Spanx vs. Kim Kardashian’s Skims shapewear—which is better?
We pitted tried-and-true against hot-and-new in the ultimate shapewear test
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I’ve never been much of a shapewear person, but heading into my thirties meant slower metabolism and a dairy-induced belly. Shapewear has now entered the conversation for me. Also, I’m always down to try anything that might make me look or feel better in my clothes.
There’s no way to have any conversation about shapewear brands without mentioning Spanx. The brand started by Sara Blakely almost 20 years ago has become synonymous with shapewear and now includes underwear for men and some clothing.
But Kim Kardashian made waves when she announced on Instagram that she’d be entering the “foundational garment” game. At first, it wasn’t the products, but the name of the line, Kimono, that caught folks’ (negative) attention. But once the brand was renamed Skims and products were released, there was be genuine excitement—if the instant backorder and long waitlists were any indication.
What is Skims?
Touted as “the new, solution-focused approach to shape enhancing undergarments, created by Kim Kardashian,” Skims Solutionwear includes the usual stretchy shapewear items, designed to provide “solutions” for tummy, butt, waist, and thighs, in different support levels (medium, high, and “super high”). At sizes ranging from XXXS/XS to 4X/5X, their options are even broader than Spanx's.
Skims offers shapewear in white, black, shades of gray, and an inclusive range of skin shades from “Sand” to “Cocoa” (though not all items come in all hues). The company also makes bras, non-shaping underwear, waist trainers, a cotton line, and some more unique speciality items, such as a single-legged short for wearing beneath skirts with high slits.
So I wondered: How does the new kid on the block compare to the O.G.? I decided to try both brands in a “shape-off” to see which performed better at smoothing my target area—my stomach.
On a recent trip to Seattle, I knew I’d be eating a ton and having a few cocktails. I’d also be sightseeing a lot—and no one would notice that I wore the same outfits (to test the two brands with the same clothing as an, um, control) two days in a row. This was a great time to put both brands and their respective products to the test, for both their shaping capabilities and their all-day comfort.
How did I test Skims vs. Spanx?
To keep the comparisons fair, my editor selected comparable garments from each brand. For my Spanx vs. Skims tests, I ended up with:
- Skims Sculpting Bodysuit Mid Thigh ($68) in Oxide (I’d requested Cocoa, but it was out of stock) versus Spanx OnCore Mid-thigh Bodysuit ($98) in Black
- Skims Core Control Short Mid Thigh (also $38) also in Oxide versus Spanx Higher Power short ($38) in Black
- Skims Solution Short #2 ($42) in Cocoa. This one I tested on its own, because Spanx doesn’t (yet) sell a short with only one leg, designed for wear under a dress with a side slit.
Round 1: The battle of the bodysuits
To test these full-torso garments, I wore each under a body-skimming knit dress.
Skims First up was the Skims Sculpting Bodysuit Mid Thigh. I literally laughed out loud when I took it out of the packaging (which is pretty, by the way). It was just so small, despite having been ordered in my size. I knew the material would stretch, but this was teeny. I assumed its “high support” would feel suffocating.
However, I was pleased when I shimmied into the bodysuit and found it pretty comfortable. It sucked in my stomach, but felt like a firm hug instead of a bear hug.
I can’t say I noticed a major difference in how my dress looked post-Skims. I went on about my day as usual, but soon realized going to the restroom had become a process. I had to totally unzip the back of my dress and take my arms out to pull the bodysuit down. Nothing horrible, but annoying.
At the end of the night, I found the suit had left skin indentations at my shoulder and around my chest. Though the suit didn’t feel uncomfortable, it was tight enough to leave its mark.
Spanx Near-identical to the Skims bodysuit is Spanx’s OnCore Mid-Thigh Bodysuit. Despite looking larger than the Skims equivalent, it was tough—beyond tough—to get into.
It required a lot of shimmying and shifting from one side to the next to pull it up properly, and I thought one of my press-on nails was going to pop off in the process. When I finally pulled the suit up and adjusted as necessary, it felt worth it. There was great thigh support, my butt looked great, and it was seamless. The comfort level was the same as Skims.
The crotch had an opening, called a “double-gusset opening,” to make using the bathroom easier. Unfortunately, it was so small that I could easily see an accident happening. Like with the Skims, I had to undo my dress and pull it down.
This was a struggle, as was pulling it back on. Late in my evening, I didn’t even bother pulling the Spanx all the way back up since I was just heading back to my hotel anyway.
