Perhaps you’ve noticed that denim styles are a little, shall we say, all over the place right now. From crop-kick flares and massive bell bottoms to the fact that every single pair of jeans these days seems to come “pre-distressed,” it’s beginning to feel like a total (acid) wash. Aren’t jeans supposed to be basic staples that we can feel okay spending $300 on because we’re going to wear them every other day for the next three years? Luckily, if you look past all the crazy stuff currently going down in the denim department, you’ll see that there’s one silhouette that is poised to endure: the high-waisted jean.
All it takes is one scroll through Instagram or a stop by your favorite fashion outpost to see that navel-grazing, waist-cinching denim is officially having a moment. But what gives this style staying power is the fact that, unlike so many things we voluntarily slip our bods into in the name of looking on-trend, high-waisted jeans are almost universally flattering. “They really hug the body in all the right places and show off the gorgeous curves on a woman’s body,” explains stylist Ali Levine. “I believe a good fitting pair of high-waisted jeans makes a woman look fabulous and put together.”
Looking back at #nyfw looks. A favorite from @chrissyford wearing the Shelter Austin Crop in Byrd. #3x1denim
To put it a bit more bluntly, high-waisted jeans suck your s*** in. And after living through a decade practically dedicated to hip-hugging jeans and the ab exercises they necessitate (we’re looking at you, early aughts), then having to collectively make the switch from bootcut to skinny jeans, then being told skinny jeans were suddenly out of style (an exhortion I wholeheartedly reject entirely, by the way), I think we deserve a stylishly-comfortable silhouette with longevity. The proliferation of high-waisted denim feels in keeping with the burgeoning body positivity movement, too, which promotes self-acceptance regardless of size or shape. Instead of dieting away your muffin top, why not encase it in some great denim and then move on with your day?
“It’s been almost 20 years since the emergence of extreme low-rise jeans, for which I blame Britney Spears and those 3 inch zippers, so naturally it’s time to go to the other extreme,” says stylist Lauren Messiah. “The reason women are gravitating towards a higher rise is because they emphasize the smallest part of the waist and work to flatten your midsection. There is just something oddly satisfying about zipping up a pair of jeans over your tummy-no muffin top, no jiggle, no nothing.”
Seen on the street. . . Here are some of our favorite #Levis looks from #NYFW, #MFW and #LFW. ?: @garconjon
And maybe it’s just the sudden ubiquity of what I like to call the “Instagram half-tuck,” but a higher rise also feels significantly easier to style. There’s something so simultaneously cool and polished about having your shirt tucked in that it’s hard to believe we spent so many years not doing it. What were we thinking, with our thongs hanging out and our shirttails flapping in the wind?
A garment becomes truly timeless when its impossible to place it in a specific era, and the fact that this style has had a place in pretty much every decade since the inception of denim—with the exception, of course, of the early 2000s—places it solidly in that category. Which is just to say, basically, that if you’re currently in the throes of a debate over whether or not to invest in those RE/DONE mom jeans or that pair of perfectly broken-in vintage Levi’s, just do it. Your stomach, butt, self-esteem, and wardrobe will thank you.