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High-waisted jeans are a wardrobe essential that will never lose their fashionable appeal. The best high-waisted jeans, similar to a fresh white T-shirt, glamorous sunglasses or the perfect designer handbag or luxury shoes, are closet staples that everyone needs in their regular outfit rotations. Throughout the decades, various silhouettes have waxed and waned in popularity, rising and diminishing from the fashion scene, but nowadays, a high-waisted fit has remained a constant consumer favorite — with good reason.
A high-waisted jean is defined by a waistline that hits close to or above the navel. It covers the entire stomach for a flattering, smooth looking finish. Rises — the measurement between the crotch seam and waistband — vary from brand to brand, but a high-waisted jean will typically have a rise of over 9 inches. Generally quite comfortable as well, women gravitate towards that tucked in feeling only a high-waisted style can bring.
The high-rise shape has taken on many forms over the years, heavily influencing what styles and designs we see on the market today. During the 1940s, Levi’s created rigid, relaxed fit, high-waisted styles for working women during the war effort. In the 1950s, a slimmer cut, high-waisted jean started to pop-up in many women’s wardrobes. Popularized by the likes of Marilyn Monroe, the jean had a straight fit, but with a little more tailoring. Throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, high-waisted flared jeans and wide-leg jeans became increasingly prevalent in fashion. By the ‘80s, a slimmer leg returned to fashion, in the form of high-waisted stove pipe jeans seen in acid washes, leading to the straight-leg styles of the ‘90s, also known as Mom jeans.
Today, the best high-waisted jeans comes in an array of shapes, styles and washes, allowing women to focus on their specific body shape and style preferences, rather than a passing trend. Thankfully, many companies are also focusing on inclusive fits for all women of different sizes during the design process, from straight to curvy, petite to tall. “So many women struggle with fit when it comes to finding the right pair of jeans, and at Good American we wanted to eliminate those pain points,” Emma Grede, CEO & Co-Founder of Good American, tells WWD. “Our community is a huge part of this — we are continually listening to our customers and gathering feedback from testing to ensure we’re providing the best fit and introducing new innovation to the denim industry.”
Additionally, many brands are working hard to produce signature fabrics and technologies to even better the fits. From Madewell’s Magic Pockets to DL1961’s Instasculpt, brands are centering attention to research and development to stand out from their competitors. “Our high-waisted jeans are made with a gap-proof contoured waistband and sculpting fabric to ensure they are comfortable in your midsection, while also flattering every curve,” Grede mentions. “We also incorporate flat tummy tech into our jeans, since we know women usually are drawn to high waisted denim to accentuate their curves, making them feel sexy and supported, all day long.”
Ready to find your perfect pair? Keep scrolling to get a better look into the different fits and options of the best high-waisted jeans available today.
Top Women’s High-Waisted Jeans for 2022
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Levi’s Premium High Loose Jean
Best High-Waisted Baggy Jeans
- Sizes: 23-33
- Colorways: Available in a variety of washes, including light and medium blue and ecru
Levi’s High Loose Jean is a cool, vintage-inspired style that will give you legs for days. This jean is eco-friendly, made partially from Pajama Denim Cottonized Hemp, which is a supersoft, ultra-comfortable blend of cotton and hemp that requires less water and fewer pesticides to grow. Having also tried this style, I can confirm the softness of the fabric is unreal. The airy, wide leg cut does not hang tight on your legs and body, making it ideal for hot summer days. It is my go-to summer jean. I like to pair mine with a tucked in tee or blouse, and finish off with a cute, statement belt.
Lee High Rise Wide-Leg Crop Jean
Best High-Waisted Wide-Leg Crop Jeans
- Sizes: 25-35
- Colorways: Available in light and medium blue washes
You can trust a heritage denim brand like Lee to know good fits and fabrics. Having been in the denim business for over 125 years, the company’s purposeful design approach and attention to craftsmanship have created brand loyalists for decades. Their wide leg crop jean is an ideal everyday jean for those who wanted to branch out from their classic slim fits. Made from a stretch cotton-polyester blend, these jeans move with you for all-day comfort. One Amazon customer proclaimed, “I am very high waisted, so I love a high rise pant. They cover my tummy and give me a smooth look. I’m tired of tight fitted jeans, so these are great.”
