I'm a Former Madewell Employee, and These Are the 8 Best Basics to Buy

These are all the staples I’m grabbing from its February new arrivals.

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At the core of my closet is one name: Madewell. Even before I worked there, I was loyal to the brand whose denim made me realize shopping for jeans can actually be a pleasant experience. And during my time there and after, my obsession only intensified, with my wardrobe slowly transforming into something of a mini Madewell.

From my many (many) buys, I’ve come to realize that there’s one thing I’ll always rely on Madewell for: basics. Whether it’s a simple white T-shirt, classic denim jacket, or timeless trousers, the brand doesn’t just have it, but they have the perfect version of it.

Of the thousands of items available at Madewell, these are the eight I tell everyone they need, including the butteriest cashmere and flattering, versatile trousers. And as part of the brand’s February drop, a number of my favorites got new looks — so yes, I’ll be buying seconds.

  • Brightside Tee, $42
  • Satin Maxi Slip Skirt, $88
  • The Harlow Wide-Leg Pant, $118
  • The Perfect Vintage Wide-Leg Jean, $128
  • Button-Front Denim Jacket, $138
  • (Re)sponsible Cashmere Oversized Crewneck Sweater, $148
  • The Darcy Mule, $148
  • The Essential Bucket Tote, $178

The Perfect Vintage Wide-Leg Jean

Madewell The Perfect Vintage Wide-Leg Crop Jean


Buy on Madewell.com $128

Almost every season Madewell comes out with a new version of its Perfect Vintage Jeans, a relaxed, lived-in style, and each time I find myself adding it to cart. For years I’ve worn a version of this style, whose slim, wide-leg fit and high-waist make it easy to dress up or down and comfortable enough for daily wear. Plus, they kind of make my butt look great. This newest iteration of the style, which features a vintage-inspired raw hem, is an immediate must-have, with shoppers writing that the style fits so well, they almost wanted to “gatekeep” them. “These are perfection for me,” wrote that customer, explaining that the jeans fit their “pear-shaped” body to a tee. According to another person, these are “comfortable, flattering, and stylish,” while someone else wrote, “the fit is really so flattering and just perfect.”

(Re)sponsible Cashmere Oversized Crewneck Sweater

Madewell (Re)sponsible Cashmere Oversized Crewneck Sweater


Buy on Madewell.com $148

This is hands down one of the best affordable (well, more affordable) cashmere sweaters I own, rivaling the quality of $200 and $300-plus ones. The fit is perfect — it’s just oversized enough that a T-shirt fits underneath but isn’t baggy — and the comfort is unparalleled. This sweater is available in nine colors and is a favorite among shoppers. “The fit is relaxed and slouchy without looking sloppy, and it isn't too long or short, [so it’s] perfect to tuck in without bulk… [and] texture-wise, it's smooth and not itchy,” wrote one customer with “sensitive skin.” Per another, “this sweater is lovely, soft, and…classy.”

The Harlow Wide-Leg Pant

Madewell The Harlow Wide-Leg Pant


Buy on Madewell.com $118

The Harlow trousers are my anytime, anywhere pants. The wide-leg style dresses up easily while also looking ridiculously chic paired with casual wardrobe staples like a T-shirt and sneakers. The pleated pants — now available in 11 colors — are just effortlessly cool. “These pants are unquestionably flattering,” said one customer who described the style as “a tailored, classic, wide-legged dream.” “They provide comfort without overwhelming the frame…[and] nip in the waist beautifully,” they added. “The dictionary definition of ‘snatched’ is just these pants,” gushed a second fan who called the style “magical.” They explained that the pants fit perfectly everywhere: waist, stomach, and hips.

The Darcy Mule

Madewell The Darcy Mule


Buy on Madewell.com $148

I’ve long been obsessed with Madewell’s classic, sleek mules, which take a simple outfit — like jeans and a T-shirt — to new levels. Plus, they’re surprisingly comfortable; while probably not good for my feet long-term, I used to wear the brand’s heeled mules to nine-hour standing shifts at the store without a problem (thank you, padded insoles!). The Darcy style is available in two shades of leather — black and brown — and features an almond toe and stacked heel. 

“The smooth leather gives them a classy look, and the toe adds a touch of elegance,” said one person, adding that the “heel is just the right height for comfortable walking, [while] the MWL Cloudlift Lite padding makes them a pleasure to wear with anything from jeans to dresses.”

When it comes to wardrobe basics, Madewell is my one-stop-shop. Find more of the closet staples I swear by — including new updates from the brand’s latest collection — below.

Brightside Tee

Madewell Brightside Tee


Buy on Madewell.com $42

Satin Maxi Slip Skirt

Madewell Satin Maxi Slip Skirt


Buy on Madewell.com $88

Button-Front Denim Jacket

Madewell Button-Front Denim Jacket in Grenhart Wash


Buy on Madewell.com $138

The Essential Bucket Tote

Madewell The Essential Bucket Tote


Buy on Madewell.com $178
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