They hide love handles, belly bulges, and front flap. They keep shirts properly tucked in. Best of all, they don’t give you a muffin top or show a plumber’s crack. No wonder, then, that the high-waisted style is on the rise.
If you’ve already bought yourself a pair of high-waisted bottoms but are unsure how to make them work for you, read on.
We’ve identified 21 things to wear and avoid so that your high-waisted pants and jeans look sophisti-chic instead of ending up looking like dreaded mom jeans.
1. Maximizing the Appeal of High-Waisted Pants with Tucked-in Tops
What’s the point of wearing high-waisted pants if you’re only going to be covering them with an untucked top?
The good thing is that almost any style works. Plaid lumberjack shirts, long-sleeve tops, or your favorite tee — go ahead and tuck them into high-waisted pants.
Here’s a little styling trick: after tucking in your top or buttoning your pants over it, raise your arms over your head. Doing so will pull out just the right amount of fabric and give you that perfect blouson at the waist.
Elle MacPherson, Claudia Schiffer, and Victoria Beckham showcasing tucked-in tops with high-waist jeans, each radiating effortless style and sophistication (Credit: WENN)
2. Avoiding the Bulky Look: Why Blousy Tops Don’t Work with High-Waisted Pants
High-waisted pants have volume and provide lots of coverage, and a blousy top made of a lot of fabric will compete with that.
If you pair an overly blousy top with skinny high-waisted jeans, you risk looking like a chicken lollipop where all the bulk is pushed to the top.
So just say no to the blousy top: no to Cheryl Cole’s layered tank, no to Anna Friel’s ruffle blouse, and no to Chelsee Healey’s off-the-shoulder bed ruffle.
Cheryl Cole, Anna Friel, and Chelsee Healey demonstrating how blousy tops can overwhelm high-waisted pants, leading to a disproportionate look (Credit: WENN)
3. Crop Tops: The Ideal Match for High-Waisted Bottoms
Crop tops are made for high-waist pants. Since you’re already keeping your abdomen, belly button, and most of your stomach covered, you have all the permission to show a little skin.
Check out Kristen Stewart’s, Kylie Jenner’s, and Pixie Lott’s crop tops giving little peeks at their midriffs. If you prefer the looser, more flowy crop top style, that’s no problem. The cropped cut will balance out the excess volume.
Kristen Stewart, Kylie Jenner, and Pixie Lott pairing crop tops with high-waist pants, striking a balance between covered and chic (Credit: WENN)
4. The Fine Line: Choosing Tops That Complement Rather Than Overpower
We know wearing bra tops with full-coverage high-waist pants is tempting, but too much skin showing is never a good look. And if you do dare to bear it, at least make sure that it’s something you’re comfortable in.
She had her hands over her stomach in nearly all the pictures of her at that event, as if she didn’t want to bare skin in the first place.
Pixie Lott, Nicki Minaj, and Selena Gomez illustrate the fine line between complementing and overpowering tops with high-waisted pants (Credit: WENN)
5. Enhancing High-Waisted Pants With Long Jackets
Play with proportions and wear your high-waisted pants with a long jacket like Jessica Alba and Kim Kardashian.
A regular-length jacket like Kristen Stewart’s will also work, so long as you keep your top tucked in, cropped, or knotted at the side like hers.
Jessica Alba and Kim Kardashian elegantly pairing long jackets with high-waisted pants, while Kristen Stewart opts for a regular-length jacket, maintaining a tucked-in top for balance (Credit: WENN)
6. Avoiding Short Jackets That Clash with High-Waisted Styles
They create a boxy shape and make the waist look wider. They also completely remove the hourglass shape, which we’re trying to achieve in wearing high-waisted pants.
Kylie Minogue, Chloe Sevigny, and Eva Mendes show how short jackets can clash with high-waisted styles, disrupting the desired hourglass silhouette (Credit: WENN)
7. Retro Chic: Adding Flair with Flared High-Waisted Jeans
Throw back to a retro-chic style by wearing high-waisted jeans with a little flare. Kendall Jenner even wore hers in a Woodstock-inspired style with a boho crop top for the Coachella Music Festival.
Kendall Jenner, Katie Holmes, and Geri Halliwell embracing the retro chic of flared high-waisted jeans, each adding their unique flair (Credit: WENN)
8. Finding Balance: Why Overly Flared Legs Don’t Work
Exaggerated flares like on palazzo pants and bell-bottoms look ridiculous and are just too much.
Kourtney Kardashian and Coleen McLoughlin in exaggerated flares, a cautionary example of overdoing the flared high-waist pants style (Credit: WENN)
9. Fit Matters: The Importance of Sizing in High-Waisted Pants
Like most things in fashion, high-waisted pants look infinitely better when in your correct size.
Jessica Alba, Miley Cyrus, and Vanessa Hudgens in perfectly tailored high-waist pants, highlighting the importance of fit in fashion (Credit: WENN)
10. Avoiding the Pitfalls of Ill-Fitting High-Waisted Pants
Too small and you could end up with a very unsightly camel toe. Too big, and your high-waisted pants are essentially just mom jeans that will make your bum look as big and as flat as dinner plates.
Ariana Grande and Mischa Barton illustrating the issues with too-tight or too-loose high-waisted pants, from camel toes to shapeless silhouettes (Credit: WENN)
11. Shiny Fabrics and High-Waist Pants: A Tricky Combination
On too tight high-waist pants, shiny fabric channels ‘Grease’ too much. On too loose high-waist pants, shiny fabric practically puts a spotlight on every crease, wrinkle, and pucker.
