Boyfriend jeans vs mom jeans: what's the difference, and which is best for your shape?

It's boyfriend jeans vs mom jeans in the battle to become your new favourite denim.

boyfriend jeans vs mom jeans: women wearing different styles of denim

Pitting boyfriend jeans vs mom jeans and not sure which to choose? We get it, shopping for jeans can be tricky. 

Dressed up with heels and a blazer, or down with a slogan tee and trainers, find the best jeans for your shape and style and you’re set for any occasion. We Brits can’t get enough denim, with Marks & Spencer selling on average a massive five million pairs a year. While across the pond in the US, the average American has seven pairs of blue jeans in their closet. 

We certainly love our high street jeans – from mom jeans to skinnies, boyfriend fit to straight-leg. 

Mom and boyfriend styles may have started off as trends, but they have now become firm staples in our denim collection. Their relaxed cuts make them more comfortable (not to mention more modern) than a skinny jean, but they're just as versatile.

But what actually is the difference between boyfriend jeans and mom jeans, and which type of jeans do you need in your life? Let us break it down for you.

What are boyfriend jeans?

This borrowed-from-the-boys look was made popular in the 1960s, when Marilyn Monroe donned a pair in The Misfits. Since then, they have become a much-loved style of celebrities, seen on all the A-listers, from Victoria Beckham to Katie Holmes.

Slouchy and baggy, boyfriend jeans have a relaxed, comfortable fit. They often sit mid-low on the waist and should look a little oversized on the wearer. There are many variations of the boyfriend cut; some are slimmer than others, so if you prefer more fitted clothing you can opt for a style that is more structured, but still loose.

boyfriend jeans vs mom jeans: victoria beckham in boyfriend jeans

Victoria Beckham wears boyfriend jeans

(Image credit: Getty)

What to wear with boyfriend jeans

Boyfriend jeans are perfect for creating an effortless off-duty look, but styling them can be tricky to get right – it’s all about creating some balance.

Offset the boyish, laid-back vibe with tailored blazers, feminine blouses and heels (or fancy flats). A tight-fitting top will help balance out the looser shape of the jean for a more flattering shape.

“The easiest way to make a boyfriend jean look more polished is to throw on a blazer. It will instantly smarten the look, while adding more structure to your outfit, too,” says Paula Moore, fashion director at Woman & Home.

“I would then play on the boyish aesthetic and add some feminine detailing, such as a silky cami, a pair of heels and layer on some gold jewellery. Dressy but cool, it’s perfect for a low-key dinner date.”

Boyfriend jeans: get the look

boyfriend jeans vs mom jeans: Matches Fashion Raey

(Image credit: Matches Fashion)

Raey Dad Baggy Boyfriend Jeans

RRP: $150

boyfriend jeans vs mom jeans: everlane bodysuit

(Image credit: Everlane )

Everlane The Short-Sleeve Crew Neck Bodysuit

RRP: $35

boyfriend jeans vs mom jeans: Zara blazer

(Image credit: Zara)

Zara Tailored Blazer With Buttons

RRP: $149

boyfriend jeans vs mom jeans: GH Bass penny loafers

(Image credit: GH Bass)

G.H. Bass Whitney Easy Weejuns

RRP: $110

What are mom jeans?

This retro-style jean was a favourite among mums in the 80s and 90s, hence the name. It’s now back with a bang and a lot cooler than you might remember. Like the boyfriend jean, it has a relaxed fit, but tends to sit high on the waist. Loose around the thighs, they then go down into more of a tapered leg, so they don't look as baggy overall. The hem is often rolled up, finishing just above the ankle. The long back pockets tend to make the bum appear longer and flatter. 

boyfriend jeans vs mom jeans: Cindy crawford in mom jeans

Cindy Crawford wears mom jeans

(Image credit: Getty)

What to wear with mom jeans

Mom jeans are easier to style than boyfriend jeans, thanks to their high waist, which makes for a less casual look. The key to making the most of your mom jeans is to tuck in your top, whether it’s a tee, body or polo neck. A belt will also help add definition and give you a gorgeous silhouette. Toughen up with hefty ankle boots or keep it casual in chunky trainers – they are guaranteed to go with pretty much everything.

“A light blue or acid wash will give your mom jeans an extra retro vibe,” says Paula. “They also look great with a turned-up hem, so if they are coming up too long, just embrace it and roll them up.”

Mom jeans: Get the look 

boyfriend jeans vs mom jeans: Everlane The ’90s Cheeky Straight Jean

(Image credit: Everlane)

Everlane The ’90s Cheeky Straight Jean

RRP: $78

boyfriend jeans vs mom jeans: arket rollneck

(Image credit: Arket)

Arket Sheer Merino Wool Roll-Neck

RRP: $59

boyfriend jeans vs boyfriend jeans: Chunky Leather Chelsea Boots

(Image credit: & Other Stories)

RRP: $179

boyfriend jeans vs mom jeans: Missoma Box Chain Layered Necklace

(Image credit: Nordstrom)

Missoma Box Chain Layered Necklace

RRP: $188

Boyfriend jeans vs mom jeans: The verdict

It mainly comes down to personal preference.

Boyfriend jeans require more thought and attention if you want to nail the look. However, if you find the right balance with a fitted top or shirt and offset with pretty footwear and accessories, the finished look can be really fashion-forward.

Word of warning: Do think about your height before investing. You may find that some boyfriend jeans drown your figure if you’re petite.

Mom jeans suit more people, regardless of stature, and are generally more versatile. You could throw on most tops with a mom jean and the style would be passable. The high-waist and tapered leg combo delivers a flattering silhouette, and if you’re partial to a bit of 80s or 90s nostalgia, mom jeans are a real winner.

Charlie Bell

Charlie is the Acting Deputy Fashion Editor across multiple women’s magazines and also a freelance fashion, beauty and lifestyle editor. 

She bagged her first magazine job in 2009 and has previously written for titles including Woman & Home, Closer and Dare. Over the years Charlie has embraced anything that was thrown at her from styling celebrities to testing out the best jeans on the high street to writing about must-have beauty buys. 

With a weakness for a printed midi dress, Charlie is on a mission to shop more sustainably and loves finding new ethical brands and second-hand buys. You can follow her on Instagram @fashionabell_