In our advice column, Ask the Strategist, we take your most burning shopping questions and scour friends, call up experts, and draw from personal experience to answer them. As always, please comment with one of your own — we’re here to help.
Burning question: Where can I find high-waisted jeans for men that are fashionable but not too “fashion”? I recently discovered one of the many secrets women keep from us: High-waisted jeans are comfortable and flattering. But I’m having a really hard time finding a good, affordable pair for men. Most of the pairs I see are either super dad or supermodel. I found the Levi’s Vintage Clothing 1969 606 jean to be a really good height, but would prefer something slimmer, but not too skinny like Cheap Mondays. Any leads?
High-waisted pants for men are definitely … on the rise. (Had to). They’ve been spotted on recent runways of Haider Ackermann, Fendi, Kenzo, Dries Van Noten, and even Rick Owens, too, has done his own Rick Owens version. But the average man these days isn’t wearing designer trousers, he’s wearing jeans. So it’s only natural that the trend has trickled down to you and your denim needs.
The solutions to your problem are out there, specifically, a little further down in this very post, but first, I need to clarify one thing. As explained to me by David Schuck, the raw-denim expert who runs the raw-denim website Heddels, this style for men is called high-rise, not high-waisted. The rise of a jean refers to the measurement, in inches, between the bottom of the crotch and the top of the waist, so that’s what we’ll focus on as we move along and decide on the best jeans.
Here are the Levi’s mentioned in the question, the original 1969 version of the 606 jean. The rise is 11 inches. You mentioned that you like that fit, but not the bagginess, so let’s try to find similar pairs that are more fitted.
And what luck: Nordstrom actually carries a version of the 606 in a slimmer fit and with the same exact 11-inch rise. Are they exactly what you’re looking for? I hope!
Another classic Levi’s jean that’ll go great with a tucked-in tee. Same 11-inch rise.
For something a bit more affordable, the Levi’s 505 shape have a similar rise and are only $60. If they feel a little baggy, try bringing them to a tailor to take in the bottom. An inch or two can work wonders, and it’ll still be a lot cheaper than the above.
Now for some other brands. This Naked and Famous selvedge pair has an 11.75-inch rise, the highest you’ll find in this roundup. These taper after the knee, meaning they get skinnier the lower they go.
Norse Projects, one of my favorite workwear-inspired, basics-filled menswear brands out of Copenhagen, offer this very solid raw pair with an 11.25-inch rise.
If you’re interested in dipping your toes into something a little more trendy, this summery pair has a cutoff hem and a 10.25-inch rise. Everything about them just looks super comfortable. Would buy.
Need Supply Co. recently started designing their very own line of jeans, and the standard slim cut has a high 10.5-inch rise. Seems like a mid-rise is the new norm.