The 12 Best High-Waisted Jeans of 2023

Our top pick is the Abercrombie & Fitch Ultra High Rise 90s Straight Jean, a size-inclusive style that comes in 30+ washes.

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High-Waisted Jeans

Real Simple / Brian Kopinski

While some denim trends come and go, high-waisted jeans remain a wardrobe staple. They’re an extremely versatile and flattering style that can be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion. Plus, high-waisted jeans are available in a range of silhouettes, from skinny to wide-leg and everything in between. 

To find the best high-waisted jeans, we considered factors like style, material quality, size inclusivity, and price. We also spoke to two denim experts: Claire Guite, associate designer for Jen7 by 7 For All Mankind, and Holly Shapiro, creative director at Splendid, for tips on what to look for in high-waisted jeans.

“Finding the right rise really depends on your torso length,” says Guite. “If you have a shorter torso, I would suggest a rise (including waistband) around 10.5 inches, and if you have a longer torso look for around 11.5 inches.”

Best Overall High-Waisted Jeans

Abercrombie & Fitch Ultra High Rise 90s Straight Jean

Abercrombie & Fitch Ultra High Rise 90s Straight Jean

Abercrombie & Fitch 

Who it’s for: People who want versatile jeans that come in plenty of washes and sizes.

Who it isn’t for: People looking for super wide-legged jeans.

We chose the Abercrombie & Fitch Ultra High Rise 90s Straight Jean as our top pick for the inclusive size range and the huge array of wash options. These jeans come in more than 30 washes, and although they’re all the same cut, they have slight differences in styles. For example, a couple of the washes have crisscrossed waistbands (this makes the overall fit slightly less high-waisted compared to the traditional waistbands of this cut, but not by much), while some have ripped or distressed details. We also love the versatility of these straight jeans—not super baggy, and not skinny. It’s a happy medium, and straight-cut jeans prove their longevity when it comes to denim trends. 

In terms of inseam options, these jeans are available in extra short, short, regular, long, and extra long—so whether you’re petite or tall, there’s a length here that will work for you. We also love the details that make these jeans feel worn-in, like the slightly frayed hems for a vintage vibe. Overall, these high-waisted jeans are very versatile and can easily be dressed up or down.  

Price at time of publish: $89

Size Range: 23–37 (000–24) | Material: 99% cotton, 1% elastane | Rise: Not listed | Inseam: 26.5, 28.5, 30.5, 32.5, and 34.5 inches

Best Budget High-Waisted Jeans

Old Navy High-Waisted Wow Slim Straight Jeans

Old Navy High-Waisted Wow Slim Straight Jeans for Women

Old Navy

Who it’s for: People looking for comfortable high-waisted jeans at an affordable price.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a variety of washes to choose from.

These Old Navy jeans have a budget-friendly price tag and are made with just enough stretch to feel comfortable and unrestrictive for all-day wear. The cut is basically what would be associated with skinny jeans, but it’s technically a straight cut because the jeans don’t taper at the ankle.  They are slim cut though, so they hug the body until they get to the ankle instead of having some room in the leg (like the ‘90s style of the Abercrombie & Fitch jeans). They also have inclusive sizing ranging from 0–30. Even though there’s only one wash option, we think it’s a perfect color for everyday wear. That said, if you want much darker or lighter denim, this may not be the right pair of jeans for you. 

It’s also important to note that these are made as part of Old Navy’s Washwell Program, which means these jeans were produced using methods that use 20 percent less water than usual. Plus, the jeans have pockets that lay very smooth so that the inside pouches of your pockets don’t bunch up.

Price at time of publish: $35

Size Range: 0–30 regular; 2–18 petite, 4–18 tall | Material: 62% cotton, 30% polyester, 7% recycled cotton, 1% spandex | Rise: Not listed | Inseam: 28.5, 30, and 33 inches

Best High-Waisted Mom Jeans

Levi's 501 Original Fit Jeans

Levi's 501 Original Fit Jeans


Who it’s for: People who want a classic straight-leg fit.

Who it isn’t for: People who prefer stretchy jeans.

