Finding the right pair of mom jeans for you: A how-to guide

Plagued with ignorance and hostility, it's time we brought this highly debated issue into the light. I'm talking about mom jeans, the controversial clothing ushered into the fashion world by the normcore trend.

First, let’s define normcore. It is the humble-brag style of the alt world. It is a paradoxical mix of unpretentious and extremely pretentious. On the surface it says “I don’t care,” but what it is really saying is, “I have carefully crafted this outfit to look like I don’t care, when in fact I have meticulously selected each item I am wearing.”

To put things in a visual context, think about what the average middle-class parent wore in the early '90s — cotton t-shirts, pure-wash denim, white sneakers, windbreakers, etc. Google Jerry Seinfeld in his sitcom days or D.J. Tanner in her college years for a clearer picture.

That brings us to one key element of normcore style: the holy mom (or dad) jean.

Mom jeans get a lot of flack from those who don’t follow the trend. Many people find them unflattering, and sometimes they are.

For those who have a more open mind about jeans of different cuts and styles, here is a guide to finding the perfect pair of mom jeans.

Where to look

The best place to find mom jeans is right out of the decade they came from. Turn back the clock (and let your wallet sigh with relief) by scouring local thrift stores. Typically, I have the best luck at Goodwill.

One location I like in Tempe is 1300 N. Scottsdale Road. Two other great ones in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area are 3901 E. Thunderbird Road and 3202 E. Greenway Road.

Stores like Buffalo Clothing Exchange sometimes have good options as well, but with slimmer choices and higher prices. Brands like American Apparel and The Ragged Priest make modern versions, but I wouldn’t waste my time (or dough) on them.

The fit

This is the most essential part of finding the right pair of mom jeans. It takes time to find exactly what we’re looking for, but don’t be discouraged, it will be well worth it.

In order for mom jeans to actually be flattering, they need to fit well in the waist. If they hug the tummy right at the natural waist (the smallest part of the midriff) they will flatter any figure (yes, men too!) and make those buns look amazing.

After that, the rest is easy. The pant legs should be loose and comfortable, cut straight or tapered slightly at the ankle.

Finding pants that fit the right way is always frustrating. Try to stay body-positive and remember that the problem is always the clothes, not your shape.

The style

This part is what separates the amateurs from the professionals. There are very fine details that separate the mom jean from any other.

Firstly, they should be simple and plain in color. No fading or embellishment. When jeans start to fade at the thighs, we have reached the early 2000s, a very dark place.

Secondly, they should be a thick, sturdy denim that already has a nice wear to it. That’s what makes them so comfy. Brands that made great mom jeans back in the day are Gap, Wrangler, Lee and of course, Levi.

via GIPHY

Follow these steps, and you’ll be sure to end up with an excellent pair of jeans that make your parents wonder why you want to look like they did when you were an infant (this is how you know you’ve done it right). 

For those still skeptical of the mom jean, I highly recommend giving them a try. After making the switch to mom jean lifestyle, it’s awfully hard to put back on those constricting skinny jeans. Trust me, your leg circulation will thank me later.

Here's a playlist for the novice normcore tool to perfectly accompany your mom jean pursuit:


Reach the assistant arts editor at icastil3@asu.edu or follow @isabella_m_cast on Twitter

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