For three months, I sported 15 pairs of leggings around the city. Some tagged along to my favorite yoga studios for power vinyasa and heated hatha flows. Others were sidekicks for a bit more heavy weightlifting, running and hiking through my favorite local parks, traveling across the country, yoga teacher training, and nibbles at my favorite local eateries. Suffice it to say, I used the past several months to find out just how compatible each pair was with my wildly unpredictable lifestyle.
The Ultimate Legging Test
As a retired lululemon educator, avid fitness enthusiast, yoga teacher, and certified personal trainer, I’ve been in the legging game for a while. Leggings are the one constant in my ever-changing wardrobe, and finding dependable, quality options that accommodate my many endeavors has become a bit of a specialty. Through this project, I get to share this niche with you—my fellow women pursuing the perfect pair of black stretchy pants to support you as you conquer your next sweat sesh, athleisure adventure, and whatever else your day has in store.
Criteria to Consider When Shopping for the Best Workout Leggings
You may have noticed the exceedingly wide range of activities listed above. Well, for each one, there’s an ideal legging material. Unfortunately, the best leggings for a slow yoga flow won’t typically be conducive to your weekend WODs at your favorite CrossFit box. While some materials tend to feel like a traditional legging, boasting that familiar cottony-soft feel, others have a notably sleeker finish. With this, we tend to see a shift from matte, brushed fabric to a silky, cool weave.
These differences reflect a number of factors that are important to consider. Moisture-wicking properties, for example, are highly variable and tend to be most effective in workout leggings that have a silkier finish. This technology will help the leggings remain dry during circumstances that are sure to create quite a bit of sweat. Bikram, anyone?
Four-way stretch is another characteristic that I took into consideration while evaluating each of the leggings I tested. This is present when a legging can easily stretch in both directions: crosswise and lengthwise. Many leggings with spandex blends offer this feature, and let me tell you, it’s a must!
The wash and care instructions are yet another detail worth considering. Some workout leggings require a bit more love and patience than others. While this may not be a deal breaker, it’s nonetheless worth considering prior to making a purchase.
Clinginess is a major factor as well! Have you ever had a pair of leggings that always looked as if it had picked up every fleck of lint or dog hair within in a 10-foot radius? Certain materials tend to latch onto particles more than others, and more often than not, these are the same cottony soft fabrics we love lounging around the house in. Others, though, are seemingly repellent and can make a great pick for travel days and pup walking.
Last but certainly not least, the sheerness of material can often be the deciding factor when it comes to purchasing a new pair of workout leggings. Whether you’re hanging out in downward dog, whipping through a few snatches, or chasing your precious toddler around the kitchen, the material of a legging determines whether or not you’ll be bending over without hesitation. Some fabrics, quite embarrassingly, fall short.
Where should the waistband of your leggings fit? Well, truth be told, it’s up to you and your personal preference! Of course, many women love their low-rise pairs, but it seems the majority of companies are gravitating toward designing workout leggings that boast high-rise waistlines.
Is this high-waist fit better? Not necessarily, but they certainly leave you feeling far more hugged and supported. There’s also the undeniable fact that high-rise waistbands create the illusion of an hourglass figure for even those with square torsos—myself included.
Note that within the realm of the high rise, there are still variations. High-rise for one brand may mean two inches below the belly button, while other brands’ high-rise leggings reach up toward the sternum, resulting in a dramatically different look and feel.
Leggings offer just as many options for length as they do for rise! There are pairs that sit around the ankles, others that fit snug around the lower calf, and still more that land either right above or just below the knee. I’ll be referring to these as full-length, ⅞ length, and capri throughout my reviews. Preferences for each of these will depend largely on an individual’s height. As a petite woman, my personal collection features many of my go-to ⅞ length leggings.
Full-length leggings often have extra fabric that gathers around the ankles of shorter gals, which certainly isn’t always an issue! With that said, this may not be conducive to activities like high-intensity spinning. Capris are an obvious fix to this, with a much shorter length that’s perfect for sweaty pursuits that call for a bit more breathability. Not all of us enjoy this “half-pant” look though, and if that’s the case for you, the ⅞ length will help you inhabit the middle ground with enviable style.
