Sep '23

The Complete Guide to Rocking Acid Wash High-Rise Jeans

Table of Contents

Acid wash high-rise jeans have made a major comeback in recent years. The iconic 80s denim style is once again dominating wardrobes with its cool throwback vibe and flattering silhouette. If you haven’t already added a pair of acid wash high-waisted jeans to your closet, it’s time to get on board with this trend!

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about scoring and styling the perfect acid wash high-rise jeans. You’ll get tips on choosing the right pair, learn how to care for them properly, and discover all the ways to rock these versatile jeans.

So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of acid wash high-rise denim!


First things first – what exactly are acid wash jeans? Acid wash denim refers to jeans that have been treated with a chemical process to achieve their signature faded and mottled appearance. This look was hugely popular in the 80s and early 90s, and now it’s back in a big way.

High-rise jeans simply mean the waistband hits above your natural waist, usually around your belly button. This creates a leg-lengthening effect while accentuating your curves. Combine high-waisted jeans with acid washing, and you’ve got a style that’s equal parts cool, retro, and flattering.

In this guide, we’ll cover:

  • The top 5 best acid wash high-rise jeans on the market right now
  • Tips for choosing the perfect pair for your body and style
  • How to wear and style acid wash jeans for any occasion
  • Proper care and washing instructions
  • Frequently asked questions

Let’s get started!

Top 5 Acid Wash High-Rise Jeans

The key to nailing this look is finding that perfect pair of acid wash high-rise jeans. Here are our top 5 picks to help you out:

1. Levi’s 501 Original High-Rise Jeans

The iconic Levi’s 501 jeans need no introduction. Their new high-rise acid wash style features hand-sanded detailing and whickering for that authentic worn-in vibe. Made from premium 11 oz denim, these jeans have just the right amount of stretch for an always flattering fit.

Price Range: $98-$128


  • Levi’s premium denim
  • Flattering high rise fit
  • Vintage acid wash finish


  • Runs large, consider sizing down

2. Madewell The High-Rise Slim Boyjean

For a modern slim fit take on acid wash denim, check out Madewell’s High-Rise Slim Boyjean. These jeans combine a tapered leg with vintage-inspired acid washing for the ultimate cool girl aesthetic. Madewell’s denim is designed for an extra comfortable broken-in feel.

Price Range: $128-$148


  • Slim, tapered leg
  • Light acid wash adds edge
  • Soft, lived-in feel


  • Runs small, consider sizing up

3. Re/Done High Rise Ankle Crop Jeans

For a cropped take on acid wash, Re/Done’s High Rise Ankle jeans are the epitome of cool. Made from reconstructed vintage Levi’s, these jeans feature shreds and reusable distressing. The 23 inch inseam hits right above the ankle.

Price Range: $265-$295


  • True vintage acid wash
  • Trendy ankle crop fit
  • Made from upcycled denim


  • Expensive
  • Cropped length isn’t ideal for all

4. Abercrombie Curve Love High Rise Acid Wash Jeans

Abercrombie’s Curve Love jeans are specially designed to flatter curves. Featuring an ultra high rise and slimming silhouette, these acid wash jeans have strategic fading to elongate legs. They come in short, regular and long lengths.

Price Range: $120-$140


  • Sculpts and hugs curves
  • Multiple inseam options
  • Stretchy comfort fit fabric


  • Some may prefer less stretch

5. Agolde 90s Pinch Waist Jeans

Agolde nails the 90s super high-rise silhouette with their Pinch Waist jeans. These acid wash jeans have a straight leg cut that gives the illusion of a smaller waist. Made from lightweight denim, they feature hand sanding for a perfectly imperfect finish.

Price Range: $188-$198


  • Iconic 90s high-rise style
  • Flattering pinch waist
  • Handmade vintage wash


  • Runs big in waist and hips

With so many great acid wash options out there, use this top 5 list to narrow down your search to the perfect pair!

How to Choose Flattering Acid Wash High-Rise Jeans

Finding that perfect pair of acid wash jeans for your body and style is key. Follow these tips when on the hunt for your new favorite high-rise denim:

Look at the Rise Height

The rise is arguably the most important element to get right when choosing high-rise jeans. Here’s a quick breakdown of rise heights:

  • Low rise: Hits below the belly button, highest point is 8-10 inches
  • Mid rise: Hits around the belly button, highest point is 10-11 inches
  • High rise: Hits at or above the belly button, highest point is 11+ inches

For the elongating, leg-lengthening effect you want from high-rise jeans, look for a rise of at least 11 inches. Anything lower won’t have the same impact. High rise jeans also pair best with cropped tops and tucked in shirts.

