Friday, May 16, 2008

"If You Don't Tuck In Your Shirt, They're Just a Girdle."

In a recent post--the one featuring a dead frog wearing an unflattering belt, perhaps you remember?--I implored you to open your mind to higher waisted pants, to see them not only as unflattering evil-doers, not only as, well, this...

...and to think of them instead, as the title suggests, as a girdle you can wear on the outside without looking like a schizophrenic hobo or Sienna Miller. If you have a bit of a belly (or a lot of a belly), lowrise jeans are not your friend. They have the power to create a "faux muffin top" (I learned so much from that frog email, seriously), and they lead, inevitably, to this. Seeking out a pair of jeans with the waist even a few inches higher can have wonderful results, for you and for the world.

In response to my highfalutin' claim, reader Beth posted the following comment:

Do a post on cute, semi-normal looking (not the super fashiony ones, nor the mom ones) higher waisted jeans, please!

Alright, alright, if you insist!

Here are the top 3 that I've come across so far. All are fairly expensive, but--not to worry!--also easily found at discount stores and on ebay. ("Ebay, friends, not retail," says wise reader Nadarine.)

Joe's Jeans

A few of you mentioned your love for Joe's in the comments of the Frog post, and I, too, have experienced the glorious revelation of trying on a pair. They're seriously amazing, and many styles have a rise high enough to be seriously slimming as well.

However, I do not own a pair, and here's the most random story ever to explain why: I went to Nordstrom a few months ago, fresh off the enthusiastic advice of no less than five friends and acquaintances that "You MUST try Joe's! Seriously Winona! GO! NOW! DO IT!" I trotted over to the snobby section where they keep the designer denim, cornered a saleswoman who resembled Jessica Alba (damnit), and told her my plight:

Me: So, I hate buying jeans. They never fit me cuz I have a giant belly.
Saleswoman: Oh my god, I totally understand! I have the same problem!
Me: DAMNED LIES! (OK, I didn't really say that, but I wish I did.)
Saleswoman: I have the perfect thing for you, you're gonna love 'em. They're a "curvy" style--
Me: Wait, here's the thing, though. I'm not curvy in the normal curvy way. Curvy jeans are for hourglass figures, but I'm more urn. (I so wish I could have used the frog body analogy, but alas, I was not yet enlightened to the concept).
Saleswoman: Oohhh....umm...
Me: What about Joe's?
Saleswoman: YES! Joe's! You MUST try Joe's!

And so she sent me into the dressing room with a pile of Joe's jeans. I slipped on a pair of the Muse style, and they were so comfortable and flattering and belly-containing that I literally almost cried. Then I tried the Provocateur, which were even more comfortable and flattering and belly-containing, and I believe I did shed a tear (jean shopping is an emotional experience, you know?).

This model may be a frog, but you'd never know it.
Joe's Jeans "The Provocateur," $179,

The jeans were fairly spendy (Joe's can run up to $200), but I decided that any piece of denim that could make me cry, in a good way, were totally worth it. I was on my way out of the dressing room to make the purchase when I stopped.

In the time I had been admiring how good my ass looked, the store had totally changed. An extremely douche-y DJ had appeared between the racks of $60 t-shirts and was spinning extremely douche-y R&B. Streamers were on the floor. Candy bowls were on the shelves. Weirdest of all, the Nordstrom salespeople were ignoring me. Excitedly swarming around something about a hundred feet away, they were completely oblivious to me and my impending purchase. Jesus, how long had I been in the dressing room? Had I actually fallen through the mirror into some sort of shopping Narnia, where customers dance to Chris Brown in the aisles and Nordstrom employees aren't paid on commission?

I finally tracked down my saleswoman and asked her what was going on.

Rushing over to join her coworkers, she squealed, "It's Joe! From Joe's Jeans! He's here! It's him! He's signing denim! It's an event!"

And then I saw him. Joe. From Joe's Jeans. And he was a douche.

I know, I'm totally judgmental, I need to get to know him, blah blah blah, but good god, his hair was tied back in a long, shiny ponytail, he had a DJ playing the soundtrack to his life, and, worst of all, he was wearing a giant pair of polarized sunglasses...inside. The entire Nordstrom staff was flitting and buzzing around him, complimenting everything he did and asking if he needed anything at all, and he wouldn't make eye contact with any of them, looking absolutely above the situation. He actually looked like he was smelling a vaguely foul odor, and while we were in range of the store perfume sniper, Joe, come on, you're charging us $200 for cotton, how about a smile?

As much as I loved the jeans, I couldn't bear the thought of my money funding another pair of indoor sunglasses for Mr. Joe, so I put them back (longtime readers may recall my similar issues with Jessica Simpson shoes). When I left Nordstrom (or Narnia, whatever), I felt a little righteous, a little richer, and sadly, still shaped like a frog.

Moral of the story: Joe's Jeans rock. Joe does not. And wow that story got long.

Moving on...

