I wear jeans almost every day. They are tough and comfortable. Although I quite like other wardrobe styles, jeans fit into my lifestyle the best. As I’ve cultivated my capsule wardrobe, my jean collection dwindled to my favorites. After an average life of about 7 years per pair, my favorites started to get worn out. Then I was down to one pair… and their knees were looking thin as well.
I had been researching jeans for a while because I knew I needed to replace the ones I’d worn out. My mom complains when I get rid of jeans with holes in the knees because people pay a lot of money for ripped jeans. Well, I am not one of those people. I find holes in my clothes to be unattractive, unkempt, and uncomfortable. Note that I will patch or alternate clothes if I think it’s worth the trouble. Otherwise, I let them go.
I wanted a lot out of the jeans I would buy. My list of desirables included:
- ethically made
- fair-trade cotton
- no sweat-shops
- well made
- 100% cotton
- under $160
I did not get all that I wished for. I don’t want to say it’s impossible, but I had a really, really hard time trying to check off all my boxes when shopping for a new brand of jeans.
I decided I needed to try any new jeans on before I bought them. Living among strip malls interspersed with Pinelands in suburban New Jersey, I’m not exactly in the mecca of the clothing innovation and sustainability movement. There are a good amount of stores nearby, but they are mostly the same chain stores over and over. Any ethical and sustainable jean brand that I found online and got really excited about, wasn’t in my vicinity. Mostly, they weren’t even in my country.
Some people might be fine with ordering jeans online, but I am not one of those people. Especially in the midst of trying new brands and styles. To replace a pair I’ve worn out with the same brand, style, and size? Sure. But not to find my pair. I just can’t afford it (especially since ethical brands can be pretty expensive) and don’t want to consume any more jeans than I will use.
Besides needing to try them on before buying, what else was a big deal to me?
I wanted two or three jeans (I’d stick with two if I didn’t live in a spit-up splash zone) that I could wear every day if I wanted; If I’m wearing something every day, it had better be comfortable. I wanted them to be durable, i.e. well-made — my last newest pair of jeans didn’t even survive a full year of crawling around with my 1 year old. If they couldn’t be organic, I wanted them to be made of at least 98% cotton — then there was a good chance they’d be vegan, too. And as long as they were a timeless cut, that’s all the style I needed.
I finally chose Levi’s. I understand the brand isn’t perfect (yet… fingers crossed), but it’s the best I could do with my situation and preferences. My pair is Levi’s 501 Original for Women. I like that these are the same jeans that they’ve been making for, like, a hundred years or whatever — my pair is 100% cotton, thick and durable, and even has a button fly!
And, okay, yeah, about the title of this post. I call them “mom jeans” because they are high-waisted then straight-legged then tapered. Levi’s calls them “boyfriend” fit, but I bought a pair of men’s skinny jeans in my search for my pair and the 501s for Women fit way better — they were made to cover and curve around women’s bums and hips, without excess fabric in the front.
Now I’ve embraced the term “mom jeans”. As I’ve become a mother, I’ve also become more conscious, intentional, and caring in many areas of my life, including how what I buy affects the world and my future. I rock “mom jeans” because they are strong and lasting — and that’s sexy.
I’ve come to believe that the negative connotation around the term never came from the jeans themselves. It came from presumptions of (and some actualities of) women letting themselves go after becoming mothers, becoming frumpy and careless, and thinking that comfort should alway outweighed style.
However, I see attitude as being the most important. I’m comfortable with the function of my life, so my jeans should be comfortable and functional, too. The jeans won’t be frumpy because I’m not frumpy. I feel healthy and strong when I’m slim, and I feel sexy when my clothes fit my body well. That makes me feel confident and I’m loving it.
Sustainable and Ethical Clothing Resources: