Can I still shop at Madewell?

Madewell launched in 2006 (or 1937, as they'd like you to believe) and though it's still smaller than their sister brand, J.Crew, to me, it's the far superior place to shop. (And I'm not alone.) I haven't felt compelled to shop at J.Crew for several years, but Madewell just keeps getting it right: collaborations with cool brands like Daryl K and S├ęzane, on-trend but not fashion-victim pieces, and generally good quality at the right price. That said, the vibe is more casual and definitely more millennial, and sometimes Madewell can veer into twee territory—ruffles, flounces, pithy statements—which, at my age, I'm actively trying to avoid. So the question is, can I still shop at Madewell?

This is the embroidered dress that drew me into the store; I saw it in an email Madewell last weekend. Apparently so did a lot of other people, because I'm wearing a small, which was the largest size they had in stock. The body was perfect but the arms were a bit snug; this is a frequent problem for me at this store.

I own several dresses from Madewell and they all kind of look like this. They're great for summer...which in San Francisco lasts about two months and happens in fall (go figure). This eyelet dress was on sale for $99.99. which seemed a bit much, but now it's down to $69.99, which is darn tempting. I'm wearing a medium in the above photo and think I need to size down to a small.

I also own a few tops like this embroidered peasant top. I loved the fit (I'm in a medium again) and the cotton was nice, but it was a bit sheer and, at $98, a bit pricey.

I saw this loop-edge pullover when I first walked in and decided to try it on, immediately breaking the busty girl's first commandment: thou shalt not wear fringe on top. This was not flattering on me, and the yarn was kind of weirdly textured. I'm wearing a small, which was boxy in the body but too small in the arms (see?).

I feel like wide-leg cropped pants have been happening for awhile, and I've been wanting to try a pair, even though I'm kind of afraid of them. As you might have guessed by the model's odd stance, they're hard to photograph well, but they're not unflattering. I'm not yet convinced that I need a pair, but at $68, I thought these were pretty reasonable. Unlike Madewell's excellent jeans*, these appear to run true to size—I'm in a size too small in the photo, so please excuse my FUPA.

I had a Madewell chambray shirt several years ago and I wore it so much, it became threadbare in several places. This chambray ex-boyfriend shirt seemed like a good replacement until I tried it on in two sizes and both gave me the dreaded boob-gape. I'm in a medium, the larger of the two, and it's hard to tell from the photo, but I'm swimming in it.

I liked the cleaner look of the previous style but this chambray oversized ex-boyfriend shirt fit much better (maybe it's the key "oversized" part) and in a size small, at that. Sold! But that does bring me to my biggest pet peeve about Madewell, which is that most of their clothes are small-medium-large sizing and as someone who falls between two sizes, I'm constantly trying to guess which one I am (and it changes style by style). Of course, the reason retailers does this is because it saves a lot of money—fewer sizes mean they can produce more of each and hopefully pass on the cost savings to the customer. But because of this sizing uncertainty, it makes Madewell one of the rare stores that I prefer to shop in-person rather than online.

But the question is, can I still shop at Madewell? 

With 6/8 items I tried on ranging from not bad to pretty cute—and I bought the ex-boyfriend shirt—my conclusion is yes, as long as you avoid fringe and frills.

*Madwell's jeans are incredibly flattering, really comfy, and a great deal. I own several pairs, so keep your eyes peeled for them in upcoming posts.

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