Ah, the perks of mesh detailing. Aside from the aesthetic advantages we’ve all seen and loved, mesh paneling also offers a degree of technicality to a pair of leggings. In many cases, companies include this feature to improve the breathability of the pant. Of course, some workout leggings offer far more assistance in this department than others.
When meshing is present in a pair of leggings, it’s important to understand how this could potentially affect their fit, stretch, and comfort. Various brands have mastered high-quality flexibility, but others manufacture leggings that are far more likely to snap at the seams around less expertly-executed mesh paneling when they’re pulled up the body.
With aesthetics in mind, let’s also remember that meshing is hella cute in the gym but not always ideal for everyday wear. If you’re a feisty mama who loves the look of skin shining through those peek-a-boos, don’t let me stop you! Many of us, though, prefer a solid fabric look for our athleisure pursuits and lounging around the house. Ultimately, the look and feel of mesh paneling is something to keep in mind as you consider what you can comfortably wear your leggings with and where you want to sport them.
Side pockets, waistband pockets, zippered pockets—all the pockets. Given our countless gadgets, many brands are creating leggings that offer several different ways to carry our necessities. Side pockets are particularly effective for stashing phones during workouts or errand runs, while waistband pockets are better suited for cash, IDs, cards, and loose keys.
Zippered pockets can be used in a similar fashion but with an added security measure to ensure your valuables won’t slip or fall out during any intense movement. (Because no one wants to replace an iPhone screen, am I right?) If you like keeping your items on your body (literally), this is one feature that you won’t want to dismiss.
With each of these characteristics carefully considered, there’s still one more important feature to add to the list. Despite the hundreds of leggings gracing the market, not all conform well to daily wear. Details like the fabric quality, waistband rise, length, paneling, and pockets can all affect how well a legging fits into your wardrobe, weekly routines, and travels.
If you’re a woman who’s constantly on the go, this is an important criterion to keep in mind. On days you find yourself rushing from the yoga studio to lunch with your girlfriends, a dependable pair of leggings that goes just as well with your favorite sporty crop as it does a cozy button-down is simply non-negotiable. If this scenario sounds all too familiar, it’s easy to see why the level of comfort and the overall look of the pant are also worth considering!
Requiring greater flexibility than any other style of workout tight, the right pair of yoga leggings must blend comfortable fabric with a reliable, solid finish. In my frequently changing world, they also need to support me in each of my yogi pursuits: from the slowest yin flows to the most upbeat power vinyasas (and everything in between)!
These leggings offer a goddess warrior squat-proof, naked-feeling fit and super-cute aesthetics. Merging heavenly soft material with side pockets and mesh cutouts for both functionality and style, these leggings are the ultimate game changer.
Material: You’re sure to notice this feature as soon as you slide this legging on, but the Salutation Tight is made with highly breathable material. This airy, thin fabric wicked away the possibility of any lingering sweat during class. The all-too-common dilemma of visible sweat spots? Not an issue with this legging. The overall fit is remarkably comfortable: I did not experience any chafing or excessive compression along the seams of these yoga pants. After taking them off, there wasn’t a single hint of residual indentation down my legs.
Athleta’s mesh is far more flexible than what you’ll find in many other pairs. In fact, it moves with the legging during the wildest yoga sequences. The matte black material denied any possibility of sheerness. It held up throughout my widest prasarita padottanasana and wasn’t shiny in the least, which I loved.
Despite the clinginess that often accompanies luxuriously soft leggings, the Athleta Meshblock Pocket Salutation Tight was essentially anti-clinging and anti-pilling. No visible pup hair despite our tightest early morning snuggles. What’s more, according to Athleta’s website, the Salutation Tight can be machine washed and dried, which is a definite win for the modern yogi.
Rise: Thanks to a high-rise waistband that hits just below the belly button—and the already mentioned soft matte material—flowing through a vinyasa class in these yoga leggings combines comfort with undeniable style. The waistband lays flat and never gathered beneath my form-fitting lululemon Cool Racerback. Throughout each of my yoga classes, the high-rise waistband successfully resisted folding and bunching.
