Women Everywhere, Rejoice Over the Mom Jeans Trend! Here’s How to Wear It
In 2003, the Saturday Night Live “Mom Jeans” sketch had audiences howling at the sight of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler strutting around in utterly unflattering elastic waists and pleated-front denim. Nothing about the kangaroo pouch-like effect and the flattened rear end generated any amount of fashion appeal, and mom jeans languished in sad unpopularity for more than a decade afterwards. But trends are cyclical, and by the late-2010s, mom jeans had their revenge in the form of a major fashion comeback. Women who were tired of squeezing into skin-tight, ultra-low-rise jeans embraced the high-waisted shaping in non-stretch denim and never looked back.
Today’s on-trend mom jeans have undergone a reimagining since 2003, and are characterized by their navel-or-higher reach, straight-leg, and relatively relaxed fit in rigid denim. The structured, slimming effect between the hips and the waist smooths out zones that many women feel self-conscious about, creating a streamlined silhouette that camouflages bellies and muffin tops.
Mom Jeans vs Boyfriend Jeans: What’s the Difference?
You’ve likely seen both products mentioned on retail websites and fashion blogs, and at first glance, they seem to be quite similar. Both mom jeans and boyfriend jeans are favored for being comfortable. They feature a higher waist than their low-rise predecessor and allow room to move around, but they’re not identical.
The boyfriend jean, as the name suggests, is a super casual garment in a relaxed, comfortable fit that takes its inspiration from 90s denim menswear. Over the years, it has made its way into womenswear with an androgynous aesthetic featuring a lower, baggy crotch area with long, loose-fitting legs that are often styled with the ankles folded up.
Mom jeans, on the other hand, tend to be higher-rise than boyfriend jeans, and offer flattering, gentle shaping to feminine curves. They have slightly loose upper legs, but a snugger fit across the crotch, hips and tummy. The lower part of the leg tends to have a cropped look that doesn’t require rolling.
As for which style of denim to reach for, it really depends on your body shape and the look you prefer. Boyfriend jeans tend to be oversized and somewhat body-obscuring, while the best mom jeans show off the waist and conceal typical “problem areas” many women don’t want to emphasize. Women with curvier shapes should steer clear of cropped and overly baggy styles that will make their legs appear shorter and thicker, but overall the high waist and straight-leg seams create a lengthening effect that makes legs appear long and lean.
With so much variety in the exact fits and denim washes from different brands, you’re guaranteed to find a flattering pair.
The Best Mom Jeans Outfits: How to Wear the Trend
Mom jeans might be celebrated for their comfort but they also bring versatility to your closet. After all, denim counts as a neutral and can be dressed up or down with a little strategic styling. Part of the mom jeans appeal is the contrast they bring to styled outfits, especially in light of streetwear fashion trends that see casual, pared-down elements easily mixed with upscale pieces.
Edgy: Mom Jeans in Black
“Mom” and “edgy” don’t appear often in the same sentence, but this look changes all of that and we’re here for it. Black mom jeans are a wardrobe staple, pairing easily with everything and hiding any shadows from lumps or bumps for a universally slimming effect.
Casual: Mom Jeans with Laid-Back Styling
No denim feels quite as effortless as classic blue. For running errands around town, opt for a faded blue pair in a relaxed fit with a tucked-in tee and an understated belt that foregoes the decorative buckle. Raw, frayed edges along a cropped ankle look extra laid-back with chunky white sneakers or platform sandals during warm weather. A casually-slung leather backpack completes the look.
Chic: Mom Jeans Go Upscale
From light blue to dark-wash, mom jeans can easily make an appearance at brunch when styled alongside a cropped sweater or an elegant cashmere turtleneck. It may sound counter-intuitive, but ripped or semi-destroyed mom jeans also look extra chic with pointed toe pumps and stilettos. Because mom jeans so successfully define the waistline, they provide a great proportional counter-balance to tucked-in voluminous tops and loose silky blouses without overpowering your frame.
To make the look business-casual, wear your denim with a belt and an oversized blazer à la Princess Diana (let’s be honest, no one has ever managed to do denim as well as she did).
Retro: Mom Jeans with Throwback Details
Prior to their current resurgence, high-waisted mom jeans began gaining popularity in the 80s and 90s, making it easy to channel your inner Saved by the Bell character when you don them. Acid wash jeans with a band t-shirt and sneakers carry as much fashion currency today as they did in 1989!
Mom Jeans for Every Season
There’s nothing innately seasonal about jeans; with some sensible adjustments, you can wear them just as easily on a bright summer day as a windy afternoon in February.
To stay warm in distressed jeans with large holes or open knees, add patterned tights or fishnets that make a visual statement while serving a practical purpose. Use a French-tuck with a chunky knit (by tucking only the front of the sweater into the front of your jeans just above the central button and allowing the rest of the sweater to lay outside the waistband) or layer with a shearling jacket and a beanie to really bump up the coziness. The same pair of mom jeans is instantly rendered summer-ready with a cropped tee or a bodysuit tank top and strappy sandals.
Why Mom Jeans Are the Denim You Deserve
In the face of lagging denim sales, in 2018 retailers found in mom jeans an unlikely savior. With their high-rise cut, comfortable fit and relaxed aesthetic, it’s no wonder that mom jeans made women fall back in love with denim after season upon season of unflattering low-rise anguish.
There’s truly something for everyone to admire about mom jeans. In the midst of post-partum recovery? Not to worry: mom jeans will flatter your figure and mask the zones you’d rather not showcase. Obsessed with shoes? You’ve come to the right place: mom jeans’ semi-cropped ankles land at the perfect height for loafers, oxfords, kitten heels, ankle boots, sneakers, and even cowboy boots.
Style is always in the details, but this fashion cycle, it’s also in the mom jeans.