5 Ways to Make Mom Jeans Less Mumsy

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What, exactly, are mom jeans? Good question. We’ve been discussing this very topic in the TME office, and have found ourselves somewhat dumfounded at how hard this is to answer. (I mean… S had a whole diagram on the white board trying to break down what they actually are.) We eventually came to the conclusion that if a boyfriend jean and straight-leg jean had a baby (with a high rise and slightly tapered leg??)…the mom jean is born. Helpful? One can only hope.

How To Wear Mom Jeans

We also couldn’t quite pinpoint what makes mom jeans so tricky to style…but we knew it was something. Maybe it’s their changing reputation: where once they were considered dowdy or mumsy…now they’re trendy. OR maybe it’s that our world is finally starting to appreciate a nice rounded tush (which these jeans are so good for) instead of bum-flattening (which I can’t quite grasp WHY you’d want this, but S and Linzi swear it was once a thing).

Regardless, mom jeans can still run into the gray area of mumsy, depending on how they’re styled. So. I came up with 4 easy ways to modernize them and steer clear of all that frumpiness.

5 Tips For Styling Mom Jeans

Tip 1: Tuck It In

I cannot overstate: tuck it in. Half-tucks are OK (they sometimes work with mom jeans), but what we’re really talking about here is the full tuck. Julieta and Shana go into allll the detail on how to tuck when wearing mom jeans in this video (and also have a quick discussion of where to crop ’em, too).

If boyfriend jeans & straight-leg jeans had a baby (with a high rise & slightly tapered leg?)...the mom jean would be born. 5 ways to style 'em, right here.

Tip 2: Add a Band Tee

No, I will not stop pushing the band tees. I wear them so often that at this point they’re basically my skin. Plus, they’re arguably the easiest way to make mom jeans less mumsy. They’re edgy, tuck easily into mom jeans, and, most importantly, comfy. Since the mom jeans show off the waist (especially when you wear ’em with a belt) add an oversized blazer — it works perfectly! A mini purse and tiny earrings add just a lil’ bit of chic. I added white booties for a statement, but regular black booties (or even sneaks) would totally work, too.

If boyfriend jeans & straight-leg jeans had a baby (with a high rise & slightly tapered leg?)...the mom jean would be born. 5 ways to style 'em, right here.

blazer or blazer 2 | tee | jeans | boots | bag | belt | earrings

Tip 3: Go All Chic Monochromatic

For a really chic look, layer on soft hues of cream and gray. With this outfit, I’d tuck the cami fully into the mom jeans since I paired it with a slouchy cardigan. Slouch on slouch (although I definitely try to rock this often) isn’t the most flattering. Adding the hoop earrings helps elevate it and make it day or night appropriate. To make it a little more eye-catching, I’m adding in some animal print!

If boyfriend jeans & straight-leg jeans had a baby (with a high rise & slightly tapered leg?)...the mom jean would be born. 5 ways to style 'em, right here.

cardigan | cami | jeans | boots | wallet | earrings

Tip 4: Rock The High-Tops

High-waisted jeans can help elongate your legs and make high-tops totally work (regardless of how tall you are or…aren’t). I love pairing sneaks like the ones below with slightly elevated pieces like the furry jacket and structured purse. Adding in the pop of mustard yellow with the turtleneck helps make this outfit match without being matchy-matchy. (I’d tuck the sweater just like Topshop did in their model photo which you can see here.) Also — if you decide to go for a bootie instead, I HIGHLY suggest this pair. I mean…. LOOK at those boots. I’d consider selling an arm and a leg for them.

If boyfriend jeans & straight-leg jeans had a baby (with a high rise & slightly tapered leg?)...the mom jean would be born. 5 ways to style 'em, right here.

jacket | sweater | jeans | sneaks | bag | watch | earrings

Tip 5: Add A Leather Jacket

Now this. This is me to the core. You can never go wrong with a good ol’ leather jacket and white button up. I’d slightly tuck the white button up into the jeans, and let the back hang out. I’d maybe even consider pulling a high-fashion, street style moment and only tuck the one side of the shirt in…(check out what I mean here.) Chunky military boots (or even some classic Vans if you prefer sneaks) are always a good go-to, especially with tricky jean styles.

