirt will depend on the specific pants, of course, but as a rule of thumb you want a fitted shirt that can be neatly tucked in to emphasize your waist. Any top that’s even slightly oversized, or one that hits below the waist, will create a boxy effect that you definitely don’t want.

2: Wear Heels

One of the main draws of high-waisted pants is the elongating effect they have on your legs, so you also need to pay close attention to the shoes you pair with them. The wrong pair of shoes will throw your proportions completely out of whack. Fortunately, though, it’s pretty easy to find the right pair of shoes. Forget color, forget style — all you have to do is wear heels and avoid flats like the plague. Simple enough, right?

Kim Knows Best

Jessica Simpson would do well to take a pointer or two from fellow curvy girl Kim Kardashian. Kardashian has a teensy-tiny waist and a famously shapely derriere, and she works a perfectly tailored and belted high-waisted pant like no one we’ve ever seen.

1: Belt It

Your new look is almost complete: The pants fit perfectly, the shirt’s tucked in, and with a pair of cute heels your legs now look a mile long. There’s only one thing missing — a belt. Wide belts can work with high-waisted pants, but skinny belts add definition and a pop of color without being overwhelming. They show off a tiny waist but don’t draw too much attention to not-so-tiny midsections.

Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • The Evolution of Military Style
  • How to Find a Flattering Swimsuit
  • Guide to Finding an Evening Dress


  • Glamour. "High-Waisted Jeans: A Do or a Don’t?" Jan. 27, 2009. (Sept. 8, 2012) http://www.glamour.com/fashion/blogs/slaves-to-fashion/2009/01/high-waisted-jeans-a-do-or-a-d.html
  • Kaplan, Julee. "High Rise Denim is Back for Spring 2011." Stylelist. March 17, 2011. (Sept. 8, 2012) http://www.glamour.com/fashion/blogs/slaves-to-fashion/2009/01/high-waisted-jeans-a-do-or-a-d.html
  • Kennedy, Lesley. "How to Wear High-Waisted Pants and Not Look Like a Mom-Jean Disaster." Stylelist. March 28, 2011. (Sept. 8, 2012) http://www.glamour.com/fashion/blogs/slaves-to-fashion/2009/01/high-waisted-jeans-a-do-or-a-d.html
  • Lovelyish. "Mastering the Art of the High-Waisted Pant." Nov. 2, 2011. (Sept. 8, 2012) http://www.lovelyish.com/756322704/mastering-the-art-of-the-high-waisted-pant/
  • Smart Jean Reviews. "Are High-Waisted Jeans for You?" (Sept. 8, 2012) http://smartjeansreviews.com/are-high-waisted-jeans-for-you

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