Length: The Meshblock Salutation Tight comes in regular, plus, petite, and tall sizes, meaning you can find the perfect length for your yoga flow. I wore the regular tight with a 26” inseam for reference.
Paneling: The strategically placed mesh blocks flatter a woman’s natural curves and contribute to breathability, making these great go-to leggings for hot and power yoga flows. With that said, be sure to remove them after heated classes. Although they are moisture-wicking, no one enjoys a clammy feeling after 90 minutes of perspiration.
Pockets: These yoga leggings feature a waistband pocket that’s useful for non-clunky items like cards, cash, or a loose key, although I wouldn’t recommend using it for any such items during a flow. A nagging poke into your abdomen isn’t necessarily conducive to a moving meditation. Walking into my local yoga studio, I was pleased to find that the side pockets easily accommodated my iPhone 6s during the quick commute.
Everyday Wear: Not only do these leggings afford you the opportunity to move through your day freely—you’ll also look good doing it! After my most zenned-out (non-heated) yoga flow, I threw on platform Vans and a boxy striped crop to give the femininity a bit more ’90s edge, then grabbed a casual dinner with my beau in the city.
Considerations: If you’re looking for cellulite-concealing compression, this won’t be your ideal pair of yoga pants. A thicker, slightly sleeker fabric would be your best alternative. As mentioned, the sweat I’d worked up during the 108-degree dates with my mat resulted in a noticeably moist feeling. I loved the comfort mid-class but made sure to change into my breezy romper before heading out to my favorite coffee shop. With that said, the general breathability isn’t quite enough for a quick transition from the studio to your next activity.
Runner-Up: lululemon Align Pant
If you’re looking for a legging that boasts the same level of comfort, tummy-hugging waistband, and naked-feeling fabric without the mesh paneling, then the lululemon Align Pant is the perfect option. Made with a nearly identical material, the cut-outs are the only detail that distinguishes the winning Athleta Meshblock from this deserving runner-up.
The softness of the lululemon Align Pant is coupled with similar moisture-wicking properties, a small pocket in the waistband, and a variety of lengths to choose from depending on your stature. On days when I knew I’d be rushing from one activity to the next, this was the legging I reached for first! As cute as mesh can be, it isn’t always my desired look when running errands or headed to a mid-afternoon kombucha date.
Wanting more deets about this flattering legging? It’s my clear winner in another category, so read on as I’ll discuss the Align Pant in greater detail below.
Unlike yoga leggings, running tights have yet another crucial dimension to consider: compression. The right pairs will often be designed with material that contributes to a sturdier sensation and boasts a sleek finish to minimize the possibility of pilling during the high-friction activity. Wearing various pairs from the city streets to hidden dirt trails and back for my gym’s newest Skillmill allowed me to test just how much these running leggings could withstand.
Winner: Athleta Up for Anything ⅞ Tight
Athleta struck gold when they perfected the balance between well-built compression and uncompromising comfort in this running legging. With the sought-after bells and whistles, including everything from a secure zippered pocket to reflective properties, these leggings seem to have it all. Of course, I put them through a battery of tests to see if these lived up to their hype—wearing them during a variety of sessions ranging from all-out sprints up the grassiest hills to low-intensity steady state walks after an hour of heavy training. This legging finished leaps and bounds ahead of the others.
Material: The material used for the Up for Anything running tight is the No. 1 reason for its greatness. I was impressed by how the silky material quickly dried my sweat without revealing panty lines. I’ll admit: As a woman who prefers to workout sans underwear (who needs that extra layer?!), I also appreciated how well this legging fit along the crotch during my most intense training sessions.
Although the material fits snug against the length of the pant (waistband included), it didn’t dig into my obliques or leave me unable to fully enjoy my post-run meals. These leggings provide phenomenal support and compression without preventing you from, you know, living.