These Levi’s jeans are a classic for a reason: They’re the same jeans that were designed by Levi Strauss himself in 1873 and have remained a favorite around the world. The 501 Original Fit Jeans are a hard-working style that’s designed to last for years, wearing better and better as time goes on. They have a straight leg cut, hugging at the hip and thigh with a roomier fit through the rest of the leg. They’re made of 100 percent cotton without built-in stretch (aka “rigid” denim), and while they may stretch out a little bit as you wear them, it will be very subtle—so it’s important to get a size that feels good when you first put it on. 

These mom jeans have the classic five-pocket styling and a button fly rather than a zipper. (Not everyone loves a button fly, so these may not be the best for you if you prefer a zipper.) They come in multiple colors, a couple of which feature distressed details. If you’re looking for a good pair of mom jeans that can be dressed up or down, we think the darker washes are the most versatile.  

Price at time of publish: $42

Size Range: 23–34 (000–18) | Material: 100% cotton | Rise: 11.125 inches | Inseam: 30 and 32 inches

Best High-Waisted Skinny Jeans

Spanx Ankle Skinny Jeans

Spanx Ankle Skinny Jeans in Midnight Shade


Who it’s for: People who want high-waisted skinny jeans with plenty of stretch.

Who it isn’t for: People looking for a traditional pair of jeans.

It’s no surprise that these Spanx skinny jeans are on our list—they’re a favorite among Real Simple editors and customers alike. Unlike traditional jeans, these are a bit closer to jeggings, but you probably wouldn’t be able to tell at first glance. Although they don’t have a zipper or button, they do have a faux fly that makes them look like classic jeans. They also have contrast stitch back pockets. Because of their pull-on and zipper-free style, these jeans sit flat against the body for a flattering fit. 

They come in sizes XS–3X, with regular, petite, and tall options. These jeans have a classic skinny cut, hugging the hips and legs and tapering at the ankle. They have a high rise that hits right at the natural waist. And thanks to the generous amount of stretch, the skinny jeans mold to your body and move with you—so they’re comfortable whether you’re working from your sofa or running around doing errands. 

Price at time of publish: $128

Size Range: XS–3X (0–28) | Material: 91% cotton, 7% polyester, 2% Lycra elastane | Rise: Not listed | Inseam: 26, 28, and 31 inches

Best High-Waisted Bootcut Jeans

Levi's Ribcage Bootcut Jeans

Levi's Women's Ribcage Bootcut Jeans


Who it’s for: People who want super high-waisted jeans with a classic cut. 

Who it isn’t for: People who want jeans with a zipper rather than a row of buttons.

Yes, we have two pairs of Levi’s on our list—the legacy brand knows how to make a good pair of jeans! The Ribcage jeans are extremely high-waisted, as the name implies, and have a classic bootcut fit—fitted from the waist to the knee with a looser fit from the knee down that’s in between flare and straight. We like that the super high waist of these jeans elongates your torso and legs. They come in three denim washes and two corduroy options that vary depending on where you shop. They’re available in standard and plus sizing, ranging from a 22–39 waist size. 

The Ribcage bootcut jeans are made with more stretch than the 501s, consisting of 85.5 percent cotton, 13.5 percent polyester, and 1 percent elastane for a less rigid fit. Keep in mind that these jeans have a button fly, too.  

Price at time of publish: $80

Size Range: 22–39 | Material: 85.5% cotton, 13.5% polyester, 1% elastane | Rise: 14 inches | Inseam: Not listed

Best High-Waisted Flare Jeans

Frame Le High Flare Jeans

Frame Le High Flare Jeans


Who it’s for: People looking for high-waisted jeans with a retro flare silhouette.

Who it isn’t for: People with short legs who are worried about too-long jeans.

Frame’s Le High Flare Jeans are slim through the hips and thighs and begin to, well, flare out at the knees. They’re made from a combination of cotton, lyocell, polyester, and elastane, which gives them plenty of stretch for a more comfortable fit. The jeans come in multiple washes, but most are medium and dark—aka hues that can be dressed up for more formal occasions. You’ll also find a chrome finish, snake print, and pinstripe option.

