Mom jeans have come a long way since they first earned that controversial moniker in the late ’80s and early ’90s. No longer the weekend mainstay of the era’s stereotypical image of the suburban housewife, the mom jeans of the 21st century can actually be quite chic. That is if you know how to style them.
While today’s mom jeans come in endless iterations, at their essence, each pair features a mid- to high-rise waist with straight legs that aren’t too snug and hit just at the ankle. Typically made of sturdier denim with a looser fit, mom jeans have limited stretch, so you may have to try on a few different brands before you find your perfect match. Basically, mom jeans are the antithesis of the low-rise bootcut and flare designs that were popular in the Y2K era. And, having lived through that once, we’re actually quite happy to embrace mom jeans as our endlessly wearable everyday pair.
So back to creating amazing outfits with mom jeans: If your immediate instinct is to pair an oversize sweatshirt with retro sneakers, then you may be veering a bit far into throwback territory. The mom jeans made today can easily be dressed up or down as needed. Thinking about what shoes to wear with mom jeans is key. For instance, the same pair of jeans could be worn with a blazer, T-shirt, shoes like slingback heels and chunky loafers or brightly colored accessories and a silk blouse or slouchy sweater.
While a great-fitting pair of mom jeans is definitely a throw-on-and-go item, keep in mind that the key to styling any high-waist pants is to play with proportions. Mom jeans got a bad rap in the ’80s and ’90s, but let’s be honest: It was easy to see them as caricatures when worn by so many characters in iconic movies and television shows of the era. With that in mind, we’ve pulled 12 outfits with mom jeans that demonstrate how this storied denim style is anything but matronly.
Keep scrolling for major outfit inspo, and prepare to embrace the high-waist.