Lucky Jeans

Lucky is such a great company and, as far as I know, their CEO does not wear sunglasses inside. Most of their jeans are made in the USA, the quality is excellent, and I want to be best friends with all of the girls who work at their Portland store. I've found their classic rider and easy rider styles to be quite effective at holding in the midsection, and I've found them at discount chains like Marshalls for thirty bucks.

Easy Rider, $98,

Not Your Daughter's Jeans

I'm so in love with these jeans, especially the aptly named "Tummy Tuck" style. As the brand name implies, they're aimed more at my mom's generation than mine, which made me feel a little nervous buying them, like the cashier would ask for my ID and then glare back at me, declaring, "You're just a daughter! Security!"

Luckily, I was able to purchase them without incident, and I wear them quite often (by "quite often" here I mean "every day of my life and sometimes to bed").

I bought a pair like this on sale for $12 at the Rack (I swear they're out there!), and they look so adorable when you don't tuck in your shirt (I repeat: do not tuck in your shirt) and add cute shoes and a bright top.
NYDJ Tummy Tuck Rhinestone Roll Cuff Stretch Capris, $118,

Anyone have other suggestions for jeans high enough to gobble up muffin top (wow, I apologize for that imagery), low enough (or, like, not ugly enough) to avoid the Jessica Simpson look?


Anonymous said...

You are so freakin' funny it's unbelievable.

Wishful thoughts said...

I loved the story about Joe's Jeans - very funny!

I also really like GAP mid-rise 1969 jeans. They are hard to find as the sales clerks always want give the poor person trying on jeans the low rise version but overall I've been happy with the flattering fit and durability of the mid-rise jeans.

I've been following your blog for about a year now and all I can say is please, please keep up the great stories and quirky antecdotes. They make my workday go by so much more quickly.

Unknown said...

I love the Joe's Jeans story, hilarious(That almost made me cry seriously)

I will tell you something, I'm the hour-glass type curvy(chubby but very curvy) and even when I wear low rise in the right size they look awful on me... They slide down and I don't have a muffin top my stomach rolls over the top(Thank you child birth!)

I think everyone should wear pants at their waist... why you ask? Because crack kills!

But Alas... I look really think I look nice in high-waisted stuff. I think the idea of "mid-rise" or at waist, slightly bellow waist are good for the "frog" shape. BTW do people really tuck in shirts anymore with jeans?

WendyB said...

You have me yearning for a pair of Joe's! I had a pair years ago.It was the one pair of jeans I could tolerate during that endless boot-cuts-and-low-rise period. They were still bootcut and low-rise, but not as bad as what else was out there.

Anonymous said...

Funny story about Joe's jeans. I've never actually tried a pair of these jeans and now I kinda don't want to...

Anyway, I consider the jeans you posted to be more mid-rise (below the belly button) and I find this style to be very flattering and helps to fend off the dreaded muffin top. Some jeans I own in this style are from these brands: DKNY, Lucky, Lee, Banana Republic, and KIKIT... big price range out there.

Laura V said...

I am an hourglassy curvy girl with a HUGE BUTT. Seriously, we are talking Kim Kardashian territory here.

I am wearing the Jones New York Signature jeans. They're not quite high rise, more high-medium, and I LOVE them. No bumcrack, no mom-jeanage.

the upper vest side said...

Hahaha! There is nothing more obnoxious then sunglasses indoors! If they were meant for inside use, they'd be called eyeglasses. Let this be a lesson to you indoor sunglass wearing folk. ;)

Anonymous said...

post pictures of you wearing the jeans!

Anonymous said...

DKNY Soho jeans are good for a small tummy. I'm short, but i prefer the short length in the regular to the petite. Speaking of petite, I just have to share this: in the recent issue of inStyle, they claim petite is under 5'3" and average is 5'4" and up. Um, what about 5'3"? Are we just freaks of nature, undeserving of advice on flattering denim styles?? Thank God we have Winona to turn to!

Anonymous said...

All my jeans have a rise somewhat like the one shown in the pic of Joe's Jeans you posted. It's flattering, doesn't expose the dreaded plumber's crack, and also hides my Asian rice belly: my stomach sticks out a bit - not a lot, but it looks weird on a skinny frame. I've had good luck with Old Navy (the Sweetheart rise!) and Banana Republic.

Anonymous said...

Another good affordable mid-to-high rise jean is Gap's Essential fit. They can be kind of harder to find, but I love them. They are high but not too high, and have a wide leg that I like. I recommend them!

Amanda said...

Holy Sh&@, that Jessice Simpson photo is so bad. I mean so bad. I could hardly read on after looking at that photo.

I am going to find the Joe's jeans ASAP.

I also like (forgive me here) Land's End Jeans from Sears. I believe they are called Classic/Mid-rise. Good color, comfy, and the right length for a short person like me.

Anonymous said...

