From the 1920s-1950s, high waisted trousers (or high rise) were the norm. Just so you know, rise refers to the length of the crotch seam to the top of the pant. These pants sit at the “natural waist” right at your belly button, which is the widest part of your body and the correct place where your body is visually halved. However, they can even be made to be higher.
With your “visual legs” starting higher up on your body, it naturally has the effect of making your legs look long. If you are short or have shorter legs, high waisted trousers can do wonders. As a 5’8 man with some thick thighs, it makes my legs look slimmer and longer! Here’s some examples with true 1930s’-1940’s pieces.
Luckily for us in 2015, people still make high waisted trousers. Menswear has finally moved away from making suits look like skinny jeans and actually crafting them to flatter your body. I mean there’s a reason why women jeans in this style. Ask any girl and you’ll hear how good it makes them look; ass is accentuated and the legs are elongated.
These high-rise pants aren’t met to sit on your hips and sag like your Hot-Topic denim; they sit right near your belly button. Check out some classically styled guys from B&Tailor and The Armoury who take their tailored inspiration from the 1940’s, with high-rise pants and deep pleats. Look at how long it makes their legs look!
Compare these awesome images with modern every-day pants. Most of these sit four inches below the belly button while others can sit right on the hips (low-rise). While it may not be 1940 anymore, it’s definitely not 2003 anymore. Girls don’t even wear low rise anymore! High-waisted pants have taken the world by storm.
Just look at how short my legs look. It also doesn’t go enough to meet the button stance of the jacket. There’s a small gap between the buttoning point of the jacket and where the pants start. This small bit of shirt shouldn’t be seen; there should be a seamless transition from shirt to jacket to pant.
Here’s a gent who should be wearing pants at his navel. It just messes with his body proportions and shows how short his vest is.
You see what I mean? Right now, you’re probably liking the look but you probably don’t have the thousands of dollars to buy those handmade garments. That’s okay, because there’s another way to get them! Just get a pant size longer than what you’re used to, and BAM! High waisted trousers.
For example, I’m typically a 32×30. To achieve a high waist, I get a 32×32. When you compare a 30 and a 32 length, it changes more than just a simple length. Lets say that a 30-length pant has the knee at 15 inches and a 32-length has the knee at 17 inches. This will make the thigh area longer and bigger in the 32 pant, since the proportions are different. The resulting difference will let your pants fit higher on the body. All you need next is to hem the length and you’re good to go!
None of these pants are bespoke; I got all of them mall stores like H&M , GAP, and Banana Republic!
Those brown fleck ones from GAP are my favourite. The flecked pattern really gives it a vintage feel, which is one of my main inspirations behind my style! Its almost 1940s-1950s, which was what the designer (David Hart) had in mind. If your resulting tie is too long (since now you have a high-rise), just tuck it in. When done right, it looks more Italian and less dad. Just remember to wear suspenders with them!
Here’s the main lesson: a lower rise will always have its place with jeans and other casual clothes, but when it comes to chinos, dress trousers, or suit pants, high-rise is the way to go. These pants are meant to drape smoothly and create straight lines through the body. They are meant to sit at your belly button, not four inches below and sag. You should only wear what flatters you, not pants that make your legs look short and throw off your body proportions.
Thanks for reading, and I hope that you guys will try out this old school style with your modern outfits like I have!
Always a pleasure,