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Low-rise jeans

Low-rise jeans, worn by both men and women, are jeans intended to sit low on, or below, the hips. They are also called lowcut jeans, hipsters, hip-huggers and lowriders. Usually they sit at least 8 centimetres (3 inches) lower than the belly button. Low-rise jeans have existed since the 1960s, but regained popularity in the 1990s and 2000s.



The "rise" of a jeans is determined by the distance between the crotch and the waist and is usually around 30 cm (12 inches) on regular pants. In comparison, the average measurement of low-rise jeans is roughly 20 cm (8 inches), with some as little as 7-10 cm (3-4 inches). Several jeans brands also reflect the rise on the zipper, by creating pants with zippers far shorter than regular pants, usually between 5 and 7 cm (2-3 inches), and some manufacturers, such as Dorinha Jeans Wear, even provide 2.5 cm (1 inch) zippers. The latter can also be classified as "ultra low-rise jeans", and the small zipper no longer has its traditional function, but rather becomes a display of fashion: an additional marking of the jeans' low-rise nature.


1960s and 1970s hip-huggers

Hip-huggers, the precursor to low-rise jeans, rose to popularity during the late 1960s, with the ascendance of the hippie counterculture and psychedelic music. Often worn with light-cotton, paisley-printed tops or nehru-collared jackets, bell-bottomed hip-huggers were popularized by rock icons such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Robert Plant. Later, hip-huggers became a staple of popular culture and were incorporated into the disco scene of the 1970s.

During the early 1980s, however, waistlines moved higher as wide, flared, bell-bottoms gradually gave way to designer straight-legged jeans. Throughout the 1980s and into the early 1990s, as more women entered the corporate workforce, the high waist design remained predominant, with commercial designers such as Gloria Vanderbilt and Calvin Klein at the forefront.

1990s and 2000s revival

The fashion of low-rise jeans emerged in 2001, particularly among girls and boys between the age of 14 and 23. Britney Spears is most credited[1][2][3] for bringing the low-rise fashion back into popularity when she started wearing it in 2000. Although its popularity also increased among women and men of other ages, the major focus of advertising is still directed at teenage girls and boys, with typical teen stores selling low-rise jeans in different styles and colors. Most teenage and twenty-something-oriented retail stores that carry jeans (e.g., Guess, American Eagle, Abercrombie & Fitch, Stitches) only or mostly carry low-rise jeans.)

Currently, low-rise jeans are manufactured in many styles, and though tight jeans are usually the most popular, they also exist in loose, baggy, flare and destroyed style. Due to the popularity of low-rise jeans, manufacturers have also begun making low-rise styles of other kinds of pants. In the stores today, there is an immense variety available. Indeed, low-slung jeans, especially tight black styles, have become increasingly popular in the more recent hipster scene.

Low-rise jeans may be worn to display more skin at the waist, torso, and hips. Accordingly, they are sometimes worn in combination with shorter crop tops, giving a glimpse of skin between the jeans and the top, or (more commonly in the summer or in warmer countries) showing their entire midriff including the belly button. Low-rise jeans may also partially reveal the buttocks when the wearer sits down or bends over. In many cases, cleavage becomes visible.[4] When a thong is exposed above a pair of low-rise jeans on the back, it is commonly referred to as a whale tail, due to its somewhat similar shape. When boxer shorts become visible this is known as "sagging". Because underwear was no longer always hidden, more men and women choose their underwear to function with their low-rise jeans.[5][6]

Legal matters

Legislator Derrick Shepherd of the state of Louisiana in the USA made an attempt in 2004 to outlaw the fashion of low-rise jeans, particularly to bring a halt to the display of underwear under the pants, claiming it to be disrespectful and obscene. People spotted with their "whale tail" or "boxers showing" would be fined $500. The bill, HB 1703, was rejected by the Louisiana House of Representatives.

A similar bill was attempted in Hampton Roads, Virginia, USA, charging a $50 fine for anyone deliberately showing their underwear. The bill was rejected in February 2005.

School dress codes sometimes also banned pants of too low a rise, or visible underwear.

Medical concerns

In the Canadian Medical Association Journal 2003, Dr. Malvinder S. Parmar pointed out that wearing tight low-rise jeans may put pressure on a sensory nerve, the lateral cutaneous nerve of thigh, which can cause pain and paresthesia in the nerve's area of distribution. This is known as Meralgia paresthetica and is associated with a tingling or a burning sensation on the lateral aspect of the thigh. The condition was diagnosed in three mildly obese women who had worn low-rise jeans for 6–8 months. The condition resolved itself after they avoided wearing low-rise jeans for 4–6 weeks.

Helpful images

See also


  1. ^ [1] - Jeans Rising
  2. ^ [2]The Gilroy Dispatch - Low-rise Jeans Unflattering to Moms - Thanks a Lot, Britney Spears
  3. ^ [3] - Tampa Bay Fashion Examiner: The denim breakdown.
  4. ^ The Wave Magazine, "Hit List".
  5. ^ Janelle Brown, "Here come the buns",, May 28, 2002.
  6. ^ Jennifer D'Angelo, "Cleavage Fashion Flips Upside Down",, December 5, 2001.

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