DL1961 Bridget Boot High Rise Instasculpt Jean
Best High-Waisted Boot-Cut Jeans
- Sizes: 23-34
- Colorways: Available in a variety of washes, including black and various blues
For those wondering what exactly a boot cut is, essentially it is a mini flare shape. I have always found DL1961 to make a great boot, and the Bridget stands out due to Instasculpt, the brand’s high-retention elastane technology that smooths, lifts, and conforms to your body through the waist, seat, and thigh without losing shape. Made from certified cotton with 1% Lycra®, the jean is soft and stretchy. DL1961 is also extremely mindful in their production processes, striving to use eco-friendly fibers, conserve water, and use a vertical supply chain, making it a brand you can feel good about investing in.
Paige Flaunt Denim Hourglass Jean
Best High-Waisted White Jeans
- Sizes: 23-34
- Colorways: Available in white, along with a variety of blues
Paige’s Flaunt Denim is a collection that embraces and accentuates a woman’s curves. Designed in response to customer’s requests, they updated the waist-to-hip ratio to embrace fuller hips, while maintaining a slim waist. The Hourglass jean is designed with a comfortable top block that accentuates and flatters the hourglass shape. Cut from super soft denim, if you have been searching for a curvier fit, give this pair a try. We love the white colorway, which can be styled with a full monochrome look top for a chic summer look or a striped tee for a classic feel.
Good American Good ‘90s Jean
Best High-Waisted Jeans for Curvy Women
- Sizes: 00-30
- Colorways: Available in a range of blue denim washes, along with white and black
The ‘90s denim trend has been a regular favorite for off-duty models like Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner. Good American has taken this classic high-rise shape, perfecting the fit for today. Featuring that roomy, comfy yet still sexy feel, this jean is oversized while remaining form-fitting for a flattering look. Inclusivity where sizing is concerned has always been a part of the company’s DNA. “Being fully inclusive has been ingrained into our business model since day one, and we have an extremely talented in-house design team who have years of experience and are experts in fit across all sizing,” Grede tells WWD.
Slvrlake Beatnik High-Rise Slim-Leg Jean
Best Slim-Leg High-Waisted Jeans
- Sizes: 24-32
- Colorways: Available in a variety of washes, including white, gray, black, blue, and distressed denim styles
Slvrlake is a Los Angeles-based denim brand that prides themselves on specializing in the highest quality materials in modern minimalist shapes and are made to last. The Beatnik style features an especially high-waist, with a slim-leg silhouette, meant to flatter and elongate the legs. Crafted from a luxuriously soft pure cotton fabric, these jeans are made to be extremely comfortable. Having personally tried, I can confirm these are a great fitting jean. I like the super hi-rise fit of the waistband and the slim-leg shape is a bit more relaxed than a typical skinny jean. Just brushing the ankles, it goes great with boots for a clean finished look.
Madewell Cali Demi Boot Jean
Best High-Waisted Cropped Boot Jeans
- Sizes: 23-33; plus sizes 14W-28W
- Colorways: Available in a variety of washes, including white, black, and various blue shades
Madewell’s Cali Demi Boot Jean is a personal favorite of mine. It features a cropped mini-flare leg shape that is extremely flattering and works well with every shoe, from sandals and sneakers, to taller boots. The vintage-y stretch material has the appearance of a perfectly worn-in retro pair, but has a touch of stretch for the modern day, making it extremely comfortable. The style features Madewell’s Magic Pockets technology, which is a reinforced pocket meant to hold you in and smooth the figure. One customer raved: “It’s literally so hard to find a good pair of jeans, especially being a plus size woman. They’re so cute and comfy, I get compliments on them all the time! They make every outfit better. I am in love.”
