How to Make the High-Waist Pants Trend Work If You Have a Short Torso

We’ve truly come full circle from the days when scandalously low-rise jeans were all the rage. Women in 2019 live by the motto “Give me high-rise pants or give me death.” We get it: Higher cuts are pretty darn flattering, and they’re excellent at emphasizing your figure, as they draw the eye to the narrowest part of your waist. But for anyone with a short torso, this trendy style runs the risk of making you look like you're using the waistband of your jeans to also support your bust. 

But just because you weren’t graced with a perfectly proportioned frame doesn’t mean you need to pass on wearing high-waist pants. Follow these five tips to bend, mold and tweak the trend so it will work with—not against—your short torso.

The 5 Best Dresses for Ladies with Short Torsos

woman wearing high waist pants and a patterned t shirt
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Find That Goldilocks Pant Leg

Pant legs that are not too tight, not too wide, but somewhere right in the middle are going to offer the most appealing silhouette. A slim-fit pair of pants are great for showing off your stems but make it impossible to fake the appearance of a longer torso. A wide-leg or a flare runs the risk of drowning your bottom half in a pool of fabric. Stick with straight-leg or boyfriend styles when dealing with a higher rise.

Get the look: Blanc Noir sweater ($54); Lucky Brand T-shirt ($40); Rag & Bone pants ($158); Superga sneakers ($65)

woman wearing high waist jeans and a blousy top
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Tuck In A Blousy Top

Tucking lets the pants serve their purpose, which is to draw attention to your waist (or, you know, to create the illusion of an hourglass shape). Women with short torsos should opt for tops with a bit of volume, rather than a super-slim fit. The addition of puffy sleeves will help even out the proportions between your mile-long legs and your petite upper half.

Get the look: Ulla Johnson top ($333); Madewell jeans ($80); MICHAEL Michael Kors heels ($99)

woman wearing red heels and high waist jeans
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Avoid Anything Too Cropped

A peek of ankle is fine, but once you start to show calf, you run the risk of looking like you just pulled your pants up far too high. Stick to longer inseams and leave those cropped jeans for another day.

Get the look: BB Dakota top ($58); Frame jeans ($294); Rebecca Minkoff bag ($120); Naturalizer heels ($110)

woman wearing high waist pants and a brown top
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Pay Close Attention To Exactly How High They Go

Let’s say an 11-inch inseam perfectly hits right at your waist…but is also just a short hike away from swallowing your boobs. A nine-inch inseam will give the same leg-lengthening, middle-defining effect, with the added bonus of elongating your torso a bit, too. Trust us, they’re still going to look as trendy as their super-high-waist cousins, just more proportional.

Get the look: Alexis top ($394); Suboo pants ($241); Cult Gaia bag ($111); Dolce Vita heels ($120)

woman wearing all purple
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Try A Monochrome Approach

Sticking to a single hue (and we truly mean just one, not similar shades of the same color) creates one long, lean line while the high-waist pants work their magic to whittle your middle. The end result? The illusion of a supremely chic jumpsuit and a well-defined waist, with no weird proportions in sight.

Get the look: Nasty Gal blazer ($22) and pants ($30); River Island camisole ($20); Stuart Weitzman boots ($200)

caroline issa wearing high waist pants and a blue blouse
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Opt For Higher Necklines

While V-necks are usually the most flattering neckline for those of us with shorter torsos, that rule does not apply when wearing pants (or even a skirt) that hit at the waist. V-necks elongate your middle by drawing the eye downward, but a high-cut waistband draws the eye up and so your neckline should follow. Crew necks, turtlenecks or even a Meghan Markle-approved boatneck will work with to draw the eye up, up, up and create the illusion of a longer middle.

Get the look: Reiss blazer ($350) and pants ($180); Diane von Furstenberg top ($222); Coach bag ($198); Sam Edelman sandals ($100)



Abby Hepworth is an RRCA-certified running coach who has worked in fashion for over 10 years. Want to know what shoes are in this season? She's got you. Need recommendations on...