We Tested 8 Jean Brands for Midsection Shaping And Great Style

A great pair of jeans is one of the foundations of a wardrobe and serve to elevate whatever else you wear.
Six to Sunday

A great pair of jeans is one of the foundations of a wardrobe. Though the jeans themselves may not draw attention, jeans serve to elevate whatever else you wear, whether it’s a white oxford over the weekend or a statement silk top for date night.

But for many of us women in our prime, the perfect jean includes not only the right style, comfort, and price but it also needs to flatter: we’re talking high-waisted, body-shaping control that is comfortable.

After conducting interviews with experts and testing with a panel of 5 diverse bodies types of women aged 38 to 70 years old, we’ve narrowed our list to four terrific pairs that are good-looking, comfortable, and provide the right amount of tummy control that leaves us feeling amazing.

We kept our criteria simple:

  • Fit: Do you feel comfortable while wearing this style?
  • Style: Do you feel confident and current in this style?
  • Function: Does the product do what it says it will?

Spanx Flare Jean

Price: $148

Quality: Better than Expected

Fit: Runs Small

Style: 4/5

Fit: 5/5

Function: 5/5

Pro: For pure-play midsection control, the SPANX jean was our teams’ favorite. A high-waisted, pull-on style, this jean features a wide elastic waist panel and well-functioning tummy control fabric between the pockets. While our Test Closet team found the Flare Style to run slightly small and tight to pull on, once the jeans were on, our team unanimously loved the way in which they managed the midsection and shaped the thighs.

Con: Without pockets, a zipper or a button, this jean is a pure pull on, so for those wanting a more traditional jean, Spanx would not be a great pick for you. If in between sizes, we recommend you to size up.

Spanx High-Waist Flared Jeans in Black
Spanx High-Waist Flared Jeans in Midnight Blue

NYDJ Waist-Match™ Flare Jean

Price: $119

Quality: As Expected

Fit: Runs Large

Style: 4/5

Fit: 5/5

Function: 4/5

Pro: The NYDJ denim brand has made their name selling jeans designed to flatter a womanly figure with patented Waist-Match™ technology to boot. Our Test team loved the wide elastic waist panel and tummy control fabric between the pockets. Perhaps of greatest note, this jean was ranked as the most comfortable pair tried on of the entire Test Closet batch.

Con: Whereas the SPANX jean ran slightly small, the NYDJ ran slightly large. Our team felt it had less control than SPANX, and stretched out a bit after wear. We recommend sizing down in NYDJ.

NYDJ Waist-Match Flare Jean in Blue
NYDJ Waist-Match Flare Jean - Plus Size

Mother High Waisted Looker

Price: $228

Quality: As Expected

Fit: True to Size

Style: 5/5

Fit: 4/5

Function: 4/5

Pro: At 94% cotton, this was our most cotton-forward jean, so we were surprised by both the give and control offered by this style. The High Waisted Looker landed above the belly button on most body types tested, and stylistically, this jean lives up to the hype (and price) of MOTHER Jeans. Our Test Closet team loved the quality of the fabric and felt most current leaving the house in this jean.

Con: The MOTHER High Wasted Looker is not a proper “tummy control” jean, so at a high price tag, you may be optimizing for style over function. Also, for women with a naturally long rise or meno-belly under consideration, we found the rise too short for comfort.

Mother High Waisted Looker Dark Blue
Mother High Waisted Looker Medium Blue

Levi’s 311 Shaping Skinny Jean

Price: $89.50

Quality: Better than Expected

Fit: True to Size

Style: 4/5

Fit: 4/5

Function: 3/5

Pro: The 311 Shaping Skinny Jean featured Levi’s “premium denim” in a body shaping style. Our Test Closet team thought the value of price to quality was incredibly high, most noting appreciation for the feel of the denim despite it being only 60% cotton. Shape-wise, this style lived up to its name, creating flattering leg lines that our team loved.

Con: This jean rise was more medium-rise than high-rise, falling slightly below the belly button on more than half of our test team. For women with a naturally long rise or meno-belly under consideration, this style ranked lower than other higher-rise options.

Levi's 311 Shaping Skinny Jean
Levi's 311 Shaping Skinny Jean Plus Size

Tips from Our Consumer “Test Closet” Panel:

  • Look for jeans with over 60% cotton. Typically we found that jeans with less than 60% cotton didn’t hold us in as well or else didn’t have a quality denim feel.
  • The rise – in our case, a true high rise – was one of the most critical elements of the jeans we loved.
  • Shaping jeans can be as effective as tummy control jeans. Just because a brand markets built-in panels at the waistline does not mean it functions well in the control department. Consider both options in your search.

What We’re Passing On

Not all jeans are created equal. While we respect all brands, these few styles didn’t pass the Six to Sunday threshold of at least a total score of 3/5.

  • Wit & Wisdom ($88): At less than 60% cotton, these jeans just had too much give, refusing to impart the control or shape we wanted and feeling more like a jegging than jean. Wit & Wisdom also scored lowest on our Style ranking. We recommend sizing down if you choose this brand.
  • Athleta Sculptek ($118): Without clear differentiation in style or that yummy-quality-denim, the Sculptek disappointed on function. Our testers didn’t find the belly panels behind the pockets to perform well in midsection control, while the lower rise style meant that several testers felt discomfort in where the jean hit the belly, waist and behind.
  • Levi’s 721 High Rise ($69.50): While our test team appreciated the high rise of this pant, as women with an average age of 49, we found the waist band tapered too much and cut into our midsection to the point of discomfort. In addition, the denim quality was less impressive to our women than the Premium Denim featured in the 311 style.

All products featured on Six to Sunday are independently selected by our editors and contributors. We may get paid commissions on products purchased through our links to retailer sites. However, we recommend products based on our independent research and point of view, and the decisions we make regarding the products we feature on our site are always driven by what we believe our community will love, first and foremost.

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