In search of denim.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetDisclaimer: This is a serious first-world problem post. I am fully aware that I am ranting about a luxury problem. I realize the utter ridiculousness of all of this. But still. My blog, my rant, my rules.

Let’s talk about jeans.

More specifically, let’s talk about Madewell jeans, the jeans that, according to everyone on the internet, are magical. The jeans that will be the perfect jean, the only jean you ever want to wear, the jean that makes you feel slimmer, happier, kinder, etc. The jeans that never stretch out, never give out, never give you muffin-top, never let you down. The jeans that somehow, solve every problem you could face. Or so the collective opinion of the internet seems to be.

Thus, after years of lacking a good basic jean, and a long budget analysis ( say what you will about “simple, quality pieces” they are pricey) I traipsed out to the Madewell in Georgetown in mid February and bought a pair. Actually, I ordered a pair. They are only carrying a cropped inseam in store this season (“our designer is really pushing the beauty of the ankle right now”) and for my almost 6 foot figure, that is a disaster. I was assured this was not a problem, and on a denim high I excitedly placed my order for my longer jeans, to the applause and encouragement of the perky “denim bar” consultants. Yes, they were back-ordered till April 15th, but I was willing to wait.

And wait I did. Excitedly. Eagerly. Happily. Almost.

And then on Sunday I got an email saying my order was delayed but “we promise it will get there soon!” Yes, I felt a little like Jacob being told he had to work 7 more years for Rachel, but whatever. I called Sunday afternoon to confirm and all was good. Until Monday, when they asked me to call them for a question about my credit card. I called, we fixed the problem, and right as I was about to hang up, the employee paused and asked me to wait. Long wait, perky music. Then he came back and informed me that my jeans would actually never be coming, that the shipment had been cancelled. No explanation, just cancelled. I asked about the email, the one promising an April 30th shipping, the one I had just called about yesterday. He sheepishly admitted that I would have found out about the cancellation in May. Wait, I sputtered, you would have let me just continue waiting for jeans that you knew were never coming????  Yes, yes in fact, they would have.

Needless to say there was anger, and — bless his soul — the poor customer service really did try to help. But the best that this supposedly amazing company could do was put me on a “wish list” online (um duh, I can do that myself) and give me a 40$ gift card. However, as I already spent a 25$ gift card on the pants that they did not refund, that really means a 15$ gift card, little recompense for indefinite waiting for ordered pants that would never come.

Oh, and to add insult to injury, it was implied at some point that the problem was not their pants, but my size. Why yes, I did cry in the parking lot at work for awhile. I was crying about waiting fruitlessly, I was crying because my body had been made to feel like an insurmountable problem for this company, I was crying because I was frustrated, but mostly I was crying because I really, really, wanted those jeans.

But alas, not to be. A hefty percentage of their jeans  are backordered, and though they promise ship dates, I will not be trusting that again. Thus, the jean search continues. Continues FAR away from Madewell, that is.

So what are your denim recommendations? What are the jeans that you just love, the ones that you go to every time you turn to your closet? Give me names people! The goal is to maybe find a good pair of jeans before it gets too hot to wear them.

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48 Responses to In search of denim.

  1. mservold says:

    I always but jeans from Gap. I generally have to buy “long” jeans (I bet you do, too!) and sometimes their regular length ones are long enough. Their long ones definitely are. My favorite pair is from there, though I don’t remember the exact style. But, I’ve never been let down by Gap jeans. I’ve been buying them there since my early college years and have always been satisfied. They cost a bit more than American Eagle or something like that, but I’ve found that they fit better than cheaper ones.

  2. alockard says:

    I suggest Mossemo by Target or a brand I only ever find at thrift stores called London. I’m small (5’2) and curvy. Muffin top is always a problem. But these two brands are ALWAYS the most comfortable long lasting that I have found. Also, I buy Gap jeans from Goodwills. They are made well and always last year’s.

  3. Melinda says:

    Buckle. It’s been over 2 years, and I still love them.

