Men’s High-Waisted Trousers

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

This is how it's done.

This is how it’s done.

I recently went to see The Great Gatsby (2013) and the thing that bothered me more than the horribly anachronistic female costuming and the inflatable zebras were the men’s pants. They were obviously out of place – poorly tailored stove pipes that wrinkled/puddled around the ankles and calves, much in the way that a pair of skinny jeans would on a hipster. David Lochner tells me they used Brooks Brothers’ Milano Fit Trouser, their “slimmest fitting trouser with a lower rise and a plain front.” Something about this description seems like the antithesis of 1920′s menswear. That the film would sacrifice historical accuracy for a modern marketing opportunity is no surprise, but it got me thinking about high waist pants. Is this really the best they can do? When I search for high waist pants, what are retailers offering these days?

The pre-qual to these questions is how we got out of the fashion of wearing high waisted pants in the first place. Whenever I wear modern pants while I am dancing, they slowly inch their way downward or pull unnecessarily on my legs when I wear a belt. Doesn’t it make sense that our bottom garments would be better served by being secured at the narrowest point on our body? As someone with an extremely short inseam, why would I want to make my legs look shorter?

So many questions…in my initial search online for men’s high waist pants I found this great article by Cator Sparks for the Huffington Post called “Rise Up, Men, to the Glorious High-Waisted Pant!” which seemed to address several questions:

Quoting Nick Wooster of Bergdorf Goodman, “men have become so comfortable with low rise that it’s like bringing back the pleated pant; it took years to get men out of them and now we are showing men how good they can look in them. He sighed, “Men are creatures of repetition and when they get conditioned to like something it takes a very long time to change that.”

Quoting Robert Bryan, stylist, “Nothing looks worse than a long torso with short legs, a look created by pants that rise only to the hips, or these days, considerably lower,” he demurred. “Furthermore, it seems only natural that trousers should rise at least to the natural waist where they can rest for support on the hips and drape from there,”

In closing, “So, men, it is up to you daredevils that want to look tall, erect and sophisticated to bring back this iconic staple to our wardrobes.”

Support and drape sounds beautiful and practical for dancing…so where do we find these high-waisted pants?

There should be a website devoted to hot men in high-waisted pants.

There should be a website devoted to hot men in high-waisted pants.

Well, a lower rise appears to have overtaken all modern retailers – I asked two of my favorite male sartorialists, Bobby White and the aforementioned Mr. Lochner, about where they find high-waisted trousers with modern retailers and it is just as I feared: nowhere. Sure, you can find waists that are higher in comparison to low-rise pants, but not pairs, for example, like the ones Marlon Brando is sporting in the photo to the left. Mr. Lochner added, “Even the old men’s section at Macy’s lowered the rise.” Your options are to order something made for you, seek vintage sources, or spend countless hours searching for that one elusive pair in a shop and buy every pair they have in your size.

There are some online custom trouser purveyors: Revamp Vintage has several reproduction options, like their 1920′s Elliot trousers and their 1930′s Felix trousers.

I found a nice selection of high waisted 1950′s pants at the Rusty Zipper, including some sweet looking Army slacks.

Levi's 517

Levi’s 517

A Google search of “men’s high waisted pants” revealed a few, perhaps, not-quite-so-high-but-higher-than-low-rise options:

Cator Sparks says he picked up a pair of Levi’s 517′s, which he says are the pants the cowboys wear. Aside from describing the seemingly endless zipper, I love that Mr. Sparks talks about how he hasn’t felt this comfortable in a pair of pants since he bought a pair of custom made tuxedo pants.

Emporio Armani has this pair, but they don’t look particularly high-waisted to me, rather somewhere just above a low rise.

Dickies, classic purveyors of work-wear, offers this trouser – added bonus: hidden expandable waist and extra pocket on the leg.

And there you have it – with the passing of generations that wore high-waisted pants and the wearing-down of the waistline, so to speak, to more low-rise trousers being en vogue in subsequent generations, we have run out of a resource. If you have resources for high-waisted pants, please feel free to share them here in the comments section below. I know others will thank you for it!

**********

Note: I have heard protests from “larger” gentleman about high-waisted pants not being a fathomable or flattering option for them. There is a great discussion at the Fedora Lounge on this topic. I would also recommend that you find Austin, TX dancer Victor Celania and pick his brain about this topic.

Also: Some more thoughts on the benefits of high-waisted trousers.

And this: On getting the right fit with high-waisted trousers.

Silliness: This pair from Wal-Mart.

About these ads

10 responses to “Men’s High-Waisted Trousers

  1. I just bought a pair of Levi’s jeans. I was so happy to finally find truly high-waisted jeans and they fit like a glove. I will definitely be back for more!

  2. Heyday also do reproduction-vintage (1940s-50s) men’s trousers which have a higher waist (and several styles are on sale at the moment!) http://www.heydayonline.co.uk/default/mens-clothing

  3. I think the biggest aversion men have to high-waisted pants (whether they realise it or not) is that while it does make your legs look longer, it comes at the cost of making your upper body look short and squat. Look at athletics/bodybuilding, in ancient times the legs were talked about all the time, but now it’s the upper torso and arms.

  4. Freddies of Pinewood do amazing high wasted 40s Jeans! Took me a while to get used to getting stuff out of my pockets cause they are soo high. love em! :)

  5. Freddies of Pinewood 40s Jeans for men! Amazing!

  6. If you don’t mind an English style, there are several British makers doing high-waisted trousers, including Old Town Clothing and Darcy Clothing. I’ve bought shirts and trousers from Darcy and am very satisfied.

  7. If you don’t mind an English style, there are several British makers doing high-waisted trousers, including Old Town Clothing and Darcy Clothing. I have bought shirts and trousers from Darcy and am very satisfied.

  8. Those Dickies are remarkably close to the venerable model 874, which has been Dickies’ “flagship model” for the longest time. The 874′s, according to the site, sit even higher, but don’t have that hidden pocket in the leg. Most notably, my father, a farmer, has worn 874′s as his work pant 6 1/2 days a week for the past 25 years. Where’s a farmer without his jeans, you ask? These are actually better–the color doesn’t fade as quickly as jeans, they don’t get anywhere as heavy when wet, and on 90-degree summer days, they breathe better than denim. Turns out that in order to get modern jeans heavy enough to stand up to actual work, they have to be 1/2 an inch thick and weigh 10 pounds.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s