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Should You Try the Paperbag Waist Silhouette?

May 14, 2020

Welcome to Dressed for My Day! Recently I’ve had several readers ask me about paperbag waist jeans or pants. I’d never tried them, so I decided to take the plunge…for the sake of my readers! And since I always made my kids take three bites of new foods before crossing them off their lists, I challenged myself to style these paperbag waist jeans three times, too. And with three “tastes” under my belt (pun intended!), I’m now ready to answer the question, “Should you try the paperbag waist silhouette?”

Should You Wear Paperbag Waist Jeans?
similar jeans (but not quite the same – mine are sold out) // t-shirt (wearing a small) // day loafer mule in caramel (size up) // blazer (TTS) 40% off // shoulder bag // belt // jewelry no longer available

As with most trends, these paperbag waist jeans have been a little polarizing in the comments section here at Dressed for My Day. (I styled them earlier this week in this post and this one.) And that’s to be expected, really. We all have different tastes. But when we assess trends, we really need to do more than just take a cursory glance and make a snap judgment. We need to consider that clothing is a personal and creative expression of who we are. For many of us who put a little thought and creativity into our outfits, in fact, our clothing feels somewhat like an extension of ourselves. So while I can tell you whether or not I like a particular style for me, I cannot tell you if it’s right for you.

Should You Wear Paperbag Waist Jeans?

That said, I can offer some tips that might help you make a decision about whether or not you should try the paperbag waist trend. And fortunately, since so many retailers are offering free returns these days, that’s all you really have to do…try them…or not, ha!

Here are some points to consider when trying the paperbag waist trend:

#1 – The paperbag waist is generally a high waisted pant or jean (or shorts or skirt, for that matter). So if you have a short waist you may not look your best in this silhouette. If you still want to try them, look for pants that have the tie waist feature, but have a mid rise, like these tie waist linen blend pants. (See this post to figure out your body proportions and this post to learn how to dress your body proportions.)

Tie Waist Pants

#2 – Paperbag waist jeans and pants come in different leg silhouettes, so choose which is best for your body shape. (See this post to determine your body shape and this post to learn how to dress your distinct body shape.) Generally, an hourglass shaped woman can wear just about anything. A woman with an apple or O shape probably should steer clear of this silhouette altogether because it emphasizes the waist. This silhouette will make a woman with an inverted triangle shape look more balanced (if the pants are full in the hips, like my jeans) and can also flatter a woman with a triangle shape (if the pants are slimmer in the legs).

While I would generally steer a woman with an H or rectangle shape away from pants that accentuate the waist or require tucking in, these pants can actually create the illusion of a defined waistline because of the fullness above and below the belt. So it’s worth a try. But they’ll look more flattering on the woman with a rectangle shape that is more of an I. In other words, the more slender version of a rectangle shape.

Paperbag Waist Jeans

#3 – If you decide to try the paperbag waist silhouette, choose pants that work for your height. I’m 5’8″, so the fuller leg and high waist work fine for me. If you’re shorter, you absolutely can wear these high waist jeans. In fact, the high waist can elongate your legs. But you’ll want to balance the look with nude footwear, like I’ve chosen for today’s look. Maybe even add a high heel.

high waist jeans

#4 – Obviously, you have to tuck your top into the waistband of a paperbag waist pant or skirt. So plan accordingly. If you think the pants look too high on your torso, wear a top in the same shade of the pants to create a column of color. (See this look where I wore a navy top. Do you see the difference in the proportions in contrast to today’s look?) Also, you probably don’t want to wear a top with a lot of embellishment, since the paperbag ruffle at the waistband provides plenty of interest as it is.

#5 – Consider how you’ll belt the pants. In the previous two looks I used the same fabric tie belt that came with the jeans. While the tie belt may have added bulk, it didn’t add another horizontal line across my midsection like this leather belt does. So the leather belt actually accentuates my waist area more, not less.

Paperbag Waist Jeans

#6 – You absolutely can wear a third piece over paperbag waist pants. In fact, that topper, such as a blazer or cardigan, can help create the illusion of a defined and smaller waist, especially when you wear a contrasting belt like I’ve done in today’s look. You just want to make sure that the topper you choose drapes nicely over the bulky paperbag feature and ends at the place that is best for your body shape and proportions.

Paperbag Waist Jeans

#7 – The most important thing to remember about this very unique silhouette is that it is indeed…unique. It’s not meant to look like skinny jeans or straight leg crop jeans or boot cut jeans. Instead, this silhouette is more whimsical and fun. It’s meant to look feminine, but not form-fitting or figure hugging.

#8 – Finally, I think it’s a good idea to draw the eyes up toward your face when wearing these pants. Yeah, the paperbag waistband is interesting, but you don’t want it to grab all the attention. So don’t wear a long pendant necklace with these pants. Instead wear bold earrings and/or a necklace close to your face.

Paperbag Waist Jeans
similar jeans (but not quite the same – mine are sold out) // t-shirt (wearing a small) // day loafer mule in caramel (size up) // blazer (TTS) 40% off // shoulder bag // belt // jewelry no longer available

If you’re interested, you can shop today’s look through the caption under the photo above or through the shopping boutique below. But I’ve also gathered other pretty paperbag waist options in the shopping boutique. I’ve got shorts, pants, jeans and skirts for you to check out. (All the links in this post are affiliate links. If you shop through them and purchase something, I potentially earn a commission, but at no additional cost to you. Thanks so much for shopping through my links.)

