How To Wear Your Mom Jeans

You asked, I answered; one of my readers emailed-in; Zoe writes: “Oh-em-gee YO! I noticed the mom jean trend is really taking off! I even noticed YOU donning a pair! I like them (in theory) but am reluctant to buy into it because I’m scared that I will look like a parody of a frumpy ’90s sitcom instead of how cool street style is making them out be. What can I do?! Is there an alternative that I can try? I want to dip my toes into the whole mom jean territory without diving in headfirst.

Once upon a time, skinny jeans were all I owned and wore.

But sometime between 2014’s reemergence of vintage Levi’s and the culottes that came after, I went from wearing cigarette cuts every day, to a few times a week, to feeling repulsed by the idea, which made wearing my vast collection of boots made just for tucking feel impossible.

Can’t I have my baggy-fit trousers and eat my boots, too? Um – No. That would be painful. Keeping my favorite kind of footwear around, however, isn’t. Allow me to present a three step plan:

1. Stop thinking in terms of just jeans. Mom jeans, in various forms, have been around for as long as women have been wearing jeans, but only recently have they become “cool” to wear again. It’s about that high rise, that stiff denim, that snug-but-not-suctioned hip, and that slight taper. It also used to be about that painfully unhip wash (just say no to stonewashed), a too-long length, and a crotch fit that was not so kind, to say the least.

And if you are still scared to go all-in to mom jeans, your alternatives are;

2. Cropped trousers! Fashion may be reaching peak culotte, but crisply tailored, just-above-the-ankle lengths still feel fresh.

Prefer something even more subdued?

3. Bust out the overalls! It’s an easy way to satisfy your denim craving without singing that same old skinny jeans song. The best bibs of the moment, in my opinion, are reminiscent of jumpsuits with sleek, clean lines and a dark wash finish — a sly, sexy of wink to the Western trend — and ideally paired with Doc Martens.

The last part of point number one are the only things that separate bad mom jeans from good mom jeans. One: the perfect pair has to be in a great, expensive-looking wash. Think true blues and a worn-in (but not sandblasted) distressing. Two: it has to show off your ankles — roll the hems up once or twice if they’re too long. And three: the top shouldn’t be so tight that they fit like skinny jeans. There should be enough room (think an inch in all directions) that you can comfortably sit down (and eat lunch) without cutting off your circulation.


This slimmed-down pair from Urban Outfitters is pretty much perfect. It’ll flatter your waistline as much as you want and it feels like a modern update, rather than a vintage throwback. Pair them with a cool jacket (mine is from Harvey Faircloth) and boots to boot as pictured, or with slides and a tank for a laid-back summer look that’ll still get you bumped up to the front of the line (whether it’s at that new hotel bar or Costco or whatever).

I hope this helps.

Yvette xo