One warning about Joe's jeans (aside from the douchebaggery of Joe himself): if the style of Joe's you buy has ANY stretch at all, i.e. they're not 100% cotton, they will stretch and bag until DENIM OBLIVION. Seriously. I thought my 2% stretch Joe's were goodness incarnate the first few times I wore them ... super comfortable and looked amazing on the butt ... but after that, they bagged and stretched beyond all recognition. And I take care of my denim, people. Be forewarned! At almost $200, NEVER AGAIN.

RachelP said...

I will only buy Joe's Provocateur jeans. I've had one of my pairs for over 3 years, and they are still my go-to jeans. Of all my Joe's, only one has the stretch-out effect that elisabeth describes. It is truly disappointing, but can be avoided if you try them on and carefully read all the labeling before buying.

And my loyalty is only slightly shaken by Joe's douchebaggery--the jeans are that great!

The Mamma said...

Chip and Pepper's "Stuffin for the Muffin" jeans are pretty awesome. And if you haven't tried I highly suggest it. You put in your measurements and it finds the jeans that fit you best for you.

Bekah said...

hahahha ohhhhh, winona
an urn...that's quite a good one..and it requires less explanation than the frog one. that sienna the reason for my ultimate fear of highwaisted jeans..but you've definitely gotten me convinced now..looks like I'm heading down to the states to get myself some..I could get some from gap or lucky here, but we'll see...I also need to get some spanx soon
ohhh how you've changed my outlook on so many important things
now I just NEED to go shopping to start my hunt

Bekah said...

oh...DUH I'm stupid...I THOUGHT that was jessica simpson but then I read it and you said something about sienna miller and I got her stuck on the brain...sorry about that

Emma said...

citizens of humanity has a really great pair of flared medium-blue jeans. i think they have some ridiculous expensive jeans name like "stone" or "sky" or "sea", but i am too lazy to go check the label.
they're soft and incredibly comfy and make your ass look like the ass of somebody with a really great ass (i'm sorry, i've been up for three days studying for finals so the witty metaphors aren't really flying).
they're the most gorgeous shade of blue. sort of bell-bottom-like but in a cool "hey who's that really hot chick in the aviators and tank top and awesome jeans, how can i start a conversation with her?" way and not in a "who is that sad old messy hippie eating a sandwich in the bus station?" way.

Emma said...

allright i checked. they're called faye stretch low waist full leg jeans. and don't let the low waist scare you, they do wonderful things for those of us who cannot iron a shirt on our stomachs.

Rachel said...

I'm not a frog per se, but I do have a fantabulous pair of mid-waisted jeans from Seven. They're called the Ginger fit and they are supreeeemely comfy, trouser-leg but not baggy, high but not too high. I normally boycott all jeans brands that might be worn by the popular clique at a rich high school (ahem Seven ahem), but these were just too great to resist, and I get compliments on 'em every time. I bet there are a ton on eBay too, since they've been around for over a year and they come in multiple washes.
xoxo! MG

miss fashion said...

i do like the jo's jeans because they always fit and make you look slim. and those jeans are awesome because they are not too highwaisted but still cute.

Anonymous said...

omg i totally agree with lisa about the asian rice belly! i'm mostly skinny buuuutttt i hate exercising and love my desserts so i have a belly that sticks out. and since this is all about proportion and i'm a small flat-chested asian girl, having a belly bigger than my non-existent boobs makes me look pregnant!!

winona you should totally do a post about this problem that i'm sure other generally-thin girls have :(

much love,

Anonymous said...

I found Lee's jeans: straight leg, dark wash AND just slightly below the belly button. They also have trouser jeans with a good rise (NOT extreme).
They also come in petite; with the best waist band ever: "comfort" is the name used AND it delivers. These jeans are widely available and reasonably priced.
Good luck,

Joanna Goddard said...

omg, so unflattering on jessica. i saw kiera knightly in terrible ones, too. stay away!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Here's my froggish dilemma. I have a terrible time with all pants that are not low rise just cause my midriff is so damn thick. I'm like a size 12 through my bust and waist and a size 6 in my hips and butt and thighs. I know the low rise gives me muffin top but the waist is always too small on anything higher, ouch cannot breathe! or if the waist fits the butt and thighs sag like a diaper. Please advise.

Thomas said...

Club Monaco produces a very serviceable pair.

Pip said...

I just had to come re-read this post to calm myself down after a failed trouser-buying expedition.
I am no-frog, alas, I have the dubious pleasure of having a big bottom, tiny waist and a little bit of a belly (how is that possible, you ask? it is. I assure you). Plus I'm 5'2" on a tall day.
Low-slung waists are getting sneaky, I tell you, I can no longer tell until I get them to the change room and am trying to squeeze the waistband somewhere around my upper-thigh region.

[/end rant]


Anonymous said...

i've got quite the round mid section, and i find that american apparel skinny high waisted jeans fit me like a charm. also cheap monday's are amazing.

Anonymous said...

I actually found a pair of Joe's Jeans at Marshall's a couple of years ago for 40 dollars. I agree, they're the best, even if Joe isn't. :)

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