Remember, this pants silhouette is just an option, ladies. It shouldn’t be something that gets us all up in a stir. Some gals will look amazing in these pants (I don’t actually think I’m one of them!), others will look nice and some should probably sit this trend out. But that’s how it is with every other silhouette, too.

Thank you so much for stopping in today. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing the outfits I’ve really been wearing lately. You can see how I really dressed for my day!

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When I become too impressed with myself, I easily lose the ability to discern between what is really wise and good and what is not good at all. I know I’ve wandered down this path when I come up short during my daily confession time. Ha! If I have nothing to confess to a holy and righteous God, I’m probably living in denial or my good judgment has been replaced by arrogance.

I can save myself from such delusion by doing two important things each day. One, I need to spend time worshiping and honoring the God who truly does know best. I need to profess that He is all-wise and holy. His ways are far above mine. Second, I need to humble myself before Him. I need to confess that I do not know everything…even about myself. When I admit to Him that I desperately need Him to direct my path, He will gladly do so.

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
    Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. ~ Proverbs 3:7

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xoxo, Kay
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18 thoughts on “Should You Try the Paperbag Waist Silhouette?

  1. I still really like them on you a lot! This outfit with the blazer is my favorite. I appreciate the Blessed for my Day section today too. Our pastor’s sermon last Sunday was on pride. These are good reminders for me this week to humble myself and exalt God. Thanks!

  2. Great suggestions Kay! If all of us tried every new style that comes out, can you imagine how many pieces we would have in our closet that don’t fit our lifestyle or our bodies! Just because the paper bag waist is not meant to show up on my body, it doesn’t mean that I can’t like them on others. You did a great job with styling them! Do you like them enough on you, for them to be a staple in your closet? I really like the BFMD. Make it a blessed day!

    1. Hi Ginger. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. No, I don’t think I like them on me enough to wear them frequently. But I love them for around the house because these are so comfortable. I think ? I ordered a pair of paperbag waist dress pants from Ann Taylor to try but can’t remember for sure. Shipping is so slow these days that I forget what I ordered by the time it shows up! Anyhow it will be interesting to try some less relaxed pants.

  3. With every trend we have to make the choice whether to hop on or not. I will skip this one. I will applaud those who like the look. I took my three bites, still don’t like olives or paper bag waists. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to see different styling of the same piece. I love this way to introduce new styles and judge them more fairly. Keep up the great work.

    1. Thanks Catherine. I appreciate your perspective and gracious words. I confess, sometimes I get my feelings a little hurt when I share trends and some of the comments are so negative. I really shouldn’t of course. They’re usually not aimed at me, but at the trend I’m sharing…and I’m not that attached to them myself! I need to remember that I’m just providing a forum for us all to see something new and decide about it. Anyhow…I ramble! Thanks for sharing. ?

  4. I love these jeans on you, very current and stylish. I have a pair in lightweight denim that I usually wear with a denim jacket or cardigan to cover the backside of the jeans (that view isn’t as flattering on me!!). Sometimes I leave the self belt knotted and hanging down on the side (no bow!). I like the slimmer leg and ankle length of your jeans. I have a leather belt in navy that I want to try with mine. Thank you for giving me other ways to style them.

  5. Thank you for such wise words in your BFMD today! Truly, I need to be honest with myself before God daily. I really like the paper bag look on you. My two favorites are with the blazer and the navy shirt/pink cardigan. I ordered a rather inexpensive pair to try and can’t wait for them to arrive! Have a wonderful day! ?

    1. Oh good. That’s great. I’d love to know what you think when you do get to try them. Thanks so much for sharing. And I’m glad you found the blessing to be beneficial too. ☺️

  6. Such a great look on you! It wouldn’t work for me as I am short waisted and an apple shape. (Yikes, such a combination.)
    Thanks for BFMD. Over confidence can be one of my many downfalls. It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking I am something when it is Jesus who is everything.
    Have a beautiful day!

  7. Kay, Thank you for stepping out of your comfort zone to show fashion, trends and options for wearing different pieces. Your blog not only features beautiful outfits but it’s educational showing women how to dress for their individual body and style. I appreciate that you are willing to take the time to be detailed in that area. You are a beautiful soul and your blog is exceptional. Kudos to your husband for the pictures. He is quite the photographer, you make a great team!
    God Bless…

  8. I like the look today the best. You are right about wearing bold earrings or a shorter necklace to draw the attention up. I think that’s what I didn’t like about them, it put all the focus on the area (Tummy) where a lot of us older women have a problem with. Thank you for showing us ways it can work!

  9. Oooo…that belt makes a big difference! I need to incorporate more belts into my wardrobe. I can really see how it changes the proportions of an outfit. Thanks for all you do!

  10. I think this is a great outfit on you. you have a good figure and height for this kind of style.

  11. I’m rather short waisted and big thru the middle so I don’t think this style would work for me. If the stores open up I’d probably try a pair on just for fun.
    I appreciate you doing a segment on them, thanks!

  12. I wonder why we don’t have paper bag skirts. I might like a long skirt with this waistband. Black and white gingham? Mama use to say, “Take what you need and leave the rest.” Still good advise.
    It’s really hard to let go and let God. I’m way to Independant to be the good Christian I should be. I try though. Lord knows I try.

  13. This is my favorite look with the paper bag waist pants that you’ve shown! I like this trend and I am going to try it. Enjoying your videos.