Also worth noting, as light as these leggings felt during my toughest (and most humid) runs, they would still be thick enough to appease any woman hoping to hide her cellulite. Of course working up a sweat in your favorite running leggings means frequent laundering, and the cool, sleek material resists pilling after washing and wearing. There wasn’t a single sign of wear after this intensive three-month test. The cherry on top? These leggings repel even the finest dog hair, which means taking your excited pup along for a breezy jog through the park just got that much more enjoyable.
Rise: The flat waistband on these high-rise leggings fit my abdomen so well that any mid-run adjustment was altogether unnecessary. As mentioned, I felt supported and entirely comfortable.
Length: The ⅞ length of the Up for Anything Tight is ideal for women with a shorter stature and tailors perfectly to the calves. Because of this, there’s no need to fold the bottom of the pant or worry about excess fabric gathering around the ankles. This running tight comes in plus, petite, and tall sizes—making it a great option for the entire sisterhood of asphalt kickers.
For even more runner-friendly personalization (and safety!), the bottoms of these running leggings can be rolled up to reveal a clever added feature: reflective piping. This subtle and easily hidden detail makes the Up for Anything Tight ideal for any sunrise or sunset adventure.
Paneling: These leggings don’t feature mesh panels, but the curved stitching along the upper glutes certainly adds an element of feminine style. The breathable fabric design doesn’t require any additional venting as it prevents overheating on even the warmest summer days.
Pockets: These Athleta running leggings give you the option of keeping a smartphone secure against your thigh (and unaffected by any inevitable jostling) thanks to the included zipper pocket.
Everyday Wear: Slim-fitting and tailored along my entire leg, I was confident sporting these leggings both during my runs and meetings with potential clients. How often can we say that? Chic athleisure? YES.
Considerations: It’s difficult to find anything negative to say about these running tights. While it may be a bit nit-picky, the one area for improvement has to do with the side pockets. The slightly bulky appearance could easily be eliminated by cutting down the amount of material used, but all in all, these running tights are as close to perfect as you can get!
Runner-Up: Core 10 Run High Waist ⅞ Crop Legging
For a budget-friendly option, the Core 10 Run High Waist Crop is a wonderful alternative. The silky material is similarly resistant to pilling and clinging while also providing the moisture-wicking properties we all rely on during our running endeavors.
This crop fits shorter in length than Athleta’s Up for Anything Tight, with laser-detailed mesh cutouts along the calf. Both details support noteworthy breathability, and the paneling gives an enviable aesthetic appeal. Although not as supportive as the aforementioned winner, the Core 10 Crop does offer a drawstring in the high-rise waist to ensure that waistband wiggling is kept to a tolerable minimum.
The overall quality and compression may not be entirely comparable to Athleta’s line, but this is another running legging that I still genuinely enjoy wearing—intensive research aside.
What makes a legging perfect for the gym? Simple: material that’s thick enough to provide reliable compression without tiptoeing into suffocation territory, squat-proof four-way stretch, and ample moisture-wicking properties. With my tendency to spontaneously throw CrossFit WODs, Olympic Weightlifting, and HIIT conditioning circuits into my usual bodybuilding training, the right gym legging has to move from one task to another without a single hitch to earn a space in my closet.
Winner: lululemon Speed Up Tight
lululemon triumphed over my sweaty battery of tests with the Speed Up Tight. By the end of these legging-filled months, this was the one pair of leggings I habitually reached for before booking it across town to my favorite CrossFit box. Their consistent responsiveness during wildly unnatural movements (hang snatches, anyone?) and high-quality construction pushed them far ahead of the rest of the pack.
Material: The thick, sleek fabric used for these lululemon tights was particularly remarkable, and no, I’m not exaggerating. The four-way stretch supported me through every direction of lunging, jerking, and pulling, while the sweat-wicking properties kept me feeling comfortably dry.
Due to their silky finish, the material prevented any chafing along the inner seams or snagging during my fastest intervals on the assault bike and prevented fuzz harboring, too. As long as the Speed Up Tight is laundered properly (meaning wash on cold with like items and air dry), they’re also fairly anti-pilling—performing for a notably long period of time before showing obvious signs of wear.
