Low vs. Mid Vs. High Rise Pants: Choosing Your Best Fit

Like lapel width, the rise on a pair of pants is one of those things that go in and out, or rather, up and down, over the decades. But what exactly is it?

When you buy a pair of pants, do you look for the rise? If you are new to the finer points of men’s garments, the rise may not be your first consideration. So, in this article, let’s hike up our pants and address what trouser rise means and what sort of rise is best for you.

Cary Grant in The Red List wearing spectators and full cut trousers

A young Cary Grant in The Red List wearing spectators and full cut trousers that sit on the natural waistline

What is Trouser Rise?

Trouser rise is measured as the distance from the front waistband between the legs to the back waistband.  This may be generically referred to as the “crotch.” Low rise pants have a smaller measurement and sit lower on the torso while higher rise pants have a higher measurement and sit higher on the torso.

This may be in the range from 7-13 inches depending on the size of the pants (smaller sizes have lower rise height).  The waistband of low-rise pants rests at the hip bones, mid-rise between the navel and hip, and high rise at the natural waistline (close to the belly button or directly on it).

Mottled, fainted red jacket with green knit vest - too short, and rise of pants too low

These low rise pants elongate the torso and make the jacket appear very short

To remember this easily, keep in mind the two reference points of hips (low rise) vs. belly button (high rise). Rise height matters because the amount of fabric in this area dictates how long your legs and your torso are perceived to be. A higher rise makes your legs look longer, while a low rise elongates your upper body. As we’ll discuss later, this will factor in what sort of pants rise you choose.

Ethan Wong wearing high-rise trousers

A mid-rise trouser rise at left–not too high, not too low. Photo by @sebastianmcfox

Pants Rise and Fashion

As mentioned in our introduction, pants rise is heavily impacted by fashion. High-rise also referred to as “long-rise” or “high-waisted,” pants have had a bad reputation for several decades because they are associated with either out-of-touch granddads or young nerds with their pants hiked up to their chests.

Steve Urkel in high-rise pants

Steve Urkel’s high-rise pants defined his nerdiness – if he’d just worn a jacket, lengthened his hem and worn some real socks, this would have been a totally different look

High-rise trousers are colloquially referred to as “old man pants” and were worn by the likes of Steve Urkel on Family Matters and Martin Short’s character Ed Grimley on Saturday Night Live. Of course, these are either intended for comedic effect or illustrate simply that the majority of people don’t think about how to dress well.

Look at the grey suit - beautiful lapels, high waisted trousers, boutonniere and pocket square plus collar pin - stunning from Night After Night

These high waisted trousers in Night After Night were du rigeur in 1932 – just look at how long they make the star’s legs look!

Some older men may recall that “back in the day,” high-rise trousers were the standard, and this is true. If you look at illustrations in Apparel Arts or vintage advertisements, you’ll see high-rise trousers, also with wider legs, so quite the opposite of the skinny and low fits promoted in today’s fashions.

Viennese Suit Styles

The style of the 1930’s was dominated by high-rise trousers with a longer, wider leg

The changeover to a lower rise is only a recent development. Ironically, along with a move to casualization, lower-rise pants are at the opposite extreme on the continuum, sometimes lying below the hip bones, or in the case of streetwear down toward the buttocks.

As with most things in life, it’s best to avoid the extremes. If you choose a mid-height rise, you can be assured that what you wear from the waist down will have enduring value. However, the middle of the pack can be boring too, so there are other factors to consider.

What Rise Should You Choose?

Navy pants with inward pleats worn with suspenders for a smooth look

Sven Raphael Schneider often opts for higher-rise pants because they drape nicely over fuller thighs

Consider Your Body Type

The first consideration in choosing trouser rise is your body proportions. Because there’s more fabric in the rise of high-waisted pants, they create the impression that your lower body, and especially your legs, are longer. On the other hand, low-rise pants make your upper body appear longer because your pants only start at your hips.

So, if you have a long upper body, high-rise pants will counterbalance that and make you look more proportional. On the other hand, if you are short waisted, a lower rise should be your choice to make your upper body appear longer.  Of course, if you wear a suit jacket or sport coat and keep it buttoned when you walk around, these differences will matter less.

High-Rise Pants Elongate the Legs

Jan (@mrjantleman) of the Armoury Hong Kong showing how high-waisted trousers can elongate your legs and balance your torso and lower body.

Similar to pleats, a high rise can make your more comfortable if you carry weight in your abdomen. Often high-rise pants will also be pleated. As a side benefit, a higher waistline also helps disguise your belly.

