Time to update that ragged pair of jeans you wear every day? Our testers have researched and purchased the top 9 women's jeans on the market and compiled the results of their findings in this hands-on, comprehensive review. We walked, sat, squatted, gardened, and moved furniture in these pants to determine the very best and worst of the bunch. From recreating to work to date night, we've selected the top options for every activity. Our review can help guide you to the perfect pair to accommodate your budget and wardrobe needs.
The Amazon Essentials High Rise Skinny is one you'll want in multiple colors to pair with any outfit. Their fit is straightforward and true-to-size, and we found them extremely comfortable when sitting for hours at work. They also perform well when moving around and doing chores at home. The material held up to testing better than most other pairs; the seams didn't budge when rubbed with coarse sandpaper, and the material showed little wear on the knees. The high waist and stretchy material offer a flattering fit, and the front pockets are surprisingly deep. They're also an excellent value and are offered in multiple styles.
There weren't many unfavorable aspects to the Amazon Essentials High Rise Skinny. The stretchy material (it includes 18% polyester and 3% elastane) means they get a bit sweaty while gardening or doing yard work on a hot day. If you're a brand loyalist who cares deeply about the latest trends, the Amazon brand might not pull as much weight as high-fashion brands. Overall though, they're a great value and our top choice, as it's the pair you'll dig out of your closet again and again.
Best Bang for the Buck
Signature by Levi Strauss Gold Label Modern Skinny
The Signature by Levi Strauss Gold Label Totally Shaping Pull-On Skinny is a flattering, comfortable pair of high-waisted jeans with a reasonable price tag. The material composition of these flattering pants is 78% cotton, 20% polyester, and 2% elastane, which makes for a stretchy, comfortable fit. We like the high waist and found that they were comfortable enough to wear all day. The material is also durable and substantial enough to look professional, and we felt great rocking these pants on a casual Friday at the office.
Though they are comfortable by skinny jean standards, these are not the pants we reach for when heading out to do chores in the yard. Their tight fit doesn't offer great range of motion. We also had some problems with durability on the seams and the knees during our sandpaper test, which doesn't bode well for their long-term durability.
When we wanted to look sharp, we reached for the Levi's 721 High Rise Skinny. This pair is high-waisted and flattering for any body shape. We loved the skinny shape but appreciated that the lower leg wasn't overly tight, like some of the other skinny options we tested. The waistband, belt loops, and zipper are all durable and well made, plus the denim fared well during our durability test. If you are dressing to impress, look no further than the Levi's 721.
Because these pants are tight-fitting and flattering, they fall a bit short in terms of range of motion. We definitely would not recommend these for doing chores around the house or for helping a friend move furniture — they just don't have the same give that a jean with a higher elastane percentage does. Regardless, these are our go-to for a night out or a cute casual Friday outfit.
Best for Wear All Day Comfort
Gloria Vanderbilt Classic Amanda High Rise Tapered
The Gloria Vanderbilt Classic Amanda High Rise Tapered is the most comfortable pair tested; they're nearly as comfortable as a pair of sweatpants. The high waist means they stay in place when you sit, bend over, or squat down, so they're great for gardening, projects around the house, or lounging on the couch. They're also durable — when we rubbed them with sandpaper, we did not see a noticeable difference. The belt loops are also solid. Unlike many women's jeans with tiny front pockets, these are big enough to fit a whole hand in, which is refreshing!
The downside of these is reflected in their style. Despite being marketed as "the original slimming jean," nothing is slimming about this very loose tapered fit. (Most reviews agree that they're true to size, but the 33" waist and 30" inseam are a few inches bigger than the average size 10.) They may not be ultra-flattering, but for pants that can stick with you all day and not leave you feeling like you need to change when you get home, the Gloria Vanderbilt Amanda Classic has the perfect fit.
If you enjoy doing cartwheels (or even just walking the dog), the LEE Monroe Instantly Slim Classic Relaxed Fit is the ideal pair. The high waist sticks with you for bending, squatting, lunging, or stretching — all without bunching up or exposing the wearer's backside. The relaxed cut and true-to-size fit also mean they fit comfortably, without any grommets or itchy tags digging in.
