Understanding Waistband Terms: 13 Great Terms You Should Know!

A waistband is a strip of material that runs around your waist. It is part of the trouser or skirt that you currently have on as you read this article.

The waistband is seldom thought about. Yet, without it, our trousers, pants, and skirts would simply slip down our thighs and we’d probably topple over.

Waistbands are not just a functional part of pants or skirts, however. They also contribute style and fit. Waistbands help us determine the size of pants and skirts to purchase and wear.

Without waistbands, you can’t wear a belt. Like every field of activity, tailors and dressmakers have terms peculiar to their business and waistbands happen to be part of the lingo. In this article, read about the various terms and what they mean.

13 Waistband Terms You Should Know

The following are different terms you come across when determining fit and sizing, even if you aren’t a dressmaker.

What Does No-gap Waistband Mean?

No-gap waistband is a type of waistband that sticks to the small of your back.

Ladies especially dread the waistband gap. This is the phenomenon where the waistband doesn’t fit properly on the waist, especially at the back. You may have experienced this when you crouch or sit.

Some ladies or men would not ride bikes while wearing jeans for this reason. To cure this dreadful anomaly in style, an alteration can be done by adding one or two darts on each side of the waistband.

This alteration makes the waistband curve into the small of your back so that whenever you crouch or even walk, no gap shows. This is the no-gap waistband. Some pants come with a no-gap waistband.

This American Eagle jeans is one of them because it is designed to curve with the small of your back.

Waistband Terms

What Does Exposed Waistband Mean?

Exposed Waistband is an elastic that is not covered by the fabric of the garment. Exposed Waistbands are mostly for the benefit of aesthetics more than anything else.

If you like rap and you watch music videos you would have noticed this exposed waistband in the boxers worn by the rappers who like to sag their pants. Their waistbands usually carry the logo of the brand. Skirts hardly have this sort of waistband in case you are wondering.

Waistband Terms

This is a design matter on boxers alone. With the exposed waistband, you can wear the boxers alone while lounging on the beach or on your front porch. It also gives ting men bragging rights if they are wearing an expensive brand.

What Does Covered Waistband Mean?

A covered waistband is the elastic that is covered by the fabric of the garment.

This is the opposite of the exposed waistband. It is a type of waistband that is sewn inside the waistline of the boxer.

The waistband here is encased in the same material as the boxer itself. In the exposed waistband, the band is elastic and the fabric is different from that of the rest of the boxer.

Whereas the covered band is inside the fabric of the material, then there’s a patch usually sewn into the back of the boxer which features the name of the brand and logo.

In this design, aesthetics take a different route. Further, this style of waistband gives a smoother and more comfortable feel to the wearer

It also allows you to wear the boxer without suffering the reddish imprint of an exposed band on your skin.

What Does Fixed Waistband Mean?

A fixed waistband is the one where the closure of the pants or skirt is fixed in it.

The fixed waist is called so because it is fixed as part of the garment, it has a button or strings in it. The closure of the garment, whether skirt, pants, or boxers, is built in as part of the closure mechanism.

The fixed waist is the most common kind of waistband on pants both for men and women. The fixed waistbands feature a drawcord or a zip closure.

Waistband Terms

What Does Active Waistband Mean?

An active waistband has an elastic sewn into the waistline of trousers. This style of the waistband was developed and made popular by Marks and Spencer.

The elastic runs around the back so that you can even buy trousers that are two sizes smaller and you won’t have difficulties wearing them. You can wear them without belts if they are your exact sizes.

What Does Contoured Waistband Mean?

A contoured waistband is one without an elastic and is sewn with a contour in the garments around the hem of the waistline.

Also called faced waistband, this waistband is designed to fit at your waist and below it. They are always outside the garments, especially in skirts and some trousers.

They are usually made by cutting two sets of waistbands, one for inside the trousers and the other for the outside of it. A contour waistband has a curved shape.

They contrast and expand making them one of the most comfortable waistbands you can find on pants. Since the human waist is not straight, to begin with, it makes this waistband more fitting when worn.

