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How to Wear: High-Waisted Jeans

ruth crilly model blogger

I’ve always loved the look of high-waisted jeans but never been too sure how, exactly, to wear them. They’re quite retro, I suppose, and very “body con” in that they draw attention to little waists and curvy hips. I’m a bit of a scaredy cat about trying things that are out of my sartorial comfort zone but I had a nudge from “Jean Queen” Donna Ida Thornton, who gave me a few tips on how to make her Ivy skinny high-waist jeans look great.

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Donna says, ‘Anyone can wear a high-waist, just pay attention to the leg shape and fabrication. Boyish figures can wear thicker, more traditional denim whereas curvy girls work better with stretch so the fabric complements their curves. Skinny jeans are the go-to jeans of the moment; they’re so versatile and hardwearing.’  And for those who don’t feel comfortable in skinnies? Donna says, ‘If they’re not for you, don’t panic – there are plenty of other options.’ (A quick browse on the internet showed a few quite interesting examples – I’ve seen flared high-waists, jeans with a more relaxed leg and even a high-waist with cigarette leg.)

And so once we’ve found our perfect waist/leg jean combination, what then? Well, I think that high heels are pretty necessary!  Donna agrees: ‘For a high-waisted jean, a heel works best for me. If you’re constantly on the go then make sure you have a pair of shoes you can run around in.’  Wise words. I popped some ballet pumps on with my high-waisted jeans to see how they felt and I have to say that it’s quite a cute little ensemble – not the easiest look to pull off, unless you have legs like Gisele, but cute all the same!

ruth crilly fashion model

My favourite thing about the high-waisted jeans is the fact that I finally have something to wear with all of those sweaters and tops that are just a little too cropped to wear with normal rise jeans. The kind of tops that leave a few inches of flesh on show at just the area most of us want to keep under wraps! The high waist cinches the body in at its narrowest point and creates a really feminine shape. The high-waist also don’t cut off midway through the widest, fleshy part of the hips (looking at you, regular jeans!) and so there’s none of that dreaded muffin top.

So, which gorgeous sweaters and tops to choose? ‘Blouses and fine cashmere jumpers can be tucked in and belted to create a cinched-in hourglass figure,’ says Donna. ‘Curvy girls should try printed silk tops inspired by Marilyn Monroe to celebrate their curves.’ (The grey and white one I’m wearing here is by Joie, see below.) ‘For a more boyish figure, think Alexa Chung and wear a androgynous two pocket shirt instead.’ (I have a few from Equipment that are perfect for this – very expensive, but utterly brilliant in terms of quality and cut. I have to be honest; because I have quite ample boobs, I like to unbutton mine a few – I look very matronly with my shirt done up to the top, as is the current style. But if you’re a little more on the athletic side, it looks very stylish indeed!)

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What do you think? Would you wear a high waist? I think that they have a definite advantage in that they create such a great, curvy silhouette but they do take a bit of getting used to. I’m so accustomed to seeing myself with certain proportions – it’s quite strange when you start elongating legs and shortening bodies! A very easy and quick way to change your entire look, though – and definitely one for those who love vintage and retro styles. Let me know your thoughts, please, in the comments below!

I am wearing IDA Ivy jeans in Deep Sea (size 27) – £150 here. The grey cashmere sweater is also by IDA, here and the printed white and grey blouse is by Joie, here. White shoes are Topshop and the ballet pumps are from Office here.

You can ask Donna Ida any questions you like about denim and how to style it – I do! She’s probably quite sick of me, really. When I went in to choose jeans last time, I procrastinated for about three hours…. Find Donna Ida Denim on Twitter here.

I shall leave you with that gorgeous Joie blouse again, this time with Ivy jeans and my nude Idina pumps from LK Bennett. Oh, and some cat who crept in because he can’t BEAR it if he’s not in the picture!

british shorthair and model Ruth Crilly


  1. I’m really really long-waisted, so finding high waisted jeans (I wear the ones from Next) has revolutionised how I get dressed in the morning – I can now wear normal t-shirts!

  2. Isabell Jankowski

    I also love high waisted skinny jeans! I’m really short with a boyish figure and if I combine the jeans with a blouse just like you did, it looks like I actually have curves and a normal sized body. It’s magic. But I’m still struggling to find decent quality, dark washed high waisted jeans on the high street, do you have any suggestions maybe?

    • Always worth checking out Topshop – just bought some Leigh skinnies and they are wonderfully soft.. But as a rule I tend to invest quite a lot in my denim, as I wear it so much! So not much help there I’m afraid… Let me know what you find – check out Topshop anyway! x

    • See Lily’s comment below! x

  3. Dear Ruth,
    I have one question for you – I wanna be a model, but I’m only 5’7 and a half. I also have a diastema between my front teeth, just like you. What do you think ? Should I try this?
    kisses from Poland

  4. Totally perf as always

  5. LOL at Mr Bear! Tell me he hasn’t secretly been taking tips from Tyra Banks on how to do a fierce look. Smize darling, that’s right!

  6. Very very interesting. I find high waisted skinnies both hard to pull off and uncomfortable. I know exactly what you mean about those tops that are a little too cropped. Like, pretty much every top on the high street! What is up with that? And yet, even with these slightly too cropped tops I still can’t manage to pull off my gorgeous high waisted J Brands. Due to comfort purposes (think camel toe), I’ve pretty much given up and will stick with skinnies that sit on my hips.

    • Hahahahaha!!!!! Yes, there is the Camel Toe issue. Especially with the high-waisters that aren’t quite high enough and you keep trying to pull them up! x

  7. Susan Joy Schaefer

    I am one of your more “mature” (ahem) readers, so high waisted jeans take me back to the 80s a little too much. I am afraid of them looking too much like “mom jeans”, but the styling tips you mention here really help to avoid that.

  8. I have a pair of on the waist bootcuts from Long Tall Sally (I’m 5’9″ so proportion is a problem for me) that I love but which might be called high waist. Regardless, your right about them being more forgiving. No muffin top and no “hip tire” as I call it. That bulge you can get right on each hip. Or is it just me when I’ve been eating too much junk?

  9. They really suit you…:-)

  10. I do love my high waisted skinnies, they’re like a denim version of Spanx. They keep my post natal jelly belly well hidden.

    And now I’m popping to Joie to take a look at your blouse, may have to get myself one of those.

    T x

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