I’m In A Jeans Rut…Maybe Madewell Can Help

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OK. So, I have some thoughts on jeans.

Usually, I have opinions on jeans but right now…I just have…thoughts. And my main thought is: I hate jeans right now. There, I said it. I am one of the Jeans Girls here at TME and have been for years. I’ve covered a ton of jeans in try-ons. Historically, jeans are my jam.

But right now, I loathe them.

My Thoughts On Jeans In General Right Now

Here are my current issues with my jeans…

  • I only have one pair of jeans I want to wear regularly right now — my Levi’s 501’s. And I don’t even really want to wear them. The pair I have (that fits) is cropped. I’m not sure if I’m loving cropped anymore…? But since they’re broken in and fit me best plus they’re not too high-waisted, I’m wearing ’em. My Moussy Jeans are an exception but they are still a leetle tight in some spots and not an all-day jean. (Plus, I’d like to be able to share some more mid-priced options with y’all.)
  • All of my soft/comfy/stretchy pairs of jeans…only OK. They fit fine at the waist for sitting and working, but they slide down when I’m walking and living my life and therefore are annoying.
  • High-waisted jeans are killing my actual waist. I’m fairly straight through the middle and have a shorter torso. AND am 44. And it’s 2022. All these things are making me hate waist bands that dig-in. I have plenty of standing-up-only jeans. I do not need more.
  • Low-rise jeans? I’m never going back to low-rise jeans. Nope. Not happening.

Can Madewell Denim Save Me? I Don’t Know…But I Tried 5 Pairs Of Jeans

Madewell jeans and I have a long-standing on-again/off-again relationship. But when it comes to jeans, if I’m stuck in a rut or just need a comfy new pair, Madewell is like an old friend I can call up and they usually come through. So I had to ask, does Madewell have some new magical, modern (yet comfy) jeans for me right now?

The answer is…I don’t know. Haha.

Of the pairs I tried, the Midrise Perfect Vintage Straight Jeans + the Perfect Vintage Wide Leg Jeans (#4 and #5 below) are quite soft for only having 1% spandex. I’m liking the feel of Madewell’s Heritage Stretch Denim a lot. The other three pairs I tried on are non-stretch but not nearly as rigid as denim I’ve worn from other brands.

Madewell is always going to offer a variety of rises and cuts and the price (most pairs are $128) is doable if I wanna try out a new style or fit. But it’s still always a crapshoot honestly. So here we gooooo. Come along for the ride.

1. Madewell Slouchy Boyjean in Glennbay Wash

Madewell’s Slim Boyjean has been one of my favorite jeans for years. I have three pairs of the same wash (after buying one pair, wearing the heck out of it and then scouring Poshmark for more when my size changed.) Since I love the Slim Boyjean, I thought: why not try this slouchy version, eh?

The trouble with how to style boyfriend jeans is what shoes to wear. Boots are my move.
 

Sweater (xs) | Tee | Jeans (29) | Boots

For reference, I am a 27-28-29 because who the heck knows these days? The sizing was a little off in these Boyjeans and they don’t have stretch in them, so I ended up with a 29. Well, the 29s are large… I want to try the 28s…But I kinda adore these oversized 29s? This slouchy style is something new and different for me and guess what? NOT high-waisted (but not super low-rise either). This pair has a 10.25″ rise which has always been a sweet spot for me. Yay! And I LOVE the wash.

Side notethis Loretto Mockneck Pullover sweater is super-cute. I adore the shape and I sized down so it wouldn’t be too overwhelming. It is very warm. The sleeves are a little short/tight in this XS so I would say stick with your regular size, but it’s a lovely piece if you need a warm warm sweater! It’s soft enough to me, but I know some of y’all are picky so I’d give it a 5 out of 10 on the itchiness scale.

These slouchy boyfriend jeans won me over.
 

I’ll report back once I size down, but I have a feeling these in a 28 are going to be great.

Tee (m) | Jeans (29) | White Boots


2. Madewell Dadjean in Randall Wash 

OK, these dad jeans are a little more reasonably sized but with a similar feel to the slouchy boyfriend jeans above. I worry these are TOO tapered though. But add up the wash, the fit, and the fact that they feel different, and I’m a fan. I feel like maybe dad jeans are phasing out but I’m digging this vibe.

Lately, I feel like I hate high waisted jeans. Mid rise Madewell denim to the rescue.
 

Tee (m) | Boots | Jeans (29) | Sneakers

I have trouble with the puddling of wider-leg styles coming back right now. I think it’s because of my shorter height + short torso + square/rectangle frame. I’m better off sticking with a high-rise in the longer, wider jeans and I just haven’t found the comfort factor in that kind of fit these days. Give me mid-rise again!

