An honest take on life and parenthood

Why I Hate Low-Rise Jeans

on January 28, 2014

Recently, Buzzfeed featured a piece called The 17 Worst Things to Ever Happen in Fashion. I scrolled through, sure I would find my nemesis of the past five years: low-rise jeans.

The jeans weren’t there.

Which leads me to wonder: am I alone in despising this fashion trend?

The only people who look good in them are teenage girls between the ages of 17-19 with perfect bodies, and bootylicious people like Beyonce. Which leaves the other 99.9% of the population to wear low-rise jeans whether they want to or not, because there is nothing else in stores.

Beyonce in jeans

Beyonce, perfect as usual

For the record, I am 42, petite, and a normal body type – not overweight, not super-fit. I am not a taut-bodied teen, nor am I Queen Bey (obviously).

I am a mom, which means I do a lot of bending, squatting, and lifting of toys, toddlers, and groceries, often all at the same time. Low-rise jeans leave me feeling exposed, a constant reminder of how unsexy I am.

And I would like to be a sexy mamma jamma. I just don’t know how, when my jeans fall far below my mommy pooch and show off my soft little love handles. Surely there is a better way to be stylish, but I haven’t found it yet.

So I am forced to choose among three options:

1)      Flaunt my assets (regardless of what they look like)

2)      Layer shirts and scour stores for exceptionally long blouses that cover the exposed skin from midriff to hip

3)      Wear high rise jeans from the 90’s that remind everyone of old Mad About You reruns

Let me tell you a story.

Last summer, I took my daughter to the playground. There was a new mother there with her newborn. She bent over to lift her baby out of its stroller, and her ass promptly fell out of her jeans.

I’m not exaggerating.

I saw it all: her purple thong whale tail, her dimpled cheeks, her butt cleavage, her love handles. She revealed more of herself than I ever wanted to see from a complete stranger. I don’t even look at MYSELF in the mirror this way.

The image was burned forever onto my retinas.

Besides thinking, “Oh my god, isn’t she COLD?” (we are in New England, after all), I couldn’t help but be embarrassed for her. She should have been arrested for indecent exposure, yet she was just wearing the current trend, squeezing a post-baby body into clothing that made her look more sad than sexy.

Then I thought to myself, “Ack – is that what I look like too?” In a move that is now second nature, I pulled down the back edge of my shirt to cover my backside, and hightailed it out of the playground.

Here is another story.

Over the past six years, I have periodically gone shopping for jeans.

It all started in 2007, when my friend, Kim, looked at me critically and told me in no uncertain terms that I needed “ass pants.” I was single at the time, and didn’t want to stay that way.

I hauled into Diesel. When the sales clerk brought me jeans that were so low I felt embarrassed to even step out of the dressing room, they reluctantly brought me their highest waisted jeans, making me feel like I had just asked them for Geritol.

I slid the jeans on. The hip gay sales clerk looked approvingly at me from all angles, and assured me that my ass looked great.  They were dark denim, low-rise, skinny-leg jeans. They were expensive. I had to admit that they looked good – as long as I didn’t bend over.

Low rise 3

In 2011, I went to Nordstrom’s. All of the stylish jeans were low-rise. Beaten down by the lack of options, I invested in expensive jeans once again. The clerk assured me I looked foxy. The metal buttons on the back pockets happened to be placed in painful spots so that you can’t sit down for long, but that’s fine, because if you do, both your husband and your toddler will be tempted to stick their fingers down your butt cleavage as they walk past.

I have concluded that it is just best to remain standing at all times.

Low rise 2

A few months ago, a Madewell store opened up in our local mall. I went into browse, and mentioned my frustration with low-rise jeans to a salesgirl. The sweet thing introduced me to their high-rise skinny jeans. I tried on a pair. They were like buttah – soft and comfortable. They even made friends with my belly-button, which had been sad and lonely for years. The jeans were expensive (naturally)! But I figured, hey, I finally found a pair of stylish jeans that are high-rise. Hallelujah! Sold!

I went home. After wearing them for an hour, don’t you know those damn jeans crawled down my hips and left me with a low-rise look?

I can’t win.

So I performed the fashion equivalent of jumping into a DeLorean. I went into my closet and excavated my old pants and jeans.

I am wearing an old pair right now, and I am really comfortable. I may look like Elaine from Seinfeld, but at least no one knows what kind of underwear I have on.

mom jeans

21 responses to “Why I Hate Low-Rise Jeans

  1. jgroeber says:

    Awesome! Now I love my low rise jeans- I can’t stand the feel of a band of fabric on my kangaroo pouch, the remnants of the twins. Thankfully, I don’t have time to sit down either and my kids love the easy access to my cozy love handles. Great writing!


