Nearly every denim makeover I’ve done ends with the same conversation.
“I had no idea what a difference it would make – I thought I was safe with Gap jeans!”
“Oh my goodness why didn’t anyone tell me I was wearing Mom Jeans?? I thought that as long as I was shopping at Old Navy, I was fine!!”
Gap and Old Navy denim. A subject that I’ve long struggled over whether to address publicly or not. I’ve revealed the truth about them one-on-one for quite a while, but have feared the backlash of addressing it here.
I know it’s hard to swallow, because we’ve all worn them at one time or another.
But I must say it, because I am committed to being honest with you in all matters of denim.
So read it fast – like ripping off a band-aid.
Gap and Old Navy sell Gateway Mom Jeans.
There. It’s out there now, so let’s look at why.
I embarked on a reconnaissance mission to both stores accompanied by my dedicated husband/photographer, where I tried on every style of denim available. I’ve gone through and analyzed the evidence collected, then matched them up with comparables in other brands.
But first, a few disclaimers:
1. Jeans can fit vastly differently depending on the body. What may look awful on me could look good on you. My points below are not blanket statements, just strong suggestions.
2. We tried to match camera angles as well as possible, but seeing as how we were on an intensely covert operation and there was an especially nosy associate working the dressing room during our mission, not everything could be perfected as we wished.
3. Some people buy Gap and Old Navy because they are inexpensive. Almost all of the jeans pictured can be attained for about the same price as a pair of Gap jeans. (My current favorite way to bargain shop for great jeans is through Nordstrom Rack or their app, HauteLook.) Good fit does not have to be expensive.
Let’s start with Gap.
1. The first style I tried on was called Real Straight.
These jeans, on the surface, do not qualify for the number one definition of Mom Jeans: pockets ending before the lower curvature of the butt.
However, they do have some concerning areas that clearly qualify them as Gateway Mom Jeans. Specifically, they make an unattractive inverted heart betwixt the cheeks, and the pockets are SO DANG GIGANTIC that they could hold a small Llama.
Perhaps on their own, it’s not clear enough. For comparison, here they are as compared to an Antik straight leg:
Yes, that is the same butt. No, I didn’t starve myself between the two photos.
2. Next I tried on Gap’s Always Skinny.
Again, these aren’t terrible. But they’re not great. They give me an extremely wideset rear view, and repeat the Kangaroo Pouch Pockets.
Notice the width shrinkage when compared to a well-shaped pair of skinny jeans bought from a neighboring mall store:
You can see how the smaller pocket, in this case, gives the curve and lift to offer pep and life, rather than a flat, weighed down look. Also, specifically on a skinny jean, the smaller pocket helps lessen the inverted triangle issue by separating the butt from the thigh.
(You might remember that we discussed the flattering qualities of large pockets in a prior post. While this is true, when the pockets are disproportionately dinasauric, the effect is not nearly so ideal.)
3. The next pair I tried on was the Gap Original Fit.
Clearly, these are horrifying. Especially note how the pockets are so wide-set that it gives me a third butt cheek, and the tapered yet loose leg is classic Mom Jean.
Also? No one should EVER need a zipper THAT LONG.
4. Let’s move on. Quickly. To Gap Perfect Boot.
I found these to be the least offensive. However, the pockets were still too wide-set and oversized, once again offering the appearance of a supersized caboose. Notice the immediate shrinking sensation when compared to a pair of Hudson Bootcut:
5. Next: the Gap Curvy Fit.
Oddly enough, the Curvy Fit seemed to take away all of my curves and conglomerate them into a giant pile of lumpishness.
If you have curves and need room for them to move and breathe, Miss Chic or LA Idol are awesome options with quite a bit more visual interest and flattering fit:
6. My next fitting was in Gap Long and Lean.
This pair was the only pair that qualified beyond Gateway and straight into Mom Jeans – at least on me, as the pockets ended significantly before the lower curvature of my butt:
However, one of my best friends wears Gap Long and Lean, and I’ve always been puzzled as to how they look so great on her – especially since we even wear the same size. So, in fairness, I present to you evidence that Gap jeans can look right on the exact right body:
Let me assure you, though – I have counseled many former Gap wearers, and the friend pictured above is the exception, not the rule.
So if you don’t have that rare Gap-flattered body and you want to look Long and Lean, might I suggest Rock and Republic – notice the immediate leg-lengthening effect:
7. The last Gap style that I found was highly ironically named…the Sexy Boyfriend.
OH NO THEY DIDN’T.
I SO wish I could have found these in my size to try on.
Flap Inner-Only Pockets.
Have you ever seen any man under 70 wearing jeans like this, let alone a sexy boyfriend??
I shudder to think.
But I did find one last treasure before I left Gap…
8. The Gap Denim Romper.
Yes. I was ashamed.
(And my cameraman didn’t like my visible bra strap.)
Just in case you missed it, the back waist actually qualifies this outfit as… Grandma Jeans.
I apologize to your retinas.
I rushed out of Gap and headed to Old Navy.
Which was somewhat akin to jumping out of the frying pan and into the nuclear incinerator.
I tried on every style that they had in both bootcut and skinny, but neither leg choice was better than the other. So, to summarize, here are all three of their major styles in bootcut.
The Diva was the least offensive, but still lacked style or a flattering cut.
The Dreamer copied Gap’s main problem of wide-set pockets and triple butt.
And the Sweetheart was unapologetically a hardcore Mom Jean.
Just in case you needed a healthy comparison, I offer them against 7 For All Mankind:
Lest you think that I have somehow doctored my photos (which I have not) or that this information is only applicable to my body type, here are a few examples of others who have been freed from the noose of Gateway Mom Jeans:
Subject A, a close friend who had no idea how flattering and comfortable great jeans could be:
Subject B, a blog reader and mom of four kids:
And Subject C, a new Mom and blog reader from the other side of the country who got a long-distance makeover via the following before-and-after butt-texts:
(Yes, I get butt-texts quite often, usually accompanied with the question, “Are these Mom Jeans?” If you need to butt-text me, just let me know and I’ll give you my number.)
After Subject C bought her jeans, she sent me a couple more full-length before and after photos (with an adorable baby leg included as a bonus):
Even if you look great in Gap jeans – even if they fit you perfectly, the pockets are proportionately correct, and the style was made for your body type, here is my biggest argument against Gap and Old Navy Jeans:
They stretch out.
So even if they don’t look like Mom Jeans when you put them on, they will before the next episode of Dora the Explorer is over.
Looking for the rest of my denim posts? Here’s a list:
If you’re afraid you might have Long Butt, click here.
If you’re plus-sized, click here.
If you’re over 50 years old, click here.
If you want more specific tips and tricks to pick out the perfect jeans, click here.
If you want a list of every post I’ve ever written about denim, click here.