Team Try-On: Our Review of Madewell’s Denim Shorts

4
7354

Truthfully, I can’t remember whose idea it was for us to try Madewell’s denim shorts, but once we all started looking more closely, most of us got pretty darn excited.

The problem? We were each looking at slightly different pairs of Madewell cutoffs.

Madewell makes several different styles of denim shorts, but we wanted to focus on the basic, wear-everyday styles. So we narrowed the choices down to two: Madewell’s Relaxed Denim Short AND/OR Madewell’s High-Rise Denim Short.

Madewell Denim Shorts: A Team Try-On + Review Of High-Rise & Relaxed Cutoffs

What we didn’t initially realize (and this is the beauty of Madewell’s denim shorts) is that both of our chosen styles are available in multiple lengths (short, mid-length, long), multiple washes (made from very different fabrics (some sustainable)), and multiple sizes (petite, standard, plus, maternity).

So. Our rule for the try-on? We wanted everyone to try one of each style…but each editor could pick their own length and wash (and size, obvi).

First of all, while there were plenty of takers for both the short and mid-length shorts….nobody tried on the long lengths. I think it might be because they’re aggressively long. It also turns out the nobody chose the mid-length shorts in the Relaxed style.

So we have three categories total:

  • High-Rise (short length is the default option )
  • High-Rise (mid-length)
  • Relaxed (short length is the default option)

1. Madewell High-Rise Denim Shorts

There are two lengths available, but the shorter length is considered the default option, so that’s what we’ll start with.

My Thoughts on Madewell’s High-Rise Denim Shorts

Thoughts: Please ignore my dirty mirror. That said, these shorts are cuuuuuute. I love the retro vibe, the length is great, and the shorts (at least in this Quintell wash) are soft. Fit is TTS; I’m wearing my usual 26. My only issue is that they fit slightly…how to put this…up the bum. Kind of like wedgie shorts. Which is pretty flattering, but also a little annoying, too. They do have a slight zipped-up feeling; they’re holding me in (around the stomach) quite nicely. I’m actually eyeing up this darker wash — it’s really doubling down on the retro vibe and I love it.

My details: I’m 5’3″, and hovering in between a size 26 and 27, depending on the brand. I’m 45, which only seems important because I carry my weight in my middle, and it’s getting really soft in there.

Of the Madewell denim shorts, we wanted to focus on the basic, wear-everyday styles. So we narrowed it to 2: relaxed jean shorts + high-rise denim cutoffs.

shorts (26) | tee (s) | Birks – I’ve been disappointed with this style…stick to these instead.


Madewell High-Rise Denim Shorts On Em

Em Says: For slimmer, stretchier denim shorts, these Madewell High-Rise Denim Shorts are definitely cute. Great on the booty. Flattering, even. Not at all what I prefer when it comes to denim shorts (I just like a little more breathing room), but I guarantee they’re the perfect shorts for someone out there. Unless I’m totally missing something and I should just keep them. Hmmm…

Details: I’m 5’5″ with a straight middle (where I carry my extra weight), strong legs and a definite booty. (Ha, ample.) I’m wearing my usual 25 in the High-Rise Denim Shorts, and it feels like the right size for the style, despite the fact that they’re so much snugger than the Relaxed Shorts (scroll down).

sweater (s) | shorts (25) | vans (size down half)


Madewell High-Rise Denim Shorts On Meredith

Meredith says: I’m a big Madewell fan. Give me a denim deconstructed skirt and drapey button down ANY day of the week. I haven’t purchased Madewell jean shorts in, oh, roughly one feral child ago. As I told the sales person, “I’ve had too many children for this nonsense.” Who wears short, shorts? Not Meredith.

Details: I am 33, and 5’7, with long legs and a short torso. I carry my weight on my stomach. I am a slightly inverted triangle/straight body type. These High-Rise Denim Shorts are comfortable size-wise (I ordered a 29 so size down), but length-wise? Pass.

Of the Madewell denim shorts, we wanted to focus on the basic, wear-everyday styles. So we narrowed it to 2: relaxed jean shorts + high-rise denim cutoffs.

shorts | tee


Madewell Curvy High-Rise Denim Shorts On Julieta

Julieta Says: I ordered the Curvy version of these High-Rise Denim Shorts. I usually have luck with curvy fits as I get more space in the thighs and hips, but these run big even in my regular size. I stuck with my regular size and still didn’t like the look, material or wash.  

