Reclaiming mom jeans: 6 once cringe-worthy trends that are hotter than ever

Around 1999 to 2007, most of us were united against a common enemy: mom jeans. (Or, more specifically, “vintage-inspired high-rise jeans, current staple of our adult wardrobes.”) So much fabric, so much modesty, so little midriff… gross.

But as we’re painfully now aware, the style climate was a lot different 10 years ago than it is now. Exposed thongs, cut-off waistbands, and the rest of Christina Aguilera’s “Dirrty” wardrobe ranked over Jesse Spanno vibes circa 2003, so when SNL’s “Mom Jeans” commercial came out, we welcomed it with open arms.

And today, we still do – but while wearing the offending jeans in question. Unsurprisingly, like all trends, mom jeans made a comeback. And on their way, they brought along other ‘90s pieces that make us sound like old Lisa Frank diary entries when we talk about clothes. So with all that in mind, here are the condescending fashion terms that now define our closets. And one day I’m sure I’ll wish I kept my Christina Aguilera-like lace up jeans.

Preetma Signh at New York Fashion Week shot by Peter Stigter

1. Mom Jeans
Because you’re not a woman anymore, you’re a mom.

Yes, once upon a time, the idea of wearing anything at bellybutton-level or higher was a literal nightmare. High-rise anything was reserved solely for Saved By the Bell parties or ‘90s-inspired Halloween costumes, so when Tina Fey brought “mom jeans” into our lexicon, we were grateful for a name to call this particular denim abomination. That is, until counter-culture brands like American Apparel and Urban Outfitters started offering an alterative to super low-rise flares. Suddenly, the higher the rise, the better the pants, and as mom jeans sewed themselves back into our cultural fibers, some of us began looking at SNL’s take on the trend with envy. (Because I would love to buy a pair of jeans and score a free applique vest.)

DKNY Spring 2013 shot by Peter Stigter

2. Fanny Packs

We don’t need to worry about what “fanny” means in England (the name makes sense, let’s leave it there) because what matters most is the short-lived late ‘80s/early ‘90s trend that became a dark mark on the legacy of anyone hoping for respect or dignity. (A small, convenient bag you wear around your waist? How dare you.) But 2013 saw fanny packs emerge from collections by DKNY, Lacoste, and even Hermes, making the once-laughing stock a viable accessory. Fashion and function, people: it’s the 2014 way.

Alexander Wang Spring 2014 shot by Peter Stigter

3. Hammer Pants

Call them harem pants, call them MC Hammer pants, call them the pants you are not wearing to school because they’re not cool anymore, Mom. And for a long time, they weren’t: after MC Hammer’s fall from grace in the early 1990s, a sleeker silhouette was favored over the billowy style, and it wasn’t until 2009 that designers like Alexander McQueen gave us permission to stop following “Hammer pants” with laughter or lines from “U Can’t Touch This.” You win, Stanley Burrell. We can’t.

Photography via Instagram/Beyonce

4. Canadian Tuxedo

Heaven forbid Canadians are aligned with a practical and wearable fabric. (Heaven forbid we inspire normcore.) However, despite the negative connotations (not inspired by Britney and Justin’s matching outfits at the 2001 MVAS), the nickname actually arose when Bing Crosby wasn’t allowed to wear his Levi’s in a Canadian hotel in the 1950s. He eventually could, but Levi’s heard about it and made him a denim tuxedo (which we have now granted Canadian citizenship). Somehow, the story got lost in translation, and the phrase was applied condescendingly to anyone with a love of jean and jean jackets – except now, when Canadian tuxedos are far more than a two-piece suit. (They’re a lifestyle.)

Louis Vuitton Fall 2014 shot by Peter Stigter

5. Fisherman’s Sweaters

First of all, there’s nothing wrong with the sweater of choice worn by somebody manning the open seas. (Like, we’ve all seen The Perfect Storm – that was real.) But during the late ‘90s and early 2000s, the Aran jumper (the sweater’s actual name, which is taken from the Aran Islands of Ireland, thank you very much) took a backseat to cropped cardigans and everything we saw on Electric Circus. After all, how dare something be so baggy, so warm, and so perfectly complemented by a cup of tea? Fortunately, the eye roll that accompanied “nice sweater” eventually lessened as the 2010s progressed, with Altuzarra and Pringle of Scotland making the fisherman sweater a staple of their F/W 2013 collections. So start stocking up now: winter is coming (because that’s how winter works).

Burberry Spring 2014 shot by Peter Stigter

6. Granny Panties

Lest we forget the embarrassment of being seen in high-rise underwear in middle and/or high school. (In college, we realized we didn’t have to take gym.) “Granny panties” – probably the worst fashion term in the history of our planet – were a disgrace from the mid-‘90s onward, thanks in part to Monica Geller’s shame after Joey made fun of her for wearing some on laundry day (in thong rich 1998). Fortunately, retro underwear is back, and comfort over synthetic-anything has taken precedence over a dude’s definition of “sexy.” More importantly, some of us are actually way too lazy to granny-panty anything (remember Betty Draper’s lingerie in Mad Men? That takes effort!), and will wear comfy boys’ cut till the day we die. Take that, Tribbiani.