These High-Waisted Pants Have the Most Flattering Silhouettes

Not a mom jean or Steve Urkel highwater to be found.

Model wears high-waisted tan pants, black belt, striped button-down shirt, and white tank top and is standing in front of a white building.
(Image credit: NET-A-PORTER)

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 But it's essential to note that there's nothing hokey or outdated about summer's high-waisted trend—you won't find mom jeans or Steve Urkel highwaters in this season's edit.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.

Model wears high-waisted shorts in NET-A-PORTER's HS23 Campaign: Summer in the City

(Image credit: Courtesy of NET-A-PORTER's HS23 Campaign: Summer in the City)

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.

High-Waisted Pants

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."

High-Waisted Jeans

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.

High-Waisted Shorts

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.

High-Waisted Denim Shorts

Whether you reach for distressed Daisy Dukes or Bermuda flares, look for denim shorts with a higher rise this summer. Reformation's shorts balance a retro influence with a fresh feel, while AGOLDE's raw-hem cut-offs demonstrate the art of strategic distressing. An easy high-waisted short outfit idea that works for the office: a front-pleat longline denim pair teamed with a white button-down shirt and your best loafers.

High-Waisted Leggings

Last but not least: leggings. But the below high-waisted pairs aren't necessarily just styles to hit the gym in. Options like Anine Bing and Vince's, when paired with a breezy blouse and pump, prove the put-together potential of the sleek style.

Meet the Fashion Expert

Libby Page
Libby Page

The conduit between Buying & Marketing as Market Director at NET-A-PORTER, Libby Page takes a 360 approach to fashion from product to marketing and beyond.

Jan-Hendrik Schlottmann
Jan-Hendrik Schlottmann

Jan-Hendrik Schlottmann is the Co-Founder of CÂLLAS Milano. He is the former CEO of Derek Lam and SVP of North American Sales for Givaudan.

Emma Childs
Fashion Features Editor

Emma is the fashion features editor at Marie Claire, who writes everything from trend reports to fashion featurettes and long-form profiles. Previously, she was Marie Claire's style editor, writing shopping e-commerce guides, assisting with market for fashion photo shoots, and assigning and editing fashion celebrity news.

Emma also wrote for The Zoe Report, Editorialist, Elite Daily, Bustle, and Mission Magazine. She studied Fashion Studies and New Media at Fordham University Lincoln Center. When she's not writing fashion deep-dives, you'll find her stalking eBay for designer vintage, reading literary fiction on her Kindle, and baking in her tiny NYC kitchen.