An honest review of Madewell The '90s Straight Jean

Ever since the Gen Z-ers decided that skinny jeans are out and straight-leg jeans are in (kidding! sort of...) I've been on the hunt for the perfect pair of '90s supermodel jeans. (Side note: if you have not yet watched The Supermodels on AppleTV, please do so now. It's well worth the $6.99 you have to pay for your first month.) This is the iconic look I'm going for (thank you, Peter Lindbergh) however it should be noted that my body is nothing close to that of a supermodel. I have tried on so many pairs of straight-leg jeans in the last few years, I can't even begin to tell you, and of those, two have made it to the blog: this Re/Done pair, which I have since sold on Poshmark, and this Agolde pair, which is incredibly comfortable yet does not inspire supermodel feelings. I am not one to give up however, so when I wandered into Madewell recently, I decided to try on all of their straight-leg fits, knowing that their jeans have quite a cult following (I have several pairs myself). One fit emerged triumphant: the '90s Straight Jean. Here's my honest and unfiltered review. 

The try-on

I took five different pairs of jeans into the fitting room at Madewell and was in there for an embarrassingly long time, all in the name of journalism. The Low Slung Straight felt a little too casual, The Perfect Vintage were too skinny, The Perfect Vintage Wide Leg were too fitted through the hips, and while I love The Kick-Out Crop, they weren't exactly what I was looking for. The '90s Straight was the first pair I tried on, and I ended up revisiting them at the end to confirm: yes, this was exactly the high-waisted, fitted-through-the-hip, true straight leg I was looking for. I had grabbed the light Mercer wash, which is a rigid 100% cotton, in my usual size; they were definitely snug, however they made my butt look fantastic. I was willing to bet they'd relax and conform to my shape a little better over time, and I was this close to checking out when I realized they came in several different washes, the rest of which have...wait for it...elsastane. In other words, stretch. So back to the fitting room I went. 

I was ready to get the '90s straight Mercer wash in 100% cotton...

Until I tried on the '90s Straight Enmore wash in cotton/elastane

The fabric

Here's where you have a big choice to make. Do you want the initial discomfort but inevitable perfectly conformed shape and butt lifting powers of 100% cotton? Or are you willing to sacrifice those things for a little guaranteed comfort? Folks, I am in my 40s, my stomach is no longer perfectly flat, and I frequently have to unbutton my pants after dinner. The advent of stretch denim was a gift. Why are we rejecting it? I chose the Enmore wash, which has 1% elastane (there's an even darker Barlow wash, which has an even higher percentage of stretch). I felt like I had a little extra breathing room in the waistband, and that made a world of difference to me. I also liked the medium wash a little better than the Mercer, which has a slight '80s tinge to it. The denim is substantial but obviously not as thick as the 100% cotton; it feels like it's already been broken in, in the best possible way. The denim does have some give to it because of the stretch, but not so much that they feel stretched out after you've worn them a few times in a row. After seeing these photos, however, I'm realizing they relaxed a little bit more than I assumed. Which brings me to my next point. 

The fit

This is exactly what I've been looking for. It's high-waisted and hits exactly at my belly button. The hips are fitted, and the butt is definitely on the cheeky side (YMMV but this was strongest in the Mercer wash). The leg is straight from the knee down, and the hem hits just at the top of my foot, which thankfully means I don't have to wear these with a heel. However, it is somewhat unreasonable to make one cut of denim in 5 different fabrications and expect them to fit exactly the same. (I've encountered this issue with nearly every pair of Levi's jeans I've ordered.) So while Madewell's site recommends sizing up in the '90s Straight Jean, I would recommend that only for the rigid 100% cotton pair, only if you are thicker through the waist, and know that you're at the risk of losing its magical butt-boosting abilities. Then again, I didn't actually try on the next size bigger, so I can't say for certain. For any of the styles with stretch, I'd say start with your regular size—that's what I'm wearing, my usual 28—and maybe try the next size down too; I wish I had done that, just for comparison's sake. 

My honest review

Madewell's '90s Straight Jean is, hands down, the best pair of high-waisted, straight-leg, '90s supermodel-style jeans I've tried on to date. I was willing to put in the work to make 100% cotton conform to my body over time, but the 1% stretch was a game-changer for me. They are really comfortable, but they do have a nice leg-elongating effect. Sean doesn't love them, but he doesn't hate them either ("It's a specific look," he kept telling me over and over); they're what I was seeking, which matters most to me. My only regret is that I didn't try them in a size down; I'm wondering if some of the butt-shaping I sacrificed would be more prominent if they were just a little more snug through the hips. I'd recommend spending some quality time in Madewell's dressing room to get the fit you want, but overall, I'd definitely recommend them. I may keep one eye peeled for an even more iconic pair, but in the meantime, I'm super happy with these. 

OUTFIT DETAILS: Quince cotton cardigan | Jungmaven tee (similar here) | Madewell The '90s Straight Jean | Celine Triomphe belt | Celine classic bag | Vicenza Mary Jane flats


Jelena Dimić said...

Awesome looking jeans and they suit you so well! Love how you combined them with that unbuttoned cardigan, so chic for early fall! <3

Nancy 's Fashion Style said...

They look very perfect on you Cheryl! Great bum! And fabulous golden shoes!

Laura B said...

These jeans look great on you! I can't believe I haven't tried Madewell denim yet!

Doused in Pink | Chicago Style Blog said...

I always forget about Madewell for denim. Those jeans are super cute on you!

Jill - Doused in Pink

Mica said...

They are great jeans on you! I think that the process of buying jeans is so stressful - I have been lucky to thrift a couple pairs I love, and I am lucky to know my size to buy preloved online on ebay for some brands, but it does mean I stick to similar styles to know how the fit is. Time in a change room to try out a new style is definitely worth it, as you've shown here! :)

Thank you for joining the Weekday Wear Link up!

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