Welcome to I Tried It Month, where we’ll be publishing a new fashion, beauty, or wellness article every day in January that features a first-person account of shaking up an old habit, pushing beyond a comfort zone, or simply trying something new. Follow along for 31 days of storytelling, including everything from going without a cellphone for 40 days to trying the polarizing low-rise pants trend.
I have an immediate reaction when I hear anyone say the phrase low-rise. My eyes widen, my anxiety flares up, and a cringe makes its way across my face. As you can imagine, I avoided the waistline at all costs—that is, until one day I stumbled into a vintage boutique in my neighborhood and tried on a pair of low-slung pinstripe pants that I surprisingly didn’t hate. I’ll admit I liked them, even.
After that moment, I couldn’t help but notice how fashion’s attempts at bringing back everything Y2K. From cushy flip-flops to velour tracksuits to, yes, low-rise pants, the fashion era that everyone loves to hate is happening again and although it made me nervous at first, I had to see what the hype was all about. So I faced my fears, ordered a few low-rise trousers (and one pair of low-rise jeans), and in the spirit of guinea pig journalism, I just went for it.
On the runways, plenty of designers have been putting a modern spin on the trend, as evidenced in a number of S/S 2021 collections. So I gathered a handful of my favorite styling moments from Dion Lee, Christopher Esber, Sandy Liang, and Sportmax and used them as inspiration for how to make the scary trend actually wearable. I should explain, however, that the styles I tried on weren’t the low-rise skinnies of yore but slouchy and wide-leg silhouettes that feel current for 2021.
Whether you’ve been seeing them bubble up too or are simply curious to see how I managed to style them, keep reading for four low-rise pant outfits I put together and the runway looks that inspired each.
Wearability: 7/10. Here, the vintage trousers that started it all. I was immediately drawn to their loose and relaxed vibe, so I took Dion Lee’s suiting idea and paired them with a coordinating cropped blazer and retro sneakers for something more casual but still put-together. I won’t lie, I’m not used to baring this much midriff since I usually prefer high-waisted trousers. But that said, this look was a good entry point to the low-rise movement. Any type of matching set, including suits, tends to be pretty easy to wear. At Sportmax, low-slung trousers were paired with a second-skin top, another notable spring trend, and it proves just how well the two pieces go together. Wearability: 9/10. People love to hate on low rises because they’re intimidating, but I found this styling idea to be a lot easier to pull off. One, because tucking it a thin top means you don’t have to actually show off your midriff if that’s not your thing and two, because jeans are pretty failsafe. As I mentioned earlier, I think the key here is going for a pair that’s looser and more relaxed to offset the low rise. I’m a fan of Agolde’s Lana Low Rise Vintage Straight Jeans. Christopher Esber’s simple separates are a case study in beautiful basics. I love how the designer paired low-rise black trousers with a white blouse and strappy sandals and I immediately knew I had to try something similar. Wearability: 8/10. Even though I had fun putting together the other looks, it was this outfit consisting of simple basics that was arguably my favorite. The loose trousers give an elevated polish to my WFH attire and while the low-slung trousers are certainly trendy, the addition of a button-down shirt makes them feel more classic. Sandy Liang is the queen of playful nostalgia, so of course, her spring collection delivered on the low-rise front with several cool ensembles that are ripe for the picking. Wearability: 5/10. I adore this look in theory, but I have to be honest that this was the least wearable formula of everything I tried. I wanted to love it since the chain belt adds a cool ’90s feel (I repurposed a long chain necklace here), but ultimately realized that it’s something I would only wear again if I suddenly woke up with a six-pack (are you listening, Universe?). In other words, it felt a little too risky. I do think I’ll try it again with my high-waisted pants and perhaps layer the chain on top.