In addition to styling people’s wardrobes and cleaning their closets, I also teach fitness classes at my local gym. I’ve been running, lifting, and stretching for decades trying to keep my inner beast calm. Having crossover expertise in clothing and fitness, I wanted to share what I’ve learned through years of personal fit tests and client research on leggings for fashion, lounge, and of course exercise.
When it comes to clothing there are times to save and times to invest. In general, I believe in buying quality. I keep exactly 6 pairs of leggings in my workout drawer. And while most cost around $98 a piece, I get at least 130 wear out of each of them. I wear them once per week wear, for two to three years. To calculate the cost per wear, take the cost and divide it by the number of times it is worn (ie $98/130=$0.75). Paying 75 cents to avoid itchy seam rashes, sweaty crotchlines, and jiggly embarrassment is 110% worth the investment to me.
However, there are definitely times it makes more sense to save: if you are under 18 and still growing, if you are in-between sizes, if you are on a tight budget, or if you just like to switch things up a lot. In this case, I have found you great options that have at least 70% of the quality for about 20% of the price.
Next, a few disclaimers:
- Rise – the only rise I consider is high rise. After giving birth to three babies and having two internal organs reattached #notjoking, I figure my abdomen deserves it.
- Length – I am 5 ft 5 in tall. I wear a 7/8 length almost exclusively. Full lengths are typically too long, and hemming a tight is usually a poor solution. You’ll end up with a pant leg opening that is too wide for your ankle because it was designed to fit a calf.
Now on to the reviews –
Zella Live-In Leggings, $98 || HOMMA Slimming Leggings, $19.50
When it comes to athleisure-wear fashion, leggings are a wardrobe staple. Since you won’t be tucking in or even showing the waistline for most of your street looks, go for a high waistline which will offer the best support for your soft, delicious center. You want smooth surfaces with no pinching or squeezing. While the Zella Live-In option has more durable fabric and requires less work to get on, if you’re getting this for your daughter, I’d definitely go in the Amazon Homma Slimming Leggings direction. Both options can take you from basic workouts to brunch and everywhere in between.
Honorable Mention: Sanctuary Runway Legging
I’ve actually purchased the Sanctuary Runway Legging three different times, twice in black and once in dark green. It’s a relatively thick blended fabric (on the edge of a legging moving into pants territory). It isn’t as “naked feeling” as some of the options I highlighted: meaning it’s not as comfortable but it offers tons of support…and back pockets for self-conscious booties.
Athleta Venice Jogger, $98 || The Gym People Tapered Jogger, $28.99
I had to step up my lounge game recently and jogger leggings became my wear-on-repeat outfit. These pants have a smooth waistband like leggings, but more of a relaxed jogger like fit on the leg. The Athleta Venice Jogger has ribbed reinforcements to minimize wear and bunching between the legs and a slightly more comfortable, secure waistline, but if you want more colors with a smaller price tag, the Gym People Tapere Jogger dupe on Amazon is a great alternative.
Honorable Mention: Lululemon Align Jogger
The Lululemon Align Joggers are constructed from a lighter fabric than the options I highlighted, so if you prefer breathability over coziness (maybe during the summer months), I highly recommend them.
Lululemon Align Leggings, $98 || Yogalicious , $19
Leggings may have been born during the Renaissance period for wear under chain mail, but they really stretched to their current potential in Yoga studios. The standards for this purpose are exceptionally high. Number one, you want zero transparency. You also want a slightly lighter, smoother fabric to ensure there is no chafing or pinching during your mobility practice. You generally don’t need compression or as much sweat-wicking because there is less perspiration and minimal bouncing. My pick for this category is the Lululemon Align Legging. The fabric is weightless and buttery. It will last hundreds of wears without pilling and feels transcendent on. Size up one to two numbers from your standard American size whenever you order from Lululemon. If you’re just experimenting with a yoga mat, and aren’t ready to invest yet, I recommend the Yogalicious knock off. It’s not quite as soft or durable, but it’s a great place to start.
Honorable Mention: Athleta Salutation Stash Pocket Tight
Featuring PowerVita fabric, the Athleta Salutation Stash Pocket Tight is buttery soft, offering light compression, and includes a convenient side pocket. They’ve been a best seller at Athleta for many years and come in lots of fun colors and prints.
2. Lululemon Invigorate High-Rise Tight, $128 / Old Navy Elevate Sculpt, $50
When it comes to running, dancing, HIIT training, and other sweaty workouts with lots of bouncing, you need extra support and moisture wick. One of the reasons that leggings cost what they do, is the fabric. There’s a lot of technology that goes into blending and weaving materials so they are soft, flat, resilient, and dry quickly. There are few things worse than getting half-way into a class only to see it looks like you forgot to use the restroom. You also want to make sure you have compression to support and stabilize your muscles and absorb some of the strain on your body. Both of these tights offer exceptional features for supporting you during your highest impact workouts. Lululemon’s Invigorate Tight has flatlock seams, will last longer without bagging or pilling, and is easier to get into and out of, all without compromising support. Lululemon also includes free alterations like hemming and repairs or exchanges if your gear doesn’t hold up. But if you’re transitioning sizes, or aren’t ready to invest for any reason, Old Navy’s Elevate Sculpt offers very similar features at a great value. They aren’t quite as soft or fluid of a fit, but they do their job well.
Honorable Mention: Athleta Ultimate Tight
This is a great option for sweaty, high impact workouts. I like the fit of Lululemon’s Invigorate only slightly better. The Athleta Ultimate Tight comes in lots of colors and patterns. I even own a pair in a rust animal print that I have never “sweated out.” Which for someone who typically only wears black and dark grey bottoms (like Batman), it’s a very big victory.
3. Spanx Faux Leather Leggings, $98 / Target Wild Fable Faux Leather Leggings, $20
I love Vince Camuto’s legging options and their Faux Leather version does not disappoint. It has a sophisticated ankle cut that isn’t overly tight, but I would recommend sizing down especially if you’re in between sizes.
Did I miss your favorite? Tell me about it in the comments. I’d love to try them out too.