As compressive as compression could ever be, this lululemon legging is perfect for your most grueling pursuits as they stay in place almost like a second skin. Since we’re now all aware of my love for going commando, I’m also ecstatic to report that this pair is female-anatomy friendly. It refuses to ride up (or down, for that matter)—regardless of which piece of equipment you hop on or how low your squats go. That said, if you prefer an extra layer of comfort, I recommend wearing seamless underwear to minimize any bunching along the panty line.
Rise: The waistband fits like a glove, sitting just below my belly button. As mentioned, there wasn’t any hint of movement during my training sessions. I was fully supported during every kettlebell swinging, deadlift pulling, Jacob’s ladder mastering, trail-blazing endeavor I attempted in these workout leggings.
Length: As a smaller-framed woman—I’m 5’4”—there was a bit of excess fabric that bunched around the bottom of the legging. While this didn’t negatively affect any movement, this may not be your ideal pair. If you feel most confident in a tailored look, try the Athleta Up for Anything ⅞ Tight instead.
Paneling: The lululemon Speed Up Tight doesn’t have any paneling, but that didn’t detract from its quality in the slightest. With the material’s cool finish, meshing simply isn’t necessary to counteract the possibility of overheating.
Pockets: My iPhone 6s fit perfectly in one of the side pockets, snug against my thigh as I put myself through one of my notoriously difficult hypertrophic leg workouts. Curious to see if anything bigger would fit, I’m pleased to report that I found my gal pal’s iPhone 7 could fit just as easily! The zippered pocket along the back of the waistband is perfect for a loose key or debit card. Anything you couldn’t stand to lose should go here!
Everyday Wear: Feeling hugged in your leggings is definitely important during a workout, but I was very eager to take these off as soon as each of my training sessions was over. Although beneficial for countless gym activities, the level of compression the lululemon Speed Up Tight provides made them incompatible for leisure wear and yoga. Because of this, there’s a lack of versatility if you’re hoping to incorporate these pricey leggings into your wardrobe as more than gym attire. My main takeaway: These workout leggings are a wonderful (and undoubtedly worthwhile) investment for the gym regulars who are willing to pay for the unparalleled quality these provide.
Considerations: Is it too redundant if I mention the tight fit of these leggings just one more time? Although this feature essentially promises to keep the leggings in place throughout any type of workout, prepare yourself for the possibility of fabric cutting into your abdomen and mid-obliques. While it certainly wasn’t unbearable, this detail coupled with the sporty appearance means that this pair of leggings wouldn’t be a viable option for an impromptu dinner with your gym crush. If you’re searching for a workout legging that you can transform from gym attire to a casual date night outfit, reach for the ZELLA Live In High Waist Leggings instead.
Runner-Up: Athleta Up for Anything ⅞ Tight
Seeing as we aren’t strangers to the many perks of the Athleta Up for Anything ⅞ Tight, I’ll keep this short and sweet. This pair of leggings is nearly identical to the lululemon Speed Up Tight, if not for one important detail. Although it does offer enough compression to power you through a rough training session, it isn’t nearly as tight as the category winner.
The support was taken down one small notch, making these leggings ideal for women who want to feel held in yet comfortable. Another factor that makes the Athleta a viable alternative is the length of the pant, which minimizes the chances of any fabric bunching around the ankles.
If someone would have told us years ago that high-rise leggings would be the most desired staple in any woman’s wardrobe, we would have laughed off the outrageous claim. Now? Well, I can guarantee that most of us have a few different pairs tucked away in our dresser drawers.
Hugging just above the waistline, these leggings have the potential to be comfortable beyond belief, but of course it’s necessary to nail all the details for this to be the case. With the right criteria mastered, you’ll find me happily sporting a high-rise pair with a longline sports bra any day. The figure-flattering combo is nothing short of magical.
Winner: lululemon Align Pant
The lululemon Align Pant boasts a level of comfort that just can’t be replicated, making women (and definitely a few men) crave the feeling of their buttery soft fabric on the regular. These leggings effortlessly took me from inverted vinyasa sequences in my neighborhood yoga studio to small plates at the nearby plant-based cafe and out for an evening of mocktails with my closest friends. I even sported this matte black legging during a weekend getaway to Colorado for a round of graduate school interviews. When my world was inching into chaos, my outfit was one less thing to stress over thanks to these high-rise leggings.
