The high-waisted jean is a polarizing garment. People only ever seem to have very, very strong, deeply held opinions about them. Some people adore them. Everyone else hates them more than they hate Jessica Simpson, all the Kardashians, and spiders combined. As a person who came of age in the early 2000s, I was a devotee of the low-rise jean for years, but all that changed when I had a baby.
While I was pregnant, I basically lived in my maternity jeans. They were one of the few pieces of actual maternity clothes I bought, because I did not want to spend money on clothes I would hopefully not be wearing for very long. But after the baby, I couldn’t wear them anymore. I couldn’t wear anything anymore.
After the baby was born I found myself in a terrible fashion limbo. My maternity clothes sagged around me like tents that had seen a few too many circuses. My pre-baby clothes were still probably five or six sizes too small, and the thought of cramming myself into my old skinny jeans and high heels was enough to make me retreat to the land of yoga pants and tears.
Even the pants I could squash myself into felt awful. Pregnancy does a number on one’s body. It changes in all manner of weird and surprising ways that I was not prepared for, even after a year of anxiously googling “post-baby bodies” on the Internet. (I was expecting bigger breasts. I was not expecting my right armpit to swell so much it looked like I had Mr. Clean in a headlock.) most distressing of all is what happened to my stomach.
Once the baby leaves the building, all that stretched-out stomach skin doesn’t snap back like elastic. In my case, all that loose skin just sort of hung there looking all deflated and empty like a fallen souffle or a popped balloon. When I tried to put pants over it, nothing fit. You know when you open a can of Pillsbury rolls by peeling the label off and it makes that satisfying “pop!” and all the dough comes bursting out of the seams? Yeah, it was basically just like that except without the cool “pop!” sound. And all the jeans I was trying just made me feel worse about it. In low-rise jeans, all that loose skin hung over the top. In mid-rise jeans, it was bisected by the waistband in a way that felt profoundly uncomfortable and made bending over weird.
Then, in a beautiful epiphany, a commenter over on The Gloss’ sister site, Mommyish, recommended high-waisted jeans for a newly post-baby figure. At first I was skeptical and entertained visions of “mom jeans” dancing through my head. But I was desperate so I tried a pair, and they were good.
I got myself a pair of ASOS Ridley high-waisted skinny jeans in acid wash. OK, the color that showed up was just a standard blue, but I didn’t care because they looked and felt fantastic. There was enough stretch to them that they were almost as comfortable as yoga pants, and the high waist was exceedingly comfortable. Rather than falling below or in the middle of my newly empty baby pocket, the waist rode well above it, at my natural waist. It was very comfortable and alll that bothersome new extra skin was tucked away inside the denim, which wasn’t too tight at all.
As great as it was to find comfortable jeans, I have to admit that what I liked best about them was how flattering they were. Normally I do not give much of a shit about “flattering” clothes or how “pretty” a garment makes me look, but in that immediate post-baby period I felt very ill at ease in my own body, which no longer felt like it belonged to me even a little bit. The high waist made my stomach look flatter, my short legs look longer, and was on-trend enough to make me feel hip and relevant again.
I liked my new high-waisted jeans so much I got two more pairs in different colors. I don’t think I wore a single thing besides high-waisted jeans and loose cotton tops until the baby was eight months old. I might never wear anything else again. This is my new mom uniform, and I love it.