Consider the Wash Style

Not all acid washes are created equal! There are a few main distressing techniques that create that iconic mottled look:

  • Hand sanding uses manual abrasion to fade specific areas. This creates a softer, more irregular finish.
  • Chemical washing uses acids like bleach to break down dye molecules for an allover faded effect. The result is usually stronger and more uniform.
  • Laser etching uses lasers to burn off indigo in precise patterns. This allows for more control over the final abrasions.

Hand sanding and laser etching tend to look most authentic, while chemical washing can sometimes appear too artificial. Look closely at the finish of the denim when deciding on your perfect acid wash pair.

Choose the Right Fit

Just like regular jeans, acid wash denim looks best when it actually fits properly! When trying on jeans, focus on finding the right cut and sizing for your individual body shape.

Some tips:

  • Curvy figures should look for stretch fabrics with contoured waists to emphasize and flatter curves. Madewell and Abercrombie designs accommodate curves well.
  • Athletic builds tend to look best in relaxed straight leg or tapered jeans to balance broad shoulders and narrower hips. Go for Levi’s or Re/Done.
  • Slim body types can pull off skinny and slim jeans to show off straight lines. Choose Agolde or Madewell.
  • Tall women should look for longer inseams or styles with extra ankle room so jeans don’t look cropped. Levi’s offers different lengths.

The right high-rise jeans should fit comfortably on the waist without gaping, and smoothly contour over your hips and thighs. Don’t be afraid to size up or down to get that ideal silhouette!

Consider Fabrics and Stretch

While denim is standard, acid wash jeans also come in twill, khaki, and cotton mixes. Know the benefits of each:

  • 100% cotton has minimal stretch but softens and molds to your shape over time.
  • Denim/stretch blends are extremely versatile. The spandex offers a flexible fit that moves with you.
  • Twill or chino stretches more than cotton while retaining structure. Great for warmer weather.

Unless you prefer a rigid feel, some stretch in the fabric usually provides the most comfortable, flattering fit. Make sure to try jeans on sitting down to test the give and mobility.

Style for Any Occasion

A common misconception is that acid wash jeans can only be dressed down. While they pair perfectly with tees and sneakers, you can also glam up high-rise acid wash denim for formal occasions:

  • Date night: Tuck in a silky cami and add stiletto booties and a leather moto jacket.
  • Girls’ night out: A cropped sequin tank and heels make acid wash jeans party-ready.
  • Workwear: Try a tucked in turtleneck sweater and loafers or flats for chic office style.
  • Daywear: A graphic tee, white kicks, and denim jacket is a classic casual ensemble.

Acid wash jeans go with virtually any top. Tucking in your shirt emphasizes the high waist, while looser tops help balance the slim cut.

Where to Buy the Best Acid Wash Jeans

Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to start shopping! Here are the best places to browse for cool acid wash high-rise denim:

  • Specialty boutiques: Smaller, curated shops offer unique selections. You can try on multiple fits and washes in person.
  • Department stores: Major retailers like Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdale’s carry a wide variety of premium denim labels.
  • Brand websites: Shopping direct from Levi’s, Madewell, etc. provides the full range of washes and fits. Size guides make online ordering easier.
  • Online markets: Stores like ASOS and Revolve have tons of trendy options with fast shipping and free returns.
  • Secondhand: Look for authentic vintage Levi’s, Guess, and Wrangler acid wash at thrift shops and apps like ThredUp.

Make a shopping list of the brands and styles you want to browse. That way you can make efficient use of your time to find that perfect pair!

Factors that Affect Cost of Acid Wash Jeans

Acid wash jeans can range hugely in price from around $50 to over $200. What makes for such big differences? Here are the key factors that influence the price tag:

  • Brand name: Established premium denim companies like Mother Denim and Frame charge higher prices. You pay for the brand cache.
  • Construction quality: Jeans with heavier weight denim, reinforced seams and stitching last longer and feel more luxurious on.
  • Made in USA/Italy: Jeans produced domestically or in Italy have higher labor costs which drives up retail prices.
  • Distressing detail: More elaborate acid washing, shreds, patches, and embellishments add to the price.
  • Sustainability: Using organic, recycled, or upcycled materials costs more for brands but translates to higher prices.

