Of all the categories of shopping, searching for the perfect pair of jeans is seldom considered retail therapy. As you’re hopping around in the dressing room, dripping in sweat, attempting to shimmy into a pair of skinny jeans and trying on dozens to no avail, the search for jeans you’ll want to put on can feel like finding a needle in an extra-large haystack. This is why we sometimes rely on the opinions of the masses, and in this case, they’ve led us straight to Madewell jeans. Sometimes, cult-favorite pieces have the hype because they really are that good.
Our team had finally heard enough about the life-changing wonders of Madewell denim jeans, so we went and put them to the test ourselves, once and for all. To investigate the size and fit and find the best styles they have to offer, three of our editors took a trip to the Madewell Denim Bar to test out their most popular styles. Are they as good as everyone claims? Read on to find out.
Take $25 off your Madewell order of $125 with the code TheEverygirl, now through July 14.
1. The Perfect Vintage
The words “perfect vintage” sang my name through the store and persuaded me to put them on for my very first try-on. When I’m searching for denim, I basically always want them to look perfect and vintage.
First and foremost, I sized down in these. I’m generally between a 26 and 27 (more often a 27), and for these, a 26 fit perfectly. Right off the bat, I liked that these were super unique in their cut and style. The leg is described as slim and tapered, which gives them a skinny effect without being actual skinny jeans. They seemed to be a super flattering, everyday jean, and I think they would be an amazing office jean (if your work permits them). They’re also very comfortable and have a little give without being overly stretchy, which is the sweet spot of denim (at the end of the day, nobody likes a saggy butt).
I’m 5’5, and these were full-length but not too long, which is rare (usually they’re a bit longer than I’d like them to be).
True to size: Run slightly large
Best for: Someone looking to slowly transition out of their skinny jeans
2. The High-Rise Slim Crop Boyjean
When I’m looking for a cropped jean, this is exactly the length I want. I generally expect a shorter length in a pair of denim that’s labeled “cropped,” but these were truly an ideal length for my height.
I tried these in a size 26, which fit like a glove, but I might size up to a 27 for a bit of a looser fit. I couldn’t find anything I didn’t like about these. They have the same comfortable, forgiving fit as The Perfect Vintage jeans, but I prefer these for the length and the laid-back look the torn knees give.
True to size: Run slightly large
Best for: Anyone who wants a casually distressed, classic option
3. The 11″ High Rise Skinny Jeans
We all know that white jeans are the Everest of jeans. There’s so much that can go wrong (like being see-through), but a good white pair of jeans is a warm-weather staple that can’t be duped.
I haven’t shopped for white jeans in a while, and these were some of the best I’ve put on my body. I happened to be wearing a pair of red underwear, which was a great test for their opacity. When I turned around, I couldn’t see through the pants whatsoever, which was saying something considering how bright my underwear was.
I sized up to a 27 in these too, and my only complaint was that they were a bit long on me, which is a problem that’s easily solved by buying a petite pair. If you’re looking for a good pair of white jeans, I definitely recommend these.
True to size: Run small (size up if between sizes)
Best for: Someone looking to add a timeless white jean to their wardrobe
4. The Slim Demi-Boot
First thing’s first: These run small for Madewell. I grabbed a 26 in these and couldn’t get them past my knees. I got the 27 on but might size up to a 28 so they’re a bit looser.
Sizing aside, I expected to not like these at all (I like demi-boot jeans on other people, but since I’m on the shorter side, I always feel like they make my legs look a little short), but I actually really enjoyed them. The “boot” part is very subtle and gives a slim, straight effect that’s super flattering. I’m a sucker for a raw hem, and out of the three similar styles I tried (perfect vintage, slim crop boyjean, and these), this is the one I would buy if I was looking for an everyday pair of jeans.
True to size: Yes (size up if between sizes)
Best for: Anyone looking for a flattering, straight-leg jean
Winner: The Dadjean
I was not in the market for a new pair of jeans—not even close. It’s currently the type of clothing that I’m most fully stocked in. I literally said “I wish I needed new jeans” as I entered the store.
