A Black Woman is seen wearing low cut jeans and a pruple crop top. She is drinking froma cup of coffee and holding a Y2k style bag. She is standing against a pink swirly background
Credit: AJ Duncan

How low can you go?

By Elena Adams

Elena Adams discusses the rise of the low-waisted jeans fashion trend.

CW: Body image

The early 2000s are memorable for many things, particularly fashion. Celebrities at the time were seen wearing skirts and dresses over jeans, a lot of Von Dutch tees, and baggy army cargo pants. It’s safe to say that most of these trends won’t be returning, but low-waisted jeans definitely are. Low-rise trousers, jeans and skirts are a defining piece of early 2000s fashion; 20 years later, they’re back, baby.

Although they’re a defining piece of clothing for this era, low-waisted jeans were around for a long time prior. In 1957 “hip huggers”, designed by Irene Kasmer, were low-waisted jeans that were tight at the top and flared at the bottom. Although they were popular for a while, fashion later turned to higher-waisted styles in the 70s and 80s. Then, thanks to Alexander McQueen, low-rise jeans were put back on the fashion map in 1996 with his “bumster” trousers (essentially extremely low-waisted jeans). 

These jeans aren’t alone in the return of early 2000s, or y2k, fashion trends. Small baguette bags, scarf tops, and tiny sunglasses are just a few items that have returned to our wardrobes. This resurgence of early 2000s fashion was always bound to happen, as trends do tend to cycle round every 20 years or so. Plenty of celebrities and models, such as Bella Hadid and Dua Lipa, are currently wearing outfits that are nostalgic for the 2000s. The decade’s presence is even noticeable within the music industry, with artists such as Olivia Rodrigo incorporating the style and many cultural references within lyrics and music videos.

It’s not only celebrities that can be seen wearing outfits reminiscent of the noughties. Low-rise jeans, alongside many other trends, can be seen all over Instagram and Tiktok. Many are recreating looks from noughties celebrities and current celebrities, or putting their own spin on the different trends. The role that social media plays within the fashion industry is undeniable, especially when it comes to setting and spreading trends. Something might be popular for a couple weeks, but it doesn’t take long before another trend takes over, and the cycle continues. Fast fashion also plays a helping hand in supporting the rate at which trends change. Affordable, easily accessible clothing makes it so much easier to chop and change between trends without having to think about it. 

However, it seems as though low-waisted jeans will stick around a while longer than most fast fashion fads. Despite some people’s hatred of them, they are back for the foreseeable future. But is it really low waisted jeans that many people are against? Or rather the harmful mentality that came alongside them in the 2000s? The beauty standards of the 2000s were all about being, slim, and having a flat stomach. So it’s no surprise that low-rise jeans were so popular when they clearly accentuated these features. Most pieces of clothing were created with this one body type in mind, it was trendy to be small and the clothes at the time reflected that. Anyone who failed to meet these standards was excluded. 

It’s clear that over the decades women’s bodies have become trends that become more unattainable every year. In the early 2010s there was the “thigh gap” and around 2017 “hip dips” became a thing that needed to be fixed (something that’s actually not possible). Just like clothing trends, women’s bodies are in a constant cycle of what is considered “perfect”. And the 2000s ideal of perfection only became more unattainable as social media gained popularity and plastic surgery became available. As expectations change, no one ever truly comes out on top.

Even now, while there is a growing body positivity movement, it would be naïve to think that women’s bodies are no longer treated as a trend that goes in and out of fashion – or as an accessory to the clothing on the runway.  Like fashion trends, it’s a vicious cycle that’s only glorified further through social media. So, while we may have reached a point in society in which we are the most accepting, there is still plenty of work to be done. The pressure that is put upon women to fit into the latest trend is not only toxic but a standard that is impossible to meet. 

So, low-waisted jeans? For me it’s a no, but if you like them then go for it! It’s not the return of a noughties fashion trend that’s the problem. It’s the continual pressure for women to meet beauty standards that are not only ridiculous but are also always changing. So, yes, trends can be really fun but they are for fashion, not bodies. 


Share this story

Follow us online

Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Agür Tapoq

Damn! What an article! there is a lot in it and it’s not just about low-waisted jeans. Combined to the illustration it looks very uhh??? but, you know, low-waisted jeans or pants are older than early 2000s – don’t fear to travel in the old times, there is always something to discover and to be surprised.

There is one sentence in the beginning that contrary the rest of your text : “It’s safe to say that most of these trends won’t be returning, …” and then you prove the opposite and say that “trends do tend to cycle round every 20 years or so” – well, honestly, cargo pants are cool and comfortable and easy to wear, let’s talk about it when it comes back ; It seems, at the moment, there is a come back of the mini-skirt (60’s), so it’s not time yet.

Your references are Bella Hadid, Dua Lipa, Olivia Rodrigo, Instagram and Tiktok – not exactly my cup of tee (Von Dutch with a drop of milk?), i like coffee – black, no sugar please.

Actually, it seems that under the low-waisted jeans, the real topic is … WOMEN – and how slave you are to fashion, men, society, blahblahblah, #Metoo, not me, i’m a man not a slave, i can’t understand you but, let’s face it: slim is beautiful whatever your bloody coach tells you – “be proud, show your fat body” etc. Please, kick her big butt out of your life – she’s a liar, she just want to earn money and have a grip on you. Just put in mind that when you’re slim you feel better, you can walk and run and make sport and you won’t feel as you were living your last days of your life – at the contrary, you will feel GOOOOD. Now if you like liters of beer, hectoliters of cream, kilos of sweet and fat, fine, i will be your personal coach to make your sweat dreams come true and you will show your flesh and pride around this oh so trendy low-waisted jeans on Instagram where you will meet lookalikes that find it soooo cool – for the time it last.

When you say “anyone who failed to meet these standards was excluded” – from what? From the group where people must look and act the same way – do you like to be a sheep? Do you feel comfortable to always follow the trends? Be an individualist and chose individualists as your friends, they will accept you the way you are and never let you down as long as you remain honest with yourself and you don’t want to destroy your brain and body just to be accepted by the monkeys. And, no more pressure because belonging to something is not the priority.

So, low-waisted-jeans? Vai not? You can wear this 20’s green hat with those 2nd hand velvet pants of the 70’s and maybe some lace top or a carbon-fiber jacket, whatever, it’s up to you, comfort and taste are your guides, trends an inspiration for your body – amongst other things.

Inspiration? (i have no interest in these brands)