Our Team Tested 23 Pairs of Leggings—We Found The 12 Worth Sweating in

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

byrdie-best-black-leggings

Chloe Jeong / Byrdie

We get it—leggings are tough to shop for. The market is saturated with so many brands and styles, and when you factor in color, sizing, and fabric, it can feel even harder to find the right pair. However, a general rule of thumb is to choose leggings that make you feel confident: “When you have a great pair of leggings on and a great playlist, you're motivated to crush your workout and conquer the rest of your day,” says Jaqueline Kasen, director of group fitness at Anatomy.

Still, because there are so many options on the market, our team tested 23 pairs of leggings from different brands—all of them black, high-waisted, and designed for workouts. To analyze each one fully, our editors exercised for at least 30 minutes and conducted various tests on the attributes we deemed most important for Byrdie readers: material, fit, hold, opaqueness, and durability. Our testers returned with loads of insight—and quite a few surprises, too.

Keep reading to discover the best black leggings and learn more about our testing process.

Our Top Picks
Our tester said the Core leggings are breathable, comfortable, and lightweight—ideal for yoga, running, lounging, and more.
Out of the three pairs this tester evaluated, these leggings required the least amount of maintenance during wear.
Worn during a 45-minute vinyasa flow class, they managed to be ultra-soft, stretchy, and compressive—the holy grail trio.
Compared to other lower-priced legging brands, this option didn’t slide down much or get looser with wear.
The fabric felt like it could transition easily between seasons and between sports (or from the gym to the couch).
Our tester owns 10 pairs of Gymshark leggings and said these are the best for squatting.
The tester of this pair said it moved with her body and adjusted to her curves, rather than cutting into her sides.
While true to size, sweat-wicking, and opaque, the looser waistband is less ideal for high-intensity workouts.
Yes, these leggings are pricey, but our tester said the quality is high enough that they're worth the investment.
Our tests revealed this celeb-favorite legging is comfortable as well as super compressive.

Best Overall: Outdoor Voices Core 7/8 Legging

Outdoor Voices Core Leggings
5

Our Ratings
  • Material
    5/5
  • Fit
    5/5
  • Hold
    5/5
  • Opaqueness
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
What We Like
  • Shaping seams help contain and support

  • Lightweight fabric

  • Completely opaque

What We Don't Like
  • Very slight waistband slippage in extreme positions

The Outdoor Voices Core Legging was one of only three pairs that received a 5/5 rating in every single attribute test. However, this pair earned Best Overall not only because of its high rankings but also because of its versatility and relatively approachable price point.

Senior Commerce Editor Kate Donovan wore these leggings during a yoga session and described the material as breathable, comfortable, and lightweight as she moved. While the waistband slipped down slightly in more extreme positions like sun salutations and downward-facing dog, she said it was minimal and that it was much better than most leggings she’s owned. “I ordered a size large and they fit perfectly without any looseness or pinching,” she noted. “I really liked the high waist, as well as the shaping seams around the thigh—they made me feel contained and supported.”

When performing the squat test, Donovan said the leggings were completely opaque, despite the fabric being more lightweight (although we can’t speak to how the other colors would perform). To top it off, she washed them several times and they still looked brand new. Overall, the Outdoor Voices Core leggings were the best option across our tested attributes and more—whether you’re a runner, yogi, cyclist, or lounger.

Material: 72% nylon, 17% Lycra, 11% polyester | Size Range: XS-XL | Inseam: 25 inches | Care: Machine wash cold; tumble dry low

What Our Testers Say

“I’m obsessed with these leggings—they’re super comfortable, but still feel structured. I didn’t have a problem with them falling down during yoga or moving around throughout the day (I basically wear them everywhere now). I'm planning to order more in different colors.” Kate Donovan, Senior Commerce Editor

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Girlfriend Collective Black Compressive High-Rise Legging

girlfriend-collective-compressive-high-rise-leggings
5

Our Ratings
  • Material
    5/5
  • Fit
    5/5
  • Hold
    5/5
  • Opaqueness
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
What We Like
  • Extensive size range

