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How to Shop for Jeans + How Madewell Jeans Fit

How to Shop for Jeans + How Madewell Jeans Fit

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You know how people are like โ€œmost women wear the wrong bra sizeโ€? Well think most women wear the wrong jean size!

Sizing for women is SO WEIRD. I know not all sizing for men is the same, buuut for the most part it is. Know your waist size and length, and youโ€™ve got a pair of pants that actually fits! Women have to deal with vanity sizing, which is when companies make their numerical sizes lower than โ€œstandardโ€ so women will โ€œfeel better about their bodiesโ€. I remember I ordered from J. Crew Factory a couple of years ago, only to find the size 4 way too big. I went in store for an exchange, to find that I needed a size 0. Iโ€™ve literally never been a size 0 in my life, J. Crew or not, but there I was.

LEFT: Carly Jean Los Angeles Pullover | Madewell Danny Jeans | Emu Australia Slippers | Hip Optical Glasses (c/o - get $10 off with discount code ELLE10)

RIGHT: Madewell Central Shirt | Madewell Cardigan | Madewell Jeans | Veja Sneakers

Recently, I started to notice my Madewell jeans were fitting a little loose and no, it wasnโ€™t because I lost weight. I realized that they had actually stretched out! SHOOT. Madewell jeans are some of my favorites and what the bulk of my denim collection consist of. Now before we going blaming Madewell for this, letโ€™s just note that denim, true denim is only 100% cotton. In the recent decades, JEANS have begun to include STRETCH like spandex, elastane, and so on. Most of Madewellโ€™s jeans have a lot of stretch in them, so it only makes sense that they would eventually stretch out. Comparatively speaking, the Agolde Jeans that I recently reviewed do stretch out, but because they are 100% cotton, they shrink bag down with each wash. Capeesh?This is also why it is not recommended to dry jeans in a dryer, because if your 100% cotton jeans arenโ€™t pre-shrunk, you could shrink them. On the flip side, man-made fibers like spandex and elastane are damaged with heat, reducing their elasticity. I know, I know. Itโ€™s a lot to think about, so here are some tips, next time you are in the market for jeans.


These are tips that will help you shop for any jeans, not just Madewell jeans!

  • Know your measurements. Do you have a tape measure and a friend? A local tailor can help too. Take all your measurements, but specifically your waist and hips. If you know these, you can read the โ€œhow is this supposed to fitโ€ chart a lot better.

  • Look for fiber contents. If it is 100% cotton, you know there will be less โ€œgiveโ€ and if it has things like spandex, lycra, tencel or spandex, you know it will stretch. Also be sure to read the description of the product, so you know how they will fit. This information is required by law (along with country of origin (COO)and laundering instructions), so it is on the garment tags, as well as on any website. Though the COO isnโ€™t always online. If you canโ€™t find the info online, you should be able to request it by asking the company!

  • Order 2 sizes. When ordering online, I recommend ordering 2 sizes, to see which fit best. Most stores have really easy return policies, be it in person or via easy returns, which lets you return via other storefronts. They especially have them right now, thanks to COVID-19 / Coronavirus. Just be sure to read the fine print / know the requirements for a return. Obviously if you are in store, try on more than one size!

  • Ask a sales associate. They are literally there to help! When I worked retail, I loved it when people would ask for opinions. If you are shopping online, you can always try an online chat or email for advice, be it sizing or style questions!

Madewell Danny Jeans | Madewell Loafers | Everlane Cotton Crew (c/o) | American Eagle Braided Belt | Aerie Sunglasses | Senreve Coda Belt Bag with Chain (cheaper chain here, use code ELLEMULENOS for $50 off your Senreve purchase of $300 or more.)

