Over the past few years, moms and dads have emerged as some of our most beloved, if surprising, sources for fashion inspiration. Mom jeans, dad sandals, dad sneakers and pleated trousers have all experienced somewhat unexpected rises in popularity. But what is it about stereotypical parent fashion that we suddenly find so enviable? It was just a few years ago that we were all still laughing along with that viral SNL mom jeans sketch, but cut to 2021 and Gen Z has declared the end of the skinny jean in favor of looser, dowdier cuts. And sales of podiatrist-approved, clunky sneakers haven’t slowed down, even as the huge Balenciaga silhouettes from 2017 transition toward slightly less aggressive kicks, like the New Balance 990s. So what gives?
Well, for starters mom and dad fashion is comfortable—not just physically but often mentally too. Chunky dad sneakers are much better for walking around all day without having to think about your feet, but they also might remind you of your own pop or another father figure, lending them a sense of security and familiarity not often found in most hot new trends. “These pieces are an extension of the comfort dressing trend, which was born out of our increased time spent indoors at home [during the pandemic],” says Shakaila Forbes-Bell, a fashion psychologist at Afterpay. “Nostalgic thinking has been proven to have a soothing effect. It is, therefore, no surprise that these retro styles are being embraced during this tumultuous time.” Amy Morin, LCSW and editor in chief of Verywell Mind adds, “The clothing we wear affects how we feel. Some people may opt for 'Mom jeans' or 'Dad shoes' during stressful times because thinking about being a parental figure helps them feel more secure.”