  • Three inseam lengths

  • Lounge-worthy

What We Don't Like
  • High compression not ideal for everyday wear

  • Some slippage, although minimal

Byrdie Senior Commerce Editor Avery Stone completed a 40-minute elliptical workout and a short circuit with jumps and kettlebell exercises in these leggings. “There wasn't one moment when I didn't love how they fit,” she said. “They felt high-quality, had just the right amount of hold, and made me look sleek and ready for any type of exercise.” Out of the three pairs of leggings she tested, these required the least amount of maintenance during wear. She noted she only had to pull them up 1-2 times during her workout and while around the house for the day—which is definitely a win in our book.

Because of these points, the Girlfriend Compressive leggings received high marks across all attributes, but we listed them as a runner-up after deciding the Outdoor Voices Core pair were a bit more versatile in nature since they are developed with less compression. However, if you prefer compressive material for everyday wear, these are a stellar pick—and they're a bit more affordable than the former, as well.

Material: 79% RPET, 21% spandex | Size Range: XXS-6XL | Inseam: 19.5 inches, 23.75 inches, 28.5 inches | Care: Machine wash cold with like colors; line dry flat

What Our Testers Say

“I felt incredibly confident wearing these leggings, and they're comfortable enough to throw on around the house, too. I also think they're a great value—they're definitely not the least expensive leggings on the list but they're not the priciest, either. Also, I think the brand's inclusive size range is another huge plus.” —Avery Stone, Senior Commerce Editor

Best for Yoga: Lululemon Instill High Rise Tight

lululemon-instill-high-rise-tights
5

Our Ratings
  • Material
    5/5
  • Fit
    5/5
  • Hold
    5/5
  • Opaqueness
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
What We Like
  • Ideal for traveling in addition to yoga

  • Compressive yet stretchy

  • Incredibly soft

What We Don't Like
  • Not as size inclusive as other options

  • Pricey

The third pair that received 5/5 ratings across all attribute tests was Lululemon's Instill leggings. Since they're designed for yoga specifically, Stone completed a 45-minute vinyasa flow class in them, noting how they managed to be ultra-soft, stretchy, and compressive during the workout (“a holy grail trio,” she said). In addition to the yoga flow, she also wore them on a six-hour flight to Los Angeles and said they were incredibly comfortable—proving they’re also great for lounging and traveling in addition to yoga. When it came to testing opaqueness through a squat test, these passed with flying colors. “I was concerned they wouldn't be opaque because they're buttery-soft and stretchy, but they proved me wrong,” she noted.

While this pair also received a 5/5 overall rating, we didn’t include them for Best Overall or Runner-Up solely based on the price—not everyone may want to shell out this much money for workout leggings designed specifically for yoga. It’s also worth noting that the Girlfriend leggings are more size-inclusive than these, as well. However, if you’re a serious yogi or simply just want to invest in some comfortable leisurewear, these definitely won’t disappoint.

Material: 74% nylon, 26% Lycra elastane | Size Range: 0-14 | Inseam: 25 inches | Care: Machine wash cold with like colors; tumble dry low

What Our Testers Say

“The brand designed these leggings for yoga and, in practice, they totally fit the bill. They're also incredibly flattering and comfortable to wear while kicking around the house (or on a long flight!), too.” Avery Stone, Senior Commerce Editor

Best Value: Old Navy High-Waisted PowerSoft 7/8-Length Side-Pocket Leggings

old-navy-powersoft-high-waisted-leggings
4.8

Our Ratings
  • Material
    5/5
  • Fit
    5/5
  • Hold
    4/5
  • Opaqueness
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
What We Like
  • Versatile for different climates

  • Comes in petite, tall, and plus sizing

  • Kept shape and color after multiple washes

What We Don't Like
  • Some slippage in waistband during exercise

Emily Cieslak, a commerce producer and Byrdie contributor, put these budget-friendly leggings to the test by way of hiking, in addition to weightlifting and stretching. Explaining how she went from being super hot and sweaty to suddenly cool while out on the trail, she said: “Even though there was a drastic change of temperature, I stayed dry and didn’t feel cold nor wet from my sweat, thanks to this pair's sweat-wicking properties."

