Skirts, pants, jeans and shorts have waistbands (or grown-on waistbands) that should fit the waist and lower tummy area properly. Waistband positions vary, depending on the length of the rise. A high-rise waistband should hit you around the waistline, whereas lower rises hit lower on the body. 

Bottoms often fit perfectly, until you hit the waistband. It can be too wide, narrow, straight, curved, or simply grow with wear throughout the day. Here are six ways to make them fit so that they’re comfortable and stay put.

1. Luck of the Draw

The ideal situation is when a pair of bottoms fits perfectly straight off the rack. The waistband is in the right place, and it stays there all day. It’s comfortable, and you wish all bottoms fit this way with minimum fuss.

2. Alter a Waistband that Gapes

Reducing a waistband that is slightly too big is an easy alteration. It costs between US$15 -$25 and is well worth it. Retailers and the dry cleaners are quite used to doing them these days, if you can’t do the alteration yourself. Curvier bottom halves, or body types with swaybacks, generally need this type of alteration on jeans and pants

3. Alter a Waistband that Pinches

Altering a waistband that is slightly too tight is a less common alteration, but can be done. An experienced tailor will cut slits into the waistband and insert triangles of fabric to create a larger circumference. The idea is that you wear tops over the waistband to hide the inserts, unless they are particularly decorative or subtle. Here’s a visual and a video.

4. Wear an Invisible Belt

Wearing a belt that is HIDDEN under a top is a great way to make a slightly too big waistband fit when you don’t want to spend the time and money on an alteration. Invisible belts are extremely flat and lightweight so they don’t create bulk. They’re useful for jeans, shorts and pants that grow during the day.

5. Wear a Regular Belt

If you enjoy wearing belts, make a statement with them and have fun with the accessory. Buckles can be beautiful things. Visible belts are a great way to make a waistband fit, although they might create bulk where you don’t want it if the buckles are heavy and big.

6. Choose Full or Partial Elastication

Waistbands with full or partial elastic are extra forgiving because they stretch and contract with the width of the waist. They work well for weight fluctuations too. You might not enjoy an elastic waist for all sorts of reasons, but they’re comfortable and extremely easy to fit.

Waistbands used to fit me straight off the rack when rises were low and mid length. Now that I mostly wear trendy high rises, it’s no longer a slam dunk. High-rise waistbands frequently gape at the back of my waist because of my slight swayback. 

I used to be into wearing statement belts with low and mid-rise jeans and pants. But I’m off wearing belts with high rises. Occasionally I wear an invisible belt when my jeans grow a little during the day, or by the next day. But at this point, I’m almost belt-free.

That means I do waistband alterations more than I used to, which I’m fine with doing in order to achieve a perfect fit.