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What are Hip Hugger Pants?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 21, 2024
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Hip hugger pants are a low-waist, or low-rise, pant style that first became fashionable in the 1960s. These pants fasten at the hips rather than the waist. When worn with short or midriff-baring tops, their low cut reveals the upper hip area and belly button. Hip hugger styles of pants fit tightly in the hips and thighs.

Many late 1960s hip hugger pant versions feature wide, bell-shaped legs that flare outward from a tight top section. The fabric of these bell-bottom pants was often boldly striped or covered in the abstract patterns and bright, wild colors that were fashionable in the late 1960s. Later versions of hip huggers include athletic styled pants that taper rather than flare downward. These types often have sporty stripes down the outer sides of the pant legs.

Since hip huggers accentuate the waist, stomach and hips, they're a style best worn by young adults with lean or muscular figure types. Flared or bell-bottomed hip hugger pants or blue jeans are still often associated with a "rock star look" for both men and women. In the 1960s through the mid-1970s many young women wore midriff-baring halter tops with hip huggers. Sonny and Cher as well as the lead singer of the rock band The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, helped make hip huggers popular in the pop and rock music genres.

A wide belt is often worn with hip hugger blue jeans or pants. Not only does adding a belt give personal style to the look of the garment, it also helps keep these very low-waist pants styles up on the hips so they don't slip down too low. Fabric with at least some stretch in it is often used to help keep hip huggers in place. Since the fabric is stretched tight and most of the stomach and upper hips are bared, any excess body fat in these areas is likely to hang over the edge creating an unflattering look.

Hip huggers are made from many different materials, including denim, khaki, leather and cotton. In the mid to late 1970s, with the popularity of the disco music scene, hip huggers in flashy materials such as metallic gold lame became trendy. The 1990s saw the return of the hip hugger, but this time the fabric used was mainly denim for blue jeans. Female singers such as Madonna and Britney Spears popularized the low-rise, hip hugger jean look for young girls.

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Discussion Comments
By DentalFloss — On Dec 09, 2010

While they are usually associated with baring your midriff, especially in the latest incarnation of hip huggers during the 1990s, my mother grew up in the 1960s and has told me that many people who wore hip huggers also tended to wear very long shirts, such as tunics or loose t shirts. While both men and women liked the new and different style and feel of these pants, not everyone wanted to bare everything, even though that is the stereotype people have about hip hugger pants today.

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