Well, I’m in love with mom jeans.
They make my bum look a foot long. They accentuate my belly pooch. And they make my legs look shapeless. But guess what? I love them anyway.
In fact, I can honestly sit here and tell you: our moms were onto something.
If you’re not familiar with the mom jean, allow me to describe. In general, this specimen of pant is made of light blue denim, which — and let’s be clear — is not to be confused with faded blue denim. No rocks were washed with this material in order to achieve a unique patina. No interesting dyes were used either. Instead, it’s just light blue. Kind of like how the sky is blue when it’s slightly hazy out.
The fabric of the mom jean is also different than what we’ve become used to. If there is elastic in it, I sure can’t detect it, and this is a girl who, pre-jean purchase, would practice a series of squats and stretches in the dressing room to make sure there was enough give to accommodate her thicc (yeah, I said it) Ukrainian thighs. But there is no give when it comes to mom jeans.
The mom jean does have a serious zipper though. It even has a tuba-like voice when it zips (“Ziiiiiiip.”), which is in stark contrast to the piccolo tone of jean zippers circa 2001. You remember those ones, don’t you? When waistlines were so low-cut that bending over was, well, unrealistic if you wanted to be deemed a lady?
It’s the waistline of the mom jean that requires such a lengthy link, for this trouser sits high up on you. Well past your hips, even past your belly button. You could bend over for days in these things and never worry that even an inch of your skin will be exposed.
The word to describe the legs on these babies is “roomy.” They’re not cut wide in a bell-bottoms way, they’re wide in a tree trunk way, so that the denim, while relatively soft, doesn’t actually touch you very often. Instead, your legs largely feel like they’re just floating inside there. But then, on your hips, the mom jean hugs you in a very reassuring way.
I bought my mom jeans when I was home last February. My best friend Kristin has always been on the cutting edge when it comes to jean transition (she switched to skinnies nearly the second they kicked boot-cuts off the shelves), so I know I need to follow her lead if I don’t want to get left behind. Granted, Kristin has a perfect figure, which helps in jean display.
Still, I went to my favorite boutique with my mom and found a pair that were a shocking 60 percent off. I decided that, even if they didn’t leave the house, they were still worth a shot.
For the next seven months, I thought and thought about that 60-percent-off discount every time I opened the drawer and contemplated my mom jeans. I would put them on, delight in how sweetly comfortable they were, and then take them off. Maybe they had been 60 percent off for good reason. Like that they were ugly.
When I asked my husband how he thought they looked, he just shrugged and said, “Well, they look like mom jeans all right.” That’s one thing you should probably know about the mom jean choice from the outset: don’t expect to get high praise from the men in your life. Instead, the mom jean is a woman’s woman jean, the kind where your girlfriends will see them and say, “You know what? Good for her.”
Thinking on it, I credit Gen Z for the adoption of the mom jean. Without these spirited girls, I don’t think they were ever coming back. But good for these young women for embracing the matriarch of the denim world and, in turn, renouncing the skinny jean.
Because you know what we all need to admit about skinnies? They are shockingly uncomfortable. They make your calves feel like they’re choking, you’re constantly having to hike them up if you have the audacity to move in them, and it doesn’t matter how soft or thin the material is, you still want to toss them off the minute you hit the house so you can pull on some pilled yoga pants. What’s more, skinny jeans only make already skinny girls look skinny. The rest of us? They enhance rather than hide our imperfections because there is absolutely nowhere to hide in them.
Anyway, about five months ago, I finally pulled out my mom jeans from the drawer, put them on and kept them on. A few days later, I put them on and kept them on and went and ran errands. I knew I didn’t look like I was 115 pounds. But you know what? I’m not 115 pounds. Interestingly, even knowing that, I still felt good. I walked differently because I was boosted by comfort, not hampered by discomfort. That alone was blissfully liberating. And then, in the beauty products section at TJ Maxx, a pretty Gen Z girl stopped looking at the charcoal face masks, glanced at me in that sleepy, probably depressed Gen Z way, and suddenly perked up.
“I like your jeans,” she said.
And that was enough for me.