From Brooklyn To Brentwood, Mom Jeans Are Suddenly Cool
The high-waisted, spoofed-on-'Saturday Night Live' denim are all the rage for the first time since the 1990s. “Mom jeans couldn’t be further away [from skinny jeans], but now that they’ve been rediscovered they feel fresh and new. MILFS are the new future,” says co-founder and designer of the Mother denim label, Tim Kaeding.
When it comes to fashion trends, “geek chic” and the bland-and-basic “norm core” exude an obvious sense of irony. But when it comes to mom jeans, the high-rise pants with a tapered straight leg and little or no stretch that are all the rage from Brentwood to Brooklyn, it’s harder to discern where the cool factor lies, considering the term “mom” has been the precursor to just about everything un-cool for decades.
Mom car? You didn’t just think of a matte black Maserati, did you? No. You thought about a Honda Pilot — a burgundy one. Mom hair? Think: cropped, gently curled under and screaming “manageable!”
So when it comes to pants, have we truly traded the tender muffin top for the rigid high-rise? Moms like January Jones and Miranda Kerr, who have regularly been spotted in the style, would suggest we have. Or are mom jeans really only “cool” when child-free millennials and supermodels like Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and Sofia Richie are wearing them? And are these model-millennials ready for the mom cars that may follow?
A swift Google search of the term results in dozens of styles literally labeled “mom jeans” and sold at Urban Outfitters in the same vicinity as dorm room décor like lava lamps and chili pepper lights. They vary from the coolest, “Slim Mom Jeans” (these are like a 2017 Audi Q7), to “Boutique Blue Mom Jeans” (a steely grey Toyota Highlander Hybrid), to “Super Rip Bleached Mom Jeans” (a sporty Ford Explorer), and finally, the least cool, “Floral Mom Jeans” (white Kia Sorrento with third row option.)
For years, moms have had to endure the slur inaccurately implying that they’ve abandoned all sense of style, “let go” and relinquished control of said jeans, car and hair to the fact that they now raise children. So when the look is copped as the coolest thing in denim, most of us are secretly thinking, “See, told you so,” while others are saying, “Hey, not so fast.”
“Mom jeans are what I wear when I want no one to bother me, my alone-time pants,” says writer and actress Liz Carey. “You don't get a lot of guys hooting and hollering when you roll up with jeans up around your neck. So go ahead hipster kids, try and wear our jeans, but it’s a sacred passage into mom jeans. Respect!”
Today, the sacred passage is not labor and delivery, but a strong obsession and dedication to all things ‘90s. Be it chokers, crop-tops, body suits or satin bomber jackets, it’s undeniable that mom jeans are the foundation for which all things Contempo Casuals, Wet Seal and Miller’s Outpost-inspired sits. They are the next, more extreme iteration of the boyfriend jean, harnessing the often questionable proportions of '90s clothing and giving women coverage around the midsection, yet more room through the leg in a way the g-string exposing Frankie B and J Brand styles of the early- to mid-aughts never did.
“It’s a backlash to years of ultra-stretchy skinny jeans,” says co-founder and designer of the Mother denim label, Tim Kaeding, about why the mom jean has really resonated with women. “Mom jeans couldn’t be further away [from skinny jeans], but now that they’ve been rediscovered they feel fresh and new. MILFS are the new future.” The brand’s mom jean-inspired style is called The Cheeky ($228) and gives the body that ‘90s supermodel look with a high rise and slim, straight leg.
“I personally feel great in mom jeans because I can tuck my gut right into them,” says Carey. “Isn't that why God made them?”
Citizens of Humanity’s Liya style ($268) was designed in the spirit of the ‘90s mom jean with modern updates like an asymmetrical hemline. Re/Done (High-rise crop, $260) and AG (The Phoebe, $255) also have their own versions. L.A. designer Jesse Kamm is doing her popular and very high waist Sailor Pant in chambray for spring and denim for fall ‘17. “There’s something very comforting about a high waist especially after you’ve had a kid,” she says. “It’s almost like wearing a corset.” And Levi’s “Wedgie” sells for a reasonable $88 on sites like Shopbop.com and Bloomingdales.com.
A relaxed T-shirt or even off-the-shoulder, midriff-baring top are a welcome pairing, rather than the appliqué vests, billowy button downs and Christmas sweaters that helped mom jeans get their bad rap in the first place.
For that visual reference, re-watch the 2013 Saturday Night Live “Mom Jeans” skit, where a singer croons, “She’ll want to wear them to everything from a soccer game to a night on the town.” The sentiment still remains, only now it’s Paris Fashion Week and any Instagram-worthy occasion.
“Other jeans quit,” says PR and marketing consultant Karen Sayah about the generally non-stretch denim. “But just like moms, these jeans don’t quit.”