The year is 2010. You sit outside of school, anxiously awaiting the all too familiar groaning of your mom’s 1999 white minivan. Finally, you see the whale-like vehicle approaching. All of the other kids waiting on their parents’ luxury vehicles crane their necks to see what poor soul belongs to the minivan. The situation can’t get any worse—and then it does.
Your mom gets out of the van, clad in a turtleneck, chunky white sneakers, and worst of all, high-waisted, straight leg, baggy jeans. You might as well transfer schools at this point. Why does your mom have to dress like such a mom?
Out with the old, in with the new might be true for Sharpay Evans and the technology industry, but in the fashion realm, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Very rarely does a “new” fashion trend emerge. Instead, an old trend resurfaces and is rebranded as new. Few fashion fads exemplify this better than the mom jeans phenomenon. Ten years ago, most self-proclaimed fashionistas wouldn’t be caught dead in mom jeans. The phrase was coined in 2003, as part of an SNL skit advertising a made-up company called “Mom Jeans”, which sold pants for “even the least active of moms”, featuring a 9-inch zipper. Fast forward to 2021, and mom jeans are one of the trendiest cuts of pants out there. How did we end up here? The broad hatred of mom jeans hinged on two things—our culture’s obsession with youth and an exclusive fashion world. Fortunately, these two axioms of the mom jean hate club are slowly changing. Mom jeans might be here to stay.
In 1934, Levi Strauss & Co. released the world’s first jeans designed exclusively for women. The initial renderings of women’s jeans looked similar to today’s mom jeans. As women’s jeans became more mainstream, they adapted to the times. Flared, straight leg, skin-tight, baggy, high-waisted, low-waisted. Jeans have seen it all. Women who grew up in the latter half of the 20th century were accustomed to wearing high-waisted, straight-legged jeans and continued to do so. Their daughters, on the other hand, were raised on the gospel of tight, low-rise jeans. Wearing anything remotely similar to what their mothers were wearing was unheard of.
As a reformed follower of the gospel of low-rise jeans, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that one of the biggest turning points in my life was when I wore a pair of high-waisted jeans for the first time. The minute I put those pants on, I was radicalized for Team Mom Jean. I never bought another pair of low-waisted pants again. It’s impossible not to look and feel better in high-waisted pants. Gone are the worries of stomach fat spilling over your waistband or worrying what might show should you bend over to pick up a pencil. Mom jeans do everything a good mom should—make you feel good about yourself, keep you safe and secure, and let you explore the world comfortably.
Motherhood and the term “mom” have become synonymous with uncool, unsexy, and undesirable. In a culture where a woman’s value all too often hinges on her weight, age, and desirability, being a mom is the worst thing you can be. Low-slung jeans and itty-bitty tops are indicative of an exclusive world of fashion where moms are not invited to join in. Fashion’s recent infatuation with mom jeans, oversized clothing, and increasingly androgynous ensembles offers a glimmer of hope that the fashion world might become more inclusive. Your body type, age, skin-color, or gender won’t prevent you from looking good in mom jeans. Mom jeans are for everyone!