A Household Word: Mom Jeans

By Carol Band

Household Word ArchiveIf you're like me, and still think that thongs are footwear, you probably don't wear low-rise jeans. You probably wear Mom Jeans. And, if you're like me, they make you look fat. That's what my teenage daughter says. She says that my faded jeans, the ones that button at the waist and taper at the ankle, are really unflattering. She says that hip-hugging, dark-rinsed, flared jeans are more slimming. Like anyone who weighs 103 pounds would know.

But the 103-pound youth market is who the fashion industry is courting. And who can blame them? My skinny kid is flush with babysitting money and has the stamina to beg me to drive her to the mall whenever a new issue of Teen Vogue or Elle Girl hits the stands. I, on the other hand, haven't bought a new pair of jeans in years.

That's because, for me, shopping for jeans is a traumatic experience. It's not just the three-way mirrors that reflect my doughy self-self-self in baggy underwear; it's finding jeans that fit. If they glide over my hips, the waist is huge. If the waist size is correct, I can't pull them up past my knees. They are always too long or the legs are too tight or they make me look fat. That's why I've been wearing the same jeans since the Clinton administration. I think of them as timeless classics.

"They're Mom Jeans," my daughter says. "They make your butt look big."

My daughter is nothing if not honest, so with her withering fashion commentary ringing in my ears, I donned a sweater long enough to cover the aforementioned derriere and we headed to the mall.

Going shopping with my teenage daughter is like hiking a small hill with a Nepalese Sherpa. You are in expert hands, but you don't necessarily speak the same language.

"Do you want flares, tapered or straight leg? Acid wash, sandblasted or dark wash? Low rise, super low rise, mid rise or curvy?" she asks, as we rifle through shelves of obsessively folded jeans in The Gap. I checked for a womanly size 12 lurking amid the 2s, 4s and 0s. (What kind of size is zero?)

I looked for a price tag and remembered that a friend of mine once advised "Never worry about cost when you are buying jeans." Or was it when you're buying a bathing suit? Maybe it was life insurance. Anyway, I figured that if I found a pair of jeans that actually made my matronly posterior look smaller, it would be worth a little extra money … heck, it would be priceless.

"Try the boot cut," my daughter shouts over the store's pulsating sound track. "They make your legs look longer."

"Then I'll have to buy boots," I hollered back.

I finally found a pair that were my size and took them to the dressing room.

They were perfect. They weren't cut too low and the hems didn't drag on the ground. I thought they made my butt look OK and, best of all, they were comfortable. In these jeans, I'd be able to kneel down to pick up Legos™ off the living room floor and not worry about my underwear sticking out. I'd be able to reach up to the highest shelf in my kitchen without the rest of the family losing their appetite. I could even bend over to kiss my children as they sleep.

My daughter says that they're Mom Jeans, but I don't care. They fit me just fine.