There was something oddly familiar about my 15-year-old daughter’s appearance when she left for school the other day. At first, I imagined it was the way her hair cascaded in golden waves over her shoulders that caused her to look like a younger version of me. I later realized that it was the way her jeans covered her waistline that made her look like me, current-me, mom-me.
The fashion lines that have divided us are getting fuzzy. I was almost fooled by the junior clothing sections labeled in big bold letters: Mom Jeans. But that marketing lure is not for me. It’s better to stay away until it’s time to pay for the jeans my daughter purposely selects from the MOM section. I can simply wait at the register and then grin smugly. She’s finally wanting the jeans I’ve implored her to wear from the day her first set of curves showed up.
I never cared for the low-rise jeans my daughter and her friends usually wear because whenever they bend over or sit down, they look like plumbers, only with lacy undies covering their rear gaps. But at least we always know whose jeans are whose when putting laundry away. And undies too.
What’s not to like here? Mom jeans rise-up to cover her belly button plus they don’t look painted on. I remember pointing this out to her in shopping days of yore before the MOM sections popped up, and how she responded with an eye roll. Because what do I know? I have no fashion sense, well, until the designers say I do. Looks like now’s my time to shine. I’m back in style. High-waist mom jeans are in high demand and at a high cost in all the places where teens shop.
Hide and keep
Here’s a secret: these hot items are abundantly available at thrift stores where every good mom I know shops. That’s because my friends and I donate our jeans when we’ve given up on losing enough weight to squeeze back into them. Smaller sizes are left in a cardboard box at the store’s back door and then larger sizes are bought and bagged to carry out the front door. There are racks and racks of these mom-wearables up for grabs for the mere cost of a cool Frappuccino, or less.
Sure the cheap jeans don’t typically have the brands popular among teens stitched into the denim. But that doesn’t seem to matter when a teen is so desperate that she stoops to secretly borrowing from her own mom’s closet. There’s been several times that I’ve gone to put on my favorite jeans only to find them crumpled on her bedroom floor. It doesn’t matter that they are baggy and short because that only punctuates her fashion statement.
She can try to be sneaky embezzling my jeans, but I have the corner on that crime. I recently bought more second-hand jeans to hang in my bedroom closet, then hid my favorites in a place she’ll never dare to look, the cleaning supply closet.
Mom jeans, then and now
I tried to remember my first pair of mom jeans and came up blank, so I turned to a trusted source of moms everywhere. After only mere seconds on Google, I learned that mom jeans entered the world of fashion in the late 1980s – which, ironically, is when I first became a mom. The style has been described as high-waist jeans that give the wearer’s backside a longer and flatter appearance. On the front side, there’s more space because of a longer zipper and roomier crotch area. That’s about as sexy as it gets. When I became a mom, I needed that excess space, even after the trend faded.
Mom jeans also came with excess space for poking fun, as Saturday Night Live did in 2003. I laughed out loud while watching the 15-year-old video of a fake department store ad for mom jeans, and then gasped because, except for the elastic-banded jeans, I own every other style they mocked. And what’s more, my daughter is pilfering them. I dare SNL to air that clip again, except this time, edit in some teens idolizing their mothers’ stylish attire.
I like what InStyle writer Wendy Wallace wrote about it: “After decades of being the subject of derision, mom jeans are now a thing. Yes, you heard that right. High-waist, straight leg jeans are all the rage, as evidenced on street style stars snapped in Milan, Paris, and every fashion capital around the world.”
Maybe it’s time for a new take on a popular book and movie that featured a pair of jeans that magically fits four teenage girls perfectly, despite their different body shapes. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, the 2001 novel by Ann Brashares which became the 2005 iconic film with the same name, practically parallels what’s happening with my jeans, my teen and me. I’d title the remake Motherhood of the Stolen Jeans.
The jean inquisition
I decided to find out what the big deal is with mom jeans, so I contacted some fashion experts. Bribing them with Doritos and Dr. Pepper, I asked a local teen jean thief (AKA Daughter) and her best friend to pull up a seat at the kitchen table and talk to me.
Me: So, what do you think about mom jeans?
The Best Friend: It depends on who’s wearing them.
Me: Teenage girls.
The Best Friend: Yeah, but what teenage girls? The ones with dead bugs in capsules hanging from chains around their necks don’t look right wearing mom jeans. But the girls who always dress in the latest, I guess they look good on them.
Daughter: For me personally, I’ve just got to be honest here and say that I love mom jeans. [She sighs.] Oh, yeah, Mom, I borrowed a pair your jeans yesterday.
Me: I know and they’re in the laundry now.
Daughter: Sorry ‘bout that, but they fit great. They’re loose on my legs so I don’t feel like my thighs are bulging out everywhere. [She places her hands on her thighs and then lifts them up while puffing out her cheeks.]
Me: For the record, they are loose on you, not me.
The Best Friend: I wouldn’t wear my mom’s jeans.
Me: Your mom is in tip-top shape. She probably doesn’t own a pair of true mom jeans.
The Best Friend: True.
Daughter: I love mom jeans. I hope they never go out of style.
Me: Me too.
But I know they will. I also suspect they’ll make a comeback in another 25-30 years, which will be about the time my teen has morphed into a mom with a teen of her own.
I’ll be ready
In the trunk where I store my daughter’s beloved baby blanket and a clip of curly blonde hair from her first cut, I plan to fold away a pair of my jeans. I just need to wait until the mom jeans fashion cycle is over for my daughter and I’ve got a pair that don’t fit me anymore, so it’ll probably be another week or two before I get this done.
In the meantime, I need to finish the laundry so I can wear my favorite pair to work for Blue Jeans Friday. I may even sleep in them so they don’t magically show up on my teen first.