Embrace the Mom Jean
Photographed by Kevin Remington
Mom Jeans have been dominating women’s fashion—unironically—for years now.
You’ve heard the phrase. And likely rolled your eyes.
The pejorative term was seared into the public consciousness when Tina Fey poked fun of the uncomfortably high waist, generously cut, tapered leg look for female parentals in a Saturday Night Live sketch back in 2003 (YouTube it).
But Mom Jeans have been dominating women’s fashion—unironically—for years now. And the reason is simple: High waist jeans—whether generously cut through the derriere, or not—are just really, really comfortable, no matter what your age, says Gladiola Girls Manager Lauren Haskell in Lexington, who styled this story. “Almost every person I’ve talked to loves Mom Jeans, loves the high waist look. Mom Jeans make you feel more secure in your core area. You don’t have to worry about muffin top or love handles. The focus is brought back to the smallest part of your core, your waist.”
(In case you’re wondering, there’s an equally gendered corollary—the “dad jean,” defined by schlumpy, high waisted denim for dudes who’ve abandoned any notion of holding on to one’s style post children.)
There’s an old truism in fashion that says for the most slenderizing effect, lines should end at the smallest part of the body: the ankle, the knee, the elbows. High waist jeans that hit the smallest part of the waist achieve that.
“Mom Jeans are all about celebrating and highlighting a woman’s natural curves,” says Haskell. “It’s about showing off the waist and not hiding the booty.” The high rise through the waist makes legs appear longer than they actually are.
To own this look, whether you’re 20 or 60, Haskell recommends steering away from the knee jerk reaction to hide the belly. “The look is about showcasing the lines,” she says. “Tuck in the shirt, tie at the waist. Go for a more form fitted top.”
Mom Jeans come in so many variations of leg styles—tapered leg, straight leg, wide leg, bell-bottom, cropped—there’s something for every style inclination. Mom Jeans don’t have to mean dressing like a cast member from Saved By the Bell (unless of course you’re a millennial hipster who wants to pay homage to the ye olde past). The stretchy fabrics of today feel the opposite of vintage.
As for shoes, there are no rules, though Haskell personally favors a higher heel with this look. “It’s very dramatic. Heels plus the high waist make your legs look long, lean, tall, slim and elegant.” Who can argue with that?