It was my first day in a new school, and I looked for a seat which would render me inconspicuous, and placed myself there.
A girl came and started staring at me with huge eyes, fiddling with her shirt, and trying to tuck it in our godforsaken school-uniform-skirt, and that’s when I noticed the low waist. Hence, the time came to herald a new era, an era which took teenagers across the globe (myself included) by storm, and the world was never to be the same again. Yes, I am talking about the descending waistline.
So my first encounter with the “low waist” happened in school. Instead of trying to cover their belts by folding and refolding their shirts, people started to show their belts off, because it clearly marked the place where you wore your skirt or trousers. Hence, the belt, instead of being camouflaged, became a very important part of the school uniform.
Skirts and trousers were pulled as low as possible, aided by bigger shirts, and “wearing low waist” caught on rapidly. The trend, detested by the school and the administration, flourished even more when authorities decided to dictate how low or high you can wear your skirts and trousers.
I remember vividly, how, in lower classes, some of our teachers would select students whom they would deem “inappropriately dressed” (wearing their uniform too low) and send them to the back of the class as a way of punishment. Instead of being ashamed and sorry like they were expected to be, these “delinquents” would strut around proudly to the admiring gaze of the student body.
By definition, low rise jeans are supposed to sit eight centimetres lower than the belly button. But obviously, there have been massive modifications and sometimes gross miscalculations.
Wearing your jeans low, according to some sources, was a trend that came up in the prison system of the United States of America, where prisoners were prohibited from wearing a belt, to prevent them from using the belt as a weapon for attack or suicide. So they just started wearing their pants low.
The style however, mainly came up in the 90’s and 2000’s, after Alexander McQueen’s “Dante” show where Kate Moss modelled his low rise “bumster”. But, like we all know, it was really Britney Spears who popularised the low rise in 2001 as a style that could be worn in daily life, and following that, we haven’t looked back.
Wearing low rise jeans wasn’t just a style statement anymore, it wasn’t just to look “cool”- it represented much more.
Low rise, as I saw it, was defiance. It was deliberate brazenness against those who were in charge, until the point that they understood that it was our work which defined us, not what we wear. It stood for individualism, a separate, distinct identity which called for attention, and the fact that we want to be taken seriously, and wearing a pair of low rise jeans should not hinder that in any way.
Most importantly, I feel, low rise stood, in India especially, for liberated sexuality. Midriffs were bared, belly buttons pierced and the body shape was emphasized with pride. There was, and still is, serious resistance to it, but the low rise triumphed in the end. Boys made their jeans super baggy and super low, and girls made theirs super tight and super low.
But hey, you know what they say about fashion- it’s a full circle. We go back to where we started from, and as we went back to our puff sleeves, polka dots and palazzo pants, so we went back to the high waist.
The high waist, after being cruelly side-lined for many seasons, finally returned around mid-2010, and took less than a year to catch on.
The entire scene suddenly changed- streets were graced by fancy high-waisted shorts, which also gave room for prettier shoes, overcoming the monopoly of the flip-flops and ballet flats, which went best with low rise.
Elegant, high-waisted pants became another rage, and with a fitting tank top ornamented by an adorable satchel, you would be ready to roll.
And if all that is happening, will the skirt really be left behind?
Nothing can make heads turn like a tight high-waist skirt, in jazzy prints or a neutral shade, complemented by a top in a neutral shade or in a jazzy print respectively.
The revolution that the low waist created though, I feel, will never truly fade out. Low waist is still very, very popular, perhaps even more so than the high waist, and holds a special place in the hearts of so many.
However, the most important revelation is that, the best waist line is the one which flatters you the best, and none else.
Fashion is supposed to be fun, not stressful, and if a particular style isn’t complimenting you, do not even think twice about ignoring it.