Then, I put these on.
When I put them on my body, I yelled, “Oh my god I love the Dadjean!” to Beth and Jess from inside the dressing room. I sent a picture to my boyfriend and said I’ve never liked a pair of jeans so much. I put them on again after I was done trying on the rest of my picks. And then? I bought them.
These are such a unique pair of jeans in a way that I have never, ever found before. Finding a straight-leg jean that’s straight and not wide was pretty much impossible for me, as I’m someone who has some thigh to work with. But these? They’re perfect. They’re full-length but not too long. They’re straight and loose in the ‘90s way that’s all the rage, but they’re not oversized or too wide. They’re comfortable and high-waisted. They are the jeans I’ve been searching for all my life.
These are some of the most flattering relaxed-fit jeans I have ever put on my body. I can tell you already that these will be my most-worn jeans during the chilly months, and the best part is that they came out of left field and stole my heart when I wasn’t even in the market for them—and that’s how you know they’re that good.
1. The Curvy Perfect Vintage Jeans
I’d heard great things about Madewell’s Perfect Vintage jeans but never tried them for myself. I specifically wanted to try the Curvy version because I’ve found that curvy jeans work well for my body type—smaller waist and bigger hips/butt.
I was immediately drawn to this wash because I think it goes with everything and is perfect for summer. I grabbed these in a size 31 (I typically wear either a 30 or a 31 in jeans) because it’s what they had in the store, but Madewell’s Curvy line is known to run big, so I knew that they probably wouldn’t be a great fit. The sales associate even mentioned that she sizes down two sizes, but for me, I think a 30 would’ve fit great.
Overall, these jeans are super comfortable and cute. My only complaint is that I’m pretty short, so I think this rise is almost a bit too high (it’s 11 3/4″). But if you’re looking for a pair of straight-leg jeans in the highest rise you can find, these are for you.
True to size: Runs large
Best for: Someone looking for ultra-high rise jeans for everyday wear
2. The High-Rise Slim Crop Boyjean
I had never heard of this Boyjean style, but I was intrigued, so I picked up a pair to try out—and I was very surprised by how much I liked them. They’re comfortable and super flattering, and I really like the cut of them. They’re described online as a vintage men’s cut made to flatter the body, and they definitely fit the bill.
I tried a size 30 in these, and they fit me really well. They hugged me in all the right places but still had a relaxed fit throughout the leg. I could definitely see myself wearing these dressed up with cute sandals and a top for brunch (or the office) or dressed down with sneakers and a T-shirt for a casual weekend look.
True to size: Yes (size down if between sizes)
Best for: Anyone in search of a flattering straight-leg fit
3. 11″ High-Rise Skinny
OK, I made myself try these on just to see how I liked a pair of Madewell skinny jeans, and I thought a white pair might be fun for summer. The second I tried to get them past my ankles, I started to regret my decision. Like Maddie mentioned, these definitely run the smallest of all the jeans we tried.
I tried a 30, and I definitely could’ve sized up one if not two sizes for extra comfort. I squeezed myself into the 30 simply because I didn’t want to ask for the next size, and honestly, they don’t look too bad (I just couldn’t breathe, LOL). I definitely think that if you’re looking for a good pair of white skinny jeans, these could be for you.
However, I will say that these jeans planted me firmly on the side of never wanting to wear skinny jeans again. I just don’t think they’re very comfortable, and they don’t look great on my body type. But I give it some points for not being see-through.
True to size: Run small
Best for: Someone in need of a classic pair of white jeans
Winner: Cali Demi-Boot
A friend of mine recently told me that the Cali Demi-Boot had become the only pair of jeans she ever wore, so I knew I needed to try them out. I was also excited to try a dark wash because a huge majority of my denim collection is light wash.
