6 Ways to Style High-Waisted Jeans

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6 Ways to Style High-Waisted Jeans

Jeans are a perennial staple in any woman’s closet, but styles of jeans cycle in and out of popularity. On one end of the spectrum, low-rise jeans enjoy periods of fashionability, and high-waisted jeans also find their way back into the fashion world’s good graces from time to time. While high waists are a relief when it comes to body coverage, styling them presents a whole new challenge. The casual trend of leaving shirts untucked is pointless with a high-waisted jean, while a cropped top still may not show very much skin at all, if any. Women may see high-waisted jeans in photographs and long to wear them but not know how to begin with styling.

First, understanding what makes a jean "high-waisted" will help shoppers pick the right styles of jeans. Then, six specific styling ideas, for every style from girly to biker, are given to help wearers make the transition to high-waisted jeans. Last, buying guidelines are given to make selecting a figure-flattering pair of high-waisted jeans easier for any woman.

Qualities of a High-Waisted Jean

Some jeans can easily be eyeballed and classified as high-waisted, while others look very much like any other jeans. The following chart indicates the differences among specific rises of jeans and specifically defines high-waisted jeans. These measurements are approximations, as the navel is not located in exactly the same spot on everybody, and torso lengths differ as well.



Ultra - low

Waistband hits about 5 inches below navel; rise measures less than 5 inches in front


Waistband hits about 2 inches below navel; rise measures 5 to 8 inches in front


Waistband hits just below the navel; rise measures 8 to 12 inches


Waistband hits at or above the navel; rise measures 12 or more inches in front

Rise is calculated by taking a pair of jeans and using a tape measure to measure the distance from the horizontal crotch seam to the top of the waistband in front. Some pants indicate a front rise and a back rise, but most jeans are categorized by front rise, as it logically follows that the back rise is proportionate with the front.

It is important to note that a high-rise jean does not necessarily constitute a high-waisted jeans. If this sounds confusing, the difference is in the styling. A high-rise jean may look like any ordinary five-pocket jean, only the waistband sits higher. A high-waisted jean, on the other hand, is a specific fashion look that may involve a sash, additional buttons, fold-over flaps, or some other detail highlighting the cut of the pant.

Styling Options for High-Waisted Jeans

The best way to go about styling high-waisted jeans is to consider one’s fashion personality first and take it from there. One’s personal style will affect the cut of the jeans as well as the wash chosen. Following are six different ways to put together a high-waisted jeans look.

1. The Prepster

High-waisted jeans automatically look dressier than other jeans and seem more like a trouser than a jean, so they fit in well with a tailored, classic wardrobe. Here are three beautiful ways to pair high-waisted jeans with classic pieces.

  • Add a button-down shirt and high-heeled loafers to wide - leg high - waisted jeans . Finish with a belt for a polished look.
  • Wear high-waisted jeans with a T-shirt and a blazer. Slip into some espadrilles with a very high wedge heel.
  • Layer a cardigan over a knit tank and finish with ballerina flats.

2. Girlicious

A girl can still look feminine and romantic in a pair of high-waisted jeans. Try these three ideas when it is important to exude that girly vibe.

  • The last option above for "Tailored and Classic" works here as well. Layer a soft cardigan in a pretty color over a tank top and put on cute flats. Make the look more girly by going with a soft pastel, such as pink or lilac, for the cardigan or tank.
  • Start with a great pair of high heels. Add high-waisted jeans. Top off with a loose blouse and a cloche or floppy hat.
  • Wear high wedges with high-waisted jeans and finish with a pretty T-shirt embellished with ruffles or ribbons.

3. Androgynous

Nothing looks better with an androgynous look than high-waisted jeans, even though, paradoxically, they also look very feminine. Try these three outfits for a sexy mannish style.

  • Wear high-waisted jeans with a men’s shirt and suspenders. Finish with sexy heels to avoid looking too masculine.
  • Put on high-waisted jeans with a shirt, tie, and jacket. Be careful to make each element slightly feminine; the idea is not to dress up as a man but to pull off a look that is inspired by men’s clothing.
  • Again, put on a man’s shirt and tuck it in, but leave it unbuttoned to the waist and pop a white ribbed tank undershirt underneath. Roll up the sleeves to the elbows and add a belt. This has a terrific early-20th-century look to it.

