Squeezing real-world curves into lean-fitting denim – few things are more frustrating. Thighs get sausagey, derrieres get flattened (or worse) and you can't bend over without offering innocent bystanders a free peep show. A few years back, Not Your Daughter's Jeans rode to the rescue with a line of functional denim – jeans that promised to flatter what you have and hide what they should.
Now, amazingly, premium denim brands that didn't deign to make sizes larger than 30 are getting in on the action. Even J Brand – makers of Mary-Kate Olsen and Nicole Richie's toothpick-thin dungarees – introduced a line of roomier styles called Blue Label. We tested five of these purportedly figure-fixing jeans. Some weren't cute and actually created a few extra bulges. But the best fit us so well and made us look so svelte that friends demanded we spill our secret. Judging by the cupcakes we ate yesterday, there's no secret – it can only be the jeans.
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RATINGS: 5 stars, a must have; 4 stars, a good addition; 3 stars, take it or leave it;
2 stars, in a pinch; 1 star, not even if you're desperate.
Hello! SkinnyJeans “NiteWash” jeans
Claim to fame: This Los Angeles-based label claims that its jeans make you look thinner – no lipo or boot camp required – and go up to size 38.
Style quotient: A super-dark wash, contrasting trim and slightly flared straight-leg cut let these pants transcend trendy. The classic look is cool enough to wear now and won't go out of style later.
Comfort: Our SkinnyJeans had just the right amount of stretch and cuddled our curves like a Porsche on the Autobahn.
Bottom line: The nerdy name was a little off-putting, but our thighs haven't looked that good since the days we practically lived on a treadmill.
Rozzie Rae “Bette” jeans
Claim to fame: Designed “for the sexy American woman,” meaning those with a pear- or apple-shaped figure.
Style quotient: Raw indigo coloring and a high, '70s-style waist put these pants right in step with today's denim trends. But there was a problem: The zone between the pockets and the waistband was much less constricting than either of them, resulting in an unsightly bulge right around the love handles.
Comfort: They're stretchy but thicker than the other pairs we tried. We felt sexy through the thighs, as our pesky Jell-O jiggle was almost completely compressed. But above the thighs? Not so much.
Bottom line: They're cute, comfortable and go up to a size 36. Just wear a long shirt.
J Brand Blue Label
Claim to fame: With its latest line, J Brand expands on its famous peg-leg silhouette by adding roomier hips, thighs and a contoured waistband to minimize the chance of contracting denim's deadliest disaster: the dreaded plumber's crack.
Style quotient: Our midnight blue trousers were the coolest-looking pair in the pack, and with good reason. Blue Label uses the same ink-stained washes and sleek, stretchy fabrics that have made J Brand a fashion fave since 2005. Next to a pair of J Brand's standard fit jeans, you'd be hard pressed to tell Blue Label apart.
Comfort: They're tight, all right – they sucked us in like a Dyson. But the excess blubber had to go somewhere, and it spilled over the low-rise top. Low-rise and love handles don't mix.
Bottom line: As longtime J Brand devotees, we couldn't see a difference between the favorite standard-fit pairs in our closet and the Blue Label curvy cuts. Compared with the other jeans we tested, these had the lowest waistband, the longest legs, and the most limited size range (only up to a 33) – which means they won't appeal to every woman.
Claim to fame: These Brazilian-engineered jeans aim to flatter natural curves with a slightly high waist, contoured butt support and contrast stitching that distracts from trouble spots.
Style quotient: That contrast stitching is pink and purple – an, um, complement to the glittery front button. To make matters worse, a batch of flat, circular rivets dot the front and back pockets, officially making these jeans too tween for our taste.
Comfort: We may as well have been wearing sweats in these free-as-a-bird-feeling jeans. There was no gaping when we sat so we felt confident that our Victoria's Secret would remain just that.
Bottom line: Sure, they felt good, and they go up to women's size 16. But these jeans had too little of a figure-flattering effect to forgive their poor styling.
Not Your Daughter's Jeans Tummy Tuck Bootcut Jeans
Claim to fame: “Made for real women with real curves” and available in the biggest size range (up to a women's 24)
Style quotient: A faded indigo finish and trendy high waist look harmless on a hanger. But on the body, these awkwardly proportioned jeans did us dirty, creating curves in places we didn't have any before. And not in a good way.
Comfort: Because of the high waist, we had to reposition ourselves to keep the front button from creating a second belly button while we sat. But overall, the stretchy cotton and Spandex made these pretty breathable. Extra points for keeping things under wraps when we bent down and leaned forward.
Bottom line: Our boyish bottom half suddenly looked hippy. Saddlebags showed up out of nowhere, and our behind should have been plastered with a “Caution: Wide Load” bumper sticker. It's true: Your daughter wouldn't be caught dead in these.