Details: I’m 5’2″ with some curves. Size 26 in most denim, 27 in shorts. Here I’m wearing my regular size 26.

tank (s) l shorts (26)


Madewell High-Rise Denim Shorts On Syd

Syd Says: Soooo…I’m not much of a shorts person. After obsessively analyzing the Madewell size chart and busting out the ol’ measuring tape, I settled on a 20W but ordered the 18W just in case. I wanted to order a black wash pair but woe is me…plus sizes are limited. To my surprise the 18W Plus High-Rise Denim Shorts in the Watt wash felt comfortably snug at the waist while still being roomy in the hips and thighs. I really liked this wash (and I usually turn up my nose at lighter washes).

Details: I’m 5′ 7″ and carry most of my weight in my middle sooo…apple shaped? I don’t know what lingo is being used anymore. I’m wearing 18W in the Madewell Plus High-Rise Denim Shorts in Watt Wash.

button-up | shorts (Watt Wash) | sneakers | sweatshirt (similar)


2. Madewell High-Rise Denim Shorts (Mid-Length)

These are the same shorts as the ones featured above, but with a slightly longer length.

Madewell High-Rise Denim Shorts (Mid-Length) On Laura

Laura Says: I was honestly surprised how much I like these mid-length shorts, but you can tell they are more fitted on me than the model. The gray wash (Brayton) is a nice departure from all the blue, light blue and black I have. If Portland were more of a shorts place (meaning I could wear them more of the year) I’d have kept these. These have a nice high rise, a good stretch and a great length. Again, not AS much of a fan as my Levi’s, but these are a solid option, especially if you want a little more length.

Details: I’m 5’4″, athletic build with a booty, strong thighs and carry weight in my middle. I’m between a 27/28 in jeans, but typically always size up for shorts. Wearing a 28 here, and they fit great. 

tee (s) | sneakers | shorts


Madewell High-Rise Denim Shorts (Mid-Length) On Linzi

Linzi Says: No. No. No. No. No. No. Just No on these High-Rise, Mid-Length Denim Shorts. I’m coming straight from physical therapy here with greasy hair, no makeup, and a sports bra in this photo, but even if I was done up these would be a hard no. I hate the style of these longer shorts on me. The 27s in this mid-length, high-rise style fit pretty well and were more comfortable than the shorter relaxed fit, but still…no. 

Details: 5’2, Size 28 in denim usually (but wearing 27 here), pear-shaped with short legs. 

Shorts | Tee


Madewell High-Rise Denim Shorts (Mid-Length) On Meredith

Meredith Says: I feel like these High-Rise Denim Shorts in Mid-Length are the first longer jean shorts that haven’t left me feeling like an organic farmer in VT (nothing against Vermonters; I come from a fine stock of VT-ers). These are the ideal length if you’re looking to dip your toe back into shorts this summer, but aren’t ready for diaper jean shorts ;).

Details: I am 33 and 5’7, with long legs and a short torso. I carry my weight on my stomach. I am a slightly inverted triangle/straight body type. I’m typically a 30, but sized down to a 29 per recommendation of the sales person. They fit like a glove.

Of the Madewell denim shorts, we wanted to focus on the basic, wear-everyday styles. So we narrowed it to 2: relaxed jean shorts + high-rise denim cutoffs.

shorts | tee | sandals (similar)


Madewell High-Rise Denim Shorts (Mid-Length) On Kat

Kat Says: The Madewell High Rise Mid Length Shorts are an absolute no-go for me. When I was searching for size 20 and 22 shorts from Madewell, there were very limited options, and I was only able to find one pair that even came in my size. I wasn’t confident that I would like them, so I also decided to order a pair of the new Good American Good 90s High Waist Step Hem Denim Shorts, and I am so glad I did because the sizing of the Madewell shorts is significantly off for what should be a size 22.

Details: I’m 5’2”, ultra curvy and somewhat pear-shaped with a whole lotta extra lovin’ in my bum. Both shorts were in a size 22, and I typically am a 20 in jeans. 

