In defense of high waists

by Ruby Brunton

“What’s wrong with my outfit?” I asked my colleague, who had been giving me nasty up and down looks.
“Well, for a start, your pants are at least 5 cm too high.”
“Too high for what?” I asked, shocked.
Too high.
My gripe about pants is usually that the rise is far too low (if the fly doesn’t clear the belly button at least they are not high-waisted in my eyes).
I wear everything high, skirts, shorts, bikinis, jeans… I find it more elegant, more flattering, no that’s not the reason. I think of high waists as timeless.
I love the look of dresses cinched at the waist, cropped jackets, skirts that nip in and then fall in folds.
Ever since I saw a book of black and white photographs of Marlene Dietrich posing in her man-style suit and suspenders, I got rid of my jeans with the cut off waistbands and made the switch. It is nowadays mercifully easy to find high-waisted bottoms, except for trousers – it’s hard to find just the right shape.
I figure a cut that has been around for women since the late 19th century (except for a brief and ill-advised hiatus in the late-90s) must be pretty much foolproof, so it never ceases to amaze me how hard it is to find a pair of trousers with an enticingly long zip. I was over the moon to find these Dress Up pants – super high rise, pleated at the front, tapered and slightly cropped – the ones my colleague was so rude about.
He must have been mistaken when he made the above comment. Surely what he meant to say was,
“Your pants are just the right height. The shape balances a ladylike silhouette with plenty of androgynous charm. You look partly 1940s war heroine, partly gamine, partly 90s R’n’B chic. You clever thing you’ll never have to worry about exposing your underwear to the world, your tramp stamp will never be on display, and you won’t have to worry your neatly tucked in shirt is poking out at the back. Praise the day high waists made a comeback!”

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