Material: The lululemon Align Pant is exceptionally soft and comfortable and is similar to the Athleta Meshblock Pocket Salutation Tight in terms of sweat-wicking properties and general breathability. There is a complete absence of tight compression with these pants, largely due to the thin, delicate fabric. Despite this, the shape holds perfectly when worn as suggested (meaning no high-intensity exercise, ladies).
The cozy fabric hugged every inch of my lower body, from my torso to just above my ankles. It flaunts a ⅞ length, hitting in the sweet spot where calf meets ankle. The main takeaway here is hugged. These leggings were well tailored to my body, but there was no feeling of support. By the same token, though, this also means there isn’t any squeezing. Imagine this: no marks along the seams after stripping these leggings off after a full day of wear.
Rise: The waistband on the lululemon Align Pant is easily my favorite of the all pairs I tested—and quite possibly of any pair I’ve ever worn. It hits just above my belly button and lays completely flat, meaning it’s blissfully incognito under any top.
The waistband of the Align Pant is also tight enough to prevent any rolling or adjusting, yet there’s absolutely no digging, pinching, or suffocating.
Length: The Align Pant comes in 19”, 21”, 25”, and 28” lengths, meaning there’s a luxurious option for any and all women—regardless of your height and unique preferences when it comes to fit.
Paneling: This legging doesn’t have paneling, but extra features aren’t necessary given the extraordinarily thin material. In fact, the lack of mesh paneling in this pant lends to its aesthetic versatility.
Pockets: The Align Pant has a small, barely noticeable pocket along the front inner seam of the waistband. It’s best used for a loose key, a few dollar bills, or an ID if your plans include running across town. The tapered mouth of the pocket keeps any tucked-away items secure throughout the day’s activities.
Everyday Wear: The minimal seaming and matte black material make this legging one of the best for day-to-day wear because it’s comfy yet undeniably polished. Without a single hint of sporty athleticism, I eagerly paired the Align Pant with everything from high-top Converse to bohemian gladiators and distressed v-necks to flowy kimonos.
The soft, matte finish makes these the perfect pant to transition your look from a workout to a night out. Since these workout leggings lack details like flashy paneling and elaborate piping, they’re paired well with just about any item in your closet, no matter the occasion.
Considerations: As mentioned, the material in the Align Pant is fairly delicate (and doesn’t lend itself to smoothing cellulite). In terms of care, I suggest avoiding machine drying altogether to preserve the integrity of the pant. Wash your lulus on the coldest setting with similar items (no jeans or zippers—they’ll snag!) and air dry. These leggings may require a bit of caution in this respect, but I promise it’s entirely worth your while. As soon as you get your hands on a pair, you’ll quickly understand why you would want to make them last as long as possible.
In addition to needing TLC, this workout legging has one of the highest price tags of the bunch, but trust me when I say that lululemon is providing you with unrivaled quality. That said, if your financial planning calls for a wallet-friendly option, read on for our best budget leggings (and the runner-up!).
Finally, while these high-waisted leggings were airy and comfortable during any and all yoga flows (hot studios included), a faint clammy feeling was noticeable after my practice. The sweat spots certainly weren’t apparent, but I would still recommend removing these pants shortly after a warm class since they are not altogether moisture-wicking.
Runner-Up: ZELLA Live In High Waist Leggings
With thicker fabric, full length, and a lower price tag, the ZELLA Live In High Waist Leggings are an easy runner-up to the lululemon Align Pant. When it comes to the beauty of high-rise waistbands, ZELLA has created a staple pant. Similar to the Align, the waistline hits above the belly button, but this is where the two pairs diverge. The fabric of the Live In High Waist Leggings is much thicker, giving it a far more supportive and structured sensation. Somehow, with a bit of legging luck and magic, the pant achieves this level of support while simultaneously maintaining the utmost comfort.
Along the back of the waistband, the seams dip into a curved line (versus the straight lines of the Align Pant), flattering the upper tush. We’ll dive into the details of this legging—which won Best Everyday—later in the article, so read on for the complete picture.