  4. Abigail says:

    I have Lucky brand jeans (that I got an an outlet) and they are amazing! I have a really weird shape (small waist, larger derriere, taller than most, but not enough for “long” jeans), and they don’t gap out in the back at all and go right to my ankles. I love them. I’m so sorry to hear about your experience with Madewell… I’ve never shopped there, as they seem a bit pricey for what seem like very twee clothes. Your story has ensured that I will not be shopping there in the future, either. I can’t believe they cancelled your order without telling you!!! And implied it was your body’s fault! I call BS.

  5. Alison says:

    I usually wear Gap or Express jeans. Do you follow Capital Hill Style? She usually has very good jean recommendations as well in all sorts of budget ranges.

  6. Mary Ann says:

    New York & Company longs work for my tall figure! Definitely my favorite jeans ever.

  7. Nancy says:

    1) That entire scenario with Madewell is completely asinine. It literally does not compute. They suck.

    2) My current favorite jeans are from NY&Co. They have a bunch of styles that come in tall, which I believe translates to a 35″ inseam with them. I am also a fan of Massimo from Target, but buy small because they always stretch a lot. My roommate (6’1″) loves Gap, too. Good luck. I know how much of a struggle it can be to find decent jeans!

  8. Sarah Shoemaker says:

    Lucky Brand has always been my go-to. They come in tall sizes, and have different fits fort different body types. I love their “sofia” jeans, since they are built for a lady with thighs! And, I am usually able to try them on in the store and then hunt them down on Ebay or for a good price. I am also pretty sure that they are domestically produced.

  9. Amanda says:

    I got a great pair at dress barn once. Try there!!

  10. danielle says:

    Gap 1969 always straight. I’m 5’9/10 ish and the length is great. Kind of a skinny jean and kind of not. My first pair lasted me about 2 years (looking really great too) until that dreaded rip on the inner thigh. These jeans are sooo comfortable and are the only jeans that have truly fit–oh, I should mention I have no hips and a small butt…so most jeans look super weird and baggy in those areas.

    • Anna-bird says:

      Holy cow we’re the same person. Same height, same lack of hips/butt, same baggy look, and same solution jeans! Awesome 🙂

      • danielle says:

        They really are the best jeans ever. I remember the first time I tried them on and saw that I could actually have jeans that looked good on me and “Whoa! I have a butt!”.

  11. giulia says:

    I always get them at Levi’s, they are so good at finding the perfect fit for you and they never get annoyed when you try on a thousand and keep asking for more options. The one in Georgetown is the one I always go to. They are way cheaper than the madewell ones and they always have good sales going on.
    I get one pair each year and then wear it e v e r y s i n g l e d a y !

  12. Ashley Beitz says:

    I’m furious. I’ve heard great things about Joe’s Jeans and have a few pair of Paper Denim that I really love! Happy hunting!!

  13. Coming from a fellow tall girl: Loft. They always have sales, and their pants fit so well I can’t even put it into words. I am the same size there even when I fluctuate a few pounds, which is reassuring and oddly comforting (whereas at Gap, their pant sizes are not the same across the board, which makes for a lot of frustration–I found an awesome pair of jeans there once and since then, never again).

    I will say that the regular length fit me just well enough that I don’t go for the tall, since I like to take advantage of buying in-store and I don’t mind skinny jeans being a teeny bit short. So depending on style, you might want the tall length. But seriously, Loft is worth checking out.

  14. marysdberry says:

    For whatever reason, the cut of affordable jeans (e.g., Gap) has never worked for me. They always manage to be too small in some places and huge in others. I (begrudgingly…or at least my husband and wallet are begrudging) stick with AG, Paige, Joe’s Jeans, Citizens of Humanity, or 7. They’re all available at Nordstrom or Saks, and while, yes, they kind of cost a fortune, I’d rather have one or two or three pairs of jeans that fit really well vs. lots that don’t fit/look good. (That’s my justification and I’m sticking to it! :))

    Oh, and I hear they’re cut for tall people; I have to get them altered because I’m 5’0″ on a good day, so they’re definitely cut for someone taller than I am!

