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!

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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

© 2018 A Model Recommends®: all opinions are my own and any sponsored or paid posts will always be clearly marked as an AD in the title. I accept press samples and receive product and services to review as part of my job. *Outbound links are affiliate links, which means that I receive a very small percentage of any sale made. This does not affect my content in any way and does not cost you anything, but you are most welcome to Google the products on a new page if you prefer. Please see here for full "about" section and disclaimer. A Model Recommends and Ruth Crilly are registered trademarks.



  1. Lily
    August 9, 2013 / 7:09 am

    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!

    • RuthCrilly
      August 9, 2013 / 11:26 am

      Aha!! Hold on, let me tell Isabell above you – she’s looking for good high street ones! x

  2. Isabell Jankowski
    August 9, 2013 / 7:37 am

    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?

    • RuthCrilly
      August 9, 2013 / 11:25 am

      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

    • RuthCrilly
      August 9, 2013 / 11:26 am

      See Lily’s comment below! x

  3. kate
    August 9, 2013 / 7:56 am

    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

    • RuthCrilly
      August 9, 2013 / 11:23 am

      YES! We are the same height! You should email your photos to some agencies – just natural, don’t need to be professionally taken. xx

      • kate
        August 12, 2013 / 12:05 am

        thank you, Sweetie !

  4. August 9, 2013 / 9:12 am

    Totally perf as always

    • RuthCrilly
      August 9, 2013 / 11:24 am

      Why thank you!! x

  5. Vee
    August 9, 2013 / 9:34 am

    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!

    • RuthCrilly
      August 9, 2013 / 11:23 am


  6. CF
    August 9, 2013 / 10:54 am

    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.

    • RuthCrilly
      August 9, 2013 / 11:24 am

      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
    August 9, 2013 / 10:58 am

    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.

    • RuthCrilly
      August 9, 2013 / 11:23 am

      Yes, I think that a little belt could also work well! x

  8. August 9, 2013 / 10:59 am

    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?

    • RuthCrilly
      August 9, 2013 / 11:23 am

      Hip tire! Hahaha. I get that after too much wine. ; )

  9. chockycakes51
    August 9, 2013 / 11:36 am

    They really suit you…:-)

    August 9, 2013 / 11:37 am

    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

  11. theseventhsphinx
    August 9, 2013 / 11:47 am

    I think a pair of cute brogues would be great with them, too!

  12. Guest
    August 9, 2013 / 1:14 pm

    Hi Ruth,
    Thanks for the useful suggestions. Currently traveling a lot so good to know which items I could combine.
    On another note, have you had a chance to check out the Issa collection at Banana Republic? Online is all sold out but I was at the Westfield Mall in Shepherd’s Bush yesterday evening and they still had plenty of items.
    XX from Oxford

  13. Lorelai van D.
    August 9, 2013 / 1:21 pm

    Hi Ruth,
    Thanks for the useful suggestions. Currently traveling a lot so good to know which items I could combine.
    On another note, have you had a chance to check out the Issa collection at Banana Republic? Online is all sold out but I was at the Westfield Mall in Shepherd’s Bush yesterday evening and they still had plenty of items.
    XX from Oxford
    p.s good luck on your thesis, currently writing my own!

  14. charleydx
    August 9, 2013 / 3:31 pm

    youre beautiful !

  15. Gee.
    August 9, 2013 / 6:30 pm

    I love almost everything you post about.
    But these jeans? Nah. Not on you, sorry…and in my opinion you could wear a paper bag and look lovely.

  16. productjunky
    August 9, 2013 / 7:24 pm

    I love me some high-waisted jeans…and pretty much any other high-waist skirt or pant, I have a long torso and short legs so these are perf for me!

  17. Cris Rajic
    August 9, 2013 / 8:51 pm

    You look great in those jeans Ruth!♥♥

  18. Miggs
    August 10, 2013 / 12:04 pm

    I associate high-waisted style with two things: camel toe and Mom-jeans. I’ve seen lots of gals pull it off beautifully, but others…

  19. Rani Gandesha
    August 10, 2013 / 3:28 pm

    Hi Ruth,
    I really want to look into modelling, I am not yet 15, any tips?:)

  20. Renia
    August 18, 2013 / 8:53 pm

    Great look Ruth!

  21. Martine
    October 18, 2013 / 5:33 pm

    All I ever wear now are high rise pants and jeans. I just can’t stand having to yank up low rise ones any more. Besides, low rise jeans just cut a person off at the widest point, and make your butt look like a wide rectangle. I actually threw ALL of my low rise anything out this year. I just don’t find them comfortable or attractive.

  22. Martine
    October 18, 2013 / 5:36 pm

    What do you mean? Are you trying to pull up lower waisted pants or something?

  23. Quizeth Fronteras
    November 2, 2013 / 12:39 pm

    Hi beautiful! I really love high waisted pants and i just got myself one. And my problem is, its super thick and I’m just 5’0. I really look shorter than i usually height. Pls help me on this. Will really appreciate your feedback! Thank you so much!

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