Jade Ewen, Kristin Bauer, and Lindsay Lohan showcasing the challenges of shiny high-waist pants, from overstated to unflattering creases (Credit: WENN)
12. Hem Lengths in High-Waisted Pants: Getting It Just Right
On straight or flared high-waist pants, you want the hem just at the top of the toes, like Jennifer Aniston’s, for an elongating look.
On skinny high-waist jeans, you want the hem just at the ankles like Nicole Scherzinger’s –any shorter, and they’ll be pedal pushers; any longer, they’ll just bunch up around the legs, making you look shorter.
Jennifer Aniston, Kim Kardashian, and Nicole Scherzinger in high-waist pants with ideal hem lengths, creating an elongated and elegant appearance (Credit: WENN)
13. Length Matters: Avoiding Extreme Lengths in High-Waisted Pants
High-waisted pants shouldn’t be capri pants like Nicole Richie’s. They also shouldn’t be street sweepers like Jennifer Lopez’s.
Milla Jovovich’s flared jeans could’ve looked as good as Elle MacPherson’s in #1 of this list, but they’re about 3-4 inches too short.
Nicole Richie, Milla Jovovich, and Jennifer Lopez displaying the pitfalls of incorrect pant lengths, from awkwardly short to excessively long (Credit: WENN)
14. The Elegance of Flowy High-Waisted Pants
High-waisted pants look absolutely amazing when worn a little loose and flowy. You can wear a flower child look like Mischa Barton or workwear chic like Olivia Palermo.
Mischa Barton, Olivia Palermo, and Vanessa Hudgens in flowy high-waist pants, each radiating a distinct blend of elegance and ease (Credit: WENN)
15. Steering Clear of Flood Pants: Finding the Right Flow
High-waisted pants look good and flowy, but you don’t want them so flowy that you look like you will be wading in floodwaters in them.
Jennifer Lopez’s Paul Ka Resort 2015 pants were too loose and too long, so Jennifer was stepping all over the hem.
Sophie Monk and Jennifer Lopez in overly flowy high-waist pants, a visual reminder of the importance of proportion and fit (Credit: WENN)
16. Streamlined Silhouettes: The Key to Stylish High-Waisted Pants
Reign in the bulk of high-waisted pants by picking a pair in a sleek, streamlined silhouette. Pleats like those on Lauren Pope’s pants help pull in some volume, and a tapered ankle-length cut like those on Drew Barrymore’s balances out the paper bag waist.
If you’ll be wearing a flared cut like Hilary Duff’s, choose a style with welt pockets over scoop or slash pockets. Sew the pockets flat if you have to. The purpose is so the pockets don’t bulge and make your midsection look bigger.
Lauren Pope, Hilary Duff, and Drew Barrymore in sleek, streamlined high-waisted pants, each style honing in on balance and elegance (Credit: WENN)
17. Simplifying High-Waisted Pants: Avoiding Bulky Embellishments
Again, high-waisted pants already have lots of volume, coverage, and fabric on their own, so just do away with embellishments altogether. Wide cuffs, buttons, peplums, big prints, harem-cut pant legs — just skip on all of them.
Dita Von Teese, Kim Kardashian, and Blake Lively in high-waisted pants with embellishments, demonstrating the excess that can overshadow simplicity (Credit: WENN)
18. Wearing High-Waisted Pants at the Natural Waist for Maximum Flattery
The natural waistline, the narrowest part of the torso, is where high-waisted pants look most flattering.
Note where the waistbands of Cara Delevigne’s white Stella McCartney trousers, Jessica Alba’s white Max Mara wide-leg pants, and Kendall Jenner’s black Alon Livne trousers are sitting. Give yourself that hourglass shape and cinch that waist!
Cara Delevingne, Jessica Alba, and Kendall Jenner in high-waisted pants worn at the natural waist, accentuating their hourglass figures (Credit: WENN)
19. The Too-High Rise: Avoiding High-Waisted Pants That Reach Too Far Up
The cut creates a wide martini glass instead of an hourglass figure. It also draws the eye too much to the stomach and abdomen and just looks odd.
Kim Kardashian, Shailene Woodley, and Ciara in high-waisted pants sitting under the bra line, a style that can distort the desired silhouette (Credit: WENN)
20. Accessorizing High-Waisted Pants: Less is More
Pick a belt that isn’t too wide. Contrast the high waist with a long cardigan that hits low on the hips. Skinny high-waist jeans look good with flats, while looser flared styles are better matched with wedges and heels.
Jessica Alba and Katie Holmes accessorizing high-waist jeans with precision, showcasing how the right choices enhance the overall look (Credit: WENN)
21. The Perils of Over-Accessorizing with High-Waisted Jeans
Don’t go overboard with a flared jacket, a huge handbag, and lug-sole shoes like Kylie Minogue. There’s also just too much going on in Lauren Platt’s fur parka, crop top, fedora, white tote bag, ripped jeans, combat boots, and ombré curls ensemble.
What caused the downfall of Jessica Simpson’s infamous high-waisted “mom jeans” look was the double leopard belt.
Not only were they bulky and garish, but they were also cinched way too tight that they created unsightly back rolls, belly bulges, and a protruding abdomen on the petite singer.
Kylie Minogue, Jessica Simpson, and Lauren Platt over-accessorized in high-waist jeans, a clear example of how too much can detract from the style (Credit: WENN)