How-to Wear High-Waisted Jeans

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Jeans are a wardrobe staple, and a large variety of styles and colors are on today's market. Try a comeback trend by purchasing a pair of high-waisted jeans and styling them into casual or dressy outfits. High-waisted jeans in solid washes and light distressing can be found at fashion retailers and department or denim stores.

Three outfits featuring high-waisted jeans.
Three outfits featuring high-waisted jeans. (Image: Amanda Nguyen)

Tip

  • Many boxy, oversized or crop tops can be paired with almost any high-waisted jean bottom. For wide leg jeans or trousers (wide, skinny or tapered leg), wear tops tucked in and finish with a belt for a flattering silhouette.

High-Waisted Jean Shorts

Fitted Shorts

When wearing fitted high-waisted jean shorts, offset the tight fit of the shorts with a boxier top of any sleeve length at cropped or waist length. If you prefer a more fitted top, try a crop top with a boxy jacket such as a motorcycle-style faux leather jacket or a blazer over it.

Add Dimension

To add dimension to your look with no jacket, tie a button-down flannel shirt around your waist. To de-emphasize the high-waist detail, try a mid-length oversized or slouchy light-knit sweater worn off one shoulder.

Looser-Fitting Shorts

For a looser-fitting short, follow the same guidelines for styling a top with a pair of fitted shorts, or try wearing a fitted one-piece suit underneath. To accentuate your waist more, tuck a fitted or loose top into the shorts and wear a belt.

Tip

    • When trying on high-waisted shorts, pick a pair that will fully cover your backside.
    • Fitted shorts are often cut to a short length, so they're best worn if you have a shorter torso.  In some instances, specialty denim stores may carry shorts fitted to different heights.   
    • To avoid looking frumpy, select looser-fitting shorts that sit above your mid-thighs. Also try shorts that are rolled up, cuffed, or cut off at the hem. 
Three different angles of a boxy top and high-waisted shorts.
Three different angles of a boxy top and high-waisted shorts. (Image: Amanda Nguyen)
Close-up of the boxy top and high-waisted shorts
Close-up of the boxy top and high-waisted shorts (Image: Amanda Nguyen)
Three different angles of a crop top and high-waisted shorts
Three different angles of a crop top and high-waisted shorts (Image: Amanda Nguyen)
Close-up of the crop top and high-waisted shorts
Close-up of the crop top and high-waisted shorts (Image: Amanda Nguyen)

High-Waisted Skinny Jeans

Crop Tops & Camisoles

The same styling guidelines used for the fitted jean shorts can be applied to skinny jeans. Because the jeans have more coverage, style any crop top or a transparent top with a camisole or crop tank underneath. If you don't want to show as much skin, but still want to highlight the high-waisted cut of the jeans, wear a jacket or light knit cardigan with your crop top.

Mixing with Prints & Longer Tops

For solid-wash jeans, try pairing a printed top such as floral, stripes or geometric prints. If you have a top that is longer than your waistline, tuck the front of your top into your jeans. Also try high-low tops in which the front of the top is a higher hem than the back of the top to emphasize the high waist of the jeans.

From Day to Night

Easily take a pair of dark wash jeans from a day to night outfit by wearing boots or flats and changing to heels or wedges. Also try playing around with styling belt bags and printed fanny packs with your jeans.

Tip

  • If your jeans are too long but you don't want to hem them, cuff (roll up) the bottom of the jeans until the hem reaches your ankles and wear flats or boots for a daytime look. When switching to a nighttime look, unroll the cuff of the jeans and let the hem slightly bunch on top of your heels or tuck the bottom of the jeans into ankle boots.

High-waisted skinny jeans styled with a crop top, moto jacket, fanny pack and boots.
High-waisted skinny jeans styled with a crop top, moto jacket, fanny pack and boots. (Image: Amanda Nguyen)
Close-up of the crop top paired with the high-waisted skinny jeans.
Close-up of the crop top paired with the high-waisted skinny jeans. (Image: Amanda Nguyen)
Boxy floral top, trench coat and heels styled with high-waisted skinny jeans.
Boxy floral top, trench coat and heels styled with high-waisted skinny jeans. (Image: Amanda Nguyen)
Close-up view of a top tucked into high-waisted skinny jeans.
Close-up view of a top tucked into high-waisted skinny jeans. (Image: Amanda Nguyen)

High-Waisted Wide-Leg Jeans or Trousers

Tucking in

Because the cut of a wide-leg jean or trousers is very exaggerated, keep the shape of your top simple. Pair any top you have with a pair of jeans or trousers by tucking the entire top into the jeans and finish with a belt if you'd like. If height is not on your side, wear heels or wedges to keep the wide hem of the jeans off the floor.

Accessorize

Style your jeans with small-sized handbags, such as clutches or satchels, or with structured totes. Keep your look effortlessly classic by wearing a crisp button-down shirt (printed or solid-colored). Go for a retro vibe by wearing a floppy hat, round sunglasses or switch out the button-down shirt for a bohemian-style blouse.

Styling Trousers

High-waisted trousers are available in a variety of leg widths, ranging from wide to tapered leg. If you have a more fitted pair of trousers, wear a fitted to flouncy, but not oversized top and tuck into your trousers.

Tank top tucked into high-waisted wide-leg jeans.
Tank top tucked into high-waisted wide-leg jeans. (Image: Amanda Nguyen)
Close-up of tank top tucked into high-waisted wide leg jeans.
Close-up of tank top tucked into high-waisted wide leg jeans. (Image: Amanda Nguyen)
Same button-down shirt and high-waisted wide leg jeans with different accessories.
Same button-down shirt and high-waisted wide leg jeans with different accessories. (Image: Amanda Nguyen)
Close-up look on the accessories paired with the same top and jeans.
Close-up look on the accessories paired with the same top and jeans. (Image: Amanda Nguyen)

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