    PS Boo to Madewell! Who does that?!

  15. I’m all about the Lucky, and have had some surprising success with Levi’s, actually. (I know.)

    That being said, BOO! on Madewell! BOO! on their customer service. BOO! on their suggesting that this had ANYTHING to do with you. My little younger and taller sister has an impossible time finding jeans. She has a 36 or 37 inseam, and has really only had consistent success with Lucky or Silver.


  16. Amanda B. says:

    I got hips guuurl. I buy American Eagle, long, stretch, skinny. They fit perfectly with flats, boots (for winter) and fit the booty perfectly. I love me some American Eagle, light/dark/medium wash WHATEVS! They’re awesome. Me loves. And they’re affordable and last a couple years. Can’t beat that with a stick.

  17. Gwen says:

    I am a big fan of basic Levi’s. Straight leg, midrise. They are the perfect length, just the right amount of stretch, and nothing around my hips overflows. Kohl’s has a great selection. In fact, I stocked up on 3 pairs last time, lest they run out of the style I love.

  18. UGH. That is so frustrating. Not cool, Madewell, not cool.

    I like American Eagle jeans, but lately they haven’t fit the way they used to. I also really like Vigoss. They made my current favorite pair of jeans. I recently discovered ThredUp, which is used clothes online. I ordered two pair of True Religion jeans, and I really like them. I don’t know that I like them well enough to pay the full retail price in the store, but like 75% off on ThredUp? I’ll take it. That website could be a good way to try out some different brands without shelling out a ton of money.

  19. nychio says:

    I’d been on the perfect jean search forever … or at least for years, literally! And, this winter I finally found THE PERFECT brand, Levis! And guess, what … they don’t cost an arm and a leg either. I got my last pair at a Levi’s Outlet for $19.99. They fit like a glove and the only downside is I now wish I’d bought multiple pairs. Good luck in your jean search Hannah!

  20. Erin says:

    James Jeans are my current favorite – just enough stretch, I feel like I can live in them forever. I also love Joe’s Jeans and Seven for all Mankind. Yes, they’re all expensive but I’ve found over the years I’d rather have a couple of really nice, high-quality jeans that fit really well, make me look good, and that I want to wear all the time over a bunch of pairs that stretch out badly and I’m just ok with and so don’t want to wear as much. Cost-per-wear is part of decision-making when it comes to clothes.
    Also, I’ve gotten all three brands off Haute Look for 50-60% off and Nordstrom Rack has Joes and Sevens (other brands too). James Jeans you can sometimes get on sale on their web site or off Bluefly too. Well worth the time to hunt them down and money for jeans I absolutely love.

  21. Jessica Johnson says:

    As a tall girl with proportions that make pants shopping very frustrating (my ankle pants are more like crop pants), I have found success without fail at American Eagle. I have bought long sizes in two different types of their jeans and they are a total dream. None of the awkward too-big-here-too-small-here business that most other jeans give me. They fit like a dream and have lasted over two years!

  22. Nicki says:

    I’m not tall (I’m only 5’4″, in fact), but I’m a curvy girl with large hips so I can understand the frustration with finding pants that work. I LOVE Loft jeans and I know they come in tall. The other good news about them is they have curvy and straight fit, so there’s a good chance that something there will work for you (they also have various fits in business casual clothes if you ever need them for teaching or interviewing). I’ve found that Banana Republic jeans are always ridiculously long on me, so that might be an option too (I don’t own any because they’re all too straight for my figure).

