What are Low Rise Pants?

R. Kayne

Low rise pants are often called hip-huggers because the waist band hits at or just below the hips. The distance from crotch-to-waist on a pair of pants is known as the rise. Standard pants have a rise of roughly 11 inches (28 cm). Low rise pants reduce this average measurement to about 7 inches (18 cm), with some just 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10 cm) from crotch to waist.

Some low rise pants are made from denim.
Some low rise pants are made from denim.

The 1960s counter-culture brought in the first incarnation of low rise pants, often worn with light-cotton, paisley-printed tops or Nehru-collared jackets. Rock idols like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Robert Plant made low rise bell bottoms synonymous with cool. By the time the late 1970s rolled around, disco was replacing rock n' roll in popular culture and high rise pants were replacing hip-huggers. The wide bell bottoms gradually gave way to straight legged jeans by the 1980s pop scene, with commercial designers like Gloria Vanderbilt and Calvin Klein leading the way.

Low-rise pants are ones that rest on the hips with the waistline falling below the bellybutton.
Low-rise pants are ones that rest on the hips with the waistline falling below the bellybutton.

By the mid-90s, it was time for change once again, and low rise returned with a vengeance, as did the bell bottom. While Vogue magazine reportedly declared the trend over in May 2002, the public has yet to lose its taste for the style. Low rise pants are as popular as ever, usually worn with a cropped or tube top that shows off the midriff. Because of the revealing style, these pants are not flattering to every figure, though that hasn't hurt their ongoing popularity, particularly among teenagers.

Low rise pants can be found in all sizes and styles. Capri low-rise pants are cuffed mid-calf and come in light cottons and khakis, perfect for spring and summer months. Dressier styles can be found in classic woven black, brown or gray fabric with slash pockets and a hook waist band. Casual pants are available in denim, linen, blends and cotton stretch, and can be coordinated with stylish shoes, coats and sashes for fall and winter.

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