We declare the return of low-rise jeans an affront to all

This is a PSA from the Tampa Bay Times newsroom: You don’t have to participate in this trend.
Low-rise jeans and skirts were all the rage in the 2000s. But why are they coming back?
Low-rise jeans and skirts were all the rage in the 2000s. But why are they coming back? [ TOM TINGLE | Associated Press ]
Published Jan. 15, 2020|Updated Jan. 15, 2020

In the 2000s, it was an accomplishment to determine just how low you could wear your jeans before they were, you know, inappropriate.

Low-rise, skinny jeans were the trend du jour, and as a high schooler who desperately just wanted to be like everyone else, I was all too happy to follow along.

It wasn’t until, really, the end of my college years that I realized other types of jeans did exist. And they were miraculous. High-rise jeans! And they didn’t have to be skinny. They could be flared or bootcut or even straight leg with a loose fit.

My high-rise jeans epiphany triggered a realization. For so long, my comfort and my style — what I chose to wear every day — had been dictated by fashion norms. I had never stopped to ask myself if I even liked low-rise skinny jeans. I just wore them because everyone else did.

But now, the ghost of Low-Rise Jeans Past has come back to haunt us all in the form of this headline from New York Magazine’s The Cut: Sorry, but Low-Rise Jeans Are Actually Here.”

They are on Gucci’s Fall 2020 runway, which means it’s only a matter of time before they land in our local department stores.

So we surveyed our newsroom: What does this return mean to you? The answers are entertaining, to say the least.

Michelle Stark, Food and Lifestyle Editor: The year is 2000, the vibe is all my middle school friends steeped in ’60s and ’70s nostalgia. Jeans could not be low enough. Bell bottoms were huge. Dark wash was the only option. Back then, every female pop star seemed contractually required to display at least two feet of torso at all times. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler mocked high-rise jeans in Saturday Night Live’s Mom Jeans sketch in 2003, and we all laughed — our dangerously low waistbands clearly warping our good judgment.

Please, don’t make us go back. With age and wisdom, I can now declare that high-rise jeans are The Only Good Jean. Mid-rise, fine. Boot cut, meh. High-rise jeans are a warm hug, a snug embrace. They work in any wash, any color, any style. They’re there for you when you’ve had too many tacos the night before, accentuating your best features. And you know what? I don’t think we’ve gone far enough. Too many high-rise jeans are not actually high enough, even for those of us in a shorter height range. Let’s lower that in-seam, hike these pants up to our true waists and continue to flourish, keeping low-rise jeans forever in the fashion rearview mirror.

Carolyn Fox, Deputy Editor, Digital and Partnerships: The headlines declaring the return of low-rise jeans are flooding me with embarrassing memories of my undergraduate tenure. It was then that I, a lady who always had too big of a booty to successfully pull off the lack of a rise, squeezed my curves into a pair of American Eagle low-rise jeans — only to be regularly teased by my guy friends for how much crack showed every time I dropped it low. I will never go back. And I want to tell every 19-year-old woman out there you can buck this trend, stay comfortable and crack-free, and still look hot in those jeans.

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Sara DiNatale, Retail, Tourism and Workplace Culture Reporter: A forecast: If low-rise jeans come back, they’re not going to be the kind of tiny Paris Hilton jeans we remember from the early 2000s. They’d be baggier, or honestly high-rise style just worn low, which is what Gucci was showing. I could see sort of the sagging pants circling back around. (Remember that guy from American Idol who sang “Pants on the ground, pants on the ground, lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground?" He knew what was up.)

My take: Low-rise jeans are not flattering for most body types. I think the reason high-rise denim and pants came back so strong is because they gave us our waist definition back! And I am not giving that up without a fight.

Allison Graves, Digital Producer: Low-rise jeans — I hate them so

They increase your chance of camel toe

Low-rise jeans should stay in the past

I don’t want to see your ass

Low-rise jeans must go!

Stephanie Hayes, Deputy Editor, Features: This is an allegory for our factious political times. It always has to be all or nothing. A 10-inch zipper or a 1-inch zipper! A uterine swaddle or a Band-Aid! Whatever happened to the sensible and attractive mid-rise jean, one that hit you somewhere between the armpit and the kneecap? Seeing two sides of a denim debate will only get you canceled in the halls of a tragic Old Navy that smells like the neighboring gyro restaurant, so why bother? This is why I switched to caftans.

Kathryn Varn, Pinellas Sheriff, Clearwater Police, St. Petersburg Police Reporter: I hate them so much. They’re uncomfortable and not at all flattering, for me at least. They create this sort of muffin-top effect and dig into the widest parts of me — my stomach and hips. If other people like them and feel good in them, that’s great, and I’m glad this option is becoming available to them, as fashion trends have pretty much stuck in the mid- and high-rise range for the last few years. But I am happy to leave them behind in my middle school wardrobe, along with gauchos and Hollister logo T-shirts.

Graham Brink, Business Columnist: The models photographed for the story all look so sad. That’s what happens when you wear low-rise jeans. They take away your will to live.

Ellen Clarke, Deputy Editor, Print: There is no earthly reason to expose the world to accidental bum crack again. None. What’s next, lower back tats coming back to style, too? This just takes me back to every unfortunate college style crisis I survived!

Colette Bancroft, Book Editor: I wore low-rise jeans during what I think was their first iteration in the late 1960s, when I was a skinny teenager. (The standard was a 3-inch zipper.) If you are not a skinny teenager, low-rise jeans will not look good on you. If you are a skinny teenager, why do you want to wear what your grandma wore in high school?

Martin Frobisher, Digital Designer: I’m wearing my jeans up around my armpits from now on.

Kirby Wilson, Clearwater and North Pinellas Reporter: What are low-rise jeans?

What do you think? Readers, we want to hear from you. Have a low-rise hot take you want to share? Love them or hate them? Write Elizabeth Djinis at or @djinisinabottle on Twitter.