Pinch-Waist Jeans Are the Most Flattering Denim Style Around

Pinch-Waist Jeans Are the Most Flattering Denim Style Around
Photo: Courtesy of H&M, Levi's Reformation, Abercrombie & Fitch, GRLFRND, Adobe. Design: Sasha Purdy/STYLECASTER.

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When it comes to denim trends, there are two camps of people—the high-rise wearers and the low-rise lovers. Oftentimes, these two groups don’t intersect. If you find yourself in the former group, you’ll love the style of pinch waist denim. While lengths of nine inches and over (from inseam to waistline) are considered “high-waisted,” a crop of even higher waistlines (we’re talking 12.5 inches, here) has begun to pervade the zeitgeist. AGOLDE denim’s “pinch-waist jeans” are a particularly iconic (and perpetually sold-out) example of the trend, which you’re sure to see everywhere this season.

The ’90s-inspired pinch-waist style is comprised entirely of ultra-rigid cotton denim (read: zero stretch whatsoever), and is characterized by its strikingly rib-grazing rise (that has a slim fit and straight legs, to boot). This on-trend silhouette is basically the perfect fit for vintage fiends who’ve been hopelessly digging through thrift store bins to find something similar for years. What’s nice? The 2023 take on this very ’90s trend is figure-flattering—and much easier to come by. No more perusing the dusty shelves of your local thrift store week after week hoping to find “the one”—just head to your favorite e-tailer and hit “check out.”

Though Agolde is perhaps the most notable brand in the pinch-waist jeans space, they’re far from the only one. Levi’s most recent drop—the Ribcage Jean—has also been through the sold-out and restock cycle since it first launched earlier this year. The Ribcage features a 12 and 1/8 inch rise, with booty and hip-hugging fit that flows into a classic straight-leg cut. And for those of you worried that too-high-waisted jeans will swallow your frame, rest assured knowing the elevated rise has a lengthening effect, rather than a shrinking one.

Anyone who’s ever sported a pair of true vintage jeans to the office knows that while they photograph like a dream on Instagram, they’re not the most comfortable choice IRL. However, this contemporary take on the vintage-inspired style offer the best of both worlds; sleek structure with enough stretch to get you through the day? Yes, please.

STYLECASTER | Pinch Waist Jeans

Courtesy of AGOLDE.

90s Pinch Waist Jean

This pair of Agolde jeans is what started the pinch waist craze after shoppers deemed them their favorite pair of jeans of all time (which explains why they sell out so quick)

STYLECASTER | Pinch Waist Jeans

Courtesy of Abercrombie & Fitch.

Ultra High Rise 90s Straight Jean

Leave it to Abercrombie & Fitch to make a beloved style in a full range of size options and colors at a reasonable price point. This pair is available in sizes 23-37 and length options from extra short to extra long.

STYLECASTER | Pinch Waist Jeans

Courtesy of Everlane.

The Way-High Jean

Everlane has nailed the pinch look with the Way-High Jean. I have this pair and can vouch for the softness of the fabric. This pair is available in seven different washes and three length options.


STYLECASTER | Pinch Waist Jeans

Courtesy of Reformation.

Cynthia High Rise Straight Long Jeans

This pair of jeans is fitted in the waist and the butt and then has a looser silhouette throughout the leg for a more relaxed look. If you want the slouchy look the model has, make sure to size up.
STYLECASTER | Pinch Waist Jeans

Courtesy of GRLFRND.

Brooklyn High Rise Straight

Opting for a light-wash jean is a great way to give your whole look a little bit of edge—this pair has minor distressing on the backside which makes them the perfect pair for a night out. 

STYLECASTER | Pinch Waist Jeans

Courtesy of GAP.

High Rise Stride Jeans

A pinch waist looks great with wide-leg jeans because the proportions will provide a nice balance to your outfit and make you look super tall. This pair from Gap comes in a chic dark wash. 


STYLECASTER | Pinch Waist Jeans

Courtesy of Levi’s.

Wedgie Icon High Rise Jeans

What’s more classic than a pair of Levi’s? It’s a rhetorical question. For slim-fit pinch waist jeans, look no further than this pair of ankle-length Levi’s.


STYLECASTER | Pinch Waist Jeans

Courtesy of H&M.

Mom Comfort Ultra High Jeans

If you see the words “mom jeans” or “ultra high rise” you can confidently shop knowing that combo translates to “pinch waist” in jean language. This pair from H&M is a budget-friendly option at just $35.
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