Awesomely Bad Gifts We’ve Received

If you’ve been on lately, you may have stumbled upon something we call the Sad-to-Glad Gift Guide, where we colorfully rehash the lamest gifts we’ve received—and then provide much happier alternatives. But did you know that we actually polled the team at Madewell HQ to get those stories? Well, we did. And there are even more. Check out the peculiar group of holiday gifts some of our designers, stylists and marketing mavens have gotten in the past.

Giftee: Kate, marketing guru and ceramic armadillo recipient

Gift: Mexican talavera

In her words: Oh, god. We saw an armadillo in Austin and I was fascinated by it because I had never seen one in person. My dad took that too literally and bought me this talavera armadillo from a Mexican imports store on Congress Street. Mind you, I was living in a 450 square-foot apartment in NYC with absolutely no outdoor space. Needless to say, the armadillo now lives in my parents’ cactus garden.”

Giftee: Ash, dress designer and spice seeker

Gift: A big ol’ vat of Tabasco sauce

In his words: “My love of spicy food is well known, so my good friend thought to give me the ultimate ‘perfect’ gift: a mini-keg of Tabasco sauce. The size is a bit insane, but I actually end up putting it on almost everything and am working my way through it pretty quickly!”

Giftee: Jac, denim designer and avian aficionado

Gift: Quacky shower cap

In her words: “I had a pet goose growing up named Squawee and I just love all things feathered, so I have become a habitual recipient of weird bird memorabilia. This latest gem is from an old boss who bought it for me while on a work trip in Copenhagen.”

Giftee: Lisa, superstylist and graphic tie getter

Gift: Dramatically illustrated neckwear

In her words: “If you couldn’t tell, my mother (the gift giver in question) lives in the Southwest. These neckties were originally gifted to my uncle, husband and brother, but I soon found them stashed away in my own suitcase while unpacking from Thanksgiving with the family. Yup, everyone loves gifts from my mom.”

Gotten an amazingly bad gift? Send photos to us at—we’ll feature our favorites in a future blog post.

Designer Dispatch: London & Amsterdam

by Jac Cameron (Madewell)

Me hanging at the Amstel River in Amsterdam; Ash goofing off in London.

As designers, Ash and I love traveling to different corners of the world to absorb the culture and style of other countries. Whether you work with denim (like I do) or with dresses (like Ash), it’s always amazing to see how people put themselves together, from Tokyo’s Harajuku to Amsterdam’s De Negen Straatjes (The Nine Streets). So for our latest adventure, the two of us hopped on a plane to the Europe to see some of the best street style, amazingly quirky boutiques and fantastic flea markets London and Amsterdam have to offer. And, of course, we stopped off for a lot of tea and cake along the way too. Here’s a mini photo diary of some of our most memorable moments (and meals).

1. Me eating the most delicious scones at Liberty in London.

2. A beautiful pot at tea time.

3. Posing up against some pretty houses in Notting Hill, London.

4. The Amstel River in Amsterdam.

5. And this time, with boats.

6. A sweet pick-me-up at the Bishop in Shoreditch, London.

7. Ash at Spitalfields Market in East London.

8. Scones at Liberty in Soho.

9. Headed home!