I’m digging these jeans with sneakers, too, as I look at these pics. I like that Madewell’s denim options definitely do not give me Flat Butt Issues. Thanks, Madewell! That seems like an intentional update to make them work for our bodies.

 

Tee (m) | Jeans (29) | Sneakers


3. Madewell Perfect Vintage Wide Leg in Belmere Wash

If you want comfy, great-fitting, not-too-wide-leg jeans in classic black, these Perfect Vintage Wide Leg in Belmere are for you. These have some stretch, unlike the two pairs above, and are true-to-size. Also at Nordstrom

These black Madewell wide leg jeans are a cute winter business casual look.
 

Tee (m) | Jeans (28) | Boots

I’m usually more into washed black jeans than true black jeans, but this true black color can dress up easily for a casual office outfit. The only problem with these black Madewell jeans is that I don’t like them with my sneakers. I think that is probably due to the wash more than the fit though — and we all know the Adidas probably would have worked!

The rise on these is our typical higher-rise, coming in at 11.25″. They are still comfy though for a high-rise jean! I was impressed.

Tee (m) | Jeans (28) | Sneakers


4. Madewell Mid-Rise Perfect Vintage Straight in Rosella Wash

I have and love some Madewell Perfect Vintage jeans. While these straight-leg jeans are great, they don’t feel as unique or fresh as I was hoping for this try-on. I totally blanked on getting a back shot of these too! Doh. But they are similar to the above pair and great on the booty!

These lovelies have a 9.5″ rise and you can see below how that is a comfy fit for me. I prefer the slight distressing and the washed black color of this mid-rise Perfect Vintage to the regular Perfect Vintage pair above. If you are looking for their classic Perfect Vintage, Nordstrom has a non-distressed black pair (currently on sale!)

I prefer the washed black color of this mid-rise Perfect Vintage.
 

Striped Sweater (m) | Jeans (28) | Boots

OK, and definitely take a peek at both of these amazing cashmere sweaters. They aren’t Madewell but came in the same day. I love them both! The polo sweater vest on the left is from Reformation (saw it on my fave baker @bromabakery). It’s made of 90% recycled cashmere (we love Reformation for their amazing sustainable efforts.) Wearing a M here– it’s so cute but I think I’ll be comfier in a L if it has a tiny bit more length to it.

The striped sweater on the right is 100% Mongolian cashmere from NADAAM (one of our favorite retailers for super-soft cashmere at a variety of price points.) I would totally be living in this cashmere sweater if it weren’t too long for me. However, it IS soft enough to tuck in so maybe I’ll try that first! Love the pretty neutrals. It’s a very wearable sweater.

Polo Sweater (m) | Striped Sweater (m) | Jeans (28) | Boots


5. Madewell Dadjean in Amaron Wash

Haha fail. That’s OK though because this pair of jeans is on final sale now anyway. They looked so interesting online hence making it into my cart as the only blue-washed pair I tried. But alas…no.

I don’t know how these dad jeans worked for other people. They’re not too bad with the heeled boots. But again, the 29 was too big.

These Madewell dad jeans were not for me.
 

Tee (m) | Jeans (29) | Boots

Can I give a shoutout to this Softfade Lakeshore Crop tee? The length is perfect — it hits my torso just where I want it to– it even works with midrise jeans. It’ll be great under sweaters when I inevitably get too hot this winter with heaters blasting. Wearing a M.

Tee (m) | Jeans (29) | Sneakers | Boots


Madewell Jeans Review: Final Thoughts

  • There is currently no One Jean To Rule Them All like my black Madewell skinny jeans used to be. The shoe and jean combo struggle is still a thing, especially with modern slouchy cuts.
  • Well, folx, I’ll settle for being glad I have job security because, Lordy, there’s still lots of work to do, haha. I’ll have more jean try-ons — hopefully more definitively successful ones — to share with y’all in the future.

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Give me your current favorite interesting jean finds if you have a shorter frame and torso like me. I believe in us and the power of the community to solve this thing. Haha until next time!

xo,

L

Want to keep up with everything else I’m into? Pop over to my Instagram @laurajansenstyle where I love talking about food, sharing OOTDs, posting travel pics and chatting everyday mom-life stuff from Portland, Oregon. Oh, and lots of funny memes and pet videos because what is social media without plenty of those? xoxo

This one is for you, Pinners!

I'm like Goldilocks lost in a denim-trends forest. High-rise isn't comfy anymore. Low-rise? No, thanks. Madewell: show me your best straight-leg jeans.