These jeans have a longer length than many others on our list, but the 34.5-inch inseam emphasizes the flared silhouette and makes them easy to wear with heels and platform booties. For this reason, people with short legs who tend to wear flat shoes may need to get these flare jeans hemmed for a better fit.

Price at time of publish: $210

Size Range: 23–34 (00–16) | Material:  44% cotton, 42% lyocell, 13% polyester, 1% elastane | Rise: 10 inches | Inseam: 34.5 inches

Best High-Waisted Wide Leg Jeans

Reformation Cary High Rise Wide Leg Jeans

Reformation Cary High Rise Wide Leg Jeans


Who it’s for: People who want slouchy, wide-leg jeans with a high rise.

Who it isn’t for: People who want jeans that come in inseams for shorter and taller people.

These slouchy wide-leg jeans from Reformation are casual, cool, and comfy. These are rigid denim without a lot of stretch, although they are a sustainable option since they’re made from 60 percent organically grown cotton and 40 percent Tencel x Refibra lyocell, which is a material derived from upcycled cotton scraps. These jeans come in three classic denim options, including a medium wash called Colorado that’s a great everyday choice. There’s also the Chesapeake Studded, which is a little more of a statement piece with studs down the legs and around the pockets. 

Both the studded and non-studded denim options have an effortlessly chic vibe that will look equally stylish with a tucked-in T-shirt as they will with a blazer and heels. This high-waisted style also comes in two non-denim options: a neutral striped and an olive green.  

Price at time of publish: $148

Size Range: 23–31 | Material: 60% cotton, 40% Tencel x Refibra lyocell | Rise: 12.75 inches | Inseam: 31 inches

Best Stretchy High-Waisted Jeans

Gap High Rise Universal Jeggings

Gap High Rise Universal Jeggings with Washwell


Who it’s for: People looking for a high-waisted option with as much stretch as possible.

Who it isn’t for: People who aren’t interested in skinny jeans.

If you’re in the market for jeggings that could easily pass for regular jeans, you’ll love the Gap High Rise Universal Jeggings. Even though they’re technically jeggings, they have a real button and zipper fly with distressed details for a worn-in look. Gap calls this style its “softest, stretchiest, easiest denim,” which feels like high-waisted leggings but with a denim look—the best of both worlds. These jeans are also part of the Washwell Program (just like the Old Navy jeans above), which produces denim using much less water than usual.

These jeggings have a contoured waistband that lays flat against your body, which means that you won’t have to worry about any gaping. They’re especially great if you’re working from home and ready to get back to wearing jeans—a smooth transition from your favorite leggings. If you love this style and want more pairs, Gap makes these high-rise jeggings in other washes, as well as a mid-rise option. They also come in multiple lengths, including tall and petite options.

Price at time of publish: $70

Size Range: 24–35 (00–20) | Material: 84% cotton, 7% recycled cotton, 7% Elasterrell, 2% Lycra | Rise: 11 inches | Inseam: 25.5, 26.5, 28, 30, and 32 inches

Best Curvy High-Waisted Jeans

Everlane The Original Curvy Cheeky Jean

Everlane The Original Curvy Cheeky Jean


Who it’s for: People who want jeans that flatter their hourglass shape. 

Who it isn’t for: People who want loose-fitting or wide-leg jeans.

Everlane’s Cheeky Jeans are among the brand’s most popular styles for good reason. They have a classic straight leg with specially designed pockets that flatter your butt. However, people with hourglass figures often have trouble finding jeans that fit the hips and waist. Luckily, these curvy high-waisted jeans have adjusted sizing that hugs your thighs and hips while also cinching in at the waist, getting rid of any awkward waistband gaps.  

These jeans come in five washes: black, dark denim, medium denim, light denim, and cream (perfect for spring and summer). There are two inseam options (26.5 and 28.5 inches) so you can get the perfect length for your height. With 2 percent elastane, these jeans have just enough stretch to feel comfy without stretching out, molding to your body for a great fit that you’ll want to wear every day.  

