Fall Denim Refresh: Switching Out My Favorite MOTHER Jeans For Levi’s And Relaxed Flares

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A shocking thing happened this past week: I’ve been substituting these new straight-leg distressed Levi’s for my wear-on-repeat MOTHER jeans. For those of you who follow The Mom Edit and my selfies, you guys know I wear these silly MOTHER jeans a lot! Like a WHOLE lot! And have for a while now. So it’s kiiiind of a big deal that I’ve been reaching for something new.

And I didn’t just reach for these Levi’s this week, I reached for them and actually wore them several times out and about…and liked it! Even though I still love my MOTHER crop jeans — and I assure you they’re not going anywhere — I’m intrigued by the idea of working some other denim styles this fall in to my daily casual uniform.

I didn't just reach for these Levi's ribcage straight-leg jeans this week, I reached for them & actually wore them several times out + about...& liked it!

Denim (28) | Birks | Top (XS) | Similar Top | Bag (sold out) | Earrings

Even though I haven’t necessarily acknowledged it in my fashion choices, I AM aware that the denim fashion trends have been getting looser and looser and more relaxed. I don’t always follow those fashion trends, though. I like to pick and choose which ones I get behind and which ones I strongly pass. I didn’t get on board with skinnies (NOT my personal style for sure), and I never felt like I wanted to rock tapered mom jeans (despite trying a few times). Looser and more relaxed, though, sounds pretty good. Especially when we’re talking straight-leg and flare jeans.

Fall Denim Refresh: 8 Casual Outfits Ft. My Fave Jeans + Straight-Legs & Flares

Although I adore my MOTHER The Insider cropped jeans, I do wear them a LOT. I could definitely use a new style to break up the monotony this fall, and I would love to incorporate a style that’s different from my usual fitted cropped flares.

I decided I need to play with the options. I knew I wanted to see how some of my casual fall outfits — which I usually wear with my cropped MOTHERs — looked with the Levi’s ribcage jeans I just brought home. I also, however, have these more-relaxed MOTHER flares that I haven’t fully incorporated into my day-to-day, despite LOVING the way they feel (so comfy!). Figured it was worth cutting the flares a bit shorter, so I could wear them more often with casual shoes, as well as take a look at how they work with some of my fall go-to’s.

Now, for playtime! I tried eight casual fall looks below, each with three different styles of denim — my wear-on-repeat cropped MOTHERS, my brand-new straight-leg Levi’s and my new-ish relaxed MOTHER The Tomcat flares. Spoiler: I don’t think any one pair of jeans looks best with ALL the outfits. I like my older cropped jeans with some, my newer relaxed flare denim with others and my newest Levi’s with some too. Curious to see what you guys think!

Here we go! Let me know your favorite looks (or any you think don’t work) in the comments — this can be a collaborative post!

**For details on sizing and fit, scroll down to the bottom of the post.

1. Cashmere Vest & Clogs

I love this Anthropologie sweater vest with all the denim. 100% cashmere, available in five colors and super-versatile. You do have to adjust the neck a bit to get it to behave, but it’s SO freaking soft. I love the oversized fit and detailing on the front. For fall, I’ll likely wear it with just a cami underneath, but you can see on the model that it can be worn as more of a top layer over long sleeves as well. Would also be great with pants for a more professional look.

This Anthropologie sweater vest is 100% cashmere, available in 5 colors & super-versatile. You do have to adjust the neck a bit to get it to behave, but it's SO freaking soft. I love the oversized fit + detailing on the front.

Jeans (29) | Vest (S) | Bag | Clogs | Earrings | Bracelets

Jeans (28, left) | Jeans (29, right)
Vest (S) | Bag | Clogs | Earrings | Bracelets

2. Pretty Green Sweater & Tan Boots

This Anthropologie 100% cashmere sweater is also super-soft, and the dark green is gorgeous in person. SUCH a pretty color, and I like the relaxed-fit V-neck that can do the slouchy, slightly off-the-shoulder thing at times. Note that the back is open on this sweater, so I haven’t figured out yet what I want to do about that. I’ve been thinking about trying to find a low-back bra (but with regular straps), so this sweater might be the motivation I need. In terms of a simple sweater with my newer denim styles: I like it with the Levi’s, but I feel like it’s a bit of a boring look with the darker MOTHER The Tomcat flares. (Looking at these photos, I think all of these looks actually need a bigger, bolder bag for my personal style.)

