high waisted jeans

High Waisted Jeans

80's Pants Jun 01, 2022

High waisted jeans or as they are sometimes called “Mom Jeans”, was a hugely popular 80s fashion trend. They were stylish and comfortable, and fit perfectly right in with the denim fashion trends of the day.

The 1980s was a time of great change in the fashion industry. And while many of the fads that were popular back then quickly faded into oblivion, some have continued to remain popular decades later. One such trend was high waisted jeans.

80s high waisted jeans
80s Fashion Trend: High Waisted Jeans

When it comes to jeans, there are generally 3 different waist styles to choose from. There are traditional fit jeans which rest comfortably just above the hips. Then there are the hip-hugger jeans, which fit snugly at the hip level. But in the 1980s there were also the “mom jeans” which had a waistline that rose all the way up to the belly button.

80s High Waisted Jeans

It seems that jeans are one of those timeless fashions that no matter what you do they always seem to be around. But high waisted jeans definitely pushed that rule to the edge.

High waisted jeans were all the rage during the 80s, and though they seem kind of funny now, they were indeed very fashionable and popular during the 1980s.

So why were high waisted jeans so popular during the 1980s?

Princess Diana

Not surprisingly there are many popular fashion trends from the 1980s that can be attributed to Princess Diana of Wales. She was definitely a fashion trendsetter in the early 80s.

She was known for wearing blouses with heavily padded shoulders, a trend that quickly caught on throughout the 80s. Her one piece swimsuits graced the covers of tabloids all over the world. She was also known for sporting beautiful polka dot fashion and power suits, and just made about anything she wore a hot fashion trend.

However more importantly, she was almost always seen wearing high-waisted jeans when she was casually out and about in public. Because every woman wanted to be just like Princess Diana, they started following her fashion choices, which of course included high waisted jeans.

high waisted jeans princess diana
Princess Diana Often Wore “High Waisted Jeans”
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Princess Diana was a big fan of high waisted jeans, and if she said it was fashionable to wear, you know it was cool for you to wear them as well. It was also a very relatable fashion, and one that was very easy for women to copy.

The Rise Of Mom Jeans

High waisted jeans had a number of names over the years. They were generally referred to by most as simply high-rise jeans. However, after an episode of Saturday Night Live, the term “mom jeans” quickly grew in popularity. Although the term was seen as a pejorative, it was nevertheless a popular way of explaining the style to others.


The high waist of the jeans rose above the navel level, which resulted in the backside looking longer, and flatter. As noted in the Saturday Night Live sketch, they also have an excessively long zipper due to the taller waistline.

Unlike other jeans of the era, high-waisted jeans were not stone-washed, ripped, or faded. Rather, they were generally sold as a solid color throughout most of the 1980s. The legs were either tapered or pleaded, but generally went down to the ankle line rather than below it. Moreover, an oversized belt would generally be worn to help emphasize the location of the waistline.

Guess High Waisted Jeans

While there are a number of different jean manufacturers who contributed to the popularity of high waisted jeans, none did as much for their popularity as Guess. Throughout the early 80s, Guess Jeans were marketed extensively throughout the country, and girls wanted a pair of their designer high waisted jeans.

guess ad high waisted jeans
1983 Guess Ad Featuring “High Waisted Jeans”

While other manufacturers focused on a looser, baggier-fitting pair of jeans, Guess produced something that was tightfitting and emphasized what many at the time considered to be the best attributes of a woman.

Are High Waisted Jeans Still Popular?

Many of the fashion trends of the 1980s quickly died off during the early 90s, but high waisted jeans have a long history of popularity in the fashion industry. The first pair of jeans appeared back in the 1950s and continued to be manufactured throughout the 60s and 70s.

Even after the peak of its popularity in the 1980s, high waisted jeans continued to be a popular choice for many women around the world. In fact, high waisted jeans were one of the most popular jeans sold in 2014, and can be commonly found anywhere you go today.

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