Boyfriend Jeans, Mom Jeans, Dad Jeans… What’s the difference?


Is she wearing mom, dad, or boyfriend jeans? (via Vanessa Jackman)

Gosh, all we have to do is add “Brother Jeans” and “Sister Jeans” and we have the whole family of jeans! No really, with the noted comeback of “Dad Jeans”  this summer, it became clear that it’s time to break down what all this malarkey means. Unlike traditional styles of jeans where the name of the style often had something objective and directly correlating to the style, ie. “Skinny Jeans” they have a tight fit all over, “Flare Jeans” have a flared bottom, “Low Rise” have, well, a low rise. Boyfriend, Mom, and Dad all bring a unique picture to everyone who imagines them. My parents both wear light-washed jeans and Hawaiian shirts, thankfully they live in different states so no one seeing them together will think they’re twins. My boyfriend is now my husband, and he wears dark wash skinny jeans, and as of this summer is now a dad, so what are his jeans called?


Well, I’m here to un-confuse you, with these examples and definitions!

Mom Jeans

Mom Jeans are simply put, high waisted jeans with a slightly relaxed fit. The rise of the “Mom Jeans” started the whole, relationship names for jeans (pun intended!). Back in the mid ’00s after  super sexy-low rise jeans dominated, we all started to rebel and do away with whale tails, and get some real underwear back on and some less sexy jeans. This correlated with the rise of vintage since with the internet you could search for specific items, like vintage denim. Since most people searching for this vintage denim were young 80’s jeans were worn by their mothers… mothers who stuck to this particular style.

Boyfriend Jeans


Boyfriend Jeans on Hanelli

Boyfriend Jeans are just relaxed fit jeans that are mostly cuffed at the bottom. The Boyfriend Jean trend hit in 2009 when Katie Holmes was spotted wearing Tom Cruise’s jeans. To be honest, this is a trend that outlived my most optimistic expectations, as this trend has evolved from shabby to chic. More often than not, they are distressed so they look “worn in.” Since many of us don’t have boyfriends or have boyfriends whose jeans will never fit (ie. I’m a 27″ and petite, so wearing my husband’s 34″s with a 32″ inseam would never ever work). Most “Boyfriend Jeans” are made specifically for you, so no boys required.

Dad Jeans


Dark wash “Dad” Jeans on The Sartorialist

Dad Jeans are the menswear equivalent to “Mom Jeans” high waisted, relaxed fit, washed out.  This summer Barak Obama was spotted wearing them causing several magazines (though NOT GQ… they don’t think Dad Jeans will ever come back) attested the comeback of the embarrassingly nerdy style. What would dad style be, if it weren’t embarrassing? The fashion jury is still out on this, however, there have been some men who could make it work. Time will tell, but I do have to say, when my husband who had worn the skinniest skinny jeans for years opted for a more relaxed style last week when we went on our annual “shopping trip” I’m thinking there’s something to this… we’ll see how it evolves.



  1. September 18, 2013 / 7:57 pm

    I’m so obsessed with ‘mom’ jeans – but I 100% agree – WHAAAT xo

  2. September 19, 2013 / 9:16 am

    I love this post about what is the difference. I am also a massive denim lover and bought a pair of mom jeans the other day. I think I will be visiting your blog quite a lot
    Eguono x

  3. September 20, 2013 / 8:58 am

    Thanks for clarifying! I’ve always wondered what was the difference, definitely a fan of boyfriend jeans 🙂

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