About four years ago, I went to a party where everyone was supposed to dress up in clothes from the era in which they graduated high school. For me, that was the 1990s. A few days before the party, I went to the thrift store hoping to find an outfit that exuded the unflattering ’90s chic I used to know and love.
I was thrilled when I happened upon some high-waisted, tapered-leg mom jeans, a braided belt and an embroidered vest. It was exactly something I would have worn to school back in the day, and it was hideous.
The night of the party arrived, and I donned my ridiculous outfit. I felt like a Muppet version of what a grown woman should look like. “How did I survive an entire teenager-hood looking like this?” I wondered.
I shuddered and offered a prayer of gratitude that those fashion years were far, far behind me. Well, I’m here to tell you that God heard my prayer, laughed and then brought back the ’90s.
I was wandering through Nordstrom recently exchanging shoes that Logan had gotten me for my birthday. Nordstrom isn’t usually my kind of place to shop (too classy), but since I was there anyway, I thought I’d look around to see if anything caught my eye.
The denim jeans beckoned me, and as I sorted through them on the rack, I felt like I was in a time warp back at the U-City Mall in 1992. The racks were filled with mom jean after mom jean. They were almost exact replicas of the thrift-store pants I’d worn four years ago as a joke.
The only difference was the price. My better judgment tried to talk some sense into me: “Julia, no. You’ve seen your senior pictures. These jeans didn’t look good back then, and, six kids later, they are definitely not going to look good now.”
“But Instagram says that everyone is wearing them,” I replied. “It feels inevitable. Maybe I should just buy a pair.” “Your waistline isn’t exactly what it used to be,” B.J. (better judgment) said with a bit more of a judgmental tone than I would have liked. “You know the shape of those barrels people used to ride over Niagara Falls 100 years ago?”
“OK, that’s enough,” I shot back. “Just sayin’,” B.J. replied. “Seriously, this is a bad idea.” I reluctantly bought the jeans anyway. They weren’t very comfortable. They weren’t very flattering. But I’ve got to at least try to stay on top of fashion, right? Wrong.
Every time I put them on, I feel even less attractive than I did the night of the high school dress-up party. I can hardly keep a straight face when I wear them. I feel like I need to roll my eyes with every woman I see, as if to say, “Can you believe we’re doing this?”
I have done a lot of observational research since my ill-advised purchase, and I’ll tell you who looks good in mom jeans: supermodels, teenagers and a handful of grown women who still look like teenagers. Not most actual moms. We are all appalled and horrified that this fashion trend is back in style, and we’re white-knuckling our way through it until the next fad takes hold.
On a related note, perhaps you’ve noticed the influx of mullets being sported by young men these days. I believe that this similarly unattractive ’80s-’90s trend is in direct retaliation to the girls wearing mom jeans. “I see your repellant fashion choices, and I raise you one mullet!” the boys seem to be saying, flipping their luscious locks carelessly behind them.
What’s a middle-aged woman to do with fashion options such as these? I’ll tell you what: I’d rather walk through fire than have my waistline be bisected one more minute by my ill-purchased mom jeans.
From here on out, I’m going athleisure all the way: elastic waistbands, soft fabric, stretchy material. That kind of comfort is not something that should be overlooked. After all, I already lived through the fashion trends of the ’90s. I think I’ve earned it.
Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and a random menagerie of farm animals in Spokane Valley. She can be reached at [email protected]