28 COMMENTS

  1. I’m 5’5″ with a shorter frame/torso and usually wear 29/30 in jeans. I like stretch but not stretchy jeans. I’m living in Lucky Brand jeans right now. The high rise zoe straight (10″ inseam), mid rise Sweet straight (8.75″), and the high rise Bianca bootcut (10.25″). All fit perfectly and you can choose your inseam! The denim is soft and comfortable and prices don’t break the bank plus the variety of washes are great.

  2. I tried Madewell extensively about a year ago because I do not wear high rise jeans, ever. Never boarded that train. I narrowed it down to their mid-rise Perfect Vintage and the mid-rise Stovepipe jeans. In comparison, I found the mid-rise Stovepipes to be softer and more comfortable, and I liked the rinses and the way they hung. “Mid-rise” is still a touch too high for me, as it hits right at or below the belly button, but this is the closest thing to a pair of jeans I don’t hate. I got my actual size and they are slightly loose. A size smaller looked great when standing but wasn’t as comfy around the waist when sitting down, and who has time for that, right?

    • Ugh right? I know some ppl work on their feet all day but we still all gotta sit down at some point and no time for that madness of digging waistbands haha. I will definitely try the Stovepipe thank you!

  3. This article is everything right now! I am short, short-waisted, and carry my weight in my mid-section. I cannot even tell you how many jeans I have ordered and sent back over the last 2 months. I cannot do high waisted and with a 27″ inseam, I just can’t do some of the wider leg jeans. I am not afraid of tailoring, that’s a short girl’s best friend, but they need to be comfortable for me to invest in tailoring. I have 4 pairs coming this week from Anthro, Gap, and Social Threads. Wish me luck! LOL

  4. I would love to see the ripped jean style go away. I see myself putting my foot thru a rip an that’s the end of my jeans. 🙂 I am happy to know that there are so many choices right in Jean World. I love my skinny jeans, but would call slim fit jeans a close second.

  5. I’ve said it before, but my absolute favorite jeans are vintage mens Levi’s. Thrift stores are chock full of them. Learn your “Levi’s waist size” (i.e. I am a 26/27 in standard jeans and a vintage mens 29 or 30 waist works best for me). Then I just have them hemmed (or sometimes the length works). The washes are always perfection, the denim is washed soft. I probably have 6 pair of awesome jeans sourced from the mens rack in thrift stores. Try it out!

    • YES I do have a pair of size 30 mens Levi’s I got at a thrift store earlier this year. I usually strike out on finding pairs with all the things I want and these need some repair on a really thin area on the butt, but otherwise they are fabulous. I also just can’t decide where I want to chop them off in the length or get them them hemmed. I feel like these are always my longest lasting favorite pairs once I do figure that out though!

  6. Hi, I feel you on denim dilemma. Madewell has a midrise stovepipe jean. I believe in a few different washes. They are soft, stretchy and I believe they come in different inseams. Good luck!

  7. Jeans rut is real — I agree with you, Laura, re: high-rise and low-rise — can we just have some comfortable, flattering mid-rise jeans (cropped or not) for the win?

    • SERIOUSLY. What is this so hard? Haha. I’ve been finding jeans for years! They are kinda all over the place at the moment style-wise..maybe that’s it.

  8. This is wild. i’ve been in the same “rut” (skinny jeans feeling a little dated at the moment…) and I’ve found a couple of gems:
    (i think the first 2 are both from a previous Shana post)
    The Risen dark wash straight leg…freakin’ gorgeous. They just might win my “carry-on only” policy selection for a single pair of jeans for an upcoming trip to Tokyo!
    The AG straight leg on sale at Nordstrom right now (again a Shana post for reference)
    The Frame Le Garcon (both in blue and gray)
    and…wait for it…the vintage slim straight from JCrew in a perfect gray and i do mean perfect

    Notes: everything runs true to size. no sizing up or down. nothing pinches. and for the record…nothing in the above list is distressed. I’m not a fan of distressed because it’s just not versatile enough for me to go from day to evening and still feel chic. But if you ARE a fan, then those Risen distressed options are totally cute! For reference…i am straight up and down athletic body type short waisted size 27 aged 58 so do your math as you will!

    • Thanks so much, Tamara! I have tried and love some of those pairs, too! I’ll need to revisit the Frame Le Garcon maybe. J.Crew jeans and I do not get along haha. I had a horrible dressing room experience one time where a pair literally busted in the butt on me while trying. Heh. Woah. But I’m willing to try again for the perfect gray!! xoxo

  9. I totally feel you on the jeans problem. I think my problem is that it just requires too much thinking most days. When I was just doing skinny jeans, it was a pretty simple formula. Now I have to juggle how loose or slouchy the jeans are and is the top I chose cute with them or it’s just too much baggy all around and also what shoes?? I also have a short torso and high waisted is HARD. 10.5″ is my favorite. Anyway, the barrel jeans you recommended from Gap were my go to because they’re so comfortable. I got a pair of balloon jeans from Madewell off of mercari and they’re super comfortable, but maybe I should have sized down 1 since the rise feels a smidgen too high and they definitely don’t suck anything in. All that to say, I’ve been reaching for the barrel/balloon non-destroyed jeans the most since they’re comfortable and still look somewhat interesting. Love your jeans posts!!

