What are mom jeans and why are dads wearing them?
The term ‘mom jean‘ refers to an old style jean which has a higher waist line, is loose in the thigh and tapers at the ankle. Also known as a Traditional cut, the silhouette of widened hips and thighs is the single most unflattering cut still on the market. They’re distinctly frumpy, hence their nickname.
Even President Obama wasn’t able to get away with wearing the traditional cut jean when he made the ceremonial first pitch at the All-Star Game in St. Louis. From CNN to the blogosphere, “Obama’s mom jeans” made national headlines for days after.
When Obama was asked about his denim dilemma, the most powerful man in the free world suddenly sounded like every client I’ve ever worked with, “I hate to shop and those jeans are comfortable.” Oh I know that swan song all too well – my clients say that so often I refer to it as background music that accompanies me as I clear their closet of pleated pants, sweaters from grandma, and of course, frump jeans.
Many men, the Commander-in-Chief included, naturally defend what they’re comfortable in and mistakenly think they can’t update to what’s modern because it’s going to be extreme. The great news is that it doesn’t have to be one end of the spectrum or the other, painfully hip or frumpville.
For decades jean makers have been diversifying the available jean choices, so why are so many fathers in particular still wearing them? Mostly out habit, the traditional cut was one of the first jean options on the market and many men have stuck with buying them over and over for decades. Sure they may see all the other varieties in the store, but who has the time or desire to slog through trying them all on to find the pair that fits their physique best? Even if it means their teenager will be less embarrassed to be seen with them in public. Allow me to save you some time and face.
It really doesn’t matter if you spend $35 or $235 on your jeans, all that counts is how well they fit you. For the money, I’ve found that Levi’s can’t be beat. Here’s a breakdown of cuts most commonly found in stores and which body types they do and don’t fit, so you’ll know before you go shopping again, as G.I. Joe reminds us, knowing is half the battle.
505 Regular - Sits at your waist, roomier seat, loose thighs and slightly tapers at the ankle. Also known as the afore mentioned Traditional Fit, this jean type creates a bulky silhouette that isn’t flattering for any body type. If you’ve been wearing these, try one of these other cuts instead.
514 Slim Straight- Don’t let the word ‘slim’ scare you, these jeans aren’t tight unless you get the wrong size, they are an easy to wear modern cut with a leaner fit through the seat, thigh and leg. Perfect for men who claim to have ‘no ass’. The lower rise will give you the appearance of a longer torso. The dark wash pairs as well with a sport coat as it does with a T-shirt.
511 Skinny Fit - A very youthful look the skinny jean fits like it sounds, very tight all throughout and sits below the waist. Stay away from these.
559 Relaxed Straight Fit - Waist that hits at the hip, roomy but not baggy in the seat, thigh and leg. The straight leg version of these works for men with large quadriceps. However, the tapered version of the relaxed fit (style 560) should be avoided at all costs.
569 Loose Fit - Levi’s roomiest fit in the thigh and leg, they are designed to be worn low on the hips. Loose fit jeans have more of an urban, relaxed look, but should not be paired with a sport coat. After the Regular or Traditional jean, these have the least physique flattering cut.
527 Boot Cut - Comes in both low-rise and natural waist (style 517) with a leaner fit through the thigh and slight flare at the bottom. This style is very flattering on leaner or larger physiques and especially on men with wide shoulders and skinny legs. The low rise is great if you have a short torso. Some men fear that the boot cut is a kin to the bell bottom but the flare of the leg is quite minimal and can bring balance to a top heavy shape.