The Right Way to Wear 'Mom Jeans' (For Real)

“Mom jeans”

— pleated, tapered, high-waisted pants with elongated pockets — aren’t exactly cutting edge, but the denim drawers once adored by the over-40 set, and later parodied on "Saturday Night Live," are making a surprising comeback. Again.

Case in point: Topshop now carries Moto Blue Mom Jeans, a $66 cotton version and Urban Outfitters sells the Mom Jean, a $59 pair with a tapered, cropped leg. And Hollywood is crawling with the look— in December, Gwyneth Paltrow was spotted wearing the voluminous, drawstring version of the jeans, and Elle Fanning admitted to New York magazine that she favors a baggier look, “sort of like a mom jean.” Meanwhile, actress Emma Roberts rocked a high-waisted, skin-tight pair of dark denims recently. Hard to believe that in 2009, Jessica Simpson received flak from the media for wearing a dark blue pair of her own during a Florida concert. But back then, high-waisted denims were having a resurgence, too—thanks to street style blogs featuring hipsters embracing the look ironically, of course. This time around, we have a new explanation for mom jeans and some guidelines for wearing them.

“Fashion is experiencing a wave of ‘90s nostalgia— lots of crop tops, plaid, and layering — and mom jeans right fit right in,” Stephanie Trong, co-editor in chief of, told Yahoo Shine. “But let’s be clear: These aren’t everyday jeans, and they won’t necessarily flatter your body; however, they do poke fun at fashion and make a playful statement.” Dare to try it? Proceed with caution — and definitely wear them with confidence.

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They're easier to wear than you think: “What’s great about mom jeans is that, contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily need a model’s body to look cute in them,” said Trong. Mom jeans will always flatter long and lean types because high waistbands accentuate the midriff; however, women with an hourglass shapes also benefit, because the cinched midsection accentuates curves. Also: Shorter women will add inches to their height because elongated waistlines create the illusion of a lengthy leg.

Opt for light blue:
Avoid bells and whistles (acid washes, black, white, colors, whiskered denim), and stick to the jeans’s classic blue hue. Plus, you’ll be on trend: “Pale blue will be big this spring and summer,” said Trong.

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Have fun with your feet: Mom jeans have a gimmicky feel to them, so your footwear should be just as fun. Trong’s suggestions: black, ankle boots, colorful flat sandals (strappy or open-toed shoes won’t truncate your feet), or even sneakers. Think: an Adidas, all-white, classic shoe or Creepers, which boost height due to the platform sole.

Go easy on the accessories: The one add-on you won’t need is a wide belt (sorry, Jessica Simpson). “It will add a layer of heaviness and even make the jeans look costume-y,” said Trong. “However, a thin black one works.” Ditto for big hair — keep it simple with loose waves, or tie it into a topknot. When it comes to jewelry, choose dainty, personal pieces: gold chains with sweet pendants or a single metal bangle.

Wear shorter shirts: “These pants really show off your hips and stomach, so don’t hide them with a longer blouse,” said Trong. If you’re committed to the ‘90s trend, try a crop top or if you’re shy about showing skin, one that grazes your belt band. Feel too bare? Wear a men’s shirt knotted at the bottom, or layer the look with a cardigan that ends midthigh.

Choose a classic purse:
The best bags to pair with mom jeans? “Understated with minimal hardware” said Trong. A bucket bags or a simple tote in black or brown leather will anchor your outfit. Or, if you’re feeling bold, grab a chain-strap quilted purse. 

Accept this universal truth: Unfortunately, embracing mom jeans means succumbing to “long butt” (the optical illusion of a longer, somewhat larger, backside due to the expansive fabric and pocket placement). Ugh, but that’s kind of the point. “To wear mom jeans is to take a style risk,” Trong said. And isn’t that what fashion is all about?

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