MOTHER vs. Madewell: The Best Non-Skinny Denim

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If you want the quick answer: Of all the MOTHER and Madewell denim I tried, these 4 below are my current non-skinny jean favs (and overall I like the fit and feel of MOTHER denim best).

Step-Hem Sweet & Sassy (28) | Demi-Boot Crop Flares (27) | Full-Length Flares (27) | Gray Wash (27)
Hoodie (XS) | Turtleneck (S) | Brown Boots | Green Boots | Black Boots

MOTHER Denim vs. Madewell Jeans

I am not a skinny jean gal. I don’t like the way they feel, I don’t like the way they look on my legs, and I don’t like the way they fit with shoes (other than snow boots and an occasional higher heeled bootie). In my closet, I only have one pair of skinny jeans that I actually wear, so I am continually looking for good non-skinny options. 

Reader Kate asked about the denim brands I wear in my most recent comfort shoe post, so I thought it would be fun to take a look at my two most consistent favorite brands: MOTHER Denim and Madewell.

I try a range of jeans from both brands below. From flares and cropped flares to straight leg and bootcut…and mom jeans (of course).

MOTHER Denim

  • Pricier than Madewell (but we often post when we see them on sale)
  • Softer, stretchier, and more comfy than Madewell (at least my specific pairs are)
  • Sell out annoyingly fast, so you often have to search a bit at different retailers for sizing
  • More variety in styles that fit my body type and that I like (Hustler | Insider | Pixie | Weekender | Tomcats)

Madewell Denim

  • Lower price point than MOTHER and often on sale
  • In general, not as soft and comfy as MOTHER denim
  • More sizing options than MOTHER: Sizes 23-37 with petite and tall in many styles
  • More sustainable options and denim recycling program
  • Only 2 styles that I really like (Cali-Demi Boot Cut & Perfect Vintage)

1. Flare Jeans

MOTHER The Weekender vs. Madewell Skinny Flares

MOTHER Weekender
Pros: SUPER soft, stretchy, and comfortable. I had to cut off a good big chunk at the bottom and they’re still long (I’m 5’2), so might work for you slightly taller gals too. Nice big flare (a positive for me…a negative for others).
Cons: Pricey; Not a super high rise.

Madewell Flares
Pros: Good blue wash. Super-high waist. Better price point than MOTHER Weekenders. Stretchy and comfortable. Good for slightly taller gals (you can see they’re too long for me even with heeled boots…I’ll cut them off if I keep them).
Cons: Not as soft as MOTHERS. Smaller demi-flare (which personally is a negative for me). A bit big in the waist (could have sized down probably), I like my Everlane flares (under $100) better for a budget-friendly option (nice high waist, pretty blue, and super-soft).

The best denim? MOTHER & Madewell jeans go head-to-head in a face-off of jeans that aren't skinny. Think straight-leg, cropped, flare & mom jeans.

Left – MOTHER Weekender (27): At Anthro
Right – Madewell Skinny Flares (27): At Nordstrom | At Madewell
Hoodie | Boots | Earrings (Black-Owned-Business)

2. Black Wash Jeans

MOTHER The Pixie Dazzler vs. Madewell Perfect Vintage

MOTHER Pixie Dazzler
Pros: Similar vibe to a skinny without being a skinny (I have bigger calves, so will obviously fit other builds differently). Great wash. Soft and stretchy.
Cons: Pricey. Very stretchy –I sized up to a 28 because I liked the way they looked better initially, but I should have stuck with my regular 27.

Madewell Perfect Vintage
Pros: Nice high waist. Better price point than MOTHER. Rigid look without total rigid feel. Plus, petite, and tall sizing available.
Cons: Not as soft and stretchy as MOTHER. I wear and love these, but I think I would like this new black wash from Madewell in the same cut even better (a bit more fading).

The best denim? MOTHER & Madewell jeans go head-to-head in a face-off of jeans that aren't skinny. Think straight-leg, cropped, flare & mom jeans.

Left – MOTHER Pixie Dazzler (28): At Nordstrom | At MOTHER | At Revolve
Right – Madewell Perfect Vintage (26): At Madewell | At Nordstrom Rack | At Zappos
Hoodie | Boots | Earrings (Black-Owned-Business)


3. Light Wash Jeans

MOTHER The Tomcat vs. Madewell Perfect Vintage

MOTHER Tomcat
Pros: Modern on-trend style. Soft and comfy. Laura loves them too (post here).
Cons: Don’t love them uncuffed. Distressing and winter don’t mix that well for me.

Madewell Perfect Vintage
Pros: Nice high waist. Better price point than MOTHER. Rigid look without total rigid feel. Don’t have to chop the length myself (petite sizing) & this raw edge is a good one. Plus, petite and tall sizing available.
Cons: Not near as soft and stretchy as MOTHERS. Despite all the pros…I’m not in love with the fit and feel.

The best denim? MOTHER & Madewell jeans go head-to-head in a face-off of jeans that aren't skinny. Think straight-leg, cropped, flare & mom jeans.

Left – MOTHER Tomcat (28): At Nordstrom | At Anthro | At Shopbop
Right – Madewell Perfect Vintage (27P): At Madewell | At Nordstrom | At Zappos
Hoodie | Boots | Earrings (Black-Owned-Business)


4. Medium Blue Wash Jeans

MOTHER The Insider vs. Madewell Cali Demi

MOTHER Insider (Sweet & Sassy)
Pros: Fabulous step-hem. Soft and comfy. Great medium blue wash (sweet and sassy color).
Cons: If you’re short, you’re going to have to cut them or have them hemmed, and the step-hem is more difficult to cut than it looks…I haven’t cut the ones in the photo yet, but I messed up the step-hem on another pair 🙁

Madewell Cali Demi
Pros: I wear these SOOOOOOO much. Soft and comfortable and a great fit. Plus, petite and tall sizing available.
Cons: The wash doesn’t wow anyone…it’s fine, but not amazing.

