Serena Morris of @shes__underrated models her re-creation of Mariah Carey’s low-rise, sheared-off jeans.   Photo: Courtesy of Alexis Muro and Nick Flanagan  / @momndadvtg


 Like many, Serena Morris has been on a low-rise jean kick recently. Specifically, the Los Angeles–based consultant had been thinking about Mariah Carey’s sheared-off, dangerously low-rise denim from the aughts. “Mariah, being the quintessential diva, wore those jeans everywhere,” says Morris about Carey, who had sported the jeans on- and off-screen in the early 2000s, and most famously to film “Heartbreaker.” Morris, taken by the groundbreaking (at the time) cut, decided to re-create the look herself.

Mariah Carey in 2000 at the NRJ Music Awards. 

The crux of Morris’s style-philosophy—and also her Instagram account @shes__underrated—is to not only look at the women who inspire her but also to channel their energy. On @shes__underrated, Morris highlights mostly Black women who deserve more attention for their influence on the culture, including video vixens and the girl group 702. Morris also offers styling guides and moodboards to re-create these women’s looks. “For me, it is easy to disassociate myself from the women I admire, and this was a good opportunity for me to embody who we try to emulate. With Mariah, you can do it on your own terms with the resources you have,” she says. While Carey is the epitome of glam, Morris says her sheared-off jeans are accessible—and relatable. “It became her signature. She wore them everywhere, press tours and interviews,” says Morris. “And I imagine she felt the most confident and sexy. She’d wear slinky tops with no bra and stilettos. Like Mariah is one day in haute couture but is in Levi’s running around town. That is something that we can all emulate. It’s effortless, easy, and sexy, and that is why I resonate with those images of her.”

The jeans hold a particular significance in the denim-verse. In a Vogue video from 2017, titled “Mariah Carey Reveals the Story Behind Her Legendary ‘Heartbreaker’ Jeans,” Carey speaks about the origins of the pair—which she still owns. The pair was DIY’d one day when Carey was with her stylist, the late Tonjua Twist, and she disliked how the jeans were so high-waisted. “I was like, What is with the high-waisted jeans,” says Carey. “She cut a little bit and we both ripped off the top of the jeans.” From there, the trend spread.


Per the suggestion of Johnny Valencia of Pechuga Vintage, Morris took a pair of classic but damaged vintage Levis 501s to a locally famed tailor: Johnny Luna at Imperial Dry Cleaners in Los Angeles’s Koreatown. (Luna, who is 71, has been a tailor for 50 years, and has worked for the likes of Elvis Presley). To keep Morris’s jeans intact, Luna applied “visible-invisible” mending, meaning that the earned tears would still show but would not rip further. “He told me, ‘I want the essence of the jeans to be that you still lived in with them,’” says Morris. Impressed and inspired by Luna’s repairs, Morris asked him to replicate Carey’s iconic frayed and abridged waistband on the same pair.

While Carey’s jeans were a spur-of-the-moment creation, Morris’s tailor spent a week perfecting the look. He embedded a special, stretchy string inside the newly sheared-off waistband so the pants would not fall down. For their first outing, Morris wore the jeans with a Tom Ford–era Gucci T-shirt from the vintage dealer Raiden Frances and a pair of strappy Jimmy Choo heels. “I will wear these jeans everywhere, like Mariah,” says Morris. “I want to stop loving those images and start living them.”


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