We managed to wear a hole in the seam of the inner thigh just over halfway through testing the durability metric (it took just 60 rubs with coarse sandpaper), and the color changes significantly when the material experiences wear-and-tear, including washing. After just five trips through the washing machine, there's already a slight difference in color. The zipper fly also catches occasionally, around one in 20 times. However, for a comfortable, easygoing pant that moves with you, the LEE Monroe is an excellent option.
Durable Pull-On Skinny Pants
Signature by Levi Strauss Gold Label Totally Shaping Pull-On Skinny
Be warned; the Signature by Levi Strauss Gold Label Totally Shaping Pull-On Skinny are not jeans! They're jeggings! This means they don't have a zipper, pockets, or belt loops. They have mock features that make them resemble classic jeans, which is its own aesthetic. We found them to run a bit small, and it took a serious effort to get into them (lots of jumping around the room). That said, if you order the right size, these will provide a stretchy fit with lots of mobility.
We weren't convinced by the sewn-in front pockets and found the waistband to almost feel more invasive than a traditional button-zip fly. The waist measurement is true to size, but the inseam is short for its size. You'll want to wash with similar colors, especially on the first few washes, as they leak a fair amount of dye right off the bat (although there's no noticeable difference in the color of the material afterward).
The Amazon Essentials Mid-Rise Skinny provide all the same wonderful qualities as their High-Rise counterparts we loved so much. They are comfortable, flattering, super stretchy, and come in a variety of color options. We appreciate that these jeans fit true to size and have a bit of forgiving stretch in them, since they have to be purchased online, without trying them on in person. We were also pleased by the reasonable price tag on these pants.
We ordered a slightly distressed version and found that the "distressed" hole that came with the pants grew quite a lot after only a few hours of wear. This doesn't bode well for the pants' overall durability in the long term. We appreciate the simplicity of these pants in terms of design, but some may find their lack of flair a bit underwhelming.
The Levi's 711 Skinny are seriously skin tight. From the waist to the ankle, these will hug all your curves. For those with skinny legs, they will provide a flattering fit, but if you have muscular thighs and calves, be prepared for a legging-level fit. The belt loops and zipper run smooth and the materials felt durable.
Again, these fit so tightly that many reviewers suggest going up one or even two sizes when ordering; despite that, the measurements are fairly standard for a size 6, though we had to do a little dance to wiggle into them. Because they're tight, there's not much range of motion, and you may want a belt to keep them up if you're bending or squatting. The Levi's 711 Skinny is a slightly budget-friendly alternative to some higher-fashion products.
The NYDJ Marilyn Straight is a comfortable pair for running errands or even wearing to the office on a casual Friday. The seams hold up well, and the material is very soft and stretchy. They're comfy enough to walk around in, and the cut is loose enough so they don't dig in anywhere if you're sitting for a longer period. The material is lighter than typical denim, which makes them a good summertime jean.
Material on the knees didn't hold up particularly well to testing; while our testing did not result in any holes, the color and texture changed significantly when rubbed. Although they fit mostly true to size, there's a large gap in the waist at the back (and indeed, the waist measurement is a rather large 34" for the size). Then again, the higher price point means you probably won't want to wear these for outdoor chores, anyway. The material is a little itchy on the inside, so it's worth washing them inside out, which helps a bit after a couple of washes. The Marilyn Straight Leg is a comfortable, durable pair that's worth spending a little extra on.
Why You Should Trust Us
Jane Jackson has applied the same scrutiny, analysis, and rigorous testing protocols that she used to test outdoor equipment to this jeans review. She has worked as a review editor for many years and has developed a keen eye for products that work and those that fall short. When she's not working inside, Jane is putting her clothing and gear through the wringer — climbing, biking, running, camping, and playing in the dirt.
Jane tested these jeans while carrying on her daily life in Bishop, California, subjecting them to the extremes of the desert in winter. From climbing to chores to days about town, each pair has been worn in all types of circumstances. To test each pair objectively, we did the same calisthenics in each pair — lunges, squats, and forward bends. We also assessed the fit with a size 6 pair, noting whether each pair fit tight, big, or true to size. To assess durability, we rubbed sandpaper on the knees and seams, plus threw each pair in the wash to see how the dyes held up.
Analysis and Test Results
We chose a wide array of jeans ranging from skinny to stretch to loose-fitting and all in between. During our testing, we look at key metrics and assess each pair comparatively; you'll get an idea of how each performs, which can help inform your decision while searching for a new purchase online.
