Shopping Hits and Misses: Madewell, Boden, Ellos, J. Crew, Amazon

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recent purchases hits and misses by wardrobe oxygen

I told you there'd be a lot of these hits and misses! I haven't even lost 20 pounds since I started working out at the beginning of December, but with the increase in muscle most of my clothes are fitting weird or not fitting at all. My stomach is flatter, which makes a lot of my pants too long and saggy in the crotch. My breasts are smaller (went from a 38F to a 36DD), and while before I was in XL, 0X, 14W, and 16 Petite; now I am best in 14 Petite, L, and sometimes even a 12. A bunch of you have asked over the months for me to have photos with my hits and misses. Part of my Repair Mode is to get rid of the little bit of credit card debt I had and not add to it. Therefore, I am returning items next day so no interest accrues on my card. I missed photos for some of the items listed below, but will try to be more diligent in getting mirror selfies before I pack up and head to the post office.

Wardrobe Goals with these Purchases:

  • Replace my destroyed stripe shirt collection
  • Look for some transitional pieces that will carry me from early spring into summer and possibly fall, find items that will work for the weekend as well as a meeting or blogger event or day at my future coworking space (details TBA!)
  • Find relaxed yet not schlumpy style I can wear while at home, but not have to change when I head out for coffee or errands or to volunteer at my kid's school


I have never shopped at Madewell before. Madewell isn't made for big girls. I have one camisole I got from them through Nordstrom and I only took a chance because all the reviews said the top was gigantic and to go down two sizes. Therefore their largest size fit me nicely though it was a bit short thanks to my boobs. But I thought… if I am back into 32 jeans and finding XL sometimes too big… will Madewell now work for me?

Denim Duster Coat – Large

madewell denim trench review

So for a few weeks I've been on the hunt for a denim trench. I wanted something longer than a utility jacket, fewer snaps and pockets and such than a denim jacket. Something more polished, but I could throw over a t-shirt and skinny jeans and flats and look pulled together, or belt over a black tee or turtleneck and leggings and have this chic look that only needs a red lip and maybe some badass earrings. I kept searching and everything was either sketchy cheap made in China companies that I refuse to support, or a million dollars. And then I saw this one, and one from J. Crew (see below). I ordered both. I worried about a Large Regular, but Madewell didn't offer petites and there was no way I was a Medium.

madewell denim duster trench dress reviewWell, this thing is big. I wish it came in Large Petite… but maybe now. Any way you look at it, this is not right. Too long, sleeves too long and full, the whole thing is just bulky. Maybe if it were lighter weight fabric I'd find it valuable enough to tailor, maybe if it had more style? I told my friend that this is cool but in a, “Dude, check out this awesome thing I found at the thrift store I'm going to wear it tonight!” kind of cool. Not in a, “Dude, this thing cost $178 and then I had to spend $100 to tailor it to fit me!” kind of cool. If you are taller, maybe slimmer, maybe have a life where you can wear big-brimmed hats and clogs and can afford $178 denim jackets, this could be great. I love the idea of wearing it like a dress, it does very well in that manner, actually better than as a jacket due to its stiffness. But for me, it's a fail and a reminder to go thrifting.

Wrap Top in Candied Orchids – Large

Oooh, a wrap top in black and white stripes with big red flowers on it. This top is SO ME! I'll wear it with my Universal Standard high-waisted jeans, I'll wear it with shorts this summer, I'll style it with white cropped denim or a black midi skirt. It will be amazing!

madewell Wrap Top in Candied OrchidsExcept that this top doesn't fit. Yes, the sleeves fit, yes my bra is covered and the neckline is flattering. However, the waistband is very snug and rides up every time I move. Also this top is SHORT! This photo is me pointing to my belly button while wearing my highest waist jeans (the Universal Standards). This is crazy, I am not long waisted. It's gotta be the boobs, right? I should have known from my Madewell tank, Madewell doesn't design for boobs. However, if you're smaller, size up and try this top. It's super pretty in person and I think would look chic if it could be oversized on your body. But for me this is a big fail.