This Anthropologie 100% cashmere sweater is also super-soft, & the dark green is gorgeous in person. SUCH a pretty color, & I like the relaxed-fit V-neck that can do the slouchy, slightly off-the-shoulder thing.

Jeans (29) | Sweater (XS) | Boots | Bag | Earrings | Bracelets

Note that the back of this Anthropologie cashmere sweater is open on this, so I haven't figured out yet what I want to do about that.

Jeans (28, left) | Jeans (29, right)
Sweater (XS) | Boots | Bag | Earrings | Bracelets

3. Side-Button Tunic & Birkenstocks

I SO want to rock this look! I feel like I am CONTINUALLY searching for the right proportions in tunics. This isn’t quite it. BUT this cotton side-button tunic (also by Anthro) comes in petite, so I’m hopeful that sizing will work better. It also comes in a crisp white as well as a pretty light copper, in addition to the stripes below. It has side buttons that look great unbuttoned as well for more movement and a different shape. I think if I had the right sizing (petite), it would work with all the styles of jeans.

I feel like I am CONTINUALLY searching for the right proportions in tunics. This isn't quite it. BUT this cotton side-button tunic (also by Anthro) comes in petite, so I'm hopeful that sizing will work better.

Jeans (29) | Top (XS) | Birks | Bag | Earrings | Bracelets

This Anthropologie cotton side-button tunic also comes in a crisp white & a pretty light copper, in addition to these stripes. It looks great unbuttoned as well for more movement + a different shape.

Jeans (28, left) | Jeans (29, right)
Top (XS) | Birks | Bag | Earrings | Bracelets

4. Oversized Sweater-Blazer & Hoodie

One of my most-worn fall looks: jeans, sneakers and a cardigan. This fall, I’m going to be wearing my new Vince oversized sweater-blazer on repeat, so it was important to me to see how it looked with my newer jeans. I knew I loved it with my older MOTHER The Insiders — I wear these jeans with oversized cardigans ALL the time. I think it works fine with the flares, but I don’t know about the Levi’s. It feels like maybe too much oversized on top of oversized with all the layers. I don’t mind baggy with baggy — I like the oversized white cotton-gauze button-down featured in the first photo in this post with the more-relaxed Levi’s. But I think too many baggy layers (below) with the Levis might be too much on me.

I think the Vince oversized sweater-blazer works fine with the MOTHER flares, but I don't know about the Levi's straight-leg jeans. It feels like maybe too much oversized on top of oversized with all the layers.

Jeans (29) | Hoodie (S) | Sweater-Blazer (XS) | Sneaks | Bag | Earrings | Sunnies

I don't mind baggy with baggy — I like the oversized white cotton-gauze button-down featured in the first photo in this post with the more-relaxed Levi's straight-leg jeans. But I think the slouchy Vince sweater-blazer layered with the Levi's might be too much on me.

Jeans (28, left) | Jeans (29, right)
Hoodie (S) | Sweater-Blazer (XS) | Sneakers | Bag | Earrings | Sunnies

5. Ruffle Linen Top (Fall In Philly Can Still Be HOT)

I have gotten SO much wear out of this Faherty ruffle top. It’s 100% linen, so it’s lovely to wear in hot weather, and the ruffles and cute little buttons on the side just make me happy. Kind of a surprise summer hit. And I think it may look even better with the newer styles of jeans than my trusty go-to’s. Yes?

I have gotten SO much wear out of this Faherty ruffle top. It's 100% linen, so it's lovely to wear in hot weather.

Jeans (29) | Top (S) | Similar Wedges | Bag | Earrings | Bracelets

The ruffles and cute little buttons on the side of this Faherty ruffle top just make me happy. Kind of a surprise summer hit. & I think it may look even better with the newer styles of jeans than my trusty go-to's.

