Never Say Never: Denim Discovery

I have been on a mission all fall, off and on, to replace my old COH Olivia slim straight leg jeans, which I ruined late this summer on an evening walk where I took a tumble and ripped the knee—and not in a good or reparable way. (Luckily my knee was fine; it was the fabric that was a loss!) 

I tried and ruled out so many jeans! 

The Frame Le High straight, which in retrospect might have worked in a size down. but anyway, that size was gone. 

I tried several Levis styles: Wedgie straight, wedgie icon (neither of which look anything like they look on the models...) . I tried a Mango style (couldn't even get them on!), and several supposed "sure bet" Madewell styles (e.g. perfect vintage crop, tapered mom jean, straight mom jean)  that also failed to flatter (though at least they fit). I tried, and bought, the BR crop jeans, but now wish I hadn't, because the length is so annoying . They end at just the wrong spot and get caught on my boots no matter which pair I wear. I bought them on considerable sale and they may work with summer footwear, in which case they aren't a complete loss -- but I'm frustrated with myself for failing the PPP test. That was a fashion fail for sure! 

Onwards. I ordered two more styles. In the "never say never" department, Madewell's stovepipe jean. Why the "never"? Well, as some of you know, I typically prefer a slightly rigid denim with only 1% stretch. And these include a lot of Tencel and are much more stretchy than my usual. But guess what? I love them! They are so comfortable! The waist is high but not ridiculous (up to my navel). The length does not get hung up on my boots and if I want to cuff them I can. I had to size down, though -- in my regular size they were a mess. These I'm keeping for sure. 

Then I thought I'd try the Levis ribcage. These are like a narrow wide leg on me. I am not sure about them. Thoughts? They are a little longer on me than on most of the models  (no surprise there). And they are black (which I'm not entirely sure I want -- but this is returnable and I can get a different wash elsewhere). They are quite comfortable. Not as "ribcage" as advertised; 

Sorry about the light. It is what it is -- December on the wet coast! 

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • slim cat replied 1 month ago

    Madewell's stovepipe jeans look really good on you - I like the wash as well! Glad the long search is over for a slim jeans.
    Levis black jean is difficult to judge - it's a bit too dark in the photo. 
    Probably depends on your personal need/preference in jeans.

  • Bijou replied 1 month ago

    The Madewell Stovepipe are PERFECT on you and I can see why you love them. Great fit, colour and sit nicely on the waistline.

    The Ribcage look good too. However, not as good as the Stovepipe. The fact is, you look great in jeans so I think you can and should be fussy and not accept anything less than perfect.

    If it were me, I would be constantly grabbing the Stovepipe over and above the Ribcage. I like the fact that you are going for a different colour with the Ribcage, so at least by wearing the Ribcage you get some versatility but is black the right colour? I remember you having burgundy jeans and that seems like a nice change up from the blue denim rather than black. I could imagine you looking fab in grey jeans too - they are really versatile and a nice change from blue denim and not as harsh as black.

  • Joy replied 1 month ago

    I like the jeans in 1&2 best on you. They look like they fit well. The black ones look too big and maybe too long too.

  • rachylou replied 1 month ago

    I like the shorter length of the first, but the waist of the second better…

  • Runcarla replied 1 month ago

    Well, the jeans look fine all around, but it’s the outfits you’ve made that I love!  

  • Sal replied 1 month ago

    I like them both but it is hard to see the black in the photo. I have the ribcage in 100 percent cotton denim - I had to get a bit cut off mine to get the length I wanted.

    Re the colour - it is useful to have black denim. I wore my black skinnies a lot - just a nice change up. I could see grey looking good on you too.

  • Jenni NZ replied 1 month ago

    Agree with Bijou.

  • gryffin replied 1 month ago

    Madewell looks great. I also love this brand. The black is so difficult to photo and can be misleading. Agree bijou. But it’s how it feels on and do you feel you like the change of silhouette and are you settling? That wider leg often looks more traditionally flattering with a slightly lower mid rise - like the coh emerson but I do I remember correctly that that fit did not work for you. They look nice on. But you seem unsure and I know when I talk myself into something I’m not usually happy.
    BTW if you want leather jeans on sale cheap for what they are check out the madewell high rise skinnies 10” leather Ed but absolutely size down. They run big.

  • Irina replied 1 month ago

    I think they both look great on you. Maybe try a ribcage in a different wash and see if you like it more. 

  • RobinF replied 1 month ago

    Love the first ones! Fabulous fit and I love that color. Not sure about the Levis, the legs don't seem to hang nicely. Maybe it is just the comparison between the two. I do like the idea of black jeans though. They seem a little dressier than blue but are still jeans. I usually have a pair in my closet.

  • Christina F. replied 1 month ago

    Nice! Sometimes Madewell can be tricky on fit, but then I find something that's bang-on. Seems like the case here as well.

    The ribcage look nice, but return and try a different wash if you are unsure.

  • Angie replied 1 month ago

    Yay! You found jeans! It's a mission to do online :(

    Suz, with the pair that gets caught on your boots but you’ve committed to already. Can you cuff or hem them a little?

    LOVE the stove pipes! They are KILLER tailored straights! No wonder you love them. They love you right back - fabric and all, and good job keeping an open mind :)

    I like the wedgies! They look like relaxed straights to my eye. Quintessential early ‘90s. On trend, and great on you! But the black gives me pause, unless you are ready to remix them heavily with grey, red and blue. Maybe you are! Or try a grey or blue wash.

