In recent seasons, you’ve heard lots of hubbub about the return of low-rise. Maybe you were horrified at the thought, haunted by the hip-slung styles of the 000s. Perhaps you felt neutral about the news, possibly even intrigued by the pelvic-level pants worn by the Julia Foxes and Bella Hadids of the world. Regardless of your reaction to the low-rise resurgence, it's now moot according to the summer 2023 trends: Waistlines are rising, settling just above the belly button to yield cinched, slightly retro-inspired silhouettes. But it's essential to note that there's nothing hokey or outdated about summer's high-waisted trend—you won't find mom jeans or Steve Urkel highwaters in this season's edit.
In Pre-Fall 2023, Ferragamo offered high-rise cigarette pants, while Brandon Maxwell offered trendy denim trousers—both bottoms being prime candidates to integrate into your summer work outfit rotation. Leggings got a lift, too, with Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini channeling Sandy from Grease with slim-fitting bottoms that rested north of the model's navel. And this season's edit offers universal appeal, both in look and fit. After all, "the high-waisted silhouette is the most democratic and flattering fit to all body shapes," says NET-A-PORTER's Market Director, Libby Page.
And as Jan-Hendrik Schlottmann, co-founder of CÂLLAS Milano, points out, the silhouette signifying refinement is nothing new. "Throughout history, high-waisted pants have represented elegance and sophistication," he describes. "Marlene Dietrich effortlessly showcased her confidence with high-waisted trousers, and she became the archetype for Old Hollywood glamour. Today, Cate Blanchett's impeccable red carpet appearances embrace high-waisted pants, exuding contemporary grace and her unique sense of style," Schlottmann illustrates. And this summer, don't you want to channel the magic of Blanchett on the red carpet, the pinnacle of poise and empowerment?
Overall, summer 2023's take on high-rise bottoms is sleek, polished, and elevated—literally. Ahead, we rounded up the best high-waisted pants, jeans, shorts, and leggings on the market. Forget about low-rise—set your sights high this summer.
Let's begin with a hard-working pair of high-waisted pants. In particular, Câllas Milano's Anouk Pants, which Schlottmann says "embrace the timeless silhouette, are crafted from luxurious fabric with exceptional design. They are a valuable addition to a wardrobe, drape beautifully, and offer long-lasting quality," he details.
Page also shouts out High Sport's Kick Flare Pant, which have become a stand-out style on NET-A-PORTER. "Our customers want to wear elevated and wearable pieces, and High Sport's pants are a testament to that," she describes. "The perfect fusion of comfort, style, and simplicity is the driving force behind the success of these pants." She adds that shoppers are also turning to Totême, Joseph, The Frankie Shop, and Loulou Studio, "brands that have a reputation for designing the perfect wardrobing items and are a go-to when it comes to separates [and] offer a wide breadth of high-waisted pant options, whether a wide-leg, tapered, cigarette, or pleated front."
Just to set the record straight: High-waisted denim doesn't automatically equate to '80s-era mom jeans. As options like Nili Lotan, Tibi, and Banana Republic's demonstrate, high-rise jeans can feel polished and contemporary through strategic pleating and wide-leg silhouettes. To err on the safe side, though, it's best to forgo an acid wash.
Shorts, of course, are an essential component of summer fashion. If you want a foolproof method of looking polished—even during scorching temperatures when all you know is sweat, sweat, and more sweat—reach for a high-rise silhouette. As Page illustrates, the trusted silhouette streamlines the getting-ready process. "Being able to neatly tuck in what I am wearing day-to-day makes getting ready effortless. The high waist makes it easy to style any of my daily looks back to a t-shirt, tank, or blouse," she describes.