Agolde ‘90s Pinch High-Waist Straight-Leg Jean
Best High-Waisted Straight-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: 23-34
- Colorways: Available in a variety of washes, including white, gray, black, blue, and distressed denim styles as well as recycled leather
Agolde’s ‘90s Pinch Waist Jeans have become a cult favorite in the denim world. A vintage-inspired, easy straight-leg style, this jean sits high on the waist with a close fitting top. Made from a non-stretch, 100% organic cotton, the loose-yet-tailored fit is a crowd pleaser. “These jeans were exactly what I was looking for. They don’t stretch out too quickly and they suck me in at the waist, and have a cute flair at the ankles! I am tall and they are not cropped on me, which is a problem I often have,” one Nordstrom customer states. Personally, I have bought this shape in a variety of washes, because it is just that good.
Frame Le High Flare Jean
Best High-Waisted Flared Jeans
- Sizes: 23-34
- Colorways: Available in a variety of washes, including white, black, and various blues
Frame is a fashion-favorite staple denim brand that no closet should be without. Perhaps some of their best loved styles are their flare jeans. The flare shape starts at the knees, making for a perfect bell that is very flattering. The classic Le High Flare is made from super stretch denim that gives extreme comfort to the customer. Although being super stretchy, the technology does not stretch out with time. The high-waisted shape features a simple button, fly zip design that is not complicated. Available in a wide range of washes, this jean is always in the Frame offerings, season after season.
L’agence Margot Skinny Jean
Best High-Waisted Skinny Jeans
- Sizes: 22-34
- Colorways: Available in a variety of washes, including white, black, blue and seasonal colors
There will always be a place for skinny jeans in any denim lover’s wardrobe, even if Gen-Z does not agree. L’agence’s signature high-rise skinny jean is undoubtedly the best in my opinion. Featuring a contoured waistband, the jean sucks you in at all the right places, for definition and an extremely slimming look. High-recovery fabric holds its shape, smoothing the silhouette without sacrificing comfort. A tapered leg hugs from hip to ankle with ease, and does not look unflattering. The cropped hemline is versatile and can be dressed up or down with heels, flats or boots. Whenever I introduce this jean to a friend, they instantly fall in love with the material and fit.
Rag & Bone Nina High Rise Cigarette Jean
Best High-Waisted Distressed Jeans
- Sizes: 23-32
- Colorways: Medium light blue wash
Rag & Bone has always been designed with the intention to last and be enjoyed by customers for years to come. Their denim is timeless, season-less, and well-made since 2002. The Nina signature straight style features a high-rise silhouette that customers love, as well as some subtle hints of distressing. Rag & Bone has always been able to create distressed pieces in a modern and classic way. Made from 100% cotton, this style will be comfortable no matter what the occasion. Try yours with a clean white sneaker and t-shirt for a long day of weekend errands, or a fitted camisole bodysuit for a night out.
Gap High High Rise Barrel Jean
Best High-Waisted Boyfriend Jeans
- Sizes: 24 – 35 in petite, regular and tall
- Colorways: Available in a range of blue denim washes, along with white, gray and black
Gap has been a consistent authority on denim throughout the years, and at a great price point. Their high rise barrel jeans are the perfect relaxed leg fit. Even with no stretch, the style still is wearable, featuring a roomy, tapered leg, providing that classic boyfriend feel. Made to wear all day and break in over time, their authentic denim gets better with each wear. This jean is also made through their eco-friendly Washwell program, which is a water-saving solution that has saved millions of liters of water since 2016. Offered in both regular, petite and tall fits, along with short, regular, long inseams, there is a match for every body type.
Citizens of Humanity Annina Trouser Jean
Best High-Waisted Trouser Jeans
- Sizes: 22-33
- Colorways: Available in two light blue washes and white
Since 2003, Citizens of Humanity has designed and manufactured in their company-owned facilities in Los Angeles, as well as with select production partners, ensuring that their product is unparalleled in look, fit, and feel. Their wide-leg trouser jeans have always been incredible, and the Annina is no exception. Featuring a mid-weight, non-stretch denim, the fabric has a superior soft hand and lightweight feel. The ultra-relaxed silhouette is just what you want in a wide-leg, and is sophisticated enough for a casual office day. Pair yours with a silky bow blouse and blazer for a refined take.