If you wear low-rise pants, even some holiday overindulgence at the dinner table will give you an overhang or muffin top above your waistband. This makes the tucked-in bottom of your shirt look sloppy in turn, and if you wear a knitted sweater or vest, this in combination with lower-rise trousers will visually emphasize your gut.

Spezzato Suit Jacket and Matching Vest with Contrasting Yellow Pants and Brown Oxfords

Sven Raphael Schneider wearing bespoke mustard yellow high-rise pants

Higher-rise pants are therefore more flattering under these several conditions. When sizing, be aware that if your waist measurement is a certain size but you have a belly, you may need to have high-rise pants let out at the waist because it sits up where your stomach is and not at your hips.

Ethan Newton with Higher-Rise Pants

Ethan Newton of Brycelands in Beijing demonstrating how high-rise trousers can be flattering to different body types; note the pleats as well

The shape of your body also tends to change with your number of years, and pants rise is also a part of dressing appropriately to your age. While younger men have a wider range of possibilities when considering rise, an older man wearing low-rise pants risks looking like he is trying to recapture his lost youth. However, for younger men too, low rise will maintain a perception of youthfulness, but a strong motive for wearing tailoring and classic menswear is to avoid dressing like a boy.

An off-white suit

Low rise pants are a distinctly youthful look

Usually, this means not wearing flip-flops, a t-shirt and a backward baseball cap as your day-to-day outfit, but to be perfectly frank, a moderately high waist gives you a more mature appearance than pants that hang off your hips.

Check How the Pants Fit

Your decision then goes to which is more comfortable for you. When you try on a pair of pants, if the waistband is level and you feel like the crotch is bunching up or confining you, you may need a higher rise. On the other hand, if it looks like there’s excess fabric in the rise and the material is hanging down, you need a lower rise. On the internet, you can find some old tailor’s formulas for calculating the optimal rise for you based on taking your usual pants waist size, dividing by 52 and then multiplying by 18. So, if you have a 34 waist, you would calculate 34/52 x 18, giving you a rise of 11.8.” This seems about right, but try the formula for yourself.

 

Clark Gable wearing high-rise trousers

Clark Gable wearing high-rise trousers

Consider the Aesthetics of Your Look

Other aesthetic considerations come into play when choosing rise height. Note as well that high rise trousers usually will help keep your shirt tucked in as a whole simply because the shirt has a long way to rise out above the waistband. With lower-rise pants, simply moving around, bending and getting up will force you to re-tuck your shirt throughout the day.

Keep in mind that because your waistband is higher your tie will either have to be quite short to keep it just touching your waistband. Though the image of Oliver Hardy has some comic intent, such short ties were more common with the high-rise trousers of the time. Otherwise, you’d need to tuck your tie into your waistband or wear it sprezzatura style with the blades hanging below the waistband. The trick to pulling this off is to make it obvious that it is intentional.

If you like looking fashionable and contemporary, a low rise–in a slim fit, along with a fitted suit jacket or blazer–will be your choice. However, if you prefer a traditional, even vintage, look, opt for a higher rise. That’s the way men during the Golden Age of menswear wore them, and they knew what they were doing in creating a clean, uninterrupted transition from the jacket to the pants.

Sam Smith and unknown - velvet green dinner jackets are nice but sockless tassel loafers are not for black tie events

Green velvet dinner jackets are elegant, but only when paired with pants high enough not to show the shirt under the buttoning point

There should never be a small triangle of shirt showing below the buttoning point of your jacket when you have it closed as this disrupts the flow of your look. If your trouser rise is too low, that bit of shirt will certainly be visible where the quarters (front skirt) of your jacket begin to separate. You can disguise this gap with your tie, which is a little better though technically still incorrect form, but the best solution is a higher waistline; some mid-rise pants will be high enough.

Fabio Attanasio Lower Rise Pants

With lower rise pants, your shirt will be visible below the buttoning point. Photo of Fabio Attanasio via The Bespoke Dudes.

Gents from the first half of the 20th century also knew high-waisted pants look best if you are wearing a suit jacket, blazer or sport coat, especially closed. If you open your jacket, high-waisted pants risk making your chest look concave or sunken and also shortens your torso. Even the Swedish sartorial icon Andreas Weinås looks better with his jacket closed when wearing high-rise trousers.

Closed and Open Jackets with High-Rise Trousers

A closed jacket tends to look better (more proportional) with the jacket closed

Where to Buy Mid- and High-Rise Trousers

So, ultimately, in most cases, it’s better to go with a mid- to high rise. That’s why many gents who try a higher rise say they’ll never go back to something lower. We certainly would welcome a return of popularity for the more traditional high rise on dress pants!

