A Brief History Of Mom Jeans

Mom Jeans


Photo: ASOS/GIF: MTV/Gaby Wilson

Just in case you need a reminder: This Sunday is Mother's Day. While moms have their name associated with tons of good things, there is one stigma that follows them wherever they go. Yeah, we're talking about mom jeans. The denim style we all now associate with "mom jeans" has had a short, but full, history—in order to celebrate Mother's Day fully, we figured we should do a brief rundown of the pants. LEGGO!


Designer denim had its genesis in the 1970s, but it was in the 1980s that it really took off, beginning largely with Brooke Shields' controversial "Nothing Gets Between Me and My Calvins" ad campaign for Calvin Klein. Throughout the '80s the style shifted toward a tapered leg with a loose top, a "tight-roll" or "peg leg" style, if you will. By the early '90s, people were over the tight leg and into a looser fit on the bottom, resulting in, generally, what we would consider a baggy pair of jeans.

Mom Jeans, 90210

Unisex jeans, TBH.

Photo: Beverly Hills 90210's Facebook Page

All one has to do to understand the popularity of the style is to glance at this cast photo from Beverly Hills, 90210. As Brenda (Shannen Doherty) and Kelly (Jennie Garth) prove, high-cut jeans with fitted legs were everywhere. These people lived in Beverly Hills and were stylish and rich—they were on top of what was going on in fashion, and this was it. It wasn't just moms who were wearing these jeans: It was everyone.

EARLY 2000s

Britney Spears, Jeans

Britney Spears in 2001.

Photo: Getty Images

In the early 2000s pop stars like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera began a trend on the opposite end of the spectrum: low-rise jeans. These jeans had, like, three-inch zippers and fell way below the bellybutton. If you were young, you were wearing these jeans. Anyone who still wore high-rise jeans was, TBH, old and probably a mom.


Even though the idea of "Mom Jeans" existed, it wasn't until 2003 when Tina Fey and the ladies of Saturday Night Live made a digital short for the perfect Mother's Day gift that the style finally had a name. Boasting a nine-inch zipper and pleats, these jeans are almost identical to the ones everyone was wearing on 90210, except now only moms liked them.


Jessica Simpson, Jeans

Jessica Simpson in 2009.

Photo: Splash News

After SNL brought the term into the lexicon, the style fell off. Silhouettes changed and skinny jeans grew in popularity. Wearing jeans with a slightly higher rise was, like, an unforgivable sin. Jessica Simpson wore a pair of high-waisted jeans in 2009 and you would think she'd, like, gone totally nude to a child's birthday party. The coverage was EVERYWHERE. Even today, in the year 2014, when she was on the cover of Redbook, they asked her about it. Five years later, and people are still wondering about a pair of slightly unflattering jeans she wore one time. ALL of those people will soon look foolish for making such a big deal, since, like all trends, mom jeans are making a comeback. Maybe Jessica was ahead of her time.


Barack Obama, Jeans

Barack Obama in 2010.

Photo: Getty Images

In recent years the strongest proponent of the mom jean style has been none other than President Barack Obama. In an interview with Ryan Seacrest earlier this year, the president lamented that he'd been "unfairly maligned about [his] jeans." Soon, President Obama, you'll have so many new pairs to consider adding to your casual wardrobe. Don't even sweat it.

That's right—mom jeans are not only back, but a description companies are applying to jeans that they are selling. For money. In early 2013 we noticed that Topshop was selling a pair of mom jeans and we wondered if anyone would wear them. Fast-forward to last Mother's Day, when we showed you ways to wear mom jeans (but still look cool).

Both Urban Outfitters and ASOS are currently selling pants that contain "Mom Jeans" in the description. These jeans are not only back, but, like, very very popular. People obviously want them! Soon we'll all be wearing them and laughing about when people used to wear jeans that were so low their buttcracks were exposed any time they bent down, sat, or moved. How impractical!

Happy Mother's Day, moms—we'll continue to take our fashion inspiration from you.

Like us on Facebook so we can be friends and follow us on Twitter @MTVstyle to talk.

Latest News