The winner: Spanx Despite being tough to get in and out of, the Spanx offering was worth getting the hang of. Both brands have a similar amount of body-shaping spandex. While the difference wasn’t as visible in my dress, the Spanx supported my stomach more and smoothed out my hips. However, it didn’t live up to its lofty claim of a “tabletop-flat stomach”.
Round 2: The skirmish of the shorts
The knit dress made it hard for me to see any major difference between the shapewear, so this time I wore a tight shirt and leggings to better see, not just feel, how they looked.
Skims I liked the Skims Core Control Short Mid Thigh before I even tried it on, based on the wider band around the midsection. The shorts were easier to get into than the bodysuits (of course), and I audibly said “Whoa!” once they were on—not because they were too tight, I just felt the “high support” that Skims advertised totally sucking in my belly.
These shorts are described as “silky and invisible under everything.” That last part just wasn’t true for me. You can clearly see the front seam and the bands at the hem under my leggings.
It didn’t bother me, because I was wearing this look with a blazer on top for a casual day of sightseeing. But it might be distracting under a form-fitting dress for a special occasion. Despite this, I really liked the shorts and found them extremely comfortable.
Spanx The next morning it was time for the Spanx Higher Power short. According to Spanx, these are for everyday wear, with “less squeeze.” But they felt just as supportive, if not more so in certain areas, than the “high-support” Skims.
This Spanx short had great tummy control for the mid and lower stomach, and the wider thigh bands smoothed my legs out. Those bands were visible under my leggings, but more faintly than the Skims.
The side thigh seam was visible as well, which I didn’t notice until I saw photos later. The shorts had the double-gusset crotch opening as the Spanx bodysuit. But getting in and out of them when to use the bathroom was easy enough that the opening was useless.
The winner: A tie Whereas I had a clear winner for the bodysuit, it was a toss-up for the shorts, which is odd, considering how different they are. The Skims shorts are 79 percent nylon and 21 percent spandex, their “most supportive construction”.
Spanx’s 54 nylon/46 percent spandex should be more compressive, but the two felt identically supportive. They were also equally comfortable. Aside from Skims having more visible thigh bands, my outfit looked the same with both sets of shapewear.
Round 3: The funky outlier
Finally, it was time for me to try the piece I’d been most looking forward to, the Skims Solution Short #2.
This is an interesting mid-thigh length short with one leg exposed. The design is meant to be a “solution for high-slit skirts”. I didn’t have a high-slit skirt, especially in 40-degree Seattle weather, so I wore them with skinny jeans and a bodysuit top. I’d hope the same core-hugging, one-thigh-smoothing properties would work for any garment.
Stepping into these shorts was tough. The extremely tight fit, caused me to stop midway and take a breather. I liked the color—the Cocoa perfectly matched my skin, whereas the others were Oxide and just a bit off. But I was tempted to double-check the packaging and make sure this was a size S/M like the others. It was the correct size, but for some reason it was so tight.
Once I got my second wind and everything was in place, I liked the shorts. They helped to define and smooth my waist, and looked seamless under my bodysuit. But the one exposed leg? The material left was pretty tight around my crotch and took quite a bit of adjusting before it felt semi-comfortable.
All told, I liked how these made my butt look, but I could also see the panty line on the exposed right leg. I could even see the thigh band on the left leg through my jeans if I looked closely.
As I went through my day, that cinched waist and stomach feeling started to fade. However, it was because the waistband kept rolling down. I didn’t have this problem with the other Skims shorts (or the Spanx), but for some reason, this waist kept rolling down and folding over.
These shorts can’t be worn backwards, to switch up the exposed leg. Instead, Solution Short #1 and #2 each expose a different leg. If you wear a lot of skirts with really high slits, this $42 item could be a good option. Otherwise, these were my least favorite, due to their lack of practicality in my wardrobe and the rolling-down waist.
Are Skims better than Spanx?
Both Skims and Spanx were similar in comfort. I never had a “get me out of this/I can’t breathe” moment with any products. Some proved more challenging to maneuver in and out of, but by the second wear, I’d learned enough to make the process easier. The visual effects were also similar, with my outfits looking about the same over both brands.
As far as garment care, both brands are machine-washable. Since I was on the road I just hand-washed them in the hotel sink, and they all dried quickly.
Should you try Skims?
Though the one-leg wonder was a bust for me, I liked the Skims products. The sizing was on point (and goes up to a 4X/5X, two sizes larger than Spanx). I absolutely loved the nine shades to match skin tones, including one that was perfect for me.
But Spanx also met the high expectations I had for the brand that’s revolutionized shapewear. The price tag, especially for the $100 bodysuit, is steep. But if I was only going to buy one piece of shapewear, the Spanx bodysuit would probably be it.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.