High Rise Pants are Rarely Available Off the Rack

In fact, it’s virtually impossible. The trend for lower rise pants, despite the fact that they are flattering for so few, means you’re less likely to find high-rise pants because they won’t appeal to a broad clientele. One possibility is to try small menswear boutiques and haberdashers. Berg & Berg, for example, only sell higher rise trousers, but the selection is fairly small.

Mid-Rise Pants, However, Are Much Easier to Find (Just Avoid Fast Fashion)

On the other hand, it’s much easier to find mid-rise pants from brands that lean classic, such as Ralph Lauren. They list the height of the rise in the “details” section of their product listings. Many of their OTR models are mid-rise, even though they aren’t advertised as such. In general, pleated pants require a higher rise to drape properly, so that feature is an indication the rise might be higher than average.

Avoid fast fashion brands entirely; they are simply too trend focused to offer mid- or high-rise pants.

Order High Rise Pants Bespoke or MTR

Button closures on a pair of pants

Multiple button closures on a pair of custom Luxire trousers

A better option, though often more expensive, is to go bespoke or made to measure. Luxire is a name that often comes up when discussing custom trousers. They’ll copy a pair of pants with a rise height you like in any fabric they stock, and they have a lot. The quality is not the highest, but the fits are good.

Buy Pants Large and Tailor Them to Fit

Ethan Wong of Street x Sprezza presents interesting advice for how to get around this shortcoming. He recommends buying pants 1-2 sizes larger than you normally wear and getting the legs tapered and the waist taken in. Bigger sizes will have longer rises by default, and you can will have a larger selection to choose from if you think outside the box this way.

Ethan Wong wearing high-rise trousers

Ethan Wong wearing high-rise trousers

Conclusion

Although many men don’t think much about the rise when buying a pair of pants, those who are true sartorialists understand that it has a tremendous impact on how the trousers fit, how they look and how they feel. Though the current trend is toward lower rises, a medium to high rise usually has more benefits in terms of appearance and comfort. The choice ultimately depends on your body shape and personal taste. So, what sort of rise do you prefer?


Gentleman’s Gazette

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The Rise and Rise of Anime: Why the Japanese Artform Is Blooming

Japanese animation, Japanimation, or anime as it’s more usually referred to outside of Japan, is big business. Characterised by fantasy-tinged stories brought to the screen in a two-dimensional hand-drawn style, the animated artform has been around since 1917. Think Studio Ghibli’s catalogue of classics, or Toei Animation’s manga adaptations, and any number of titles come to mind that define Japan’s collective animated offering.

In Japan, ‘anime’ simply means animation. To a large part of the rest of the world, anime has historically been considered a genre. But, according to acclaimed director Mamoru Hosoda, that is changing. To Hosoda, anime has long been a method of filmmaking, rather than a genre in itself. One chosen, like live action or CGI, to serve a story. And with his latest film, Mirai, honoured by being the first anime to premiere at Cannes, not only does it reflect that the industry outside of Japan is finally catching on, but it also speaks to the growing popularity of anime and its crossover success.

FANDOM spoke to Hosoda, who welcomes the warm, wide global embrace for the field in which he plies his craft.

 The Three Phases of Anime 


Mirai
A still from Hosoda's latest film, Mirai.

“Animation is a method in filmmaking so whether it be animation, be it live-action, computer graphics, so long as the story is good, it’s good and it’s a movie full stop,” says the director, whose films include Wolf Children and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. “It’s not just an anime. It’s not a niche thing at all. I think it’s good to know that animation movies are accepted as standard, normal movies. I was at San Sebastian [Film Festival, this year], and I was there three years ago in the competition, and I can actually feel the trend shifting. At that time, if you were making animation movies they would say: ‘Well, there’s this animation festival that’s separate.’ But I think the borders are really blurred now. And I think it’s a good thing.”

So why does he think this shift is happening and why is anime becoming more and more popular?

“I do actually wonder sometimes why Japanese animations are so popular,” Hosoda muses.

He has an answer, and it has to do with how the artform has evolved: “Back in the day when animation began, animation films were for children, so creators were making children’s movies and TV programmes. So that was the first phase. And the second phase became things that grown-ups can enjoy — but those particular grown-ups are like, say, those who still have the mind of a child, or otakus. So it was a genre. Animation — anime — was a genre of movies.

