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How to style wide leg jeans - a guide by unspun (pt. 1)

How do you choose the right waist rise for your wide leg jeans? It's simple kind of. Plus some outfit ideas.

Wide leg pants are in, and jeans are no exception. And if it feels like a throwback, you’re not wrong: drawn from the styles of the hippie era, disco dance floors, and skater culture, wide legs combine a kind of fashion easygoingness with post-pandemic tastes. It’s like the roominess of your sweatpants, without the frumpiness. 🙈

But here’s the thing: if you’re not used to your jeans being easygoing, how do you know what kind of wide leg will look good and complement your figure? Let alone how to make an outfit out of it? It can take a lot of time (and money, and return labels) to find out —if you’re shopping off the rack.

We’re all about making custom-fit jeans that fit you, in a manner that befits you. So let’s talk about how to wear wide legs depending on your body type and some things you might wear with different waist rise heights (part 1), as well as what kind of wide legs to wear depending on your vibe (part 2).

It’s all about the rise

It’s true. The rise is everything. And by that, we mean where on your torso your jeans clasp.

Have you ever put on a pair of jeans that clasped lower than you wanted it to, causing a my-pants-are-about-to-fall-down sensation (🙋), or clasped so high that you felt ridiculous? Both are signs of a questionable waist rise.

This one detail really affects how a pair of jeans feels when you wear it, and how your figure appears to others. It’s like that one guy outside of that bar told me: “You look really… proportional.” Thanks person!

A sense of style, confidence, and proportion: a waist rise communicates a lot, and has a lot to do with how comfortable your jeans are. Our Wide Leg jeans in Organic Mid Vintage with a high waist rise.

Preliminaries: exactly what is a waist rise?

Now, annoyingly, jeans are not like train tracks: there’s no agreed upon “gauge” shared across brands. Hence, there’s no standard meaning for what different waist rises mean —just ask a bunch strangers on the internet. (Contrary to popular belief, this also applies to sizes: if you thought a size indicates a measurement in inches, it might, but it doesn’t have to.) That’s why it’s important to define what we mean when we say “rise” explicitly.

unspun has three waist rise heights. The heights vary across our Masculine and Feminine collections. Since we have more wide leg styles in our Fem collection, we’ll focus on these. (Sorry dudes, figure it out.) These are:

low: a waistband that rests on your hip bones (not at your hips like in the Aughts), clasping beneath your belly button

mid: waistband rests on top of your hips, clasping on or just underneath your belly button

high: waistband rests just beneath your natural waist, clasping above your belly button

Before we go further, you might be thinking, “Well, a ‘mid’ rise always winds up being too high on me, so I should probably order a ‘low.’” Please don’t think that! 😅 We’re able to design a mid waist rise that will clasp at your belly button specifically when you take a 3D body scan on the unspun app. (Becky Stern discusses this a bit more in depth.) So with us, we recommend you choose your waist rise according to what you want, not according to what didn’t work for you in the past.

Choosing the waist rise of your wide leg jeans

We have some tips for you. And, er, you and you and you. Since we make jeans for everybody with any body, we have a lot of tips! Just a reminder, these are for wide legged jeans; slimmer jeans play by different rules.

Mid Rise

While social media feuds rage around high and low rises, the mid waist rise seems oddly absent —save for a hot take or two. But we find it’s confidently popular, accounting for 40% of our Feminine collection sales in the last year or so. And no wonder: in general, a mid rise will work best no matter your body type.

Jeans with wide legs are visually stunning, which also means they’re visually dominant. Wearing a wide leg with a waist rise that’s too high means your jeans risk overshadowing the rest of your outfit, and (counterintuitively) diminishing the length of your midsection. Remember, “proportional.” Mid rises also reliably frame your butt. Pairs well with fully tucked in tank tops, half tucked in t-shirts, button downs, varsity jackets, and vintage windbreakers.

Nothing middling about it: a mid rise strikes that proportional balance, whatever your body type is. Our Wide Leg jeans in Organic Light Vintage with a mid waist rise.

High Rise

A high rise is unique for its ability to communicate height, and is particularly suitable if you have a long torso. Take a look at the high rise flare jeans either of our models wear, neither of whom is that tall. A pair of jeans that clasps near the natural waist doesn’t appear too high when there’s a long way to go from there to the shoulders.

Of course, we can make a high waist rise for someone with pronounced or slight hips. If you have a long torso and pronounced hips, a high rise will accentuate your hips; if you have a long torso and slight hips, a high rise will accentuate your height. Either way, particularly for those with smaller seats, a high rise will help show off your butt by emphasizing the curvature at the small of your back. Pairs well with blouses, fitted long sleeve t-shirts (the Bay Area summer that just was, anyone?), short jackets, and very long coats.

So high you can reach the sky: a high rise can highlight your stature and elevate your spirits. Our Wide Leg in Organic Light Vintage with a high waist rise.

Low Rise

We’ve heard it many times: ladies who are shorter and who have a short torso know that high rise jeans don’t typically work on them. (Urkel comes up in these conversations a lot.) Even a mid rise risks making your torso kind of vanish. So a low rise it is. The advantage here is that a low rise makes your legs look amaze while framing your hips in contrast to your waist (rather than as a continuation of it). That in turn allows for more versatility with the look you’re after, formal or casual.

You can decide not to focus on your waist at all, keeping the emphasis on your hips and booty, or to really draw attention to your abs and waist by wearing a crop top. Or to wear a super long shirt for the nonchalant baggy look. So yeah, the styling options are a little of all over the place here, in the spirit of the ‘90s. Pairs well with crop tops, untucked tall t-shirts, flannels (🤘), ugly Christmas sweaters, and puffy bomber jackets.

As blithe or classy as you want it to be: a low waist rise can say what the occasion calls for. Our Wide Leg jeans in Natural with a low waist rise.

What about choosing what kind of wide leg jeans to wear?

Hey! No worries, we're getting to that in part 2. Although, it's never too early to try answering that question for yourself.

Check out our Feminine collection to browse through our wide leg jeans styles. Now that you have a better sense of which waist rise will flatter your figure / particular part of your physique, you can explore the different rises in our customization options. On each product page, just click the "Customize these options" button (with the 🖊️ edit icon) and toggle between the rises.

And make sure to choose the rise you want! Pretty sure I said that already. But really, we make our waist rises for your body, regardless of the shape of your body. Because you should feel phenomenal being you.

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How do you choose the right waist rise for your wide leg jeans? It's simple kind of. Plus some outfit ideas.

October 31, 2023
Frank Morison
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