High and Dry


It feels like we’ve been reading about the return of higher-waisted jeans for years now, the periodic article in magazines like Lucky or Nylon article proclaiming the splendid news—and then going on to describe the measly one or two pairs of costly regular-rise jeans that weaseled their way into this season’s low-rise lineup. Nothing much it seems ever comes of this. Low-rise jeans are the inexterminable cockroach of the fashion world.

That said, it’s interesting to note the profusion of loose-fitting tops that have flooded the store racks ever since this low-rise frenzy began: the peasant-top craze a few seasons back; the blousy boho revival of last summer; the dolman-sleeve, waistless tunics from this fall, gathered at the bottom and worn with tapered cigarette jeans—low-rise cigarette jeans, of course. What’s the ideal accompaniment to ultralow, gut-baring denim? Tops that balloon out from chest to hip.

Normal-rise jeans are due for a real return, but the matter is complicated by the fact that no one even remembers what they look like anymore. When we ask store employees for jeans with a higher waist, they recoil in horror, as if dealing with an Ed Grimly worshipper. “How high do you want them? Because these are, like, pretty high . . . ” We have even emerged from the changing stalls, bursting out of a pair of low-riders like a Bratwurst from its casing, only to hear the argument that a higher waist will shorten our torso. Yes, but won’t a lower waist just make our legs look runty? We’re clearly deformed either way, so just give us what we want.

In our opinion, the ideal jeans have a rise between seven and eight inches (still stopping well below the navel) and come in a dark denim rinse—i.e., nothing “weathered,” nothing “distressed,” nothing that looks a bottle of Clorox attacked our thighs. (Whenever we’ve sport this fake-worn fade in the past—the “7 Jeans Special,” we like to call it—we can’t help but feel trapped in an Mariah Carey video, circa “Emotions.” Considering the $100-plus a decent pair of jeans costs these days, not to mention the multitudes of styles companies churn out each year, finding what we want shouldn’t be this difficult.

And yet we have become higher-rise scavengers, jotting down immediately the brand, price, and retail location of every extremely rare pair of regular-rise denim we come across, barraging co-workers with questions about recent coups (How come I can’t see every inch of your thong? Where did you find them? Where? Where?!) We’ve had the most recent success at Built By Wendy, with the Wrangler 47 Vintage Worn Slim Jeans in Vintage Dark. The Built by Wendy employee promised another style should arrive in just a few weeks, but we put a pair of low-rises on layaway, just in case. We won’t believe it ’til we see it.