Price at time of publish: $98

Size Range: 23–35 (000–20) | Material: 98% organic cotton, 2% elastane | Rise: 11.75 inches | Inseam: 26.5 and 28.5 inches

Best Petite High-Waisted Jeans

Madewell Petite High-Rise Skinny Jeans

Madewell Petite 10" High-Rise Skinny Jeans in Eardley Wash


Who it’s for: People with petite frames or shorter legs. 

Who it isn’t for: People who want multiple washes to choose from.

Madewell's body-hugging skinny jeans are perfectly tailored for a petite frame. This style is available in a versatile medium wash that pairs well with practically any top, and the subtle distressing gives it a natural worn-in look—aka they’ll look like your all-time favorite pair of jeans. 

Plus, these skinny jeans have just the right amount of stretch to feel comfortable without having to worry about them being too baggy at the end of the day. This style will best fit people who are 5’3” or shorter, so if you’re taller than that but love the look of these, check out Madewell’s standard and tall options. 

Price at time of publish: $138

Size Range: 23–33 | Material: 95% cotton, 3% polyester, 2% elastane | Rise: 9 inches | Inseam: 26 inches

Best Tall High-Waisted Jeans

AG Farrah High-Rise Bootcut Jeans

AG Farrah High Waist Bootcut Jeans


Who it’s for: People who are 5’9” or taller.

Who it isn’t for: People who are looking for super skinny or wide legs.

If you’re tall, jeans that are supposed to be full-length styles end up looking cropped or just too short—especially when you sit down. As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to look for jeans that have an inseam of about 31–34 inches, depending on your height. The AG Farrah High-Rise Bootcut Jeans hit the mark with a 32-inch inseam, and they’re meant to be ever so slightly cropped (the brand calls them “floor-grazing”). The wash is on the darker side, so if you’re looking for a lighter color, these probably aren’t the right pair for you. 

These jeans fit slim from the hips down to the knees, and then they begin to flare slightly for a subtle bootcut. They’re made of 98 percent cotton and 2 percent elastane, another example of this formula working well for structured-but-not-rigid denim that is comfortable to be in all day without losing its shape. 

Price at time of publish: $225

Size Range: 22–33 (000–14) | Material: 98% cotton, 2% elastane | Rise: 10 inches | Inseam: 32 inches

Best High-Waisted Jeans With Inclusive Size Range

Universal Standard Seine High Rise Skinny Jeans in Black

Universal Standard Seine High Rise Skinny Jeans in Black

Universal Standard

Who it’s for: People looking for high-waisted jeans that come in an inclusive size range.

Who it isn’t for: People who want jeans in a wide-leg style.

If you’re looking for skinny jeans with lots of sizing options, these are the jeans for you. Known for its incredibly inclusive size range, Universal Standard makes its jeans in sizes 00–40. (The brand engineers its clothes to fit real bodies, so its sample size is 18.) This particular pair also allows you to choose between high-rise and mid-rise, and an inseam of tall, regular, or petite. The jeans come in eight different washes, ranging from black to white with all the denim variations you could want in between.  

They have an invisible stretch for ultimate comfort from the first time you try them on. The deep pockets are functional to fit your phone or wallet, and although they mold to your body, these jeans are durable enough for years of use. One thing to note is that the brand recommends sizing down in these jeans for the best fit.

Price at time of publish: $98

Size Range: 00–40 | Material: 73% cotton, 23% polyester, 4% elastane | Rise: 9–16.5 inches, depending on size | Inseam: 24, 27, and 32 inches

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Abercrombie & Fitch Ultra High Rise 90s Straight Jean because it comes in 30+ washes, with various details like distressed hems and crisscross waistbands depending on the style you choose. We appreciate that these jeans have a flattering straight-leg cut and that they come in a wide range of sizes and lengths. For a more budget-friendly option, we recommend the Old Navy High-Waisted Wow Slim Straight Jeans because they’re super affordable and comfortable.

