A Millennial’s Advice on How to Find the Perfect Gen-Z Jeans

best baggy mom jeans

The journey was rough, but these 30-something legs finally found a pair of Gen-Z jeans they can call home.

A while ago, we published a roundup of our favorite “cute and cozy” winter bottoms. It featured seven pairs of skinny pants, tights, and leggings, some of which I owned myself.

Then it happened: A day later, I learned Gen-Z had canceled skinny pants — jeans, specifically. Baggy, boyfriend, and mom jeans were in.

This news was difficult to digest, especially in my skinny jeans that make everything hard to digest. Could somebody have maybe told me this before I hitched my wagon to an article full of canceled pants?

After spending the majority of my youth sucking in my belly so it didn’t flop over the top of the low-rise True Religion bell-bottoms that I begged my mom to get me from Filene’s Basement for Christmas, I thought our society had mutually agreed to send mom jeans (which were only flattering on Courteney Cox circa 1995) back to the hell from whence they came.

I’ve spent much of this summer filled with dread. Is that because temperatures are rising all over the world? Sure. Is it because the carefree days of summer will once again feel like a distant memory? Absolutely. Is it because I have an entire closet full of toothpick jeggings? Also true.

I knew it was time to work on my denim collection, so I started by Googling “cool jeans for young people” and buying the first pair that came up in the search results. When they arrived, I tore the package open, put them on, and looked in the mirror. This is what I saw. 

Uglier Jeans

“Oh…dear,” I muttered at the diaper-clad old man who stared back at me. Through some dark magic, these pants had managed to take six inches off my legs and add them to my crotch. I needed some professional help.

With my tail between my now-canceled legs, I asked the youths at KCM for some fashion advice. “Part your hair in the middle,” they told me, to which I replied, “I meant about jeans,” through gritted teeth.

They told me to stop worrying about labels and just try on what felt right. Try men’s pants, they said. Buy a size up, they said.

I wasn’t going to let a dumb pair of pants get the best of me, so I listened to the youths and bought myself a pair of men’s Levis. I couldn’t bear the idea that colleagues would give me a mean nickname like “ole’ Emmy long-crotch,” so instead of consulting coworkers this time, I put on the jeans and asked my boyfriend what he thought. I mean these were “guy’s” jeans, after all.

Ugly Jeans

“Is this that new ‘man repeller’ look that women are trying these days?” he asked. I considered throwing the pants into a fire. 

I’d already ordered a third pair: The barrel high rise jean from The Gap. Because “barrel” is the look we’re all striving for when it comes to our legs, right?

Good Jeans

I reluctantly tried them on, looked at myself in the mirror, and felt like a girl of 28 again. I was euphoric. I’d done it: I’d found the perfect pair of cool-girl pants. I sent this photo to my boyfriend, expecting him to insist that this was in fact a picture of Billie Eilish. Instead, he simply wrote back: “Those are horrible.” 

This is when I realized I’d been asking all the wrong people for their pants opinions. I needed to listen to myself. They were going to be on my body, weren’t they?

I do know one thing: I could double in size and still fit into these jeans, with room to spare for a barrel or two. Maybe Gen-Z is onto something after all. 

If you’re seeking out a similar feeling, I’ve rounded up a few pairs of baggy, boyfriend, and mom jeans that are worth trying out. (I now have a full wardrobe of Gen-Z jeans, much to the chagrin of my parents who keep telling me to “save my money” so I can “move out of their house” or something.) If you’re looking for pants as relaxed as a summer Saturday, try these options:

Baggy, Boyfriend, and Mom Jeans Worth Trying On

The Barrel High Rise Jean


As mentioned above, the barrel high-rise has room for barrels and more. I plan to live in them for the next few months, so I should invest in a second pair — and so should you! 

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J. Crew Slouchy Boyfriend Jean

J. Crew

Not all jeans have to be blue. These straight-legged boyfriend jeans have a roomy fit through the thighs and calves, but a high rise adds some shape by nipping in at your waist. So, you’ll get that nice boyfriend fit without having to actually steal your partner’s pants.

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Madewell Perfect Vintage Straight Jean


If you’ve kept your vintage jeans from the ’70s, perfect! If you didn’t, consider these the next best thing. These high-rise jeans have a bit of stretch, so they skim over your curves and allow you to sit down comfortably — no need to unbutton the waist.

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Levi’s 70s High Waist Straight Flare Jeans


Make your legs look miles long with these straight leg jeans. They have a full-length inseam (which is great for taller people), and it also makes them easy to roll up if you want a cuffed look. There’s a little bit of stretch in these, but they feel like a true, rigid denim.

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Abercrombie Curve Love 90s Relaxed Jeans


Doing a dance to get into your jeans only to realize that they fit in the thighs but are too big in the waist is such a pain. You can either return the pair or make a trip to the tailor, neither of which are ideal. Abercrombie, thankfully, is now offering popular styles in a curve fit, which has a smaller fit in the waist and a wider cut in the hips, which is great for those who have trouble finding jeans that fit both measurements.

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Pistola Presley High Rise Relaxed Roller Jean

Pistola Denim

A good pair of jeans will last you a lifetime, especially if they’re designed in a way that feels timeless. These ones from Pistola are the perfect mid-blue color, have minimal distressing, and feel fitted, but not tight. There’s no stretch in this style, though, so do size up if you want a roomier fit.

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Pilcro Mid-Rise Slim Boyfriend Jeans


If Anthropologie is making a Gen-Z jean, then you know they’re going to make it sophisticated. We love this pair with its subtle print and light distressing.

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Levi’s Wedgie Fit Jeans


If you’re a little bit nervous to go straight from skinny pants to massive JNCO skater jeans, these Levi’s are a perfect compromise. They’re loose enough not to be skinny, but have the detailing and length to be very on-trend. And don’t let the name deter you: They’re not intended to give you a wedgie. In fact, they actually make your bum look pretty perky. 

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The Way-High Jean


“High-waisted” and “mom jeans” are descriptors that belong together. And Everlane makes some of the comfiest denim, so we wouldn’t blame you for living in their Way-High fit.

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