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A woman with curly hair demonstrates how to wear low-rise jeans, which are making a comeback

Hear Me Out: These Looks Might Change Your Mind About Low-Rise Jeans

Just give 'em a chance.

by Nashalae Martin
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

They’re baaaaack. Although reaching their peak during the 2000s and becoming the predominant denim trend at the time, low-rise jeans were eventually met with opposition from the masses, who rightfully protested that the style favored those with a thinner figure. Annoyed with the uncomfortable fit and exposed midriff and paranoid of their butt crack peeking out while sitting, people further shoved the style into obscurity. Understandably, when low-rise jeans finally fizzled out, everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief, ready to eschew this nightmare of a trend and openly embrace the high-waisted silhouettes that followed. With the trend becoming so polarizing, no one could’ve seen its renaissance coming in 2021.

Credited with the popularization of low-rise jeans, Alexander McQueen was said to be among the first to have brought the reputed “builders bum,” or pants unknowingly worn too low, mainstream. However, McQueen claimed it was all about elongating the female form, according to PBS. “That part of the body — not so much the buttocks, but the bottom of the spine,” McQueen told The Guardian in a 1996 interview, “that’s the most erotic part of anyone’s body, man or woman.” In his 1996 runway show, “Taxi Driver,” McQueen then premiered his “bumster trousers,” so named because they’re cut so low, they literally reveal the top of your bum. Madonna is one major celebrity who introduced this style to the pop-culture mainstream after wearing a pair of McQueen’s bumster trousers in an ad for MTV.

Continuing to dominate the hip hop, pop, and R&B scenes, low-rise jeans were further popularized by major figures like Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, J.Lo, Rihanna, Destiny’s Child, and Christina Aguilera. As most trends do, the style appeared on red carpets and more runways, eventually trickling down to the mass market.

Now rising from their obsolescence, low-rise jeans and pants are once again taking over the streets, runways, and social media. With the return of Y2K fashion and thrifting leading the shopping industry, low-rise bottoms are coming back with a vengeance, but this time around, they’re being reintroduced in more comfortable styles with a wider variety of cuts and fits. Still, the resurgence of this trend is not great news to everyone, especially considering the horrifying memories they’re associated with. Hopefully, a look at the modern ways to style low-rise jeans and low-rise pants below can change your mind about this “undesirable” trend.

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A Chill But Fashionable Day In Bootcut Low-Rise Jeans

The details you put into an outfit can make or break the entire look. With just a collared top and dark-wash, bootcut jeans, this low-rise look went from ordinary to chic, modernized with a simple knot at the front of the shirt and a silver chain belt on the jeans for extra flair.

A Brunch Moment In A Co-Ord Low-Rise Set

Consisting of just two pieces, this minimalistic look is both comfortable and fashionable. And with suits maintaining a steady spot in fashion’s most popular silhouettes, a pantsuit set feels like an obvious choice. Overall, matching sets are timeless and classic — it’s impossible not to look put-together wearing one. You can drown yourself in mimosas at brunch, and no one would even know your life is falling apart because you just look that good.

A Day Of Drinks In Cut-Out Low-Rise Pants

A look like the one above is more intentionally chill, with a pant silhouette that brings comfortable, effortless style, perfect for day drinks alone or with friends. The hip cutouts transform this dated bottom silhouette into a quintessential 2021 and beyond look. Add in a color-coordinated cropped hoodie to lean into a co-ord look, or, considering the pants are already a statement on their own, ditch the jacket and opt for just the simple top.

A Casual Day Of Errands In Baggy Low-Rise Jeans

Upgraded with pops of orange and a white button-up shirt, this casual look offers comfortability and style, just from a few added details. You don’t need a gorgeous makeup look like this to elevate your mom jeans and cropped shirt. (Although, it certainly doesn’t hurt.) Instead, saddle up with your best IDGAF attitude and walk down the street with your head up high.

A Day In The City In Straight-Leg Low-Rise Pants

Some people argue “less is more” in fashion, while others are unrelenting in their “more is more” philosophy. The truth is, it always depends. In the case of the look above, less is definitely more. This minimal look is wildly stylish with just two pieces — a leather jacket or trench and khaki pants. If I close my eyes, I can picture New York’s most fashionable wearing this exact look on the streets of SoHo.

A Late-Night Out Look In Low-Rise Leather

Ideal for a late night out in the city, this chocolate look is super fun and chic. With a mesh top contrasting the texture of the leather pants, this outfit is simplistic, but lacks no style whatsoever.

A Streetwear Vibe In Low-Rise Boyfriend Jeans

With a few simple, strategic choices — a simple sports bra top, an oversized varsity jacket, a consistent color scheme, waist beads, and a chain on the side of the jeans — these low-rise jeans went from basic to elevated. Evincing impeccable style and taste, a look like this is proof that the devil is always in the details.