If boyfriend jeans & straight-leg jeans had a baby (with a high rise & slightly tapered leg?)...the mom jean would be born. 5 ways to style 'em, right here.

jacket | top | jeans | boots | lipstick | belt | earrings

Shop Cute Mom Jeans Outfit Ideas

Don’t be afraid to rock jeans that seem a little more complicated than the classic skinnies. They’re SO fun and can make your look that much more exciting to look at. (Would also love to know if there’s any other jeans you guys are having a tough time styling. I’m up for the challenge!)

-Danielle

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Danielle — easily — wins the most helpful award in almost every category. While her background is Design & Merchandising, she has become the TME jack of all trades, working on our website design, infrastructure and graphic design, in addition to writing articles. A lover of neutrals, she manages to come up with seriously cool outfits using basic wardrobe staples, is a whiz at distilling trends, and — thanks in part to her own style — is a natural at making practical outfits more interesting.

20 COMMENTS

  1. IDK. Maybe, it’s my whole 1996 Women’s Studies degree ( way before Gender Studies was even a thing), but the whole Mom Jean terminology makes my skin crawl. It seems to me, mom jeans were 1980s high waisted jeans that were just called f’ing awesome on Brooke Shields, but somehow evolved into something for derision when worn by women. Moms to be exact. Moms with hips and ( God forbid), a baby pooch. I get it. Now, 2020, all the new modern Brooke Shields of the world are discovering these new strange jeans with a high waist and no stretch and calling them all sorts of brilliant. Maybe it’s just me and I’m grumpy.

    • Oooo…I LOVE this comment. It strikes me as having – at the very least – a kernel of truth. It’s funny, tho…we were talking about mom jeans in the Philly office, and part of the appeal NOW (according to our milennial staff) is that they DO accentuate the butt and hips. The rest of us, uh, NON milennials, were laughing about how that never used to be a good thing. Ugh, so much of the old denim trends in the early 2000’s were all about erasing the butt.

  2. Yeah. They’re really not hard to define and when worn well they look great and when not they look as dorky as they did when they weren’t worn well in the 80s. But you will never convince me that a 3″ rise with back pockets sliding down the back of your thighs and a permanent muffin top was an improvement.

    https://youtu.be/2aVxNH6iN9I

  3. In my enthusiasm to be current and interesting, i got two pairs of these jeans from Everlane. I have both hips (that’s an understatement) and a mom pooch. Yikes. I kept them both, but they make me look my size, they don’t hide anything or flatter my figure. I tried a round of super high waisted straight leg jeans with stretch from JCrew. I thought they would be like a mom jean but more flattering. Nope, double yikes. The fit was off too. They went back. It’s the accentuated pooch that really gets me. I am a mom, and while my core strength is returning, I still look 3 months pregnant after a meal. I don’t want to I end up hiding my pooch with some kind of blazer or cardigan every time I wear them. So, should I who looks undeniably worse in mom jeans wear them to be current or do I look ridiculous like that SNL skit? I can’t decide. I wish mom jeans were part of the style challenge.

    • LauraB…this is freaking GREAT idea. And I’ve been known to add on a ‘bonus week’ to other styling challenges…[S pauses, listens for groans from the Philly office, ignores them] – let’s do it!!

  4. I really want to love “Mom Jeans” and I have purchased a few, but like LauraB I have a hard time wearing them. I have wide hips, but honestly I don’t have a belly and they make me look like I do! Currently loving high waisted skinny jeans but I hear that skinny jeans are on the outs… oh well.

  5. I’ve tried several Mom jeans from Everlane, BR, and JCrew. I wore them in the 80’s and 90’s because those were the only jeans style. I’m petite, short waisted with not much in the hip or bum department and they are just a baggy mess on me. I’d like a straight leg that fits like a skinny up top. Life is too short to try so hard to make these work.