Everlane Rigid Way-High Jean
Best High-Waisted Rigid Jeans
- Sizes: 23-35
- Colorways: Available in 5 washes, including various blues and black
Rigid, heavier-feeling denim can be hard to find in a modern fit. If you are looking for that vintage quality, but don’t have the time to search eBay or your local thrift stores for the right one, look no further than Everlane. Their Rigid Way-High style is the highest rise jean offered and accentuates your true waist, with a vintage feel that molds to your body over time. Of course with Everlane, you know there are also a few eco-friendly call-outs in regards to the garment. This jean is made with 100% organic cotton in an ever-better factory, with safer chemistry and reduced water use.
Mother The Weekender Fray Jean
Best High-Waisted Cropped Flare Jeans
- Sizes: 23-34
- Colorways: Available in a variety of washes, including white, blue and seasonal colors
Mother’s best-selling high-rise kick flare offers a bit more volume than a cropped boot style. The Weekender Fray features a raw hem for that subtle distressing on the bottom, cut-off just so, to the ideal length. Made from signature stretch denim, the jean will move with you and provide an easy, relaxed feel. Having tested this shape myself, it will be one you don’t want to miss. The super soft fabric is one of my favorites, and the stretch doesn’t wear out and become droopy with multiple wears and washes.
Re/done Ultra High Rise Stove Pipe Jean
Best High-Waisted Stovepipe Jeans
- Sizes: 23-32
- Colorways: Available in a variety of washes, including white, black and blue
Re/done jeans have become a cult classic and an editor favorite since their launch in 2014. The brand began with a concept of upcycling vintage Levi’s into modern fits, extending the life of stagnant stock. Since launch, they have diverted over 145,000 garments from landfills and reconstructed them into coveted luxury collectables. The Ultra High Rise Stove Pipe, their version of a ‘70s inspired jean, debuts a higher rise and cropped inseam. Made from rigid, 100% cotton, the style is fitted through the thigh, with a straight leg down to the ankle, with that essential Re/done worn-in feel.
Good American Good ‘90s Short
Best High-Waisted Cut-Off Shorts
- Sizes: 00-30
- Colorways: Available in a variety of washes, including white, black, blues and neons
Every high-waisted jean lover also needs an equally good hi-rise short. “For summer, a high waisted denim short is a must for me! Our Good ‘90s short is my go-to because like our Good ‘90s jeans, they provide a loose, comfortable fit and are the perfect length,” Grede tells WWD. Just like their longer counterpart, these shorts comfortably hug your waist but feel roomier at the hem, providing maximum comfort. Try pairing yours with a puffed-sleeve blouse and lace-up sandals for a summer-ready outfit.
Universal Standard Carrie High Rise Wide Leg Jean
Best High-Waisted Wide-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: 00-40
- Colorways: Available in black, indigo, and true blue
Universal Standard has built an incredibly inclusive business, focusing on quality basics and modern essentials, the keys to a curated wardrobe. Their Carrie High Rise Wide Leg Jean proves to be a consumer favorite, one mentioning, “These jeans are almost like wearing your favorite PJ bottoms. They’re incredibly comfortable! The denim is soft yet thick and holds its shape. I have a long inseam (34”) and these hit perfectly at the top of my foot. Would absolutely buy another pair.” Featuring deep pockets, durable construction, and hidden stretch, the Carrie is a must-have when you need that wide-leg style that looks professional enough for the office, but can also be worn out on the town for a dinner with friends.