How to Shop for High-Waisted Jeans Like a Pro


Even though high-waisted is considered a style of jeans, high-waisted jeans also come in a variety of cuts that you’d find in any other pair of jeans. Some of the most popular styles include bootcut, flare, skinny, and wide-leg, so there’s something for everyone. “Straight-leg jeans are my favorite right now,” says Shapiro. “Straight, high-waisted jeans look clean and good with everything.” 

To find styles of high-waisted jeans that you like the look of, Shapiro suggests making sure you see them on models. “Unlike most clothing, [with] jeans you can’t fake the fit because the material is stiffer,” she explains. However, we know it can be hard to find models with diverse body types, so you may want to take how the jeans look in the photo with a grain of salt.


When shopping for high-waisted jeans, you’ll also want to consider the rise. Guite says this ultimately depends on the length of your torso, but it can vary from 10.5 inches to 11.5 inches or higher. 

You might come across some jeans described as high-waisted, while others are marketed as ultra-high-waisted. According to Guite, the main difference is that “a standard high rise should hit right at the belly button,” while “an ultra-high rise is going to be around 12–13 inches, which will hit at about the ribcage or natural waist.”


The best inseam for you typically comes down to how tall you are and how long your legs are. “A standard full-length inseam is 32 inches and ankle length is 27 inches, but the right inseam really depends on your height,” says Guite. “Full length should hit right at the floor, and cropped length should hit right at your ankle. You can measure your own inseam with a measuring tape, starting at right where the bottom of your zipper would hit and measuring straight down the leg.” 

Even if you’re not super tall, Guite suggests trying high-rise jeans with a longer inseam: “This will lengthen your legs, and make them look a mile long,” she says. You can even pair them with a pair of heels or platforms to make your legs look even longer. 


Shapiro and Guite both agree that jeans with a little stretch will be the most comfortable. “Three percent or less of a stretch material feels the most natural,” says Shapiro, who also says to take into account the weight of denim when shopping. “Denim weight is referred to in the form of ounces. The lighter, drapier denim is around 4.5–6 ounces and the stiffer, weightier denim is 7–10 ounces. I prefer heavier denim because it drapes better and is generally more flattering,” she says. “I also prefer denim that is made with some Tencel or modal and not all cotton, they wear best with a little softness.”

Questions You Might Ask 

What is the difference between high-rise and high-waisted jeans?

“High-rise just means more than mid-rise,” says Shapiro. “High-waisted means it hits the waist and clears the belly button, which is the maximum range of high rise.” However, both of the experts we spoke with agree that the two terms basically mean the same thing and are often used interchangeably. 

How do I style high-waisted jeans?

How you style your jeans depends on the style of your pants, the occasion, and the rest of your wardrobe. If you’re wearing high-waisted wide-leg jeans, you may want to wear a cropped or form-fitting top, as adding too much volume could overwhelm the proportions of your outfit. “I would suggest styling high-waisted jeans either with a slightly cropped blouse or a longer blouse tucked in,” Guite says. “This will create a nice proportion and lengthen the body. Layering a blazer or denim jacket over that is always a chic look, too.” 

Are high-waisted jeans more comfortable than mid-rise jeans?

“I think this is subjective and really depends on what you feel more comfortable in for your body type,” says Guite. “Some women like a high-rise because they feel it holds everything in well, and some women like a mid-rise because [a] high-rise may feel constricting. I don’t think one is inherently more comfortable than the other, it really depends on the fit and the fabric and what you like better on your body.” 

But in terms of style, Shapiro says high-waisted jeans are better than mid-rise styles. “Being cut-off at the mid-section is not as flattering as when it defines your waist.”

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Hannah Baker, a freelance writer and editor with a decade of experience researching and writing about home products. She’s written about products for Martha Stewart Living, Better Homes and Gardens, Apartment Therapy, Brides, MyDomaine, SHOP Today, and Drew and Jonathan Reveal, to name a few. To make this list, she considered a variety of styles of jeans and took into account versatility, cost, material, and quality. She also spoke with denim experts Claire Guite, associate designer for Jen7 by 7 For All Mankind, and Holly Shapiro, creative director at Splendid.

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