My favorite thing about fashion is the science behind it.
That may seem a bit paradoxical since fashion is generally considered “artsy,” exhibits on fashion are housed in art museums, and my fashion minor at University is part of the College of Arts.
What I mean by the “science of fashion” is how the fashion elements such as form, shape, and line, create a visual experience and how this experience can be altered. Maybe that is artsy, but to me, it is science because it is solid. Horizontal stripes will always make you appear wider than you are, dark colors will always make something appear smaller. Unless the human eye mutates, these things will never change, unlike the current trends.
I’m less concerned about broadcasting information on what to wear than I am concerned with “how” and “why.” This is why I don’t usually write about “what to wear” or street style or trends.
But today I’m calling out a couple of trends that I see so many young females wearing that just baffle me.
Disclaimer: Wear what you like. You don’t have to agree with me. But be aware, the visual effects created by your clothes are #facts. You’re free to like or dislike or just not care about said effects.
High-waisted pants or shorts and 80s thongs. Oh dear LAWD, the cringe!
I can understand the reasoning behind the trends. The hi-cut swimwear trend originated in the 80s when long, aerobic, Pilates legs were part of the beauty standards. The hi-cut is meant to elongate the legs- and it does have that visual effect- but it also elongates the ass, and high-waisted shorts or pants have the same effect.
“Long butt,” I believe, is the unofficial term for it. Visually, the top of your butt is wherever your waistband is. And if your waistband is right at your rib cage, then you get the long butt effect and your ass looks saggy. Back in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s, women weren’t too concerned with having a bubble butt. In fact, it was just the opposite. Beauty standards dictated that having a big butt was out and thin was in, as evidenced by Sir Mix A Lot’s 1992 counterculture rap anthem:
High-waisted pants and shorts are meant to elongate the legs while also accentuating the waist but the visual reality is that the positioning of the waistband right at the natural waistline visually chops the torso in half, causing the wearer to look boxy. (Side note: the high top socks are godawful as well. They take away from the natural curvature of the calf muscles, make your legs look stumpy, and give you the appearance of cankles. Leave the hi-top socks on the basketball court or in the gym.)
Notice that the long butt phenomena rarely occurs because of dresses and high-waisted skirts (unless you just have a really flat butt to begin with). Skirts, and dresses especially, provide a more smooth, unbroken line compared to pants and shorts. Jeans have the top of the waistband, along with the yoke and belt loops and pockets (or lack thereof), all of which can affect how your butt appears. For me personally, no jeans I’ve ever tried on labeled as “high rise” actually went up to my natural waistline. My natural waist is oddly high up on my torso; it’s well above my belly button. When the waistband of the jeans sits just below my actual waistline, it distracts the eye from my real waist. The material of jeans is also much thicker than the material for nearly all skirts so the material adds thickness to the waistline as well, creating the appearance of a blocky waist
Also, the tightness of clothing accentuates the curve where your butt meets the back of your legs. Skirts and dresses can be worn with more tightness compared to pants because pants bisect the legs and have a crotch; you can only have your pants so tight before they start digging into your labia and that’s not comfortable for anyone. Furthermore, if you’re wearing a high-waisted A-line skirt, then your behind is generally more obscured than if you were wearing a high-waisted pencil skirt. So the high-waist A-line skirt successfully does its job of accentuating the waist (although the ass is hidden entirely).
The exception to this rule is if you have an amazing, fitness model, Jen Selter-level of gluteal development (or surgical augmentation). If you’ve been in the gym hip thrusting and glute-bridging like there’s no tomorrow and you have an above average, super perky peach behind you, then high-waisted clothes won’t ruin your booty. Although of course, it’d still look perkier in a lower waistband.
But for the rest of us average girls who don’t have that bubble butt (yet), hi-cut and high-waist clothes are not the way to go. Bella Hadid is gorgeous and she has a great figure, but at 5’8″ and hips measuring at 35″, I wouldn’t say she has a peach booty. Bella is a fashion model and fashion models and fitness models have vastly different body shapes and varying amounts of muscle development. But even as a supermodel, the hi-cut trend does not look flattering on her. You know a trend won’t be flattering to most of the population when even a supermodel can’t pull it off.