As amazing as the previously mentioned workout leggings are, I would be lying if I said I could drop $100 on leggings regularly. I’m a young woman working three jobs, planning a move across the country, and taking care of my furbaby, all while prioritizing nourishing my body by investing in the best food and movement protocols. If we’re talking budget, I’m the first to admit that wallet-friendly workout legging options are absolutely necessary. Whether you’re stranded in an unfamiliar city in dire need of a sweat sesh or are prioritizing daycare costs, home ownership, or an aggressive savings plan, the right $30 leggings can easily win a place in our hearts and wardrobes. All women, regardless of financial constraints, should be able to enjoy high-quality fashion and activewear, am I right?
These leggings offer fabric quality and a chic aesthetic that puts them on par with brands like Athleta and lululemon—all while costing under $30. The surprising combination of comfort, style, and adaptability of the 7Goals High Waisted Cyber X Mesh Panel Legging had me packing them in my yoga bag without a second thought. To sum it up: They flaunt many perks that I had once believed were only available with luxury brands.
Material: 7Goals has refined the perfect blend of stretch, support, comfort, and affordability. These leggings aren’t see-through in the slightest. In fact, even when stretching into the lowest yogi squat, you won’t fall victim to panty peekaboo or the all-too-common sheen that plagues many budget leggings.
The fabric in this pant has a soft, brushed finish, making it a cozy choice for any leisure (or mindful) activity.
Rise: The high-rise x-band waistline was a new detail for my athleisure-laden wardrobe. Although I was a bit wary when first trying them on, it took nothing more than a quick peek in the mirror to fall head over heels for the effect. The cross-wrapping along the front of the abdomen accentuated my rectangular waistline, instantly affording me an hourglass shape. What’s not to love?
Length: The High Waisted Cyber X Mesh Panel Legging is tailored along the calves and hits just above the ankles. There was little to no extra fabric gathering at the bottom. Despite my short stature, I do have long legs, which can make finding the right length pant a difficult task. Just one more reason this workout legging was awarded budget gold!
Paneling: To my surprise, the mesh detailing was comfortable and the flexibility of the leggings around the long panels wasn’t affected. The stylish feature actually helped the overall breathability of the pant, which made me forget that these were a budget steal! I took advantage of this playful and feisty look during a few yoga flows and weekend trips to nearby dog parks.
Pockets: This pant doesn’t have any pockets, which could be a downside depending on your plans. The paneling makes side pockets impossible, but an insert along the inner lining of the waistband would’ve been a nice addition. Personally, I wasn’t fazed by this missing feature. As convenient as a pocket may be when you’re on the go, I’m not one who tends to tuck items away in my waistband.
Everyday Wear: I had no reservations when reaching for this pair of leggings for an entire day (and sure, maybe several consecutive days) of yoga, poetry slams, pup dates, brunch outings, and more. My legging logic? If no one you know can claim to have seen you in the outfit, did you really wear it? Flaunt these for a stylin’ three-day streak. I won’t tell.
Considerations: The fabric of the 7Goals High Waisted Cyber X Mesh Legging does tend to bunch around the waist simply due to the extra material required to create the x-band. It doesn’t present any issues when pairing the pant with a strappy sports bra or cropped tank, but it may be less than ideal if you’re hoping to couple the leggings with a more standard top.
Runner-Up: Old Navy High-Rise Compression Leggings
For an option that doesn’t require mail delivery (7Goals styles are available online only), the Old Navy High-Rise Compression Leggings do a decent job, providing adequate quality within a tight budget. The fabric of this pant gives a similarly brushed sensation—like the 7Goals—but it’s noticeably thinner than the victor. Price considered, this Old Navy Legging gives you exactly what you need to get the job done. It’s bare necessities, but bare necessities done well.
The legging has a simple look, absent of any ostentatious piping or overly athletic tones. This makes it a good fit for everyday wear that will pair well with longer tops if that’s a look you’re after. From lounging to errands, your behind will be covered.