  10. I’m 5’4″ with a straight torso. I wear Agolde, Frame, DL1961 and Moussy, in various styles. They aren’t new or fresh, but my very favorite jeans are Frame Le Slouch. I usually size down because I don’t have a butt. They’re soft and comfy, and if for some reason I had to give up all of my jeans but one pair, I would keep the Le Slouch in Newell. Probably not exactly what you’re looking for, but I am throwing them out there.

    • Thanks, Robyn! I will for sure revisit some of these! I do tend to usually love Frame and AGOLDE and I do love my Moussy pair but not so much for sitting all the time. Whew. Le Slouch is a good jean, too! I should retry.

  11. I have this body type as well short, short-waisted, wide waisted, 40s, plus my weight is in the front middle. I feel like jeans are my enemy right now! I just feel so squat in everything! I got a couple of the mid rise 90s from Gap and I do like them but I need a 30 because there is no stretch. Everyone has been railing against stretch in denim of late but like, I’m too old to be dealing with discomfort all day, YKWIM? Another issue I have is well, the rise, not the part that goes over your belly but the actual crotch of the jeans being too high…intrusive, shall we say. Particularly when I sit, which I do all day for work. I’m looking more and more at dresses with tights to get through the winter!

    • I hear you. The body shifts in the last few years have been…surprising. Doesn’t matter really what i do activity wise. I’m glad we are all in this together and I feel like dresses are a phenomenal option.

  12. Thank you for this post! I have been struggling with jeans lately, too, for all the reasons you’ve mentioned. Wide legs are really tough for me as a fellow rectangle-person, and super high waists make me look like Urkel, not like a Hadid. The only jeans I have right now that are cute standing AND comfy sitting are the Gap mid-rise girlfriend jeans that I believe you influenced me to get! But they are cropped and therefore not really scratching that “new silhouette” itch.

    I also have the Levi’s “low pro” jeans that Julieta featured a while back. The jury is still out. How I feel in them basically comes down to whether I ate a big lunch, to be honest. I think I’m just a person who needs a little bit of stretch in my life.

    I’ll certainly stay tuned for your continued denim journey!

    • I seriously identify with everything in your comment…especially with the big lunch thing. Heh. Or like which jeans to wear out to dinner? It’s really getting annoying. I did try the Madewell Dadjeans above in a size down and I think they ARE a good option. They are still a little high waisted, but they DO NOT dig in which is a true bonus for this short-waisted food lover. Solidarity, friend!

  13. Thanks for this post! Two of those jeans have been sitting in my cart at Madewell. Trying to decide between the Perfect Vintage Wide Leg and the Mid-Rise Straight, and also waiting to see if there’s a Veteran’s Day sale before I purchase. They both look great on you!

  14. I can identify with all of this. Especially the “intrusive” rise thing and “I’m too old to be uncomfortable all day”. I have mid-rise, high rise, straight, slim and boyfriend fits in my closet and none seem to hit that sweet spot of comfort and style. so far my favorite seems to be my AG slouchy slim boyfriend. But the search continues…

  15. If you haven’t already tried them, don’t sleep on Citizens of Humanity. My Charlottes are that “one pair” for me. I literally go “aaaaahhhhh” when I put them on. I know they’ve been around forever, but i hadn’t gotten around to trying them before.
    Now if I could just find that pair of soft, faded, slouchy, low-ish rise jeans with perfect drape that seems to only live in my imagination.

  16. I am sitting in men’s Levi 501 original button flys as I type this… the same style I wore in high school in the 90s because I’m a 5’10 girl and girls jeans were never long enough for me. I size up 1-2 sizes (depends on wash and cotton content) for the men’s because I like them slouchy. You can choose just about any inseam and wear them cuffed to your ankle, rolled like a boyfriend or long and straight. I have a closet full of women’s designer jeans and I will second the CoH have amazing washes and fits but again, that damn inseam makes them all cropped on me.

  17. I have a straight wide leg black pair from the gap that feels modern. Full length. Also a Paige pair from the nordie anniversary sale that are really flared but look amazing—flat 52 yr old midsection and legs for days… those are my two more modern ones. Have a slouchy girlfriend pair from Chico’s of all things that feel amazing but definitely need a belt. Jeans are tough these days!! Can’t stand rigid denim. It’s why I rarely worn denim in the 90s.

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