Jeans (28, left) | Jeans (29, right)
Top (S) | Similar Wedges | Bag | Earrings | Bracelets

6. Going-Out Top & Heels

My husband looked at this photo and was like, “WHEN have you EVER worn something like this?” He’s right…never. Actually, maybe a couple of times during the pandemic when I was desperate to wear real clothes to our back kitchen area and pretend we were at a bar. I do like to play with outfit combinations, though, and see what these newer jeans would look like with high heels in case I ever DO feel like going “wild.” BTW…the heels are Naturalizers and super-comfortable for heels, and this Vince Camuto mock-neck top is a great base layer under a cardigan or blazer as well. Note: There’s not an ounce of natural fibers in the top — looks and feels like curtains…in the best way possible. And I think it works with all the denim types but especially the Levi’s.

The heels are Naturalizers & super-comfortable for heels. This Vince Camuto mock-neck top is a great base layer under a cardigan or blazer as well.

Denim (29) | Top (S) | Heels | Similar Bag | Earrings | Bracelets

Note: There's not an ounce of natural fibers in the Vince Camuto mock-neck top -- looks & feels like curtains...in the best way possible. & I think it works with all the denim types but especially the Levi's straight-leg jeans.

Jeans (28, left) | Jeans (29, right)
Top (S) | Heels | Similar Bag | Earrings | Bracelets

7. Sweatshirt & Sneakers

The true test: How do these jeans look with a casual gray sweatshirt? Hmmmm…I don’t know. Having a hard time deciding on this one. Fine? Not great? I’m SO used to the silhouette of the more-fitted MOTHER The Insiders — maybe I just need to get used to seeing myself in a looser, bigger silhouette. The Levi’s and flares definitely feel more modern to me, for sure, which I like.

How do these MOTHER The Insider jeans look with a casual Zella gray sweatshirt? Hmmmm...I don't know. Having a hard time deciding on this one. Fine? Not great?

Jeans (29) | Sweatshirt (S) | Bag | Sneaks | Earrings | Sunnies

I'm SO used to the silhouette of the more-fitted MOTHER The Insiders — maybe I just need to get used to seeing myself in a looser, bigger silhouette.

Jeans (28, left) | Jeans (29, right)
Sweatshirt (S) | Bag | Sneaks | Earrings | Sunnies

8. Cozy Around The House

It’s quite often in fall that I’m out and about but then return home to get some work done before school pickup. I usually stay in my jeans but switch to slippers and a cozy cardigan or this Zella wrap jacket. And then…I often lose track of time, never switch back out of these pieces, and end up going to school pickup wearing the cozy, meant-for-home combination. So…how does the cozy combo work with all the jeans if I find myself outside of the house wearing these pieces together? Similar to the Vince cardigan: I don’t think the oversized top layer works as well with the baggier Levi’s. Not enough shape contrast, I think.

I usually stay in my jeans but switch to slippers + a cozy cardigan or this Zella wrap jacket.

Denim (29) | Sweatshirt Wrap (S) | Tee (XS) | Lined Birks

I don't think the oversized Zella wrap jacket works as well with the baggier MOTHER flare jeans. Not enough shape contrast, I think.

Jeans (28, left) | Jeans (29, right)
Wrap Jacket (S) | Tee (XS) | Lined Birks

Sizing + Fit:
Levi’s Straight-Leg Ribcage, MOTHER The Insiders & MOTHER The Tomcat Flares

For reference, I’m 5’2″, 137 pounds, with smaller upper body and larger lower body (pear-shaped). I wear size 28 to 29 in jeans in most brands.

For reference, I'm 5'2", 137 pounds, with smaller upper body & larger lower body (pear-shaped). I wear size 28 to 29 in jeans in most brands.

Tee (S) | Fancy Clogs

Left: Levi’s Ribcage Straight-Leg Jeans (28) – I typically wear a 29 in Levi’s, but the 28s in these ribcage jeans fit well. The denim is softer than other Levi’s I’ve worn, and even though the waist is very high, I wore them out to dinner, over-ate (per usual) and was fine keeping them buttoned. I often regret wearing high-rise cotton denim out to dinner (and have been known to unbutton my jeans on my walk home), but I was surprised that these Levi’s did not make me miserable. Maybe it’s the 1% elastane or the softness of the denim? Whatever it is, I’m quite pleased.

