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What are Hipster Jeans?

P.M. Willers
P.M. Willers

Hipster jeans are a type of blue jeans or denim pants that have a very low waistline. These jeans were first popular in the mid to late 1990s, and were usually constructed out of stretch denim. The design for hipster jeans is based upon a short zipper, even as short as two or three inches, and a very low waist in the front and back. Hipster jeans are also sometimes called low-slung pants, low-cut jeans, hipsters, or hip-huggers. The name hipster stems from the placement of the jeans low on the hips and is not known to be related to ‘hipsters’, a group of young people with particular, indie-related fashion and culture that do not consider themselves mainstream.

An earlier version of the style was present in the 1960s and 70s. Hip-hugger pants of that era were slim fitting, low-waisted pants that fastened at the hips just below the belly button, rather than at the natural waistline. The natural waistline is generally considered to be the slimmest part of the torso, and located about 1 1/2 to 2 inches (4 to 5 centimeters) above the belly button. Today's hipster jeans might be considered an exaggerated version of this style, with a waistline several inches below the belly button.

Skinny jeans are considered hipster jeans.
Skinny jeans are considered hipster jeans.

Both versions of the style were worn with a variety of tops or shirts. Throughout the 60s and 70s, hip-huggers were worn with short, midriff-baring tops, or halter tops, or with longer, flowing, or skirted shirts. The hipsters of the 90s were often worn with short, slim-fitting tops that covered just to the waist, leaving several inches of skin.

The concept and design for the hipster jeans of the 90s may have come from various sources, but is most likely to have come from two Australian designers, Sarah-Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton, who created a line of jeans in stretch denim that fit much lower than any jeans had that were worn in the past. This particular line of jeans was produced under the label Sass & Bide™ and sported a two-inch zipper. Clarke and Middleton’s design was first introduced in 1999. More recently, Sass & Bide™, is credited with starting the skinny jeans fad that became popular in the early 2000s.

Hipster jeans have a low waistline.
Hipster jeans have a low waistline.

Hipster jeans spawned the recent fad of females exposing their undergarments in the back. The style was most likely made popular by young artists and celebrities who wore hipster jeans with an exposed thong. This exposure has sometimes been called a whale tail.

Discussion Comments


Are hipsters only for girls?


I know I am aging myself when I say how I loved the original hip-hugger jeans. Wearing a pair of these jeans with a flared leg was pretty cool back in my time.

Maybe that is why I have an easier time adjusting to the new style of hipster jeans better than I do ripped jeans that are in style. When I have jeans with holes in them, I think it is time to get a new pair, not buy them that way!

I do find that wearing jeans with a lower waistline are more comfortable for me than those that have a high waist. I don't usually wear my shirts tucked in, so you can't really tell, but I have always preferred a lower cut jean around the waist.


After seeing the hipster jeans for so long, and seeing so many cracks for so long, I have loved seeing the high waisted jean flit into the trend scene every now and again, they look so classic amid all of the hipster jeans.

But I think that is what I love most about trends like hipster jeans is that they always change, they are always fresh, and if you enjoy fashion I feel you do not have to get rid of your whole wardrobe with each trend change. Rather just add a few pieces to your wardrobe and then add pieces that people would not expect with the new trend.

I am also curious as to what the next trend will be? From hipster and skinny jeans, to straight leg jeans, to swings to another extreme such as bell-bottoms; I think fashion tries to keep us on our toes (or maybe just in our wallets)!


I remember even before the thong hanging out of jeans - the boxer hanging out of jeans, and not just by boys but by girls!

Talk about an awful trend, I remember in middle school actually having a pair of jeans that were made so that I did not even have to put on boxers underneath, as the upper part of the boxer was just sewn into the jeans kind of like sweater shirts with the collar of a button up sticking out of them, but it does not have the rest of the button up.

Now that I look back I wonder if this is also where this hipster jean trend started, girls thought well if boys can have their boxers hanging out then I will have my thong out?!

While I had my day with hipster jeans (or lowrise jeans as we called them); my favorite womens jeans to this day are distressed jeans. But not the buy them already distressed type of jean, the type of jean that you have actually had for so long that they look distressed - they are so comfy and look great as they add some personality to any outfit.


Hipster jeans are one trend that I totally ignored. I only wear high waisted jeans, no matter the current fashion.

I can’t stand feeling like I’m losing my pants when I bend down. I tried wearing hipsters once, and I kept trying to pull the waist up, even though it wasn’t falling down. It was right where it was supposed to be, but it felt so wrong!

I prefer to be fashionable in other ways with my jeans. If flare legs are in, I will wear a high waisted pair with those. If straight legs are all the rage, I will go with a natural waistline pair with straight legs.