4. Happy Hippie

Some of the jeans of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s did feature higher rises, so a high - waisted flare jean is right in keeping with the days of Flower Power. Here are three bohemian looks to get you started.

  • Mix a light wash high - waisted flare jean with a peasant-style blouse and an earthy sandal.
  • Wear high-waisted jeans with a knit turtleneck top and wooden-soled clogs.
  • Combine a T-shirt, vest, and high-waisted jeans with platform heels.

5. Fashionista

A sleek and chic look can be achieved by mixing high-waisted jeans with sexy pieces.

  • Put on a dark wash high - waisted skinny jean and high-heeled sandals. On top, add a thin, form-fitting sweater or knit top.
  • Start with high-waisted jeans and an avant-garde blouse featuring exaggerated puffed sleeves, a huge collar, or another notice-me feature. Finish with striking, to-the-minute heels.
  • Layer a trendy jacket over high-waisted jeans; carry an eye-catching bag and, of course, wear heels.

6. Tough Girl

High-waisted jeans may seem too fashion-forward for a rocker or biker chick, but with the right styling, these jeans can work for anyone.

  • First, choose great well-worn (or worn-looking) high - waisted boyfriend jeans . Next, put on a plain tee. Finally, throw on a black leather motorcycle jacket and black ankle boots.
  • Go ‘80s by pairing high-waisted jeans with an army jacket and try Doc Martens on the feet.
  • Look tough but sporty by wearing a slashed-up, cropped sweatshirt with high-waisted jeans and Chuck Taylors.

Buying High-Waisted Jeans

High-waisted jeans are available wherever denim is sold, although high waists are more of a trend than a classic silhouette, so they may not be as plentiful. Sales associates can help direct you to high-waisted denim options when you are shopping in stores. Online shopping is usually easier for more obscure items. Keywords can easily turn up high-waisted or high-rise jeans on almost any shopping site.

Look for return policies from online sellers, and try high-waisted jeans on before finalizing a purchase. High-waisted jeans are more difficult to carry off than mid-rise jeans and are not universally flattering. Short-waisted, short, or busty women may find that a high waist sits just underneath their breasts, making them look disproportionate. Women who are carrying a few extra pounds may not want to call attention to their midsections with a high-waisted jeans. Many times, opting for a more moderate style allows women to wear jeans that venture into high-waisted territory without going to extremes; the more cautious the style, the easier it is to pull off successfully.

Be careful when shopping for pre-owned high-waisted jeans, as you may end up with a pair of "mom jeans" from the ‘80s instead of a pair with a fashionable vintage-inspired look. Familiarize yourself with high-waisted jeans featured in magazines and catalogs so that you can learn to distinguish reruns from current fashions.

How to Buy High-Waisted Jeans on eBay

Buying high-waisted jeans on eBay is easier than anywhere else, because quick-click sorting allows you to zoom in on high-waisted jeans from all over the world. Just visit the Fashion portal and navigate to Women ’ s Clothing, then Jeans . Under the Rise category, choose High Waist. High-waisted jeans come in a variety of washes and leg cuts, just like any other jeans, so you can narrow your search results even further until you find just the right pair for you. If you have any specific questions about the rise or any other features that are not answered directly in the product description, you can contact the seller to get more information.


Most high-waisted jeans are not the same as traditional five-pocket jeans; they need specific styling to look good and are not the type of jeans that one throws on with a T-shirt and sneakers (unless this is done purposefully to achieve a specific image). High-waisted jeans are a specific style that calls attention to the high waist, while high-rise jeans are merely regular jeans that come up higher and can be worn like any other standard jeans. Six style personalities are featured with ideas on how to wear high-waisted jeans with each; these tips should not be taken as rules but as inspiration for coming up with other looks. Taking care when shopping will help women pick out flattering jeans with which they will have fun creating even more high-waisted styles.

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