I just measured a bunch of my own rises. As a shorter person who is short-waisted but has a long rise and slightly shorter legs (oh, the variables, right???) I was curious to see what's low and high on this body.
And honestly, doing the math makes me wonder how any of us ever find pants to fit!
Today I'm wearing my Liverpool ponte pants. They have a 9" rise, which on me, is verging on a lower rise...it hits at my hipbones. I can hike it up a bit with a belt if desired, but that's where it falls if I just let it be. Well below my navel, in other words, let alone my actual waistline. A little lower than the fit on the (presumably much taller) model.
Considering I'm only 5' 4" (on a tall day) that might be surprising to some and explains why, in the past, I could rarely buy "petite" pants -- back in the old days, they were made proportionately with shorter rises. (Less so now, I fear, for my truly petite sisters.) Sometimes I could finesse this by sizing up in petites, which would drop the waist and crotch. But not often.
But while my rise is long, my upper torso is short (short in objective terms, since I am short, and short in relative terms, on my own body)..so there's not a lot of real estate to play with, folks! Here is how it looks.
The Emerson BF jeans (my favourite jeans, really) have a 10 inch rise, which is sort of a high mid-rise on me. It hits more or less just below my navel. These jeans do have a longer back rise, which can be very helpful in terms of overall fit -- as suntiger pointed out, the front rise measurement alone often won't tell you enough, depending on figure variables.
My ON baggy jeans have a 10.5 inch rise which is high on me! Half an inch to go from high-mid- to high! If I'm wearing a belt, I have to tighten it a full notch or two if I'm wearing these pants.
The pants that hit just below or on my actual waist (i.e true high rise) have 11 to 11.5 inch rises (depends on waist band construction etc.) My J Crew plaid pants and my CM pants fall into that category.
In the past, I've gone as low as an 8 inch rise (with a belt, and much tugging of pants to stay up on my relatively narrow hips). I could conceivably go as high as a 12" inch rise (with some gasping for air because this would hit at my rib cage and compress my late middle aged middle, especially when sitting.)
But honestly? I'm looking for pants mostly between 9 and 11 inches and one is low and one is high on me!
For this reason, I am ALL for variety in rises -- let them proliferate at every level so everyone will be able to find something that works for her!
Have you done the math on yourself? What are your personal sweet spots?