To answer the question of do Madewell jeans fit true to size directly, the answer is I DONโ€™T KNOW. What is true to size anyway?! Things actually fit so differently, that Iโ€™m not even sure what is normal. I wear a 28 currently in Agolde 100% cotton jeans, but I actually think I could wear a 27. I have some J. Brand jeans that I love and have a 29 in those. I donโ€™t think they follow the โ€œrule of thumbโ€, but they donโ€™t get saggy in areas where my Madewell jeans have. I also have some non-stretch J. Crew Jeans in a 29 and they fit well. I do have a pair of Frame jeans in a size 26 that I purchased at last yearโ€™s Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, but that was an accident. They were just in my fitting room and I decided to try them on and ended up buying them. They fit really well, but I do think I could have sized up to a 27. See what I mean about sizing?! Also, anyone want to buy any gently used size 28 Madewell jeans?! LOL All in all, I think it depends on the fabric if they fit true to size. My Madewell jeans seem to fit true to size in comparison to others in the same price point and fiber content.


When I spoke to a Madewell associate in store, they said that people purchasing their wrong size of jeans is very common. Part of me thinks that it is because people donโ€™t actually know their jean size / different stores size differently, but I do think that the other part of the equation is that people donโ€™t realize that Madewell jeans will stretch, and donโ€™t size accordingly. When I first tried Madewell jeans a couple years ago (2017! I know I was late to love their jeans), I ordered a 29, because thatโ€™s what size I thought I was! I quickly returned to get a 28 and thought that was that. When I went in to try on different sizes recently, the associate had me try on a 26. My mind was blown. A 26?! Me? So yeah, I guess thatโ€™s my size there now. Apparently I could go down more, the more high waisted they are; however, Iโ€™m not really into really tight clothing. Anymore at least. Hah! Middle school and high school were a different story. Hereโ€™s some advice for Madewell jeans specifically.

  • Rule of thumb. This is the number 1 piece of advice when buying Madewell jeans. The associate told me that you should be able to fit one thumb inside the waistband, otherwise they are too big and will stretch even more. You can see how big my old ones fit per the mirror selfie in this post. I could probably fit around 6 or 7 thumbs. Hah! They didnโ€™t start out that big, but have stretched out over time.

  • Go in store if you can. Not only can you get the helpful opinion of people who work there, but if you shop in stores and bring a pair of jeans you donโ€™t want anymore, you can get $20 off your new pair! Madewell recycles denim and turns them into housing insulation, Learn more about their Blue Jeans Go Green mission here. Right now, you obviously canโ€™t go in store due to COVID-19 / Coronavirus, so shopping online is the only option. Madewell has free and easy returns, plus you can pick if youโ€™d rather ship via USPS, UPS, etc.

  • Pay attention to jean types. Madewell offers a lot of different pairs and styles. They also share them on different sized people, which I love! Different cuts / fabrics fit differently, so just keep that in mind. As listed above, read descriptions, fiber contents and more. If you are shopping Madewell styles listed as CURVY, you can usually size down 1 size, as there is more stretch. See all of Madewellโ€™s jean types here.

When I went for size 26 at Madewell, honestly my mind was blown and still is. I couldnโ€™t wrap my head around the fact that I wear wearing a size that low. Iโ€™ve typically been around size 6, higher 20โ€™s in pants all my life. Iโ€™ve never had a bad relationship with my body, or at least not as bad as I have had friends experience, so why was it so crazy to me? I think I have an issue with thinking that Iโ€™m bigger than I actually am. I mentioned this to my friend Kami who is a body image / self-love coach and personal trainer and she recognized it as a subset of body dysmorphia disorder (BDD). I know people with extreme cases of BDD and while that is not me, I feel like in the past 10 years, I have tried to wear bigger clothes and hide my body. I donโ€™t think I was purposefully doing it - it has been more of a subconscious thing, but I for sure was doing it. I remember having conversations about sizes with friends and they told me that they were the same size as me and I argued with them about it. Not a real fight (lol), but yeah. Itโ€™s kind of crazy looking back and realizing the issue. Iโ€™m going to ask it againโ€ฆ why is sizing for women so weird?! With so many issues like this (and worse) going around, youโ€™d think we could figure out a solution that works.

To close, I love Madewell jeans and am looking forward to re-stocking my drawers with denim of the right size! Any thoughts or tips on these topics? Feel free to comment or shoot me an email at [email protected]. Have a great day! Oh and Madewell does have some jeans on their sale page too!

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, youโ€™ll probably enjoy these:

Eco-Friendly Denim

Mom Jeans: Agolde Denim

Style for Every Body: Jeans Edition

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