    • Martine says:

      I love high rise jeans. Its been twenty years of the low rise trend. I grew up with low rise. But last year I there away all of my low rise, and most of the “mid rise” which is really just a slightly higher low rise. I think high rise jeans look much, much better. I have never seen the “mom jeans” skit but then I don’t watch Saturday Night Live, and I certainly don’t want their advice on fashion. They can wear low rise all day long if they want to. I have a flat tummy, and I wan to show off my waist. And I don’t want to wear super long shirts. i love the look of a crop top and high rise jeans. Thats all.


  2. Maria Yu says:

    Wendy – I LOVE this blog post! You are such a talented writer and I truly identify with your frustration over expensive low-rise jeans. I am always trying to find a longer shirt to rock and cover my muffin top, as well! I also don’t like that “carpenter’s crack” look and whenver I see someone who is sporting that look, I often think, “I don’t look like that, GULP, do I?” Answer, probably, YES! =)


  3. I love this post. I honestly don’t own a pair of low rise jeans bc my belly is so floppy and I am short so you can see my a-s crack when I do!!


  4. Dana says:

    Hi, I love this post. I will never understand why this fit has been forced upon us! I am 25 so I was pretty young when this fad came around. I’m in pretty good shape but these jeans are just not fully functional pants to me. They’re not realistic for women who actually have to move their bodies at some point during the day. They fit better with a belt but to be honest belts can make an outfit look lame at times. I just bought 3 affordable pairs of jeans from H&M yesterday and they are all low-rise. I thought to myself that maybe it depends on the brand or maybe it’s appropriate sizing but I wore one pair to a gathering yesterday and I was so uncomfortable sitting down and standing up. My underwear showed all night. So, needless to say each pair will be returned and I’ll probably end up spending on one pair of good ol high-rise jeans what I paid for all 3. I think there’s a mix up between the skinny trend and low-rise fit. People want skinny fit jeans but not to have their cracks out. Thanks for the post 🙂 I feel ya!


  5. kelley bonner says:

    Hello, I love your post! Thanks for helping me (and my husband) laugh at my own recent “em-bareassing” wardrobe malfunction. I’m not 100% sure that I treated my husband’s partner to an unintentional view, but just knowing it’s a possibility is bad enough! Despite being aware, it’s still possible to forget to wear that longer top, or to pull down the back of your shirt when bending over. As much as I love the look of my CAbi capri “skinny boy” jeans, they may soon be cremated. With both muffin top and backside issues, I’ve had much better luck with Chico’s jeans in the past. I’m going to give them another chance now that you’ve given me the nerve to go back out in public 🙂


  6. Jo says:

    I hate low-rise ANYTHING; jeans, underwear…they’re sooooo uncomfortable! Nobody, not even fit teenagers or women with large butts should wear them; they have no functional purpose. Also, women with big butts need to hide our butt-cracks; they become super noticeable with those pesky jeans.


    • Thank you – they are just terrible, aren’t they? If they look good on only a tiny percentage of the population, then why are we still clinging to this fashion trend? I am happy I kept some of my old jeans, and finally decided to donate my low rise jeans, even though they were expensive. Not worth feeling angry and exposed every time I wear them!


      • Jo says:

        Growing up, I had this odd conspiracy theory about low rise jeans; that they’re a ploy to make people look fat. After all, when the high and mid rise jeans were in style, there was no such thing as a “muffin-top”. Even when I was very thin and fit, I hated low rise jeans for the reasons I said above.


  7. You are exactly right. High rise pants and bathing suits and shorts are coming back slowly, and I can’t happen fast enough for me.


  8. George says:

    Kudos.Thanks for the author. I previously thought that I was the only person in this world who hates low rise stuff………..I pray to god for the revival of high rise pants and similar clothes


  9. Carol says:

    Thank you for the article. I laughed and laughed. So funny. So true.


  10. Lindsay says:

    Totally agree! I’m 17, thin, but also a little curvy with a bit of an hourglass shape, and I definitely don’t even have anything that would “hang out”, like flab or whatever. Buuut these jeans do not stay on me at all, and for the life of me I’m so intensely sick of wearing uncomfortable jeans!!
    I remember when I was 10, and got my first pair for my birthday. I hated them so much I refused to wear them. Ever since then I haven’t been able to find a good pair of jeans that actually stay on me without looking incredibly slutty.
    I’ve also been practically forced to wear belts that painfully dig into my hips, or else they don’t stay up.
    In spite of the fact that they’re tight in the legs and everywhere else besides my hips… :/
    I’d just really like some jeans that actually fit me.