  6. I think one of the most important things for personal style is knowing what looks good on your body- and what doesn’t. I’m a size 4 but have an hour glass figure with hips and thighs being the widest points ergo these “mom jeans” (especially tucked in!) highlight the parts of my body I like least. So like the peasant top trend (which does NOT look good with a 32E chest!) I’m going to sit this one out. However, I am forever grateful for the return of the high waisted jean- I just wear mine n slim cut or straight leg. Know your body and adopt trends and styles accordingly.

  7. The ‘new’ style of mom jeans seems to work on incredibly slender people only. Agree with Laura B that I wish this was part of the style challenge so we could see a bunch of different body types wearing them. Also (admittedly, grumpily) wish there were pictures of one or more of the blogger ladies in this post, particularly because this is about how to actually style an item that I find is really hard to get right when it’s on real human bodies. I have thus far skipped this trend entirely because I can’t figure out how on earth to make these look flattering.

  8. I think I managed to carry off the mom jeans during their first iteration when I wasn’t a mom. Now that I am I can’t imagine a worse style on me. Even with all the styling tricks, they would still accentuate areas of my body that I’d rather not highlight. Although these outfits look interesting it would be even more interesting to see them on an average North American woman who is an average size 14. My observation is that they look good on slender women only.

  9. There comes a point when “difficult to style” may just be “for very specific body types only”…because I am not hippy or hourglass like some of the other commenters who say they struggle with this look, but I, too, cannot make it happen, because while I don’t have much in the way of hips, I ALSO don’t have a small waist and am much more rectangular–when a high waist doesn’t even nip in AND the rest of the jeans are looser to the knee and don’t show off what little hip I’ve got…I look odd, let’s put it that way.

    I guess we should all be thankful for small mercies, because back in 2015-16 or so when the Normcore girls were doing this all over Brooklyn, the jeans were acid washed…with PLEATS. God help us.

  10. The surest way to get comments is to talk mom jeans!

    Listen ladies. We deserve better. If you don’t like it or it doesn’t work on your body, just toss it aside and move on. There are far too many wonderful cuts, washes and styles that fit and flatter our shapes that we can all wear with joy and STILL look modern and relevant.

  11. I would also love to see this challenge! I am petite and thin (basically Shana’s size) and I also cannot get this style of jeans to feel right on me. I suspect it’s all in the styling, and I’m just not putting outfits together well.

    I want to like them, because though I love skinny jeans, I don’t always want to wear tightly-fitting jeans.

  12. I wore thrifted guys 501s in the 80s-90s because I hated how these jeans fit back then! I’m kind of petite and busty, short waisted and then slim hips and legs, and no fun booty curves. Mom jeans are just super uncomfortable and unflattering on my body! So I’m giving them a pass now when I am actually a mom of 3 teens. I work on a university campus in the bay area and the undergrads look super cute in their mom jeans (as do the high school girls). I’ll stick with my preferred ankle or cropped skinny or straight leg styles.

  13. I think a part of the problem us, um, older people have with “mom jeans” goes back to the aforementioned no-hips-no-butt ideal. I am over skinnies and pretty much only wear mom jeans and looser cuts now. I think you just kind of have to wrap your head around the fact that the jeans make your tummy area more prominent… and that’s OK because we’re human beings who have tummies. It’s the shape of actual human bodies. But we’re just used to pretending that any of those midsection shapes (bum, hips, tummy) didn’t exist.

  14. Sorry but this is the lamest advice ever. Band T’s are “edgy?” Since when – the 1980’s? There just isn’t anything original or inspiring in any of these suggested looks and in some cases it appears to increase the frumpiness of the mom jean.

  15. Yes! Let’s do it! I was out in the trendiest spot in town last night and noticed that young fit women (I’m presuming they were not mothers) were wearing mom jeans even if they had a pooch. Mostly they were wearing them with cropped tops that hit right at the top of the waist band or bodysuits. I guess no one is worried that it shows off the natural contours of their stomach! I’m gonna try them again!

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