Whisper Cotton V-neck Tank – Large

I figured, a sleeveless v-neck striped top would be great now under jackets and great in the summer. I'd throw it on with shorts, maybe knot it with a long hippie skirt, it's nothing mindblowing but a great staple.  And the positive reviews didn't hurt in making the decision to click Purchase.

madewell whisper cotton stripe v-neck t-shirtSeriously, I have found better fit and quality at Walmart. The armholes roll into themselves showing my bra. And I don't know about you, but I despise superfluous boob pockets. What's the point of a patch over my breast, especially when it's such a silly size and such silly placement? Fail.

J. Crew

As I mentioned above, I was on a mission for a denim trench coat and found one at J. Crew that had decent reviews. Not only that, it came in petites. And while I was there, they had 40% off so I ordered some other goodies.

Denim Trench Coat – Large and Petite Large

This trench is verrrrry much like the Madewell one. I got this one in the mail first, and when I got the Madewell one I considered not even trying it on because I feared it was a duplicate (Madewell is owned by J. Crew). I'm glad I tried the Madewell one because it is NOT the same. I liked the Madewell denim wash/finish better, the pockets were better placed, and the fabric had a better drape. Considering how I reviewed the Madewell coat you can tell I didn't like this one.

The Large was too big, bigger than the Madewell one likely by a whole size. It looked like an adult jacket given to a kid to cover her clothes while doing pottery or painting. The wash was lame, that flat light stonewash that has no character and always looks cheap. But the weirdest thing was the pockets. They were so high they were a bit under the waistband and you can't comfortably put your hands in them. Also at that height it took away any waist making you look like a big blue box.

The Large Petite fit me really well. So well, if it was more like the Madewell jacket I would have considered keeping it (J. Crew's was $82.80 with the promo code, far more my speed). I would have had a tailor shorten it, maybe even shorten the sleeves to bracelet length, wash it a kazillion times to soften it, maybe with salt to weather it. But instead it was from some goofy Kirkland denim with pockets hiding under the waistband so I returned it. Fail.

Lurex Wrap Sweater in Navy – Large

I didn't need this sweater so I'm glad it didn't fit. And glad it was itchy. Seriously, this fit similarly to the Madewell wrap top in that it was super short and not made for boobs. I had an entire breast falling out of the neckline. There's no safety pin on this planet that could contain the mess made from this goofy sweater. Fail.

Supersoft Supima T-Shirt in Stripes – Large

This was… fine. It was a relaxed fit striped t-shirt. I didn't need a shirt like this, even on sale for $21.90. If you need a soft striped t-shirt that fits like a t-shirt (I'd compare more to Lands' End tees versus say one from Hanes), this is a nice one and the Large fit me nicely. But for me, it was a miss.

Perfect-fit T-Shirt in Stripe – Large

My friend Carelia from My Small Wardrobe loves these shirts and sizes up for a relaxed fit. Carelia is a stickler for quality so I knew this wouldn't be a bad buy. I went with large because unlike her, I was looking for a more fitted tee to wear under overalls, with blazers, maybe tucked into a skirt. And it worked out! This is a really nice quality shirt, thick but super stretchy and it washes like a dream. You can see it below in my overalls review. Hit!

Double Circle Pendant Necklace in Gold

I ordered this so I could get free shipping. It's nice, and the price was good (with the promo code it was $23.90) but I don't need it. I didn't even take it out of the bubble wrap. I could use that $25 towards a denim trench or sushi or my next manicure. Not terrible, but for me it's a miss.


Boden's items are often backordered so purchases come in dribbles. This weekend I got a bag with two items, today while writing this I received another bag with two more items. I hope to receive the last piece before the 4th of July. But in all seriousness, Boden's spring collection is worth the wait. The colors, the prints, the fit… if you order the right size most of it is fantastic.

Tie Waist Shirt Dress in Sunset – 14 Regular

This seemed like a perfect dress for spring through summer. Breezy, crisp yet relaxed, could throw on with sandals or dress up with wedges. And pockets! I put it on and before I could even see my reflection, Karl said, “Did you get a job doing the night shift at Saint Elizabeth's?”

boden tie waist shirt dressHe was right, this looked like a uniform, something a nurse may have worn several decades ago. And yet again, a plea to Boden to make petites in sizes larger than 10 because I think this may have been less lame if it was shorter in the torso, sleeves, and length. But yeah, this was a fail.