The best denim? MOTHER & Madewell jeans go head-to-head in a face-off of jeans that aren't skinny. Think straight-leg, cropped, flare & mom jeans.

Left – MOTHER Insider (28): At Nordstrom | At Bloomies | At MOTHER
Right – MOTHER Cali-Demi (27): At Madewell
Hoodie | Boots | Earrings (Black-Owned-Business)

5. Gray Wash Jeans

MOTHER The Tomcat vs. Madewell Perfect Vintage

MOTHER Tomcat
Pros: Soft & comfy. AMAZING gray wash. Perfect straight leg cut.
Cons: I initially wasn’t as wowed by these as I thought I would be, and they’re $$$ to not be wowed–but I’m realizing they might end up being my most-worn denim if I just hack them off for a raw hem (they’re folded under in photos.)

Madewell Perfect Vintage
Pros: Better price point than MOTHERS. Good gray wash. Nice high waist. Petite and tall sizing available.
Cons: Not nearly as soft and comfy as Tomcats. I’m wearing 27 petite, but wish I would have gotten regular length and chopped for raw hem.

The best denim? MOTHER & Madewell jeans go head-to-head in a face-off of jeans that aren't skinny. Think straight-leg, cropped, flare & mom jeans.

Left – MOTHER Tomcat (28): At Anthro | At Bloomies | At Shopbop
Right – Madewell Perfect Vintage (27P): At Madewell
Hoodie | Boots | Earrings (Black-Owned-Business)


6. A Couple More Pairs Of Jeans 

MOTHER The Hustler
(My Oldest MOTHER Denim Still Going Strong)

I LOVE these jeans. They look great with all the clunkier boots that I like to wear in winter…and even work well with these UGGs. My particular ones sold out long ago, but this wash in the same cut looks almost identical.

The best denim? MOTHER & Madewell jeans go head-to-head in a face-off of jeans that aren't skinny. Think straight-leg, cropped, flare & mom jeans.

Mother Hustler -Similar Black/Gray Wash (27): At Shopbop | At Mother

MOTHER The Insider Acid Wash: Just IN!

SOOOOOOO excited about these….they just came in and I’m in love. They need to be a tad shorter on me, and they have that step hem which I’ve had a difficult time replicating before, but I love love love the wash and the cut! I may see if I can get some professional cutting help.

The best denim? MOTHER & Madewell jeans go head-to-head in a face-off of jeans that aren't skinny. Think straight-leg, cropped, flare & mom jeans.

Mother the Insider: At Nordstrom | At Mother | At Revolve

SHOP Madewell & Mother Denim

**Click on the hearts to be automatically notified when these go on sale!**

MOTHER & Madewell Flare Jeans

MOTHER & Madewell Black/Gray Wash Denim

Cropped, Cropped Flare, Straight Leg & Mom Jeans

MOTHER & Madewell Blue Denim

Cropped, Bootcut, Straight-Leg & Mom Jeans

Curious…for those of you who also like the fit of Mother and Madewell non-skinny jeans…what other brands do you like? Any favs from the bunch above??

-Linzi

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Hey, Pinners…

The best denim? MOTHER & Madewell jeans go head-to-head in a face-off of jeans that aren't skinny. Think straight-leg, cropped, flare & mom jeans.

11 COMMENTS

  1. I love my Madewell Cali Demi jeans and wore them so much in the summer and early fall with cute sandals but I am stumped as to what to wear them with now that it is cold.

    • So some people can pull this look off with regular booties and cute socks peaking out. I feel like it’s easier to do that if you coordinate the socks with either the boot color or the denim color…doesn’t have to be exact match, but similar. The socks with texture or different shades of the same color I think look especially cute. I personally wear my Cali-Demis in winter, though, with high shaft boots that fit under the jeans with no socks or skin showing. Hold on a sec and I’ll put in links to the exact ones I like with Cali Demis. Thanks, Meg, for writing in!

  2. Thanks for a very helpful post. I LOVE my Mother Weekender Fray but like you I’m 5’2 and had to cut off a huge chunk. My struggle is finding mid rise jeans for my short torso. (The weekenders I have are 9.5 rise which is perfect for me.). I’ve tried many pairs of Madewell jeans but the only ones I’ve kept are the Tomboy Straight in lunar wash.

    • Yeah..the Madewells right now ARE super high rise for the most part. I’ve never tried the Tomboys…definitely going to put them on my list now. Thank you! The Cali-Demis that I’m wearing in the post are not as high rise as some of the other Madewells I have/tried and are very comfortable at the waist…Madewell flares, though, are REALLY high. In general, I do think Mothers are more comfortable to wear in the waist (other than that one pair of cali-demis). Thanks for the suggestion on the Tomboys, Cynthia. https://shopstyle.it/l/boJoJ

  3. I have the opposite problem, looonnggg legs, and although I love love love Mother denim, I find many of their styles to run too short on me 🙁 I definitely prefer Mother to Madewell, although I do have a couple pairs of Madewell denim that I like. Thanks for the comparison, Linzi!

  4. I really appreciate this article, you did an a great job lining up the two different brands. I am a big fan of mother and will definitely be using this article as a reference the next time I’m ready for a new pair!

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