The Resurgence of the Mom Jean

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed the semi-recent resurgence of the once-mocked ‘mom jean’. You know, the 100% cotton, high-waisted, fabric-heavy style that people wore in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Maybe you recall the 2003 SNL skit that made it the butt of a publicly-accepted joke (pun very much intended), starring none other than comedy favorites Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

snl animated GIF

So with that, the skinny jean took the ‘00s by storm, leaving the ‘mom jean’ to gather up dust at Goodwill. Until now. It’s like 94-year-old fashion icon Iris Apfel said in the new documentary Iris: “If you hang around long enough, everything comes back.” Touché. With minimalism having more than a moment and ‘90s nostalgia still a thing of the present, the anti-skinny is “cool” again. Although, the ‘mom jean’ we know now is a little different than the fupa-friendly style that Tina and Amy made fun of. While it’s true that high-waisted, all-cotton jeans are now the norm (and, unironically, I might add), the look now is a little less mom-ish, a little more model-ish. But there’s a reason why vintage jeans like the Levi’s 501 are so popular again – they epitomize that comfy, casual, and almost androgynous look that feels so modern and so effortless. Plus, there’s this cool confidence that comes with dressing for ease, and that’s a victory in itself.

If you hang around long enough, everything comes back

Recently, I tried on a pair of jeans from Madewell that are best described as mom-ish with a hint of ‘boyfriend’ (does that make it the best friend?), and couldn’t help but really, really, really like them. Coincidentally, my mom was visiting at the time, so she tried them on too, because she’s been on the hunt for high-waisted cotton jeans that weren’t too tight. When she came out wearing the jeans that I had just minutes ago fallen in love with, pleasantly surprised that she too liked them, I had to laugh. Back when I was a teen dressed in Abercrombie and Uggs, I never in a million years would have imagined that one day I’d be reaching for the same jeans as my mom. But hey, life’s funny that way. And anything’s better than Abercrombie…

So yes, I’m all for the ‘mom jean’. Or at least, the modern ‘mom jean’. Sure, it’s not for everyone, and it’s definitely not as overtly sexy as the skinny jean, but it’s comfy as hell and will only get better with age (one of the many benefits of 100% cotton). If you’re on the fence about the ‘mom’, it’s worth noting that it isn’t just one specific style anymore – it’s a a spectrum. So if you’re into the looser look, try on different types and brands for size, because with this kind of denim, it’s difficult to know what will work and what won’t until you actually put them on. Most importantly though, wear them with confidence, because dressing for yourself means never having to say you’re sorry (whatever, it’s true).



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