Supersoft Ballet Back Tee in Stripe – 14

boden supersoft ballet neck striped teeThe goal for this was a comfortable striped shirt that wasn't boring and I think this achieves it. Boden makes great striped shirts, and this one is no different. The back is low, but not so low you can't wear your normal everyday bra. Not too tight to wear untucked, but can also tuck in and blouse out a bit. Hit!

Hampshire 7/8 Pants in Sap Green – 12R

boden hampshire 7/8 pants sap green

In this post I shared I ordered the pants in 14R and they were ginormous. Well, the 12 is tight. Painted on tight. And while an all-green suit on the Boden website looks smart and chic, on me I look like a leprechaun. Maybe if the pants weren't so tight and a bit more structured and an ankle length… but yeah these are a no. Fail.

Rinella Swimsuit in Multi Tropical – 14

I ordered the matching caftan but it hasn't yet arrived. I actually only ordered this suit after seeing the caftan. A few of you have raved about Boden swimwear so I decided to take a chance. I usually buy bathing suits that suck in the gut and have plenty of stuff on top to support the girls but decided to take a risk considering I have a different body this year.

Boden Rinella Swimsuit in Multi Tropical

I'm glad I did. This suit is so cute.There's molded full cups inside which gives shape to my post-nursing and weightloss breasts. The print is an optical illusion and you can't really tell what goes in and what goes out. I haven't worn this in the pool but I danced around and jumped up and down and I didn't get a wedgie and I didn't fall out of the top. I removed the neck strap and jumped around and everything slipped lower but didn't fall out. I wouldn't go swimming without the neck strap, but I could lie on the beach under an umbrella that way and not fear I'd have a wardrobe malfunction. The quality is really nice too, elegant details like the braided strap is long, sturdy, and the same fabric as the suit. The bodice has boning on the sides and completely molded cups, not inserts. I just wonder if by time summer arrives and once it gets wet the 14 may be too big? I decided to order it also in 12 and see which one fits best as we get closer to pool weather.


Amazon gives incentives to bloggers who promote buying fashion through them. They get gift cards, free clothing, and various other goodies. I find shopping for fashion on Amazon frustrating and more often than not, a fail. If you search for a term, you get a hot mess of promoted cheap weird stuff with the occasional good thing mixed in. And then that good thing only comes in two sizes and has $24 shipping. I have the most success looking for a specific item – I find something I like at a department store or Zappos and then search brand and style name hoping to find it on Amazon in my size or a lower price.

Daily Ritual Women's Tissue Cotton Short-Sleeve V-Neck T-Shirt, 2-Pack in White and Heather Blue – Large

amazon daily ritual t shirt reviewAmazon provided me with a promo code to get these shirts, usually $20 for the pair, for free. Actually, I could choose from two pages of basics from their in-house brand Daily Ritual but these t-shirts looked like something I could actually use and something that would help me gauge the quality and fit of a brand I was unfamiliar with.

amazon daily ritual fashion reviewI took a risk going with a large considering I didn't know how it fit and am glad I did. These are fitted, perfect to wear under overalls and blazers and tucked into summer skirts. They're 100% cotton and super soft and tissue-weight which means the tendency to be sheer. I find the blue to be opaque, but the white is sheer enough that I'd wear only under something or tucked in (you can see the color of my skin but can't see any of my skin-colored t-shirt bra). I originally gave these shirts a positive review, but after putting the white shirt on again to show the Boden pants with the blazer I have to take it back. I tucked in the shirt and grabbed it to blouse it out and left dents all over the shirt. When I pulled the shirt out of the pants and took it off, the whole thing is crazy misshapen. I haven't washed it yet, but this doesn't seem like a durable shirt that will last. If you wish to baby the heck out of a v-neck, this could be fine as it's a flattering fit and I like the neckline. But even for $20 for a two-pack I think this isn't the best purchase. I wonder how the rest of the line is. Fail.

Carhartt Brewster Overalls – Large Short

carhartt overalls for womenIf you get my weekly newsletter you know I ordered these. I wear overalls a LOT now that I work from home. I wear my baggy beat-up faded ones with band tees when it's nice out and cableknit sweaters when it's not. My Universal Standard overalls are usually paired with a black cashmere crewneck. And then I saw someone on a street style blog in Carhartt overalls and I became obsessed. I justified the purchase because my baggy beat-up faded overalls are starting to get too big.