  11. Richard says:

    This article is awesome! Gonna forward it to my wife. I was googling “low rise jeans stomach ache” and stumbled upon your site. I picked out some jeans for sale that look awesome but I’ve notice my stomach hurts a lot lately. Just today, I wondered if my stomach ache had anything to do with the jeans pressing against it when sitting upright at my desk. I’m not fat, not nearly ripped as I was in high school. No muffins etc (who cares if I did anyway!?) but still these low rise men’s jeans, I don’t find comfortable at all! Granted being a man, I have more options and can always just make sure my next pair are normal waist length/slightly baggy but I still resonated with your article. Additionally I wanted to comment that through the years, I’ve learned from my wife that when women stress over finding what to wear fashionably, it doesn’t always have something to do with impressing their man, but rather it’s that female competitiveness to impress each other! What a cruel world I will never fully understand but can only sympathize to. So to all the moms/women with beautiful stretch marks that gave life to a child or parts and sizes they wish they didn’t have, please try to stop! It’s stressing your husbands/fathers/boyfriends/girlsfriends out because if you could only see how beautiful you look to him no matter what! Wear a cute comfortable flowy maxi dress or whatever it is that YOU “physically” feel comfortable in so that you can practically do your “bending, squatting, and lifting of toys, toddlers, and groceries, often all at the same time”! Husbands (Good husbands) unite and sure encourage your wives to meet their health/fitness goals (not your fantasies) but help your woman shed this vanity culture! And yes men do have a biological attraction to the “ideal” body type but any man with dignity isn’t ruled by his “John” and values the qualities of a women over her physical appearance. Ladies if you succum to trying to seduce a man that way, the kind you attract will only be attracted by the next vanity gal, and the next after that and so forth. My wife is hot in my eyes and I mean that. There are other pretty women but I could care less about them. Love you sweetheart! PS…men…skinny jeans…stop…just stop. I bought those on sale too and they look great and fit great…until I sit down. Why would you want to feel like cardboard!? Function over fashion. That is all. Thanks again for article!


  12. BarryK says:

    As a guy I LOVE high-rise jeans. I have a few mid-rise jeans and pants but I had to scour the earth for them. Until a couple of years ago one of the places I was able to find a lot of high-rise jeans and pants (flat-front) was Value Village. Now most of them are low-rise. I like the narrow bottom style in pants (no not the skinny or ultra-skinny) but reasonably narrow i.e. 11-12 inches. What I did was I still had a few pairs of high-rise Levi’s which I stopped wearing for no particular reason and I had their legs tapered and voila it has worked out well.

    Though if you can find a pair of Levi’s 501 “Shrink-to-fit” they still come in long-rise (at least last I checked) but they are button-fly which is certainly not my favorite so I had the buttons removed and got a zipper put in. They work great!!!

    To me what is shocking is that even most work-pants and work-jeans are low or mid-rise. How can people do physical work in those, esp. if they have a tool-belt.

    I keep checking the internet looking to see if I can find high-rise pants and jeans for men there are a few places but for my pocket they seem pricey.

    To me the worst is when women and men who are overweight or have bellies, they are basically spilling outside their jeans and making possibly the worst fashion statement to say nothing of being a public eyesore hazard. They don’t even have to bend or squat, they are the worst as is. I cannot imagine how these people think that wearing a so-called trendy pair of bottoms is going to make up for everything that is just poring outside their pant waist.

    While I am on this rant, as a guy I think pants and shorts with cargo pockets in particular are one of the WORST fashion trends to emerge.

    I say fashion should follow function, rather than the other way round!!!!


  13. H.C. says:

    I firmly believe this low rise fad is a conspiracy by gay fashion designers to make women look like men. Low rise jeans do nothing to flatter the feminine form and cause nasty muffin top and whale tail. This fad is well past its time to die.


  14. ohso says:

    This fad isn’t dying fast enough for me!


  15. I’m with you 100%. It’s not that I want to deprive others of low rise, if that’s what they want (though I agree that they’re not flattering to the great majority), but I want other choices!

    By the way, I feel the same way about padded bras. I can’t imagine that everyone wants them, but that’s just about all you can find now.


  16. LOL! Great post……….however, you should not feel like Elaine from Seinfeld, or any other misaligned character who bashes jeans that are above the low, mid-rise height. In Europe, jeans and trousers/pants that actually sit on your waist are the norm and flatter the figure so much better than these stupid low-rise-almost-see-pubic-hair-sorry-excuses-for-pants. Sorry to say, but Americans, for the most part, are just slobs – how many t-shirts, pajama bottoms or low-slung jeans and clogs can one tolerate from day-to-day? Yuk. At least give us choice….there seems to be none as the fashion industry, and every other vendor, seems to focus on the young……..b*o*r*i*n*g


  17. You are not alone! I also hate, despise, and detest low-rise pants. I also hate, despise, and detest mid-rise jeans as well. They have been a trend for too long now and should never have been a style in the first place. A woman’s waist is above her belly button. A man’s waist is below his belly button. Low rise seem to be designed for men. I am not a man. I want jeans that fit a woman’s body.


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