Monday, August 13, 2018

The wonder of high-rise pants held up with braces

I’ll just say it: I love high-rise pants. They create a striking visual image: they elongate your legs, shorten your torso, and cover your midsection. And they are held in place with braces! Pants designed for braces.

High-rise pants (also called high waist pants) create an smooth line from your shoulders down to your feet, uninterrupted by a belt. These pants keep your shirt tucked in all day, and avoiding the muffin-top effect of your abdomen extending over your waistline. As the waistline is above your abdomen you can breathe comfortably, without having a restricted belt dig into you each time you take a breath. 

Notice how the high-rise pants elongate the legs
In case you are unfamiliar with the term “rise”, this refers to the distance from the bottom of the crotch to the top of the waistline. A waistline sitting above your belly-button will have a ‘higher rise’ than a waistline that sits at your hips, for instance. It’s for this reason that jeans sitting below your hips are commonly referred to as “low risers.”

Back to high-rise pants. I especially love vintage, high-rise pants. Sometimes referred to as “Hollywood waist”, these pants do not have a separate band of fabric that circles around your waist. Rather, the pant fabric extends up the legs right to the top of the pants, with no cross fabric interrupting the line. If there are belt loops, they are below, rather than at, the top of the pant waistline. There are generally darts to angle the difference between the hips and the lower rib-cage. And that’s where the top of Hollywood waist pants ends: at the bottom of your rib-cage, held in place with braces.

Note the Hollywood waist on these high-rise pants for both men and women

Not only do high-rise pants make your look better, they make you feel better. Breathing is enjoyable! The pants sit comfortably above your waist, allowing your abdomen to expand and contract, all day long.  You take a breath in, and your abdomen fills out your pants waist. High-rise pants are large enough to absorb the breathe; just tight enough to be comfortable. You then breathe out, and your abdomen shrinks back into your body. With the absence of your abdomen, your pants would start to slide downward due to the effects of gravity. But they don’t - if you are wearing high-rise pants as they should be worn. Braces come to the rescue to provide fantastic support. Your high-rise pants say high all day long.

No matter how much bending or twisting, braces keep your pants in place

The specific placement of the buttons along the waistline provides maximum support for this accomplishment. Brace buttons should be attached at the front above the center pant line and pocket above each leg (about 3-3.5 inches apart), and then equidistant from the center of the pants at the rear (about 1.5-1.75 inches from the center seam). It’s truly an enjoyment to sit, stand, bend, and twist - not to mention breathe - without having to adjust or pull up your pants. The braces do all the heavy lifting.

Proper button placement on these high-rise white pants worn by Farrah Fawcett
Charlene Tilton with improper button placement -
should be to the side to align with the pant line

With this in mind, I’m constantly perplexed that people turn to belts. Belts restrict movement and circulation around your waist and result in pants slipping down all day long. They interrupt the smooth transition from the top of your body to the bottom.

Men have an unfortunate aversion to wearing pants at or above their hips - why? Is this an outdated style of a previous generation? Do the pants not stay up (without braces, hence the need for braces), or men don’t like braces? I have not solved this question yet. But I do know that they're missing out on the wonder of high-rise pants and braces. Historically, when men wore pants, they were high-rise and held up with braces.

Vintage photo of men wearing braces
If I haven’t convinced you yet of the comfort of high-rise pants with braces, I’ll add one final point: they are charming. People respect you when you make an effort to dress well. High rise pants are one of those ways you can dress well. Braces add a certain sophistication and refinement to an otherwise standard outfit. This writer from Esquire states that she highly regards suspenders and finds them to be darling. 

Current fashion trends are starting to take notice of the increase in rise of pants. Women’s fashion has emphasized high-rise pants for the past few years, and it’s only a matter of time before it shifts to men’s clothing.

Courtshop James Jeans with braces

Discussion time:

  • Do you wear high-rise pants? If not, why not?
  • How do you find braces with high-rise pants?
  • Have you worn Hollywood waist pants?


  1. I was in a marching band in college and the uniform pants were similar tothe Hollywood waist that your mentioning. That's about the only time I've worn anything like what you described.

    After due consideration I've about decided to recommend that you toss all your belts in the rubbish and wear suspenders for all your trouser suspension needs.

    1. @theguyinsuspenders: I've also seen uniforms for marching bands that have the Hollywood waist. This allows the wearer to breathe while playing their instrument and there's no need to worry that their pants will fall down - braces keep the outfit looking sharp!

      I do agree - throw out the belts and use braces for suspension needs!

    2. Actually I meant that you should get rid of your belts. You seem like the type of person that (a) doesn't have to have suspenders to keep your pants up (ie not morbidly obese); (b) prefers suspenders to belts and (c) doesn't feel any anxiety about wearing them in public. That's a rare combination.

    3. Yes, I do fit that criteria!
      With a name like yours, it sounds like you do as well?


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