In a year filled with parental confusion, torment, and stress, here now is a final assault: mom jeans.
Yes, just as we’re finally allowed out in public, these unseemly pants have made a comeback. Oh, you know the ones. They were last seen on actual adults in the mid-1990s and caricatured on “Saturday Night Live” years ago, featuring pleats, tapered legs, and a waist that resembles a sagging whoopee cushion. In days of yore, they were often spotted in the wild with their twin appendage, the fanny pack.
This season, they have gone from punch line to spring must-have. They are not to be confused with the “boyfriend jean,” whose leg can be tapered or straight, however. They are their own ill-fitting beast.
“It’s now a mainstream cut, but I don’t know if it’s the most flattering of cuts. When they were first introduced, people were horrified,” said Hanadi Hamzeh, who owns Covet consignment boutiques on Beacon Hill and in South Boston, and who stocks the divisive garment. “Now, they’re the standard.”
The standard? I pressed her to explain the popularity.
“You can wear a crop top with them,” she gamely offered.
A crop top? The thought alone is enough to send me back to quarantine for another year.
Coping with wearing pants with buttons and zippers — “hard pants,” many call them — after a year of languishing in sweats is difficult enough. Being encouraged to wear pants that make me look like Rodney Dangerfield is a bridge too far.
Upon further investigation, it seems very few moms actually want to don mom jeans. I surveyed various parents’ groups on social media (one of which actually uses a still from the “SNL” mom jeans skit as their logo), and responses rolled in by the hundreds. It is an incendiary issue.
Concord’s Jamie Stonier did not hold back.
“When you are short in the torso, a mom jean places the waist right under your boobs or the crotch hangs down like you have a load in your pants,” she lamented. (Anna Wintour, do you have room for a columnist?)
“They make me look like a toddler in a diaper,” harrumphed Acton’s Denise Pourghasami. “I’m just into being comfortable as well as looking good. Pants must be both.”
Medford’s Caitlin Cunningham took the longer view. After a year of so much tumult, the mom jeans onslaught seems an insultingly regressive development.
“I don’t understand how the flappers of the 1920s got to enjoy their independence through fashion that remains feminine while strong, timeless, and elegant, but adult women 100 years later are supposed to communicate an extension of that same independence by wearing pants that effectively look like cinched potato sacks (from the front, side, and most definitely the rear),” she said.
Worse still is the notion that comfortable, stretchy, skinny jeans are somehow frumpy or telegraph a sense of having given up — which is the new narrative pushed by fashion media.
“The Skinny Jean Is Dead,” blasted a headline in Elle a few days ago. Various TikTok videos created by Gen Z-ers have roasted their elders for the same infraction: “TikTok Says Skinny Jeans Are Over. We Agree,” sniffed British GQ. “Skinny Jeans and Nine Other Styles That Date You,” offered no less a fashion authority than the Wall Street Journal.
“I thought this was just a joke mean TikTok influencers started,” said Katherine Rozakis-Wojciechowski of Beverly, who acknowledged that she might attempt a mom jean but would refuse to wear low-rise versions.
“I will quit and go and live as a flannel-clad hermit in a cabin in Maine,” she promised.
Please don’t go, Katherine. With all due respect to Gen Z-ers, many of us have spent a year in lockdown trying to work while hearing our children play recorders like dying cattle. This is to say nothing of having to drop out of the workforce, hustle for child care, or shoulder a host of other societal indignities. We are mature enough, confident enough, and hardened enough to resist denim conformity.
“Don’t listen to the Gen Z-ers. Skinny jeans are not out. Wear them with pride,” urged Hamzeh, who assured me that they are, in fact, here to stay, just not as edgy as other cuts.
And so, this Mother’s Day, slip into whatever accommodates your body, whether that’s stretchy jeans, tattered leggings, the much-maligned flared yoga pant, or a leopard-print caftan.
Take it from Medford’s Karen Cheung-Larivee.
“I had an emergency C-section when my insides were ripped open. I may not be cool anymore, but I’m OK with that. I’m holding on to my skinny jeans with an elastic band. I earned it.”