L: Good American shorts | tee | slides R: Madewell shorts | tee

The difference between the sizing of these shorts is so drastic. There is about a 6 to 8 inch difference between the two pairs of shorts. They are the exact same size and something is clearly off. The Madewell shorts look more like a size 18 and the GA shorts are true to size.

Of the Madewell denim shorts, we wanted to focus on the basic, wear-everyday styles. So we narrowed it to 2: relaxed jean shorts + high-rise denim cutoffs.

Madewell Shorts | Good American Shorts


Madewell High-Rise Denim Shorts (Mid-Length) On Syd

Syd Says: I can’t definitively say I loved these shorts. I looked in the mirror and mumbled an “mmm…okay…” before snapping some pictures. I love me some high-waisted anything but these feel like a miss. Maybe I’m just not used to looser denim but I couldn’t get these shorts to lay right at all (lot’s of weird crotch action going on). Ordering a size down would leave me with a potentially better fitting hip and thigh but a too tight waist. Still, I loved the feel of the material.

Details:  These High Rise Mid Length Shorts  in the size 18W were a liiiitle too snug in the waist. I’m 5′ 7″ and carry most of my weight in my middle.

button-up |sweatshirt (similar) | shorts (Bonnet Wash) | sneakers


3. Madewell Relaxed Denim Shorts

Once again, the default option in the relaxed denim shorts is the shorter length.

My Thoughts on Madewell’s Relaxed Denim Shorts

My thoughts: For me, Madewell’s Relaxed Denim Shorts in Rosemount Wash (destroyed) were just OK. They run really big (which isn’t a deal-breaker) but they were just…fine. They’re fine. They were soft enough, I suppose, but the general shape of them wasn’t as comfortable as I’d like…and they run really big.

My details: I’m 5’3″, and hovering in between a size 26 and 27, depending on the brand. I’m 45, which only seems important because I carry my weight in my middle, and it’s getting really soft in there.

shorts (26) | tee (s) | Birks – I’ve been disappointed with this style…stick to these instead.


Madewell Relaxed Denim Shorts On Em

Em Says: OK, this is kind of a big deal for me. I typically wear shorts maybe…3 days a year? I love the *look* of cutoffs, in theory, but I just don’t prefer actually wearing them. Until these Madewell Relaxed Denim Shorts. Super comfortable, authentic cut-off vibe, they don’t ride up, they don’t dig into my thighs (even sitting down), there’s room in the waist and the leg, the distressing is substantial without being over the top. Never thought I’d love something with “Relaxed” in the name so much, but they’re easily the best denim shorts I’ve ever owned.

Details: I’m 5’5″ with a straight middle (where I carry my extra weight), strong legs and a definite booty. (Ha, ample.) I’m wearing my usual 25 here, and I will say the Relaxed Denim Shorts do fit larger than a typical 25, but I LOVE it. Yes, there’s room around the waist, but they still don’t ride up or down as a result, and that extra room makes them SO comfy (not to mention I can easily tuck in thicker fabrics, like the sweater in these pics). Plus, it’s just so refreshing not having a waistband that sits right against me. Glorious.

sweater (S) | shorts (25) | vans (size down half)


Madewell Relaxed Denim Shorts On Laura

Laura Says: So, you know I have a love/hate relationship with Madewell. LOVE their jeans and dresses but have trouble with quite a few other pieces of theirs. Overall, I found the shorts to be comfy but wasn’t blown away by the washes. The Madewell Relaxed Denim Shorts were super soft and I like the width at the leg openings for my stronger thighs, but the wash just isn’t as great as my beloved Levi’s. These ARE good if you’re not a fan of breaking in denim. 

Details: I’m 5’4″, athletic build with a booty, strong thighs and carry weight in my middle. Wearing a 28. I’m between a 27/28 in jeans but typically always size up for shorts. These run a little big in the waist for me, so I think I could have gone with a 27. 

tee (s) | sneakers | shorts


Madewell Relaxed Denim Shorts On Scotti

Scotti Says: The Madewell Relaxed Denim Shorts actually reminded me a lot of the Levi’s 501 shorts we all tried as far as the fit goes. Love the wash, love the look on other people, but the fit is just off for me.