I like these. I like the dark wash, but that they're not heavy and stiff. I like that there's a zipper on the chest pocket so my iPhone won't fall on the floor when I use the bathroom. I like the reinforced knees and thighs which makes them look interesting and actually functional once I get over wearing overalls and use these for gardening. And I am thrilled to find overalls I don't have to cuff (though a think a single cuff with Birkenstocks this summer would be super cute). I've washed these twice and they look exactly the same (except that bit over the zipper folded up; I could iron it back but I don't really care very much). Hit!


As I mentioned in this post, Ellos sent me some clothes for my giveaway blog post and none of them fit. I sent them all back and was smarter with my replacement order. FYI, all of these items were gifted by Ellos without any expectations to review or feature them on the blog or social media.

3/4 Sleeve Knit Maxi Dress in Black – Medium

ellos knit midi dressThis is not the kind of thing I usually wear, but I've found since working from home it's the kind of thing I often wish I had. This is essentially a t-shirt dress but with a more flattering sleeve length. The knit is like many Ellos knits I already own – tightly woven, saturated color, smooth finish, nice stretch. The medium is perfect – not skin tight but not frumpy. I wore this out with knee-high heeled boots and a scarf, but can see me wearing it on weekends with a straw hat and some trendy sneakers. In fact I'm wearing it now as I type it, though I'm not terribly chic by pairing it with my slippers! But this is a nice basic at a nice price (just under $40).

Off the Shoulder Tee in Navy Stripe – 10/12

ellos striped off the shoulder shirt

I have this shirt. I love this shirt. I wore this shirt in this post and I wore it to LA last year and so many places in between. It's been washed and dried and shoved in a beach bag with wet sandy towels and laundered with things like towels that dried off dogs and still looks great. But it's getting a bit big so I asked for the next size down. The next size down is much smaller which creates a completely different effect. Unlike the larger size which isn't really off the shoulder, this one is. But not too off the shoulder, you can easily tuck your bra straps under the neckline and they will stay in place. It's fitted, but not too tight. Similar to the J. Crew striped tee I kept. Hit!

Off-The-Shoulder-Tee in Navy Stripe – 10/12

ellos off the shoulder teeNo, this isn't a duplicate, it's a completely different shirt on the Ellos site. This one has variegated stripes and long sleeves. It also has a scooped hemline. But like the other shirt, in a 10/12 this is the same amount of off the shoulder and the same amount of tightness. I don't love this shirt as much, the sleeves are long on me and untucked I think it looks a bit weird in side profile with the curved hemline. But I like it tucked in and wore it yesterday with the Carhartt overalls (I shared the look on my InstaStories on my Instagram). I may like this better with white jeans. So not 100% hit, but still a hit!

Zip Front Hoodie in Black – Medium

I come home from the gym, have enough time to brush Emerson's hair and teeth and then take her to school. Right now it's cold and I throw my long parka on over my leggings and sweaty t-shirt, but the temps will be rising soon. I wanted something that would cover like my parka but not be so heavy. I was also thinking this was good work from home fashion – pair with black leggings, a cute t-shirt and boots and I could leave the house without looking like I was in my pajamas. And it accomplishes exactly what I hoped. It's not as saturated black as the dress, but it's sweatshirt fabric so it wouldn't look the same and it doesn't look faded. I wore it this past Friday to yoga and afterwards to pick up take-out dinner and didn't feel like I was in gym clothes. I haven't washed it yet (it's in the laundry which explains the lack of photo), but so far it's a hit!

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. Thanks so much for your review on Ellos. I just got a catalogue but wasn’t sure about their fit and quality – their on sale prices are out of this World – but I needed more information. Thanks so much for this blog and your honest pictures and reviews. Very helpful!

  2. You look SMASHING!! Beautiful! I’m a fan of Ellos clothing myself, and thanks for the helpful information on other brands. Currently saving a few dollars to splash out on some Universal Standard. Again, just to be clear – YOU LOOK AMAZING!

