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What Are Mom Jeans?

Your Guide to Everything Mom Jeans 


One of the most trendy jean styles, particularly among the younger millennial shoppers and Gen Z generation, is the mom jean. There was a time when the phrase “mom jeans” was not meant as a compliment.  


Anyone remember that infamous SNL skit from 2003?  


But while those old enough to remember the original mom jeans of the ’80s and ’90s are a little bemused to see mom jeans trending, there are some key differences in who is wearing them nowadays and how they are being styled.


So What Are Mom Jeans? 


Light Blue Denim Mom Jeans

If you struggle to tell the difference between the many types of womens jeans, you’re not alone. However, mom jeans are characterized by some distinctive features. Most mom jeans have:  

  • Longer pockets 
  • A high waist both in the front and back 
  • A fuller zipper area 
  • A looser upper leg with a tapered leg to the ankle 


Some vintage mom jeans even had an elastic waistband since the original concept was to offer comfortable denim that didn’t pinch at the waist and offered full backside coverage and room for the lower belly. And the mom jeans historically were often made with thicker, non-stretch denim.


Are Mom Jeans the Same as Boyfriend Jeans? 


Mom jeans and boyfriend jeans share many characteristics in common, but they are two distinct styles. Boyfriend jeans sit lower on the waist and have a straighter leg. Another jean style popping up and often confused with mom jeans is women’s dad jeans. This style features a high waist, less shaping, and a wide leg all the way down. Additionally, it’s common to see these jeans left uncuffed and bagged at the lower leg and ankle. 


To learn more about boyfriend jeans and other types of denim, see our articles on:



Are All High Waisted Jeans Mom Jeans? 

Democracy Clothing Grey Denim Girlfriend Jean


While all mom jeans fall under the category of high waisted jeans, not all high waisted jeans are mom jeans. There are actually many different types of high waisted denim. At Democracy, we have a variety of high waisted jeans to choose from. While mom jeans are traditionally stiff, our high rise jeans are made from our patented Ab Solution fit technology. They provide the style of a high waist option, with all the comfort, stretch, and flexibility you need. 


The History of the ‘Mom Jean’ 


To find the origin of the ‘mom jean,’ you’ll have to travel further back in time than the 1980s. The first pair of jeans advertised specifically for women in the 1930s was essentially a straight-legged, thick, and non-stretch denim—but with a higher waist than the men’s version.  


And throughout the ensuing decades, women—especially mothers—continued wearing variations on this style for gardening and other types of outdoor work. 


Jean trends are often cyclical, and the term ‘mom jeans’ became more of an insult than a simple label by the late 1990s and early 2000s. Jeans at that time featured ultra-low waists with short zippers that hugged the hips and thighs and flared in the lower leg. Mom jeans were considered especially uncool then, but that didn’t stop moms from tucking their button-downs into their gathered elastic waistbands each and every day. 


The Mom Jeans SNL skit came out in 2003, but by the 2010s, young people were beginning to embrace the generously-cut mom jeans silhouette as part of the normcore movement that elevated many clothing items previously deemed uncool.  



What Body Types Look Good in Mom Jeans? 


One of the beautiful things about mom jeans is their focus on comfort and practicality. But mom jeans are especially flattering for specific shapes, including hourglass and pear shapes.  

Woman in white blouse and distressed mom jeans


High-waisted mom jeans flatter natural curves while also giving the appearance of a thinner waist. Shorter women also benefit from this style of jeans as it accentuates the leg length, while the baggy leg can also balance the overall look. 


How to Style Mom Jeans 


Women are definitely wearing mom jeans in different ways. While you’ll find some in the classic silhouette with a tailored hip and butt area and loose to a tapered leg, you can also find them ripped or even patched.  


In the past, mom jeans were primarily available in the classic blue jean look. Now, you’ll find them in an array of colors and washes. One happy intersection combining two different blasts from the past is stonewashed mom jeans. But women are showing they’re not afraid to explore new ground and move away from lighter washes to gray and black mom jeans.  


Mom Jeans Offer Versatility 


One reason mom jeans have come back and stuck around for so long is because they’re versatile and flattering across multiple aesthetics and body types. You can:  

  • Dress mom jeans up with a cropped sweater 
  • Style them more casually with a loose fitting but tucked-in white t-shirt 
  • Pair with a cropped, long sleeved sweatshirt 
  • Bare the midriff with a high-cropped t-shirt or tank top 


And because mom jeans have found a home across multiple aesthetics and age groups, you’ll see styles that run the gamut. Women have styled them with:  

  • A sleek turtleneck and sweepingly-long tailored jacket 
  • Oversized, tucked-in sweatshirts with messy buns 
  • A tucked in t-shirt with a tailored blazer over mom jeans 


What Shoes to Wear with Mom Jeans 


When thinking about how to style mom jeans, you can’t overlook the importance of shoes. The type of footwear you select can dramatically change your overall look. Take your mom jeans out for a date or get-together with friends by pairing them with some kitten heels or even a stiletto black boot. But if you’re more a fan of a softer core aesthetic, chunky sneakers and boots are the way to go. Finally, for a tailored look from top to bottom, pair them with a button-down top and some loafers.  


Animal Print Sweatshirt and White Denim Barely Bootcut Jeans

Because the mom jean style has exploded, you can find tapered legs long enough to cuff at the ankle or frayed and cropped legs ending at the lower calf. Ankle boots look fantastic with both cropped or cuffed legs. Don’t forget a fun pair of socks if you’re sporting a more casual street look. 


Everyone Can Pull Off the Mom Jean Look 


Because there are so many variations of mom jeans now, there is a flattering mom jean shape and style for everybody. Consider adding this high rise to your personal style. You don’t have to shimmy or squeeze into them or worry about bending over uncomfortably. Plus, if mom jeans are not for you, there are plenty of other high waisted jeans to choose from.


Above all, have fun with them. One of the reasons so many people have turned to mom jeans is because they’re fun and functional. Now go seize the day!




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