This waistband is not the same as the one that bunches up around the waist like the ones with elastics.

What Does Wide Waistband Mean?

A wide Waistband is one with an elastic that is wider than normal.

Wide waistbands are common in men’s underwear. They can be found on skirts as well if there’s a slight difference in the look.

For men’s underwear, the waistband is usually wide up to one and a half inches or more. The waistband is made of elastic and isn’t the same fabric as the boxer itself.

The band is brushed inside to keep it smooth on the skin. It is not very different from an exposed waistband with its logo and name. Some wide waistbands are hidden, especially on women’s tights, leggings, or yoga pants.

They feature a high waist that reaches just below the navel and higher in some pants. Wide waistbands are very functional. They are usually best for men’s underwear because of the firm band.

They are great for yoga pants and other sportswear too for the same reason that they stay on even through exerting activity.

What Does Fitted Waistband Mean?

A fitted waistband is a type of waistband that fits and takes the shape of your waist.

Most waistbands are fitted. They are some of the most popular styles that dressmakers use on trousers and skirts. The difference from other waistbands is in the construction more than the look of it.

This means you the reader may be wearing a fitted waistband and not know it. They are also referred to as regular waistbands. It is fitted because the interfacing is applied using fusible glue in joining it to the waistband fabric.

This waistband fits better and holds its shape better. The bulk is reduced making the waistline more comfortable.

What Does Self Waistband Mean?

A Self Waistband is the same as a covered waistband. It is sewn inside and covered by the garment. Most boxers use this mechanism in their waistband.

The elastic band is placed on the hem of the top of the boxer and sewn down. Then it is folded and sewn under it, mostly in a zigzag pattern. The elastic in this style of the waistband is completely hidden from view.

They are usually found in dross, sweatpants for both men and women. They are usually very durable because they aren’t exposed to damage.

What Does Fold Over Waistband Mean?

Fold-over waistband is an elastic that is folded over the hem and then sewn up.

Fold-over waistbands are common on yoga pants and panties for kids. Note that in this case, it is not the waistband that is actually referred to as fold-over.

It is the band itself that is sewn into the top of the hem that goes around the waist. Fold-over bands are usually thinner than regular bands, and they are also decorative.

Sometimes they are invisible, sewn on and folded into the hem of the waistline, as in yoga pants. If you check your undies now, it is highly probable that it has a fold-over elastic in it like the example below.

Waistband Terms

They are seldom on men’s boxers but can be found in the neckline of t-shirts. One of the signature effects of fold-over waistbands is that they make clothes look stylish and they also give a minimalist effect on yoga pants.

What Does Comfort Waist Mean?

A comfort waist is an elastic sewn on both sides of the trouser or skirt.

Comfort waist is, as the name suggests, designed to give allowance when you gain weight. The term doesn’t actually refer to the waistband itself but to the function of the hidden elastic overlap on both sides of the pants waistband.

The elastic here serves the same function as sweatpants. The difference is that comfort waist doesn’t completely go round the waist. It is a patch on both sides of your hip to make up for when you get bigger.

What Does Elastic Waistband Mean?

This is a waistband is elastic and stretches.

Also called elasticated waistband, this is an enveloping term that refers to all the major waistbands that are constructed using elastics.

Almost all waistbands are elastic waistbands because they can stretch when pulled and contract again. All of the waistbands mentioned above except fitted, contoured, and active, are all elastic waistbands.

What Does Waistband Tuck Mean?

Waistband tuck is used to hide an erection.

This is another misnomer in the dressmaking world. This is not a real waistband. The tuck is found in men’s briefs or boxers.

It is constructed using a band that keeps a man’s erection tucked so that it doesn’t show up as a protuberance.

This waistband is colloquially referred to as uptuck, the tuck, or the boner tuck. You will not find a waistband tucked in any women’s clothes.


There are waistbands and there are waistbands. Then there are those that aren’t waistbands in the real sense of the word. As you can see each part of our clothing has a name and a reason it was designed that way.

Knowing what these terms mean is important knowledge for you while trying to make a purchase of clothes.


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