Mom jeans — high-waisted, often lightly colored women’s jeans — may have been parodied by SNL, but these days, the denim style isn’t a joke at all. “Mom jeans have proven their staying power for the last few seasons. Women have really embraced the higher rise and slightly more relaxed fit,” says celebrity stylist Samantha Brown. Most mom jeans also have a tapered leg, and allow some room in the bottom and waist area (very FUPA-forgiving). That’s the general blueprint, though there are really all sorts of iterations on mom jeans these days, given their recent rise in popularity. Here, we talked to nine denim enthusiasts and stylists on the mom jeans they love to wear.
Classic mom jeans
You can often find a good deal on vintage mom jeans if you scour a thrift store — but newer versions can be had for under $100, too. For a traditional shape that you might have come across in the ’80s and ’90s, it’s hard to go wrong with Levi’s mom jeans, which two style experts pinpointed as the quintessential, true-to-form mom jean. Piper Gore — a stylist and lifestyle consultant who started her career in the denim industry over 15 years ago — describes the light, summertime wash as “the tried and true originals” and adds that the fit and wash only gets better over time, so you can hang onto it for years. Celebrity stylist Ali Levine — who has lent her fashion expertise to shows like Bravo’s Stripped — loves their vintage appeal, too: “They’re super cute and easy to throw on with a tee, and get out the door.”
These Urban Outfitters jeans look like they might have cameoed on Full House back in the day, which is precisely the look that Levine appreciates. “I like how casual these are,” she says. “They are a fun throwback to the ’80s, and I like that you can wear them rolled up or long.”
Stylist Lindsey Shores also tipped us off to this very affordable pair of jeans from Zara sister brand Bershka, which she says she’s been wearing on repeat lately. “My favorite cut of jean that can be easily styled normcore or non-normcore, are high-rise jeans with a solid straight leg or mom fit.”
Madewell has jeans with both a nine and ten-inch rise, says Brown, which she deems the perfect rise for a mom jean. She loves the brand’s signature “momjean” and their similar “perfect vintage jean” because they’re cut slim through the leg. “This helps to keep the silhouette flattering and not dumpy. They also have the perfect amount of stretch so they are not constricting, and don’t lose their shape with wear.”
Reformation also sells a “’90s-style” mom jean with more of a traditional shape, which you can buy distressed or in a darker wash and traditional cut.
New York Magazine photo editor Stella Blackmon is a mom-jean fanatic. “All my jeans are mom jeans. I have five pairs that are straight-leg, cotton, high-rise and borderline unflattering,” she says. Her secret is finding ones with stiff, thick fabric that keep their shape throughout the day and have just enough room for a blouse or a tee, so they’re more breathable for sitting. Her first and favorite are these Agolde high rise jeans. “The silhouette is slimmer than traditional mom jean styles, and there’s minimal whiskering, which I find easier to dress up. The 11.75-inch rise is comfortable but makes your legs look longer, and the button fly feels like an ode to the jeans my mom loved when I was growing up.”
[Editors’ Note: There aren’t many sizes left of this style (which are a more traditional wash and finish for mom jeans), but there are variations of the jean with a distressed hem — and even a dark or acid wash.]
Gore and Blackmon both suggested these Jamie Classic jeans from AGOLDE, as well. Gore says they’re “some of my very favorites and come in a few washes — all are great.” She also likes that they’re made in a super soft fabric, and that they’re cropped, but not too much. “These are the ultimate mom jean, and you can buy the same style also in the totally on-trend, of the moment, faded black.”
Modern mom jeans
And then there are the less traditional, modern updates to mom jeans — with distressed details, raw hems, slightly flared legs, unusual washes, or a slightly more fitted silhouette — that have a similar spirit, but more youthful details. Levine recommends these Kut from the Kloth mom jeans with a raw hem because she loves how comfortable they feel, despite their super high 11-inch rise — which she credits to the soft and stretchy fabric. “They have a good ‘give’ to them that make them even more comfortable. They always look stylish no matter what you wear and the frayed style really stands out. I truly love how they pair with a casual or dressy look.”
Another Levi’s alternative to the original mom jean is the brand’s slimmer “wedgie straight fit” style, which Levine notes is slightly more modern “while still hitting the right notes for a mom jean.” You can find it in more standard straight leg styles or a slightly updated raw hem like this one — which has a hidden button fly, as well. Allie Greenberg, brand director at elevated basics brand Richer Poorer, says her uniform is pretty much a cropped T-shirt and a pair of these wedgie jeans because it’s “great for shorties like me.” She gets two new washes every season because they’re so affordable to re-up on. We own it and can confirm that it’s very suitable for petite frames.
Reformation jeans tend to be designed with leggier people in mind to begin with, though Katie Schmidt, the owner, founder, and lead designer of ethical clothing boutique Passion Lilie points out that their ultra high-rise jeans give the illusion of even longer legs. “These keep everything in place while elongating your legs and giving you that cinched-waist look.” She finds that it’s an ideal fit on her thin, but curvy frame, too. “I love a good pair of mom jeans that can accentuate the curves I have, and these jeans from Reformation are ideal for doing just that.” As an eco-friendly designer, she also appreciates Reformation sustainable design ethos.
If you wanted something slightly more ’70s-leaning, Gore calls out the “fun exposed button fly” on these J Brand jeans, which were designed to resemble a vintage store find. “These are a bit more fitted but are super comfortable and stretchy.”
These Citizens of Humanity high-rise options look the part of a mom jean, but feel fresher. Gore recommends “offsetting the ‘mom’ in these” with what she calls “a cool, blown out wash and some very natural looking destruction.”
There are also some newer versions of mom jeans in white, like these Mango jeans that book publicist Sarah Miniaci likes for their comfort level and their “not too flimsy, too thick” texture. “I’m slim-ish and long-waisted and I have hips and not the longest legs ever. These lengthen my legs, make my bum look cute, and don’t pinch at all around the waist (nor do they get all loose and unwearable after a few washes).” She also likes that they’re from Mango’s sustainable collection “so I don’t feel like an irresponsible jerk for wearing them.”
“For a fun twist on the mom jean, Isabel Marant has done a beautiful high rise, straight leg option,” says Gore — also in white. She finds that it’s more rigid than typical mom jeans (“It’s not super generous through hips and thighs, as is typical of her cuts”), though it’s one of her favorites for spring because of thee style details, from the baggier waist to the contrasting stitching.
For curvy and plus-size women, wardrobe consultant, stylist, and personal shopper Kathryn Moczulski recommends Good American jeans, which sizes up to 24. “Made for women with curves, these on-trend jeans hug your lower back and retain their stretch between washes,” she says. She likes that they’re more playful, or as she calls them, “crisp with a bit of funk — mom jeans need not be boring.”
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