5 Rules to Dress By This Spring

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When it comes to warm weather, there’s an anything-goes attitude that’s arguably the hallmark of sun-drenched days—creating rules might then feel like a bit of a paradox. To that we’d say these “rules” are meant to help take a bit of guesswork out of the act of getting dressed, so you have more time to leave those first warm sunny days up to chance (inarguably the best ways to spend them).

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WHAT GOES INTO ONE PAIR OF RIVET & THREAD JEANS?

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Limited edition, small batch and made in LA, Rivet & Thread jeans are crafted with best-of-the-best denim, giant machines—and a bit of elbow grease. We went behind the scenes at our denim studio—where the same family has been making jeans since 1975—to see the magic happen. Spoiler alert: They really know what they’re doing.
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GOT YOU COVERED: OUR VISUAL GURU JAY ON HOLIDAY DECOR THAT DOESN’T SCREAM “HOLIDAY”

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This year we like to think we’ve really got your back—from gifts to buy, to what to wear, to how to make present wrapping not totally terrible. We’re sitting down with our team to glean a little pro advice to get you through the season with flying colors (blue being a nonnegotiable, of course). Next up is Jay, the man behind the visual design in our stores. If anyone can share a thing or two about decorating for the season without going all tinsel and candy canes, it’s him. (Not that we have anything against tinsel and candy canes…)

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GOT YOU COVERED: OUR DESIGNER JOYCE ON DRESSING FOR DAYS IN + NIGHTS OUT

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This year, we like to think we’ve really got your back—from gifts to buy, to what to wear, to how to make present wrapping not totally terrible. We’re sitting down with our team to glean a little pro advice to get you through the season with flying colors (blue being a nonnegotiable, of course). First up is our head designer, Joyce…

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Best Seat in the House: Our Denim in Furniture Form

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Denim isn’t just something to live in—it’s something to live on—so we took our very favorite fabric and upholstered a super-limited-edition chair (and we mean limited—we only made five). Our head of visual design (the man behind our stores’ mellow vibe and graphic window installations) shares how he combined our denim with ABC Carpet and Home’s simple shape and his tips for staying inspired.

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LA Jewelry Designer Jess Hannah on the Merits of Having a Style M.O.

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According to conventional wisdom, you’re supposed to dress for the job you want, but one of the many things we love about LA-based jewelry designer Jess Hannah is that her clothes and her career aren’t an obvious match. Imagine a woman in a white button-down, denim shorts and sneakers wielding a metalsmithing torch. But that’s her uniform, or as she says, “I have a take and I stick to it.” Her vibe is tomboy and classic, echoing the barely there feel of the gold necklaces and rings she designs.

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Behind the Design: My Big Love for Llamas

by Dana Lee (Madewell)

Ever since I sketched the design for our Llama Love Sweater, people have been asking me why I chose that funny little animal. And now that it’s just hit Madewell stores, you may be wondering about it too. So here’s the story: I’ve always really, really, really loved camelids—llamas, alpacas and vicunas included. As a sweater designer, I first fell in love with chunky Peruvian alpaca yarns for how soft and luxe they were and for all the beautiful natural colors they came in. There’s something about these yarns that makes you feel so homey and warm in the winter.

Beyond the yarn, I’ve always loved how funny and cute they look—especially that fuzzy fur and those big eyes and superlong eyelashes. So oddly adorable! When I was in Ecuador, I actually spent hours taking photos of llamas on mountaintops—and tried to squeeze myself into every possible shot. I still remember one llama squinting his eyes and staring right at me: He didn’t move an inch or break his stare, and the nonchalant look on his face was absolutely priceless!

At the flea market, I purchased essentially every existing llama figurine and llama-patterned object, and to this day, whenever I come across anything llama, I have to get it. 

For Madewell’s holiday collection, we wanted to do a whimsical animal sweater, and before anyone blinked, I knew that animal would have to be a llama! Check out the graphic closely and you’ll see I made sure their big eyes and eyelashes were featured prominently. Hopefully everyone enjoys wearing this cozy little sweater as much as I loved designing it.

Behind the Seams: Our Storyteller Scarves

True story: Everyone at Madewell (including us) was collectively swept away when they first laid eyes on this season’s hands-down most amazing accessory series, our Storyteller Scarves. Their color and graphic quality were like nothing we’d seen—so obviously, we had to know more. Luckily, the talented lady behind these handmade designs—our accessories guru, Nichole—was literally a hop, skip and a step away. Below, she lets us in on her inspiration and process (hint: it involves lots of glue).

1. How Nichole likes to wear hers 2. The Penpal Storyteller Scarf 3. The Mapmaker Storyteller Scarf 4. The Mapscape Storyteller Scarf

What inspired the idea for this series?

I had been collecting a lot of images of antique quilts as inspiration for peculiar colorblocking arrangements and also wanted to work with vintage maps in some way. I found this funny old atlas that had a fascinating assortment of maps in great colors. After looking at all this imagery, the ideas kind of combined themselves!

Where did you find the scraps in your sketchbook?

Our accessories design team just took a trip around the corner from the office to NYC’s legendary bookstore, the Strand, and found so many great things: an atlas of the universe, ’70s and ’80s photography magazines and a huge catalog of the history of American textiles. My favorite find was a book from 1971 depicting ghost towns of the west.

How do you personally like to wear the scarves?

I’ve been wearing them with a huge old sweater of my Dad’s—its classic sailor stripes are perfect for adding something quirky. I also hang them on my walls!

What was your favorite part of making them?

They were so much fun to design. I love projects that involve hands-on art time—I was covered in glue and map scraps for days! There’s something about assembling these by hand that makes them feel more special than digitally collaged images.


A snippet of Nichole’s sketchbook page with inspiration for our Storyteller Scarves.