The Different Types of High-Waisted Jeans
- Straight-leg jeans: Popularized in the ‘90s by the Mom jean silhouette, a straight-leg jean hangs down from the hip to ankle in a straight line. Typically made from more rigid, non-stretch fabrics, these styles look best when tucked-in, with a fitted top or crop top for a flattering high-waisted outfit. “I love wearing high waisted denim with a loose straight-leg—like our Good Icon, Good Curve, and Good Vintage — because they accentuate your figure, provide the most comfortable fit, and can take you from the office, to running errands or out to dinner with friends. They are so versatile and make me feel polished, no matter the occasion,” Grede tells us.
- Wide-leg jeans: The most voluminous of the denim silhouettes, a high-waisted wide-leg jean begins with a nip at the natural waist, and completely widens from navel or hip down the entire leg. This silhouette can also be described as a trouser jean, having the same wide-leg shape. Wide-leg jeans are often balanced by something fitted on top, rather than oversized, creating some proportionate play, allowing the slim waistline to show through. If you prefer to wear flats with wide-leg jeans, make sure to have yours hemmed to just graze the floor.
- Skinny jeans: Generally made from a very stretchy denim, skinny jeans are flattering on all body types due to the way they hug a woman’s form and show definition. Generally featuring a cropped hem that hits at the ankle or above, the style can be styled for any occasion from weekend hangs to dinners out. The options are limitless when it comes to shoe choices as well, from summer sandals to high-impact sneakers and everything else in between.
- Flared jeans: Flared jeans are classically fitted on the top and start to widen at the knee, creating a bell shape. They can be made from both stretch and rigid fabrics, and they channel that vintage vibe consumers love. Today’s styles can also be seen with a cropped hem, for a modern take on the iconic jean. When it comes to styling, you can wear a bra or crop top, a bohemian-inspired blouse or even a tunic length top for a retro feel, hitting mid-thigh to still show off the definition of the leg.
High-Waisted Jeans Outfit Ideas: How to Wear High-Waisted Jeans
- Keep things relaxed: The best high-waisted jeans need no bells and whistles. You can pair them with the classics: your favorite t-shirt or tank, a crisp button down, or a crewneck sweatshirt for a relaxed look. Add a retro kick, a great tote bag, and you’re good to go.
- Play with proportions: Depending on the shape of your high-waisted jeans, play with different silhouettes. For instance, if you have a voluminous high-waisted wide leg jean, pair with a fitted top for balance. Alternatively, straight leg jeans pair well with billowy, boho blouses for a great high-waisted outfit.
- Go for a matching set: Look for brands that have a matching denim jacket or denim utility top that can be worn together for a coordinating set. This will make getting dressed very easy when you are looking for things to pair. A simple tee or tank tucked into the waistband, worn underneath the matching topper, will break up the pieces and keep things from looking too monotonous.
- Wear to the office: High-waisted jeans don’t have to be reserved for the weekend. Tailored jeans and wide-leg trouser styles can make a great high-waisted outfit for a day in the office. Make sure to pair the jeans with professional-feeling extras, like a silky button down blouse, fitted blazer and a sensible shoe, for a polished look.
- Dress them up: Don’t be afraid to really elevate your denim. A cool straight leg in a lighter wash that perhaps you would reserve for daytime can be paired with a maximalist blouse with plenty of frills or an over-the-top sequin number. Add a strappy heel to amp up the evening factor, and you will be ready for a night on the town.
Meet the Expert
Emma Grede is the CEO and Co-Founder of Good American, the first fully inclusive fashion brand that celebrates all dimensions of female power. In October 2016, Emma launched Good American with Khloé Kardashian to empower all women to celebrate their bodies with confidence and offer high-quality designs in all sizes. What started as the largest denim launch in history, has evolved into an iconic inclusive fashion line of denim, ready-to-wear, swim, shoes and activewear.
Meet the Author
Kristina Rutkowski is a New York-based freelance writer and editor with a focus on fashion. She was previously the Senior Fashion Market Editor at InStyle, covering all things trends and shopping related. She has also worked in the fashion departments at Self and Glamour. Her bylines have appeared on Vogue.com, TheZoeReport.com, VanityFair.com and InStyle.com. Editing denim throughout her career, she has been able to see, try and research the best jean brands available on the market today.