@kylee07drg - It sounds like you have the perfect frame for wearing boyfriend jeans. These are much looser and relaxed than regular hipsters, if you ever want something more comfortable.

I have a couple of pairs of these low rise jeans. They are relaxed through the hip and thigh area, and they have cuffs at the bottom of the legs. I think this may be because they are supposed to look like they were borrowed from a boyfriend, who is probably taller than me, so I would need to roll them up to walk around.

Boyfriend jeans look great with stylish blouses as well as loose t-shirts. You can really get away with wearing anything on top when you wear these on bottom.


I am not made like most people. My natural frame is different. I have a straight waist, whereas most women have more of an hourglass figure. This has made shopping for jeans very difficult.

Hipster jeans are about the only kind I can wear comfortably. They don’t come up high enough to try to constrict my waist into a shape that it doesn’t possess. They don’t affect my waist at all, since they sit across my hipbones.

Because of my unique shape, I have never been all about showing my midriff. So, I love wearing long, flowy shirts with hipster jeans.


I wore hipster jeans in the nineties because they were just about the only jeans I could find in stores. I wanted jeans with a higher waistline, but they were so hard to find!

I hated having to hold onto my jeans every time I bent over to avoid exposing my underwear. Shirt waists were made pretty short back then, so even one that covered my skin while standing up would show it when I leaned forward.

If I wanted my skin covered, I had to wear large t-shirts with the jeans instead of cute, fashionable tops. It took away from the look, but I felt better.


Hipster jeans are a good way to go if you want club wear that emphasizes a slim body. While I wouldn't ever wear them in public, people are wearing a lot less in clubs and I find these pants to be a better than a micro skirt.

One of the ways to get around showing too much skin with hipster jeans is to wear a longer shirt that only leaves an inch or so visible between your pants and the shirt. I think this peek is sexier than just letting everything hang out there. Also, you don't need to have your underwear show if you buy the right pair. There are hip hugging undies that are made to go with ultra-low jeans.


It seems to me that hipster jeans are one of those things that only really thin women can get away with. And to be honest, they really aren't that practical or attractive in my opinion. I guess if you want to show a lot of skin and have your underwear hanging out they are OK, but I wouldn't recommend them if you want to be taken seriously.

I also think the whole "whale tail" look is just disgusting to be frank. Really, who needs to have their thong visible to the world. While some may think it looks sexy, I would argue that it is just a really trashy look.


So hipster jeans are why we have whale tails (thong underwear that is exposed above a girls jeans). Well thanks a lot. That is really something that has made the world a better place. Kind of ironic when you think about it. What is less hip than having oversexed underwear hanging out of your pants.


@whiteplane - Another thing that amuses me about this whole phenomenon is how common hipster jeans have become. You can go into just about any store right down to the major big box retailers and find pairs of hipster jeans for sale. You can go to high school football games and find everyone wearing hipster jeans. You see little kids running around and wearing them. What all this say to me is that there is not now and maybe never has been anything cool about these jeans. They have been completely co opted by the mainstream at this point.


I think its funny that we call this one style of jeans hipster jeans when there is really nothing new or distinct about it. If you make even a brief survey of youth culture over the last 50 years you will see that young people, and people who identify themselves as "cool" have always worn tight pants. It is just a way to show off a fit and youthful body.

I think the tight pants syndrome reached its peak in the 70s when everyone was wearing tight pants. Business men sported them, baseball players wore them and even people who had no interest in fashion or youth culture wore them. It was just the style of the time. So there is really nothing new about hipster jeans. They have always been around around I imagine they always will.


I used to wear a lot of hipster jeans years ago when I was thinner and really liked how they fit. I don’t wear them now because I am overweight and they would not look as flattering. I really think that you have to have a thin frame in order to wear these jeans because you will be really uncomfortable because you will have visible love handles because the jeans tend to be snug in the lower hip area. This is why I don’t wear them.

I now wear a lot of wide leg jeans that deemphasize my hips and make me look thinner. These also have a higher waist line which makes me look better. I know that a lot of the hipsters also have wide leg or boot cut fit as well.

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    • Skinny jeans are considered hipster jeans.
      By: charlesknoxphoto
      Skinny jeans are considered hipster jeans.
    • Hipster jeans have a low waistline.
      By: Piotr Marcinski
      Hipster jeans have a low waistline.
    • Hipster jeans rest on the hips with the waistline falling below the bellybutton.
      By: Laurent Hamels
      Hipster jeans rest on the hips with the waistline falling below the bellybutton.
    • Hipster jeans spawned the recent fad of females exposing their undergarments in the back.
      By: kosmos111
      Hipster jeans spawned the recent fad of females exposing their undergarments in the back.