Details: I’m 5’4″, 136 pounds with curves…somewhat pear-shaped with a booty! I’m wearing Madewell Relaxed Denim Shorts in 28 (my usual size). 

shorts | Birks | top

Like the Levi’s, these shorts fit around my hips and booty, but leave a bunch of fabric around the waistline…so they’d either ride up and you could just look down and see my butt, or I’d pull them lower and they’d look weird. I think they’d be perfect on someone with a little less curve!


Madewell Relaxed Denim Shorts On Linzi

Linzi Says: I’m not a shorts person. I LOVE the idea of denim shorts on other people, but I never like the way they look on me.  The Madewell Relaxed Fit Shorts are no exception. I tried them in my regular denim size 28 in the store and they were ridiculous. They hung in a bizarre triangle shape on my legs (I looked like a clown), and I was so appalled by the look that I forgot to even get a photo of the 28s. I ended up trying Shana’s size 26 (in photo) and they were better, but still not for me. Not comfortable when I sat down or bent over.

Details: 5’2, Size 28 in denim usually (but wearing 26 here), pear-shaped with short legs.

Shorts | Top


Madewell Relaxed Denim Shorts On Meredith

Meredith Says: After arguing with the sales person that I was not fitting into a 27-28, even in the Relaxed Denim Shorts, I sheepishly peeked my head out to ask for — yup — that same size 28. When they say relaxed, they mean it — these could double as a baby sling. I could just stick my kid in all that extra room (hmmm, not a bad idea actually). Before trying on the 28 the sales person reminded me that these sit lower on the hips, at which point I short-circuited and just kept repeating “did not compute.” They aren’t bad, I’m just not used to anything that isn’t high-rise. If you do buy them, order 2-3 sizes down. I’m wearing a 28 and I’m typically a 30.

Details: I am 33 and 5’7, with long legs and a short torso. I carry my weight on my stomach. I am a slightly inverted triangle/straight body type.

shorts | tee | sandals (similar)


Madewell Relaxed Denim Shorts On Julieta

Julieta Says: Well, the photo says it all. These Relaxed Denim Shorts run big. I don’t know why I ordered a size up. But well, this is not the style for my body type, however I have a friend who swears by these. She is thick in the upper body so they’re perfect for her. 

Details: I’m 5’2″ with some curves. Size 26 in most denim, 27 in shorts. Here I’m wearing a size 27.

Of the Madewell denim shorts, we wanted to focus on the basic, wear-everyday styles. So we narrowed it to 2: relaxed jean shorts + high-rise denim cutoffs.

tank (s) l shorts (27)


That’s it! Anyone else have thoughts on Madewell’s denim shorts?

xo,

S

Previous articleWeekly Sales Report 7.2
Next article5 Black-Owned Makeup Brands We’re Loving
Shana founded The Mom Edit in 2008. She lives with the love of her life (his name's Mike) and their two crazy boys in downtown Philadelphia. She loves a good styling challenge (her engineering side shows eventually), appreciates kindness, and usually picks scotch over wine, sneakers over stilettos, and shorts known as denim-underwear, always.

FAQ
Shop Shana's Closet

4 COMMENTS

  1. I LOVE these type of posts from the Mom Edit. Si helpful to see how these different products TW work across body types. Again you guys are killing it and I so appreciate it!!

  2. I love Syd’s sneakers and red shirt. Since they are new to me brands, could she do a review of them? I love her style.

  3. I was in the athleta (which I just love lately – the salespeople are so nice, with all different body types, and their inclusive sizing nails it) dressing room lately and overheard a woman say “no one even likes denim shorts, why do we all wear them?!” And I wondered – is it true?? Have we all been duped?? I’ve spent *years* looking for the Perfect Pair of Denim Shorts, that will help me nail that California Cool Girl Look (my search has well outlasted my status as a Girl), and they always end up being uncomfortable and not quite right. Too short after one wash, weird waistline, do they make my butt look too wide? Don’t get me wrong – I’m keeping up the search – I’m stalking a pair of Moussys lately, because why give up before tying truly the most overpriced option available and I’m no quitter!! But I do sort of wonder if I’m just a victim of Fashion, and if I should just throw in the towel and kick it in dresses and athletic shorts (athleta makes the best there – beat Nike and lulu by a mile). Anyhow. Thank you for this excellent round up, and for running one of three blogs I check every day.

Leave a Reply