Denim is meant to be comfortable enough to wear anywhere, all day. We tested this metric by determining the level of comfort each provided while sitting and moving. We then assessed stretch, how stiff each fabric was, and the weight of the material. We noted spots where waistbands, seams, and grommets dug in while sitting, as well as pinch spots and hot spots while moving. The Gloria Vanderbilt Amanda Classic was easily the most comfortable pair we tried, thanks to its relatively light denim material, medium stretch, and slightly looser fit.
The Signature by Levi was a close second, thanks to its ultra-stretchy material, which made it so that sitting, bending, and squatting were no problem. The Amazon Essentials Skinny was also very comfortable, with a fit that was snug enough to be flattering but not too tight.
Denim balances durability by increasing the stiffness and thickness of the fabric and by balancing stretch. To test durability, we abraded each pair 100 times (on the knee and inner seam) with a piece of coarse sandpaper. We also tested wear and tear during everyday wear and typical chores in the garden and the house. The Signature by Levi Strauss & Co. Gold Label Shaping are quite durable and have no belt loops or zippers to malfunction.
Of the traditional denim, the Levi's 721 High Rise Skinny were the most durable pair. The material had the least wear of any pair we tested when rubbed with sandpaper; there was a slight change in color but no significant wear on the material. The seams also stayed intact except for some slight fraying when rubbed with sandpaper, and the belt loops were very sturdy.
Range of Motion
With the advent of jeggings, range of motion is not left to baggy, work jeans alone. In fact, we found a ton of mobility in the tightest-fitting skinny jeans on the market, depending on the percentage of stretchy materials used in their construction. To test this metric, we performed many bends, lunges, and squats. We then sat in the pants for two hours and wore them while performing chores around the house and yard.
The LEE Monroe was the standout in range of motion. This pair allowed for such great range of motion that our tester wore them while gardening and did not note any restriction. A few other notable pairs for range of motion include the Gloria Vanderbilt and both of the Amazon Essentials options.
We noticed a large range of quality when testing the components metric. Each pair was tested for zipper quality by rapidly using the zipper 100 times. We also tested belt loop quality by stressing the belt loops, which meant tugging on them 100 times.
To determine any loose stitching or fraying, we examined the stitching upon arrival. The Amazon Essentials High Rise Jean had the best component parts. We appreciated that the stitching was high quality, the belt loops had no issues or tearing, and the YKK zipper was flawless. The TAT brand zipper on the Signature by Levi Strauss & Co. Gold Label Modern-Skinny and the Levi's brand zipper on the Levi's 721 High Rise Skinny also worked smoothly, each catching only once during our testing. The Gloria Vanderbilt Amanda Classic zipper caught occasionally — around one in ten times.
Sizing is key for comfort and performance, and women's jeans are notoriously inconsistent in sizing. To find consistency with sizes, particularly with various cuts and stretch, we measured the waist and inseam of each contender. We then compared the waist and inseam against the advertised sizes. We paid attention to stretch during wear and looked for any issues with shrinking after washing. We've noted when pairs were true to size or deviated greatly from the typical sizing.
Our tester is typically a US women's 6, and while all pairs did fit, there was a huge range in fit. The waist measurements we conducted in-house differed by about six inches, depending on the pair. Inseam lengths ranged from a very short 27" on the Signature by Levi Strauss & Co. Gold Label Modern-Skinny and the Levi's 721 High Rise Skinny to a fairly long 31" on the LEE Monroe and the NYDJ Marilyn Straight Leg Denim.
The NYDJ Marilyn Straight Leg were the biggest; they fit comfortably, but there was a gap in the back of the waist. The tightest fit was the Levi's 711 Skinny and the Signature Gold Label Totally Shaping Pull-On Skinny. The Amazon Essentials pairs we tested, as well as the traditional Levi's, fit the best, and we found them true to size.
Jeans are a staple in most women's wardrobes and are worn in a variety of situations. We ask a lot of our denim - we want them to look flattering, feel comfortable, and be functional. We want to feel great while also being able to move through our day unrestricted by our pants. With endless options out there in terms of cut, style, and materials, it can be overwhelming to figure out what type of jeans to buy. Hopefully, our review will help guide you to your next favorite pair.