  3. Thanks! Just in time for some spring shopping. I’m trying the overalls, striped Jcrew shirt and ellos maxi. Hope you get credit via your affiliate links 🙂

  4. I live in NYC and routinely run into a stunning woman who wears tan Carhartt overalls often, with short ankle boots and a leather jacket. I love them, and her, and that you love them too! The overalls and swimsuit are great and look awesome on you.

  5. I live in NYC and routinely run into a stunning woman who wears tan Carhartt overalls often, with short ankle boots and a leather jacket. I love them, and her, and that you love them too! The overalls and swimsuit are great and look awesome on you.

  6. Thanks for doing these type of posts! It is so helpful to see these clothes on a real woman who is not model tall.

  7. Oh! Also, I bought a black t shirt maxi dress last year from Torrid. Like you, it was not something I would normally wear, but I LIVED in that thing last summer. It dressed up or down with accessories, I could tie a denim shirt over it for a different look, I used it as a beach coverup, wore to festivals, and considered buying a second one just to wear around the house. Definite wardrobe workhorse.

  8. I actually love that newer strip shirt from ellos. It looks great on you! I had a boden swimsuit years ago and it was my favorite for so long. I wonder if it would be possible, without divulging too many professional secrets of your trainer, if you could do a post about your workout and eating routine? I know you’re not a workout/weight loss blog, but I think that’s why I’m interested in it, since you’ve found a way to work both into a normal life, not like the fitspo blogs and IG girls.

  9. Question – what is the best place for good quality t-shirts for someone who wears a 12/14/16? Those Amazon shirts look good in the photos but I appreciate you sharing that they aren’t good quality. I feel like I pick up t-shirts that then don’t look good/wear well/wash well.

    1. One of my favorite places for T-shirts is Lands’ End. While they won’t have the latest trends, their knits hold up – they keep their shape, don’t pill quickly, and the colors stay saturated. If you haven’t shopped from them I recommend ordering your size and maybe one a size down also (free returns) because they often are a very relaxed shape and often are vanity sized.

  10. yes! appreciate the actual photos of these types of posts. it’s helpful to be able to see exactly why you returned/kept something. how strange about that last striped shirt…i liked it much better tucked. and yes to the red dress…petites that fit in the boobs, please! yeesh. that would have been super cute as a more fit n flare. i want to branch out to a shape besides a swing dress, but i feel rather dull in anything but that shape once it’s on b/c of 1) boobs, and 2) stomach. gah!

    1. Now that I am home during daylight hours, these kind of photos are easier. I put the mirror in front of Emerson’s bedroom door so it’s good to do while she’s at school 🙂

  11. Always enjoys hits and misses! Both gives me inspiration for new items to try and reassures me that I am not the only one who totally strikes out sometimes!

  12. I love the hit or miss!! As mentioned above, I also thought the denim was a bathrobe! Love the way you write, Allie, and as I was thinking the green pants made your bum look very pert (something as I age I notice more) I got a big belly laugh out of your leprechaun description.
    I bought a pair of madewell jeans last summer, boyfriend style, and they have become my fave jeans!
    Thanks for the post – thoroughly enjoyed it.

  13. I too love these posts.

    I have a denim trench from the Gap I bought sometime around 2003, wore it everywhere including on my honeymoon in San Francisco (spoiler alert, it’s cold in the summer). Was so excited to fit into it again last summer! Unfortunately I’m pregnant now so who knows if it’ll ever fit again, lol. But keep searching it really makes leggings and a tank top look like an outfit!

    1. I had a denim utility jacket from Gap from around that time and it was such a perfect weight, wash, and detailing. Hrm…. I wonder if it’s in my attic!

  14. Love these posts! That swimsuit looks amazing on you – and I love your little smile in the pic, too. Congratulations on your success with your journey to strength!

  15. Count me in as another fan of these hits and misses posts! They are really helpful. I have the perfect fit t-shirt from J Crew that you got (the striped one) and it developed a hole in the arm pit area after a few months. And, it’s not like I wear it everyday. That irritated me…But, on a happier note, I took advantage of their 40% off 4 items sale last week and replaced my 3/4 sleeve navy/ivory t-shirt and am SO happy! You’d posted about it a few weeks ago, and it reminded me that it’s such a great shirt. My old one had developed holes around the stomach/waist area, so it needed replacing. I’m wearing it now with some olive green ankle pants and I love it–cute and comfortable.

