Short Legs, Long Rise, How to Define Your Waist When Wearing Jeans


Reader question:

It attracted my attention that you mention that you wear skirts/dresses or jeans most of the time. I do the same thing, and it has been working great for the most part, thanks to your blog. The main thing that I learned is that I am X-shape and I should belt over skirts/dresses, I enjoy having a defined waist and I like how it looks. My problem is with jeans – I am short waisted and if I belt over, it looks like I have too long of a rise. If I don’t belt it and choose a slim top it looks better, but I am so used to waist definition that I don’t like that look anymore. I am also not a big fan of layering, for me the simpler, the better. I am wondering if there is anyway to work out the belted look into my predicament (X-shape, short waist)? If not, what is the simplest way to layer to achieve waist definition?
Thank so much in advance!

short legs long rise


My two solutions if you don’t want to layer would be:

1. Wear a top that ends over your jeans mid-way between waist and rise to visually cut the area in half, then put a waist defining belt over the top on your waist.

2. Tuck in your top, wear a wide belt over the jeans (the wide belt takes up more space and cuts the area of the rise), then wear a short cardigan, shrug, or cropped jacket to further define and draw attention to your waist.


Don’t forget to colour blend your shoes to your jeans (or go slightly darker) so that you further elongate your legs.

And keep your jeans dark and your top lighter, brighter or patterned to draw attention upwards.


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  • I’m confused.

    I have a similar problem (short legs, long rise). I’ve always read that, for this situation, I am supposed to try to make my waist look higher (wear high-waisted pants or skirts, thin belts at my waist or slightly higher, etc.) — thereby making it seem as though my legs are longer.

    When I look at the polyvore and solution 2 above (wearing a wide belt below the waist), it appears as though the waist is being made to appear lower, thus shortening the ‘leg line’.

    Can you please clarify? Thanks.

    • Often people who have a long rise (the distance between natural waist and leg break (where the leg bends up) can seem too much of a distance, so breaking this part in half to give the illusion of a more balanced rise can flatter. Yes it’s true you lose a little leg in the process but it looks more balanced.

      I’d only ever break up this proportion on pants, with a skirt, go the high waisted, narrow belt on your waist as we don’t see where the legs start as there isn’t a crotch seam. It’s only on trousers, which can be a problematic garment for those with very short legs and long rises.

      Does this make sense?

      • Yes, thanks.

        So, for me, regarding pants, it’ll be a try it and see where putting the ‘break’ between top and bottom looks best/more balanced.

  • Oh, can you do something for dressing a short-waisted H too? I’m like super short – there’s about an inch between by ribcage and my hip, so I tend to stick with dresses, but that’s not always practical for chasing two young kids.

  • Ohhh a post about my specific body shape, yumm!!

    Sounds like I do the right stuff, too, yay! Reading your blog and experimenting has paid off.

    Imogen, I think that even in a skirt the point of leg break is visible when the person is moving, unless the skirt is very full. It’s not as big an impact as with trousers/jeans, but it’s noticeable enough that I wear tops to the high hip (as opposed to to the waist or tuck-in) even with skirts.

  • Imogen, thank you so much!!!!!! It was my question, I am just so exited to learn the solution to my perennial dilemma…
    P.S. I am test-driving it tomorrow.

  • Hi Imogen. I wanted to know if you could write a guide for women with a long rise, short waist, but longer legs. My legs aren’t short, but my waist is and my rise is longer. I also don’t have much of a behind. I’m an A-Shape with a bit more on top than others and I’m always struggling to find outfits that work for me.

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