While you don’t need to spend a fortune on designer denim, focus on finding quality construction and fabrics. This ensures the longevity and fit of your investment piece jeans.

Caring for Your Acid Wash Jeans

High quality denim must be treated delicately to preserve the finish and fibers. Follow these care instructions to keep your acid wash jeans looking fresh:

  • Wash infrequently and only when dirty. Over-washing fades color faster. Stick to every 5-10 wears.
  • Wash in cold water on a gentle cycle. Heat damages elasticity over time.
  • Air dry jeans to prevent shrinkage. Lay flat or hang to dry fully.
  • Spot clean stains to avoid full washes. Use a damp cloth with gentle detergent.
  • Store folded loosely, as tight creases can weaken fibers.

New jeans may feel stiff at first, but remember to be patient. Letting denim naturally break in results in that perfectly worn look. Limit washing and wear them frequently to soften.

With the right care, your quality acid wash jeans should last for many seasons to come!

FAQs About Acid Wash Jeans

Still have some questions about rocking the acid wash denim trend? Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:

Are acid wash jeans still in style?

Absolutely! Acid wash jeans have been going strong for a few years now in the high-rise and mom jean cuts. Retailers are continuing to release new distressing washes each season as the demand keeps growing. This throwback style doesn’t seem to be fading from popularity any time soon!

What are some ways to make your own DIY acid wash jeans?

If you want to experiment with creating your own acid wash, there are a few easy at-home techniques:

  • Spot bleach distressing: Use a q-tip to apply small drops of bleach. Rinse immediately once bleached to desired fade.
  • Sandpaper: Lightly hand sand areas of the jeans for an authentic abraded texture.
  • Tumble dry roughness: Add a few towels and put jeans in dryer on high heat. Check every 5-10 minutes until desired abrasion is achieved.

Make sure to only distress jeans that don’t have spandex, as the bleach may damage the fabric. Start subtle and you can always add more fading.

Can you dress up acid wash jeans?

You absolutely can style acid wash jeans in dressier ways! Swap out sneakers for heeled booties or sandals. Choose a silky cami or satin top to tuck in. Add polished extras like a blazer, jewelry, or luxe bag. Acid wash jeans look right at home with fancier pieces for events or date night.

What’s the best way to break in stiff denim jeans?

If your new jeans feel too rigid and tight, try this:

  • Wear them around the house to naturally loosen fibers
  • Wash less frequently since machine washing tightens fibers
  • Use stretch sprays or lotions to expand denim fibers
  • Do squats and lunges! The knee bending and movement helps break them in faster

With some wear time, your stiff jeans will start feeling like your second skin in no time. Just let the denim relax into its perfect shape.

Can all body types wear acid wash jeans?

Acid wash jeans are so versatile; they really do work for all body types! Focus on finding the right rise and cut for your proportions. Curvy figures should look for contoured waistbands while boyish frames rock relaxed dad jeans well. Just make sure the jeans fit smoothly without any gaping or pulling.

Should acid wash jeans fit tight or loose?

This depends on personal preference. If you like a slouchy, laidback vibe go for a loose straight leg cut. Those who prefer showing off curves tend to opt for super skinny or slim silhouettes. The most flattering fit flatters your natural waist and hip measurement without being painfully tight.

How can you prevent jeans from fading too quickly?

Minimize washing is the easiest way to preserve that rich indigo color. When you do wash, turn them inside out first and use cold water on a delicate cycle. Avoid heat from dryers and instead let them air dry fully. You can also add a color-safe detergent to help lock in the dye and vibrancy.

The Perfect Acid Wash High-Rise Jeans Await!

We hope this complete breakdown has gotten you excited to find your new favorite pair of acid wash high-rise jeans. The right fit can make you look and feel amazing. Now that you know what to look for in rise, fabric, distressing and fit, you can confidently shop for jeans that highlight your assets and personal style.

Acid wash denim is truly the perfect blend of retro cool and modern trendiness. Let the edgy 80s vibes inspire you to rock these jeans for any occasion. A quality high-rise pair should offer years of stylish comfort and versatility. So whether dressing up or down, you’ll reach for your go-to acid wash jeans again and again.

Get ready to flaunt your curves in this figure-flattering throwback staple. Your dream acid wash jeans are out there ready to be discovered. Happy vintage denim hunting!


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