Middle: MOTHER The Insiders Chew Hem (29) – I’ve worn these jeans in a 28, 29 and 30 (they’ve been my favorites for a while) to try to assess the best fit for you guys. My fave fit is a size 29. The 28s fit me, but they’re a squeeze and need to be really stretched out after going through the dryer. The 30s are perfect when I put them on initially but then get a little too saggy with wear. The 29s are just right. These jeans do stretch and relax with wear, but if they’re just a little snug when you put them on, they ease up perfectly, so they never feel saggy. They’re definitely still fitted-style jeans, though — at least on those of us with a curvy bottom half. MOTHER jeans are tricky with sizing. They’re all over the place with their fits, but I can confidently recommend going one size up from your typical jeans size. Two sizes if you want an even more relaxed fit.

Right: MOTHER The Tomcat Flares (29) – These are uber-stretchy and comfortable. I’m wearing a 29, but I think I likely could have gone down to a 28. These have plenty of room in the waist and, after several wears, need to be washed to shrink back up. So if you’re deciding between two sizes, maybe go with the smaller one — unless you want the roomier more relaxed feel.


OK, I’m ready for it… What do you guys think? Do I branch out and work one of the newer, more-relaxed jeans into my fall rotation or stick with the MOTHER The Insiders I’ve been wearing for what feels like forever? ny looks you’re particularly liking or not liking? Or other jeans you guys are loving for a denim refresh?

-Linzi

A shocking thing happened: I tried new jeans. I'm so not 1 to follow denim fashion trends, but I can totally get behind more-relaxed Levi's straight-legs and MOTHER flares.

10 COMMENTS

  1. I have been very on the fence about the flares trend but you have convinced me to try – you are rocking them! They are my favorite look in every combo aside from the comfy home look, where I agree the trimmer mother jeans look best. Thanks for this article, very helpful!

    • Thank you! I NEVER let Flares go in my wardrobe…ha! They ALWAYS have a place, so I’m quite happy the selection has increased recently…and a bit more of a relaxed flare has definitely been fun to work in the mix.

    • I’ve tried 501’s in the past and haven’t been a huge fan, but am definitely up for trying again. Thanks for writing in!

  2. This is such a great post — the photos and all the details you provide in this post are so incredibly and specifically helpful. Pretty much every outfit with the Levi’s Ribcage jeans looks amazing on you. I also love a lot of the outfits (especially 1, 2, and 5) with the flared jeans. Both the Ribcage and the flared jeans have great proportions and make you seem taller.

  3. This is nuanced. New pant shapes are really tricky. On IG, look up Amy Smilovic ( founder of Tibi). Look in the stories section for her archived discussion of “Big/Slim/Skin”. She is brilliant and I think will help you figure out these pant shapes. You will love her. Trust me

  4. Hi Linzi! Thanks for this post! I’m trying to figure out the Levi’s ribcage and am stuck on sizing. How do the jeans fit you around the waist? I sized up so they don’t dig into my midsection when I’m sitting down but I’m worried they’ll stretch and sag too much during the day and end up sliding down. But, the size down (that looks great when I’m standing) digs when I sit down. Ugh…I really want to love them to give me a different shape for my jeans but am stuck. Thanks for your help!!

    • Hi Laura. I hate when I’m stuck on sizing. I definitely have a smaller waist and bigger hips/butt body shape, so sizing down and the smaller waist shape on these jeans fits me well. When I first got them, though…even though they “fit” in the waist they didn’t “dig.” They have given and loosened some with wear, but not a TON. If they actually dig, I wouldn’t keep them…but I also have zero tolerance for digging in the waist. I personally would do the bigger size (if you decide to keep a pair). I NEVER wear jeans if they’re too tight in the waist. Maybe wear the smaller ones around the house for a couple hours (including sitting for some time) and see how much they give on you? I’ve also had success with buying bigger sized jeans and then taking them in at the waist at the corner dry cleaners (for cheap)…so that could also be an option if you want to be safer with the bigger size if they stretch too much. I wish I could tell you the waist stretches a ton and to keep the ones that you like the look, but I can’t. Sorry! Good luck with the decision and hope this helps.

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