The second I put these on, I fell in love. They’re so insanely comfortable that I know I could wear them all day long without ever getting that “I need to get out of these jeans right this second” feeling (and that’s really saying something). They’re Madewell’s stretchiest denim, but they’re not too stretchy to the point where they’d become unflattering the more you wear them. They also have “Magic Pockets,” which are made to hold everything in for a super flattering look.
I’d never tried a cut of jeans like this, so I was surprised by how cute they looked on me. The cropped length and kick-flare really adds a special something that makes it different from your typical pair of jeans. These look cute paired with sandals for summer, but I also think they would be perfect to pair with booties in the fall and winter.
I will definitely be adding this style (maybe in a few different washes) to my denim collection.
1. The Perfect Vintage
A few years ago when I first tried Madewell’s denim with Maddie, these were my #1 favorite style. I remember ordering a pair on my next paycheck when they went on sale, and I wore them to death for a year before they didn’t fit me anymore. As it goes, my body and sizing have changed a bit in the last year, so I was excited to try these again and see if they still fit me well. In 2021, I still love these, but they’re not my favorite anymore. I love the straight-leg style so much, and I especially loved how long they were. They were the perfect length to be a full-length pant that doesn’t flow to the ground, and the fit was phenomenal. I got my typical size, and they had a nice stretch to them that wasn’t too much. But they weren’t as special as the other pair I tried. 🙂
True to size: Yes
Best for: Someone who likes a vintage style without uncomfortably rigid denim
2. The Perfect Vintage Curvy
I don’t typically opt for curvy denim because while I would describe myself as a curvy gal, I have an hourglass body type that doesn’t usually need a lot more space in the hips and thigh the way curvy denim is created. But I wanted to try these on just to see if they’d maybe become my new fave. First of all, these run a full size too big—maybe even more. I found they were still kind of big on me even after sizing down. Because of this, I felt like they didn’t fit me well and would be a little uncomfortable, especially after wearing them for a few hours when they would start to stretch out.
Through trying these on, I realized that I don’t really love stretchy denim on my body type. I like a vintage, rigid, thick denim that keeps its shape and stays snug on my body where I want it snug and wide where I want it wide, which is exactly what I got with my favorite pair I tried on.
True to size: Runs a full size big
Best for: Someone who needs extra room in the hips and thigh and loves a stretchy jean
3. Curvy Skinny Jean
I’m glad I tried these on in the curvy—contrary to my previous statement—because they were a lot tighter fit, and I did need the little extra room in this straight cut. I got my true size in these, and if I had sized down, they would’ve been a little too tight for comfort, so I’d suggest ordering your regular size in the curvy skinny.
What’s probably most important about this try-on experience is that it made me realize skinny jeans aren’t my favorite cut anymore. I didn’t feel like my best self in these jeans, even though a few years ago, I probably would’ve loved them. I think there’s a time and place for a skinny jean (especially in the fall and winter, paired with boots), but I think when it comes time to find my best pair, I might struggle. There was nothing actually wrong about these; they just weren’t my vibe.
True to size: Yes
Best for: Someone who wants a classic, comfortable skinny jean that comes in a variety of washes
The Winner: Slim Demi-Boot
I didn’t expect to like these when I picked them up. I thought they would be a slightly tapered, skinny jean that would look blah, but alas, they were my favorite, and I’m considering ordering them with our sale code (TheEverygirl) ASAP. I love a jean that fits tight in the hips and butt because they won’t get baggy and uncomfortable throughout the day. These fit well through my entire leg, and I love that the bottom is like the perfect ‘90s straight-leg on me. These are definitely more rigid, so if you want a denim that’s super stretchy, this probably won’t be for you. But for that vintage, from-the-thrift vibe, they’re absolutely perfect.
On me, I found these true to size, but as I said, I have an hourglass figure, and I’d say these jeans are probably made for that body type because there really isn’t much stretch. If you need a stretchier fit to accommodate a larger ratio between your hips/thighs and waist, then you would maybe need to go up a size.