Fashion brands and designers seem to have a new mantra when it comes to pants: “You’ve gone low. Now go high.”
This refers to the born-again waistline that’s taking over the marketplace. It wasn’t that long ago when low-rise pants reigned supreme (rise referring to the distance between the crotch to the button atop the zipper). Those, at their very lowest, measured four to five inches, hitting bodies at their fleshiest point just below the hips and playing a major, ahem, role in the emergence of the dreaded muffin top.
Today’s expanded rises are often more than double that, covering the belly button and beyond. “The ’70s and ’80s have made a resurgence in fashion over the last few years so high-waisted pants and jeans are back on the radar,” says Jodi Arnold, vice president of design and creative director of Eloquii, a contemporary online fashion retailer catering to sizes 14 to 28. “They are great for the younger generation because they’re something new as well as for the older generation who may want more coverage.”
In fact, coverage is key, says retailer Afshin Haghani, who owns two stores in Manhasset — Gallery Couture and Loop 347. “The low rise doesn’t feel new anymore. Now, the style is more covered up with an underlying sex appeal. It’s very Hepburnesque,” says Haghani. And, he adds, the high waist is a trend with benefits. “Overall it’s a very flattering shape for all ages. It tucks the belly in and elongates the legs.”
Within this moving-on-up waistline category comes the somewhat surprising return of the Mom jean. Yep, high waists and not-so-tight on the leg, a number of brands targeted toward younger customers including British fashion retailer Topshop and American Eagle are unabashedly marketing them as just that.
And let’s get this straight: these a-r-e your mother’s jeans, pretty much. Some of us do not remember them fondly. In 2003, a hilarious “Saturday Night Live” bit for Mother’s Day ended with the tagline, “Give her something that says, ‘I’m not a woman anymore. I’m a mom!’ ”
Adam Glassman, creative director of O, The Oprah Magazine, says, “Our eye has shifted and today something about mom jeans looks new and cool.”
Haghani says, “Young women are coming in asking for mom jeans by name.” While the originals featured unflattering, rear end- flattening tailoring, Glassman says modern manufacturers “understand pocket placement and know how to make the tush look lifted.” He is, however, not sure the mom jean is for everyone. “If you’re old enough to have worn mom jeans the first time around, you might want to pass,” he says, although he’s not totally ruling them out.
Not so sure you want to go high? “Try it, you’ll probably like it,” says Haghani. “Whenever somebody puts on a pair of high waist pants they’re so surprised. They look in the mirror and say, ‘I feel so good in these.’ ”
High-rise and cropped with side pockets in brilliant marigold, these pants are a wardrobe updater. $210 at select Free People stores and freepeople.com
Release the houndstooth with these wide-legged cropped pants in pink and black houndstooth check with buckle detailing at the waist. $79.99 by Effie’s Heart at modcloth.com
Add a modern rip to your old school mom jeans. $49.95 at select American Eagle stores and ae.com
GO HIGH AND WIDE
High-waisted, wide-legged pants in bold fuchsia are a major wow. $295 at select Alice and Olivia stores and aliceandolivia.com
The basic mom jean, $39.95 at select American Eagle stores and ae.com
Grommets run up the side of these “momish” jeans. $120 by Free People at freepeople.com
High-waisted flares with a stylish five-button front are equal parts retro and modern. In sizes 14 to 24. They’re $89.50 at eloquii.com
ON THE GRID
Go high style with this fitted through the thighs, flared from the knees, grid-print number. $395 by Derek Lam 10 Crosby at select Neiman Marcus stores and neimanmarcus.com
Strong lines and a high waist give these wide legged, cuffed pants with a self-tie belt a new, impressive look. $295 by Marimekko at us.marimekko.com
Retro mom jeans boast a pretty peony print. $100 by Topshop at topshop.com