  23. Kate says:

    I think my search for the perfect jeans will go on forever, so I can’t claim to have found them, but I will second everyone who mentioned GAP, Lucky Brand and Levi’s. I have worn GAP for a long time, though lately they haven’t fit as well–they are always tweaking the styles. I used to work at Lucky and they do have really good quality jeans–they will last a long, long time and wear really well. I still wear a pair from years ago and I love the way they fit. Though, if you are going to buy them, buy the smallest ones you can squeeze into because they will stretch a little. I recently bought my first pair of Levi’s at the outlet because they were only $19.99 and I thought they would be worth a try and I’ve worn them pretty much every day since! Comfortable, good quality, don’t stretch out and they are cuter than I thought they would be. When I was in high school I wore designer jeans (7 and Joe’s, etc.) but I ALWAYS found that they ripped very quickly. Yes, they are very, very cute and fit well for the most part. But it was never worth the money because they just absolutely didn’t last. That’s my two cents (a long two cents…).

  24. sharon says:

    It’s not fancy or cool but I SWEAR by Old Navy jeans. You can order Talls on their website, and they’re actually so long that they’re almost TOO long – which is a first-in-a-lifetime experience for this tall girl. They have so many cuts (I like Sweetheart since I am, ahem, curvy. Rockstar is good if you like skinnys but they run small) and are cheap to start with plus amazing sales all the time. You can only order Talls online, BUT you can return them to the store, so order a range (hit the free shipping minimum) and just keep the good ones.

    (And Hannah they have so many colors including primary colors)

    • Yes, Old Navy Jeans are my go to!

      • mary says:

        Until I switched to my Madewell ones (Sorry! I still LOVE my jeans. Don’t love the crappy service you received…) I wore Old Navy ones. Like from Freshman year of college, and my second pair of jeans right now are still my Divas from Old Navy. My deal with low rise is just that bending down to tie toddler shoes or kiss bumped little heads means that I have seen far to many mom-cracks on the playground. I don’t judge, I just feel bad for these mamas! They don’t even realize! Low rise is in, so everybody does it! Old Navy does have a couple higher waisted options though, so definitely check those out! My biggest problem was the inconsistency from year to year in their sizing.

  25. Yajaira says:

    I love PacSun jeans. They are durable and great quality. They offer short, regular, and long. I usually wait until they are having a buy one get one deal to stock up.

  26. Becky says:

    I’ve had success with Gap, a pair of Lucky’s that I found at a consignment store, and most recently, a pair of Levi’s that Robbie’s mom didn’t want anymore. I also have recently realized that what worked before I had Susie isn’t working as well after, since my body shape has changed a little…and I don’t think it’s going back since it’s been 18 months so far and not gone back. :/ I may have to go figure out something new once we’re not on a grad school budget and make what I have work until then. So…if you think kids might be in the future, I’d advise not spending tons and tons of money on jeans–maybe just get one pair if they’re expensive, instead of 2, or something like that. 🙂 Hope you find something great, and let us know what you find when you do!

  27. DCTdesigns says:

    This one is easy for me. I’m 6’1″ and spent a lifetime wearing men’s jeans just to have a long enough inseam. Lucky Jeans, Baby! All the way. I had been wearing a tall jean from Cold Water creek but they changed the quality of their denim and the design, NOT good.

    So I was in need of a new pair. I like to try on jeans in the store like a normal girl. And they carry talls in house, so bonus points to them. I have to say I splurged for these jeans. They don’t come cheap. But to say I LOVE them is an understatement. I even went back for a second pair.

    Now I’d recommend their Sweet Cut Boot Jean. It has a little more rise in the back which prevents any floss peeking out when you sit (I find this to be a problem with Gap jeans). And if you do want a skinny jean, ankle length look, try the Lolita. Good Luck!

