Low Rise vs High Rise Jeans

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

I remember ignoring low-waist and high-waist pants simply because I didn’t understand their strengths and weaknesses. If you do this, you’ll be like me, who missed out on a lot of trendy wardrobe outfits.

After years of experimenting with these styles, I’m using my experience to explain features differentiating low rise vs high rise jeans. By the end of this article, you can go straight to clothing stores and try out the right style for you.

Low Rise vs High Rise Jeans General Overview

High-waist and low-waist pants have made a full comeback in recent years. Now that you’re finally giving them a chance, you must first discover the basics about these styles.

Two folded jeans on separate hangers hanging on the wall

Overview of Low Rise Jeans

Low rise jeans generally have a band that sits well below the waist and rests near the top of your hip bones. This style fits snugly at the hips, hanging lower than the usual waistband.

Low-waist pants first gained popularity as “hip-huggers” in the disco scene around the 60s and 70s. It made a comeback in the early 2000s with celebrities like Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and Christina Aguilera showing off their abs in shockingly low-waist jeans, often for streetwear and performance outfits.

Overview of High Rise Jeans

Often viewed as retro, high rise jeans feature a waistband that covers the navel, resting above the natural waist. While it depends on your height, this style cinches the smallest part of the natural waist, just above the belly button.

High-waist pants were previously called “old man pants” because older television personalities used to wear them. Apparently, this is because men’s waistlines rise and fall as they age. A study shows their waistline climbs above the waist when they reach the 40s and goes higher around 55 years old.

Comparing High Rise and Low Rise Pants

Over the years, I’ve seen how low-waist and high-waist pants evolved through trends. Understanding their similar and contrasting features is a good way to determine which style complements you the most.


What makes high and low rise pants similar is that they both can have straight or wide-leg hems. Depending on your preference, you can opt for straight-leg cuts that run straight from the hips to the ankle. Meanwhile, wide-leg hems have a more relaxed fit in the buttocks, thighs, and knees.

Another similarity between the two is that they can also have a skinny or slim fit. Whether you choose regular jeans or khakis, these styles of pants can have low or high waistbands.


High and low-waist jeans mainly differ in the seams and how the band falls on the hips. Knowing how these distinct features affect your body is the key to determining which suits you best.

Front and Back Seam

The seams are among the most crucial components of clothes. The seam performance in garments affects the structure and appearance, especially in pants with distinct and varying levels of waistbands.

  • Low: The band of low-waist jeans sits below the natural waist. This generally results in a 7.5-inch front seam and a 13-inch back seam.
  • High: High rise pants typically have a front seam ranging from nine to 11 inches and a back seam of around 14 inches. This is why the seam tends to be long between the crotch and the waistband.

Fit on the Hips and Waist

Another notable difference between low rise and high rise denim jeans is how they look on a person’s waist and hips.

  • Low: The waistband rests at the hip bone, giving the upper body a more elongated silhouette. It isn’t meant to conform to the natural waist, so it tends to look like the pants are hanging on the waist.
  • High: The band rests at the natural waistline, making the legs appear longer. It emphasizes a nipped-in waist because it reaches higher in the midsection.

Major Distinguishing Factor

The major distinguishing factor between the two is that high rise rests at the natural waistline, whereas low rise falls at the hip bones. High-waist pants can add proportion to longer upper bodies. Meanwhile, low-waist pants could make the upper body appear longer if you have a shorter height.

Two ladies walking on a road one wearing low-rise jeans and the other one wearing high-rise jeans

When to Use Low Rise Jeans

It’s best to use low rise jeans if you need to make your upper body more elongated or you want to flaunt your slim figure. Try this style if you have these attributes.

  • Short torso: The lower waistband can make your upper body look longer and slimmer. For instance, women with athletic body shapes would look good in low-waist jeans or sweatpants.
  • Curvy hips: This style is an excellent choice for flaunting curvy hips. However, you need to make sure it fits snugly to prevent the pants from slipping.
  • Inverted triangle body shape: If you have this body shape, the low band will help define your waist. In effect, you can balance your lower body, narrow hips, and broad shoulders.

When to Use High Rise Jeans

Use high rise jeans or cargo pants if you have a rounder midsection and want to create a more defined waistline. This is the perfect style if you have these body characteristics.

  • Love handles or muffin top: If you’re looking for the best jeans for pear-shaped bodies, this is the best style for tummy control without sacrificing comfort. This also makes a great choice when choosing between mom or dad jeans.
  • Short height: Wearing high-waisted jeans is the secret to making the legs look longer if you have a short height. This style works well for cropped tops and tucked-in shirts.
  • Flat backside: A higher cut can cinch the waist, creating the impression of a slender midriff. This is why high-waist pants are among the best jeans to make the bum look bigger.
A woman sitting wearing an off-shoulder tops and jeans with belt

Which Jeans Rise Better?

High rise jeans are better if you want to create the impression of a longer lower body and a slimmer midsection. On the other hand, low rise denim jeans would be much better if you want to make your upper body look longer by showing your midsection and belly button.

However, this doesn’t mean you must strictly follow the rules. If you feel like trying both of them, weigh in these aspects so you can properly style them.

  • Waistband position: Remember the reference points of how the waistband will fall on your midsection. A high waistband rests on the belly button, whereas a low band stays on the hips.
  • Fit: Comfort should be a top priority when deciding which style is better. A high waistband may feel confining to some people, while a low band may cause others to feel uncomfortable about a potential wardrobe malfunction.
  • Aesthetics: Both low and high rise pants are fairly easy to style once you get the hang of it. Opt for low waist pants if you like wearing crop tops. In contrast, high-waisted pants would be better if you prefer tucked-in tops.

Related Questions

What Is the Best Rise in Jeans?

The best rise on jeans is the one that can give you a flattering fit, and this could either be high or low rise. A high-waist is the best option for a curvy body and a tall height. Meanwhile, low-waist pants are best for an average height and a slimmer figure.

What Are the Disadvantages of Low Rise and High Rise Pants?

Low-waisted jeans could be a disadvantage if you are a bit self-conscious about showing your stomach. The downside of high-waist jeans is that this style can sometimes feel restrictive around the abdomen and waist.

Can I Wear Both High and Low-Waist Pants?

While you may wear both low and high rise pants, consider the rise appropriate for your body type and the occasion or environment. Low-waist pants can look too casual in most situations, whereas high-waist trousers are more versatile.

HONEST review of the CNROS Stretch Skinny Jeans

Final Verdict

When you find the right size and learn how to style them according to your body, you’ll find both high and low rise jeans good additions to your wardrobe. At the end of the day, what’s important is that you feel comfortable and confident in the fit and look.


Allena is the Founder and Editor of The Better Fit, a platform dedicated to empowering women with practical advice on bras and fitness, inspired by her own revelation of the widespread issue of incorrect bra sizing. Her expertise and tips have been recognized by major publications such as Cosmopolitan, Better Homes & Gardens, Insider, and NBC, making her a trusted voice in women's wellness and lifestyle.