    Love the clogs too!

  • lisa p replied 1 month ago

    The first pair - Madewell? - look great . Are they cuffed up here (they don't look very long, is why I ask) ?  Not convinced about the black pair . They look a little baggy and big in the legs. Not sure what the intended fit is of that cut though, and I'm getting so confused with jeans in general I find it hard to know what is good and what isn't.  The black also seems a little stark for you - maybe a faded black would be softer and easier to wear?  Also - I love that you are wearing clogs - looks so writer-at-home-on-the-island ;) What are they? 

  • Suz replied 1 month ago

    Thanks, everyone! This is helpful. The Madewells are a sure bet. They are short, Lisa -- intentionally so. They're meant to be "crops" but on me are more or less ankle length. But not so that they get caught on my boots. They lie smoothly. I can also cuff them if I want them to be even shorter. 

    Angie, the BRs are too short to cuff, really -- at least with boots. They just look silly. They might work cuffed with sneakers or sandals -- I'll see. I think my mistake was ordering the "short" version. I should have ordered regular, even though it would have been longer than the intended look. I guess I'm between sizes in that regard -- not a true "short" or petite; not a true regular size. 

    I see why opinions are mixed on the stovepipes. They're the same jean Irina chose in this thread and the ones Angie made a Fab Find -- but in a different (and nearly impossible to see, in these photos!) wash! 

    The black does give me pause, so I think I will send back and consider a pair in another wash. I did order grey but the grey was cancelled. :( 

    Thanks for your help, all! 

  • Jonesy replied 1 month ago

    I love the blue pair! Perfect! (And I love your clogs, plaid shirt, and long cardigan--so comfy but so chic!) I say nay on the black pair. They are doing something in the outer upper leg that I personally experience and really don't like: sort of standing out away from your body in a squared off, rigid kind of way, if that makes any sense at all? It's like the fit is too wide, paired with a stiff material. Maybe Madewell will do some other rinses of the stovepipe, and you can pick up a black pair? I think a washed out black or gray would be smashing on you.

  • suntiger replied 1 month ago

    I like the blue pair more too- keeep!

  • Jaime replied 1 month ago

    Suz this is one of the most relatable jeans posts ever. The first pair is brilliant on you - I am tempted to order them myself and the last thing I need is more jeans! The second pair, while certainly not terrible, just isn't as great a cut on you and, weirdly since we don't have the same body type, would fit me similarly. I cannot explain it, but I can see it :) .

  • Suz replied 1 month ago

    Interesting, Jaime! Something I was going to say to you about a recent post of yours -- you wear BF jeans SOOOOOOO well. And -- yes -- even though we don't have the same body type, they also happen to be a favourite (and fallback) of mine. Hmmmm. Something to ponder. 

    Actually, gryffin, you mentioned the Emerson not working  for me, but au contraire! The Emerson is great for me -- just rather low rise. I still wear and love mine, though. I tend to wear them more in spring and fall than in deep winter. 

    Shevia, there must be some similar body type modifiers or something??? 

  • Jessikams replied 1 month ago

    Shopping for jeans is The Worst and I commend your diligence!

  • Janet replied 1 month ago

    The first pair look absolutely perfect! I feel your pain on jeans shopping. I tend to duplicate when I find a good cut that works for me. Hence my two pairs of Dojo bootcuts, and three pairs of AG Harpers (black, grey, and blue).

    I also love the COH Emerson’s, but I need to have the waist taken in. Without a belt they slide down too much. Kind of like the Rag & Bone Dre’s, which I think you also liked, right? I think there are some new Dre’s out there, which is nice to see because it hints that other non-high-rise cuts may be making a resurgence soon.

  • Angie replied 1 month ago

    Suz, I hear you on the length issue. Blast! Warm weather jeans then :)

    I know that Everlane has problematic shipping to and from Canada, but if you DO find a way around that - I'm recommending these in blue that I have and LOVE them:

  • Suz replied 1 month ago

    Thanks, Angie. I will consider them. And maybe try the Levis in a different colour or wash as well. For now at least I have something! An improvement over what I had before. :) 

  • gryffin replied 1 month ago

    Suz - that's awesome that you love the emersons!  They are a favorite when I want something super comfy, esp in the blue ridge wash and fabric.  I don't know why, but that have that cool factor!

  • Suz replied 1 month ago

    I agree, gryffin. I will never get rid of mine (unless they wear out!). I really love the slouch. 

  • Jaime replied 1 month ago

    I am wondering if it could be something to do with height - even though we are proportioned differently, perhaps our scale is similar? Does that even make sense? Boyfriend jeans (wide waist with narrower hips and legs) fit me better than anything and I can manipulate the fit by sizing up or down.

  • Suz replied 1 month ago

    Jaime, I wonder if that might be part of it, too. I mean, maybe our body types are not SO different in the relevant respects. You have an actual bust whereas I have (ahem) a more or less flat profile. And I have thicker thighs, I think, proportionately. But otherwise, perhaps we are essentially rectangles. I'm "hourglassy" (sort of) soley because of my shoulders (sort of) balancing my hips but I have less and less of a defined waist. 

    But I think height might and linear proportion might actually be the real factor here. Interesting....

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