  28. Paige, Gap, Loft, Joe’s, Level 99. As much as I try to wear 7 for all mankind, they’re too low waisted and at 129 pounds I have to go up into a 10-12 to find one that will even remotely button around my waist. lol. Love jeans that make you feel huge, right? One advantage to shopping at a place like Nordstrom is usually the jeans are cut longer so that they can be taken up, you might try there, or at the Rack. Still gonna cost you. Also, try consignment. 🙂

  29. Lauren says:

    AH! I hear you! I have such a big booty and jeans usually too tight in the legs and too loose in the waist. I’ve had good lick with Gap’s legging jean. My all-time favorite jeans came from Uniglo. Such good quality. And I’ve come to peace with the fact that I will just always need a belt. And boo to you Madewell…

    • abby hummel says:

      I am 5’6 with a cheese obsession that results in the need for curvier fits. I buy all my pants second hand so I just try on like 50 pairs at a thrift store and usually have pants I’m happy with bc that $7 price tag is the top of my budget. (I’m not tall like you obviously.)

      But guuuurl…. You need to work what power of action your southern mama gave you and get a cash refund. That gift card crap is not acceptable. You take them on. Tell them you have a famous blog or something, anything.

  30. Amanda says:

    I am so so so angry for you. SO. ANGRY. That is absolutely ridiculous.

    I was always a big fan of Gap’s Long and Lean jeans, but they either quit making them or didn’t have them in stock last time I went (I can’t really remember which). I went to Limited and got some there. They were a little pricey, but I had a coupon and gift card, so that was helpful. I like them very much. The size I bought is a little big so I have to wear a belt, but I did that on purpose because I don’t like really fitted jeans.

  31. wifiemmott says:

    My go to jeans have come from (I don’t know if they have shops in the states), though I usually go in store. They do a great variety of styles, colours and short/reg/long lengths. I like them loads, and have bought my jeans there for the past 7 years or so. They also do good maternity stuff which I’ve needed, and even better are inexpensive. Good luck.

  32. Bekah says:

    Levis have been my go to. I will not spend more than $50 on jeans. I have a problem finding jeans that are short enough for me and their short jeans are the perfect length, so maybe just maybe their tall jeans would be a good length for you? I wear them for a week or two before washing and they fit great the entire time. I have two pairs that I’ve alternated between for two years now, and just a few weeks ago one of them got a hole in the knee. Seeing as how I spend my days nannying and therefore crawling around on the floor, it only makes sense. But it took two years for them to rip, and it was a fixable tear. Good quality, less than $50, easy to find.
    (I will also second the comments about Lucky jeans, not from my experience, but from my Mom’s experience. They are her favorite pair of jeans and she’s had them for 4 years and counting.)

  33. Katherine A says:

    I know I’m shorter than you Hannah, but I just got a pair of Anne Taylor curvy jeans that have the skinny, ankle style, that I love! Most jeans in that style are way too tight on my calves and thighs, but these fit great. They are not cheap full price, but I found them on clearance.

  34. Laura K. says:

    I have no words of jean wisdom, I just want to punch Madewell in the face! How horrible of them!

  35. Mia says:

    How awful is that of Madewell??!! To try and shame your body because they can’t take responsibilty for not having a product they sold you, AND not refunding you the gift card you used to purchase aforementioned item!!!!???!!!! I’ve never shopped there, and, after reading this, I doubt I ever will.

    I am short, like 5’3″ short, so I don’t think my jean wisdom will help all that much, though I can vouch for both American Eagle and Gap jeans. I’ve had jeans from both places and they both lasted forever. Gap jeans have been my everyday favorite for the past two years, and I can say that their customer service is wonderful! Any time I’ve had an issue they have been more than happy to help me fix it!!

    Good luck!!! 🙂

  36. Kate says:

    i second the gap jeans comments, i’m only 5’7″ but i HATE a short jean… like i need it to touch my shoe. i buy the “always skinny” fit….NOT to be confused with the “always skinny high rise” that are 100% mom jeans. also i hope someone from madewell’s PR sees this post and gives you a pair for free!

  37. Laura says:

    Ugh, jeans shopping is the WORST. I seriously hate it. I’m sorry about that terrible situation with Madewell! I have heard such great things about that store but have never shopped there because – expensive. Never loved AE or Gap… However, I do love LoftT jeans. They are so slimming, look really quality, and are tight but comfortable at the same time. They have several different fits so I’d go in and try on several to see which ones work! Good luck!

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