    1. Oh no that sucks about the shirt! And yes, isn’t that 3/4 sleeve shirt perfection? And I have an “evergreen” post I have in the queue about where those holes come from and how to prevent them!

  16. Is it just me, or is that denim duster basically a bathrobe? Anyway…you look great! I often try on things that are so off and I tend to blame myself, so it’s good to see you in that pink shirtdress and know I’m not alone! Being short is tough because it’s hard to visualize how something will look if it was a “normal” length. I love the off the shoulder striped top!

  17. That is a shame about the red shirt dress–it would look cute knee length or even just a few inches shorter. I LOVE that swimsuit! I usually dislike tropical florals but this one is more modern, maybe? Nice hits!

    1. Yeah, I could make the red shirt dress work but it would take a lot of tailoring! And I am the same regarding tropical prints but this print I couldn’t resist!

  18. I love that you got overalls from Carhartt! When I taught horseback riding lessons they were my go to brand. Their stuff really lasts. I have some of their “dry fit” shirts, and they are made of a great fabric. Not the shiny sheers of many other brands, and it’s still cool and keeps my arms covered. I love Carhartt and almost wish they did office wear, haha.

    1. I found these because Karl’s gardening pants had worn out. He had some Carhartts and I remembered back in the ’90s he used to have Dickies and Carhartt overalls so I decided to see if they had them for women and these are AWESOME.

      1. I bought some insulated/lined Carhartt overalls this winter to wear to fire scenes (I’m an attorney who coordinates fire investigations for my insurance company clients) and it never got cold enough to wear them in MN. I hope they fit next year!

  19. LOVE your hit and misses posts. Several of the links are not working…. Ellos long jacket and perfect t-shirt in stripe.

  20. Allie–you look great! Your weight loss and body changes are fantastic. I am so proud of you, and I hope you are proud of you, too.

    Love the hits and misses posts as it is fun to see your thought processes and consideration of the fit, quality, etc.

  21. Ok what is up with J.Crew/Madewell with these short wrap shirts? I ordered the J. Crew one (I have been having really good luck with J. Crew lately for the first time in literal years) and it is so short. Again, like you said, BOOBS. At first, though, I liked it because I thought it looked cute with high waisted pants. Took the tags off and then I went downstairs to scrape snow off my car and my whole boob popped out. I was pulling on it all day until my assistant gave me a safety pin. And yet…the funnel neck shirt in the same sizing fits like a dream. Wassup J. Crew. I have looked at that Madewell one repeatedly but haven’t pulled the trigger, but I might in a larger size.

  22. I always love the Hits & Misses. I feel like the Amazon two-pack of tees, if it had just been the blue tee for a cheaper price, would have been a Hit because that blue really did look lovely on you.

    I LOVE the Boden swimsuit on you! I always end up defaulting to Lands End for swimsuits and Boden sizing/design ends up being really wonky to me. I went through a period of… probably three or four years where I would order, say, four things from Boden and have to return three, or sometimes the whole order, because the fit was super wonky. Shirts that seemed long on tall models ended up being short, they shrunk hideously in the wash despite being machine washable, etc. I eventually gave up ordering from them entirely but I always have an eye on their swimsuits and their basic Breton tees.

    1. I feel sizing has improved with Boden; when I started ordering from them a few years ago I was returning 99% of it. Now, I do better. However, it’s clear I am nowhere shaped like their fit model. Keeping in mind that like Madewell or Lou & Grey these clothes are for longer leaner bodies has helped me narrow down a bit… this order helped me realize their pants are NOT made for me!

  23. That’s the Boden swimsuit I was talking about in my WO Facebook Group post a couple weeks ago! With your helpful review, now I think it’s a “must order”. Did you feel it ran true-to-size or a little small? (I often find I have to go up in swimsuits because the trunk is too short in my normal size)

    1. I think it’s true to size, no running big unless you have very small breasts. I think I am a 14 in swimsuits (spoiler alert I ordered another from Talbots and it should arrive soon, that one too I ordered in 14).

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