Best Everyday Leggings
Leggings or jeans, jeans or leggings? The answer is fairly simple for me. As far as I’m concerned, leggings are the ultimate pant for almost any situation. In a world that’s finally beginning to understand that we as women have the power to and pleasure of expressing ourselves in own bodies, why not choose to dress them in what feels best? Plus, leggings give us the opportunity to drop into a post-five-hour-flight downward dog at a moment’s notice. Yes, please.
The name totally gives away my favorite feature of these leggings. ZELLA was right when they implied you could live in these Live In High Waist Leggings. And can we talk affordability? This pair may not be $30, but I’m sure you’ll be just as surprised as I was when you try these on for yourself. For how cozy, functional, and supportive these leggings are, a price tag of $54 is nothing short of wonderful.
Material: The moderately thick, brushed fabric of the Live In High Rise is as comfortable as it gets, making these leggings a true dream for any woman’s version of everyday attire. My own pair supported me through exhausting travel days, back-to-back personal training appointments, and even 25-hour yoga workshop weekends. The ZELLA Live In Leggings were particularly wonderful for the late-spring gloom Mother Nature decided to unleash on Midwesterners this year, yet it’s not too thick for the recent warmer weather days.
As mentioned, the material is quite a bit thicker than what I tend to gravitate toward. My revelation? These leggings offer added warmth without inhibiting flexibility or the integrity of the fit and design!
Rise: The Live In waistband is, well, outstanding. The high-rise hit above my belly button and stayed in place despite hours of unpredictable movement. The material provided an altogether comforting feeling of compression across my torso that was noticeably different from what I experienced in previous pairs. These high-waisted leggings are the perfect combination of firm and forgiving—no digging, cinching, or anxieties about suffocation.
Length: The bottom hem of the leggings hit at my ankles, making them a fitting pairing for both my battered deadlifting sneaks and femme fatale combat boots.
Paneling: The ZELLA Live In High Rise doesn’t include any mesh paneling. That said, the aforementioned seaming above the glutes was one welcome surprise that all the other pairs in this cohort lacked. Hello, shaping.
Pockets: I kept my driver’s license and debit card handy without needing to lug around a purse thanks to the pocket hidden in the waistband of the ZELLA Live In High Waist Leggings.
Everyday Wear: Strides ahead of many other pairs, these are the perfect leggings for brisk walks along shaded trails, lunch at the mom and pop restaurant down the road, and Pilates on the gym’s newest reformers.
Considerations: This pair was prone to clinging because of the brushed material of these everyday leggings. A spontaneous wrestling match with my pup required some attentive lint rolling before strutting out in public again. If you have any fine-haired, light-colored furry friends in your family, consider yourself warned.
Also, I may be a fan of ZELLA when popping into my favorite yoga studio for the yummiest slow flows (hello, deep stretch), but I’m not an advocate for wearing the Live In High Waist Leggings to the gym for heavy training. The fabric is similar to that of a Luon-based lululemon Wunder Under, for anyone who’s familiar.
It’s notably thicker than the rest of the leggings I tested, with more of a cotton-like feel. Daily WODs and conditioning circuits aren’t in the cards while wearing these, but milder sessions of targeted bodybuilding (arm day, for example), a barre class, or even Zumba are feasible! You can definitely count on the Live In Leggings as a workout staple, but steer clear of the unavoidable wet spots along the sweatiest areas of the body by opting for the lululemon Speed Up Tight or Athleta Up for Anything if you know you’re going to be sweating it out.
Given the pilling nature of the pant, any high-friction activities like sprinting intervals or CrossFit circuits could also lead to early signs of wear.
Runner-Up: lululemon Align Pant
Ah, the return of the buttery soft staple! The lululemon Align Pant is your next go-to for everyday wear. With a lengthy list of benefits, it’s hard not to love what this legging has to offer. If the ZELLA Live In High Waist Leggings is a bit too thick for your taste, this is the alternative I would recommend.
Not only that, but the varying lengths available mean a capri, ⅞ crop, or full-length pant are all options for your wardrobe’s most pressing needs. Depending on your typical day-to-day activities, lululemon has designed a legging that’s as close to heaven as we mortals can get.