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Wondering What Shoes to Wear with Mom Jeans? Try These 5 Stylist-Approved Pairs

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We’re all about the way we can slip into our not-too-skinny, not-too-low-cut mom jeans and feel comfortable for practically any occasion. But we’re not always sure what shoes to wear with mom jeans. We asked stylist Meg Gallagher to walk us through the right footwear for our favorite denim style—then found the best examples of each shoe to shop.

I’m a Fashion Editor & This Is Exactly What I’m Buying on Black Friday


Meet the Expert

Meg Gallagher is an L.A.-, San Francisco- and New York-based personal stylist.

What Are Mom Jeans, Exactly?

Gallagher explains, “The mom jean is a high-waist, solid mid-blue (no distressing or rips), full hip and thigh with a tapered leg and cuff silhouette, and [they] button above the belly button with a roomy hip and thigh. Length is to the ankle or right below.  Mom jeans have been lumped into ‘90s style denim, which also includes baggy, straight, boot cut and wide-leg denim.” While many distressed, ripped and frayed-cuff jeans are labeled “mom jeans,” Gallager cautions that these are not true mom jean styles. Which, if you think about it, makes sense: Mom would never be caught dead in anything so obviously in need of repair.

Why Are Mom Jeans So Popular?

Gallagher says that these roomy jeans are the perfect complement to today’s trending styles of fitted and boxy crop tops, cropped sweaters, cropped jackets and tucked-in blouses. “Mom jeans align with how the denim trends have moved away from tight skinny jeans/jeggings to more voluminous relaxed denim shapes,” she notes. “The mom jean silhouette is ideal for an hourglass body shape or triangle body shape, she says. “The silhouette complements a defined waistline with a curved hip.” They’re also fabulous for accessorizing: Gallagher points out that the mom jean is a great canvas for wearing belts (shout out to the viral lululemon belt bag) to further highlight the waistline.

20 Shoes to Wear with Mom Jeans

1. Cowboy Boots

“I prefer to not tuck full leg denim into a high shaft cowboy boot.  It creates a balloon effect on the leg/thigh which is a hard wear for most. I prefer to wear cowboy or western ankle boots with a mom jean. The shaft of the ankle boot can go underneath the denim if the shaft is a few inches higher above the ankle,” says Gallagher.

Shop similar styles: Matisse Vegan Cavalier Boot ($90); UO Fallon Suede Cowboy Boot ($99; $79); Zodiac Roslyn Bootie ($159); Free People Billy Boot ($238)

2. Ballet Flats

These shoes are a no-brainer choice for Gallagher: “Ballet flats, loafers and mules are perfect for mom jeans silhouettes. No rolling necessary. Easy and clean.”

Shop similar styles: Camper Right Leather Ballerina Flat ($155); Jon Josef Belle Quilted Ballerina Flat ($190); Tory Burch Woven Double T Ballet ($348; $244); M.Gemi The Danza ($248)

3. Fancy Heels

This season, mom jeans are looking—dare we say it—sexy, since they’re showing up on fashion show attendees and in ads paired with satin pointy-toe pumps, the kind of shoes we usually associate with micro-mini skirts on showgirls and with nubby tweeds on sophisticated wedding attendees. Gallagher recommends pairing a super cool sweatshirt with mom jeans and fancy heels, or a sharp blazer, tee and mom jean with a fancy heel.

Shop similar styles: Zara Asymmetric Heeled Shoes ($70); Betsey Johnson Hazil Half d'Orsay Pump ($139); Badgley Mischka Cher Pumps ($235); Black Suede Studio Tre Pointed Toe Pump ($328)

4. Classic Sneakers

“Classic sneakers easily pair with mom jeans and you can cuff or not,” Gallagher tells us. “Showing the ankle bone, which is the smallest part of the leg, is most times the most flattering.” It’s one of the stylist’s tricks of the trade: “You always want any horizontal line on your body to cross at the smallest point.”

Shop similar styles: Vans Classic Slip Ons ($65; $45); Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars ($65); Cariuma OCA Lows ($79); New Balance 327 Sneakers ($100)

5. Utility Boots

Gallagher is a big fan of work boots. “Utility boots/lug soles are trending and so fun to wear. They are hefty and grounding.” She adds that they create a nice balance for folks with bigger hips or thighs. When it comes to styling, she tells us that, rather that tucking the jeans into the boots, it's better to roll or scrunch the jean to sit at the top of the boot to showcase the lacing and boot detail. However, she allows that, “What is considered flattering is subjective to the wearer.” For instance, in the example here, thin denim tucked in work boots doesn’t come off as bulky.

Shop similar styles:  Dirty Laundry Newz Boots ($80; $56); Madewell Rayna Lace-Up Boot ($198; $169); Vionic Lani boots ($170); La Canadienne Clair Boots ($550; $385)


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