“And I think the third phase, which is where we are now, is [it’s] not a genre. Animation isn’t a genre, it’s more a method of filmmaking. So it’s not just for children, it’s not a genre, it just is a movie. I think animation movies, recent modern ones, are rich in stories and also have universal appeal [with] a really strong storyline, world and lives. And I think animation creators have [adopted a] more conventional filmmaking method if you like, [in terms of] character development, etc. So I think that’s where we are now and I think that’s why Japanese animation is popular. Just because it has got this universal appeal.”

The Fanbase is Evolving

So the mainstream is cottoning onto the fact that modern anime films and TV shows tell stories that resonate. But does this mean that the avid anime fanbase is disappearing as the films become wider in appeal? Hosoda thinks not. In fact, he thinks their numbers are growing.

“Of course they still exist,” he says. “I do understand both points of view because I was [an otaku] when I was young: ‘This is mine; animation is a genre, this is my genre’. And [I thought] nobody else would understand; it’s a group of us. Grown-ups wouldn’t get it.”

Hosoda, at 51 years old, is now that grown-up, making movies that he wants to appeal to all.

“At the end of the day, I just want people to enjoy my movies, or any animations for that matter,” he says. “When I make my movies, I’m totally aware of the existence [of the anime fanbase] but having said all of that, I think these otaku people… I think there are more of them, and also [that they’re] becoming sort of integrated into the standard moviegoers. They are not that different to how they used to be thought of, I think. But, then again, you don’t want to be making movies for that niche category. And you’ve got to be aware of universal values, and animation, or filmmaking, as an art.”

2-D or Not 2-D?


Bojack
Animations like Bojack Horseman have primed western audiences to embrace anime.

Hosoda’s attitude towards filmmaking, which puts a universal story front and centre, naturally extends to his chosen method of animation. He refuses to elucidate on what he loves about 2-D hand-drawn animation, the medium in which he works, as a result.

“Again, it’s all about different methods and techniques,” he says. “I mean, there’s the theme of a film, its contents, the message you want to tell. These are the most important things. If you think CG works better then use that. Or if you think a hand-drawn technique is better, use that. It’s not about brand new or old. It’s a bit like, OK, you use your pencil, and there’s an Apple pencil. It’s not about which is better, they’re just different tools. Whether that tool you are using would suit what you are making; which is better? That’s what matters. And I’ve been saying this for about 10 years and people don’t get it and it’s really frustrating.”

Animation across the world, including in the west, has become more and more sophisticated in recent years. Pixar movies are loved by children and adults alike and work on both levels, while breakthrough animated TV shows aimed directly at adults — such as South Park, Bojack Horseman and more — are impressing on the collective western mind that animation can push boundaries. And do so arguably more easily than some mainstream live-action fare. As a result, a wide global audience has been cultivated that’s ready to fully embrace animated offerings from further afield and the resonant stories they’re telling.

Hollywood’s Live Action Remakes Are Pointless


Beauty and the Beast
Hosoda does not like the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast.

In light of all of this, it beggars belief that Disney continues to press forward with live-action remakes of some of their best-loved animated classics.

“OK, I told you that I really, really, really, really, really liked Beauty and the Beast? I really think that live-action versions [of animations] are s—. I’m very angry,” Hosoda spits, albeit with a laugh. “I would make a brand new animation, much better than that.”

He explains, “I might feel this strongly because I’m an animation filmmaker but I just think, say [with] Beauty and the Beast, I don’t see any respect to the original filmmakers. I just kind of feel like they just did it for the money: ‘Beauty and the Beast – great… popular… why not do live action? We get more cash.’ And that’s what I don’t like. I think they just really need to pay more respect to the original animations.”

So if Hollywood came knocking and wanted to remake Mirai as a live action film, Hosoda would presumably tell them where to go, right?

“OK, let’s see how much they want to pay,” he laughs. “I want to know, first of all, why they want to make a live-action version. What I’m trying to say is, as I said earlier, animation is a method of filmmaking. It’s no different from anything else and I think the general concept or idea is that live action is better — if you like, major, and animation is like a little bit of a minor player. And I don’t honestly agree with that at all. OK, there are stories that would work better in animation, there are stories which work better in live action, fine. But [in terms of their individual value] I think animation and live action are the same, so I’d really want to know why they wanted to do a live action [version]. Because this is a fantastic animation movie, so why do you want to remake using these people?”

He makes a strong point. Mirai is in UK cinemas now and hits screens in the US on November 30.

‘Mirai’: The Surprising Influences Behind 2018’s Most Groundbreaking Anime

‘Mirai’ is Much More Than Anime ‘Christmas Carol’

The post The Rise and Rise of Anime: Why the Japanese Artform Is Blooming appeared first on FANDOM.

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