In addition to the functional and comfortable fabric, she gave these a 5/5 for opaqueness and a 5/5 for durability after they survived a few wears and washes with no change. However, Cieslak rates them a 4/5 when it comes to hold. “For the most part, they stayed put,” she said. “Though I sometimes lifted the waistband, they didn’t slide down that much or get looser, which I’ve experienced in other lower-priced legging brands.”

As someone with a petite figure, Cieslak ordered these leggings in a petite size and was pleased with how well they fit. “I also liked that they weren’t too tight,” she added. “I wore them to a five-hour baseball game and they never felt uncomfortable in the waistband.” All in all, these are definitely worth it, and the low price point is just the cherry on top. Why not get one in every color?

Material: 77% polyester, 23% spandex | Size Range: XS-4X (regular), XS-XXL (petite), XXS-XXL (tall) | Inseam: 25 inches (regular), 23 inches (petite), 29 inches (tall) | Care: Machine wash cold; tumble dry low

What Our Testers Say

“I was really pleasantly surprised with these leggings and now they are one of my favorite pairs I own. I believe the best leggings should be great for both working out and hanging out, and I’m happy to wear these to the gym or hiking trail as much as running errands or hanging out with friends.” Emily Cieslak, Editorial Commerce Producer

Best Versatility: Fabletics Anywhere High-Waisted Legging

fabletics-anywhere-high-waisted-leggings
4.8

Our Ratings
  • Material
    5/5
  • Fit
    4/5
  • Hold
    5/5
  • Opaqueness
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
What We Like
  • Waistband pocket big enough to fit your phone

  • Second-skin material

  • Completely opaque despite thinner fabric

What We Don't Like
  • Runs slightly small

  • Must be a VIP member to get discounted price

Byrdie’s Editorial and Strategy Director Kathryn Vandervalk described these leggings as fitting like a second skin that you "want to wear to a workout, but also all the time." Not only does she recommend these for traveling (she wore them on a plane ride), but they also survived several washes and spins through the dryer without any issues. Plus, they have a pocket!

The Anywhere leggings also passed the squat test. Although this fabric was thinner than the Fabletics Define leggings she also tested, they remained completely opaque.  However, while the sizing was good, it wasn’t perfect. “I’m a size 6 and I tested a small—which, according to the size guide, should fit a size 6,” Vandervalk explained. “There were no problems, but they did run on the small side. I have a small waist, and they dug into my side a little bit.” Because of this, she rated them a 4/5 for fit.

It’s worth noting that Fabletics is based on a subscription model. In order to apply the discounted price, you must be a Fabletics VIP member, which costs about $50 per month for one credit, which can be redeemed for any Fabletics item up to $80. You can elect to skip months where you don’t get charged the membership fee, so there is some flexibility. As long as you’re enrolled (even if you skip a month), you still receive the VIP discount across the entire site.

Material: 75% nylon, 25% elastane | Size Range: XXS-4X | Inseam: 26 inches (short), 28 inches (regular), 30 inches (tall) | Care: Machine wash cold; tumble dry low

What Our Testers Say

“This was my absolute favorite legging that I tested. The fabric felt like it could transition easily between seasons and between sports (or from the gym to the couch). Honestly, when I think of what the perfect pair of leggings should be, this is it!” Kathryn Vandervalk, Editorial and Strategy Director

Best for Weightlifting: Gymshark Adapt Fleck Seamless Leggings

gymshark-adapt-seamless-leggings
4.6

Our Ratings
  • Material
    3/5
  • Fit
    5/5
  • Hold
    5/5
  • Opaqueness
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
What We Like
  • High compression

  • Don't budge during exercise

  • Zero sheerness

What We Don't Like
  • Hang dry only

According to tester and Beauty Reviews Editor Angela Trakoshis, these leggings are the best for squatting. “They don’t fall, they stay high up, and most importantly, they aren’t see-through,” she said. Trakoshis owns 10 pairs of Gymshark leggings and noted that this particular style was a bit too thick for her liking—however, they compress “like a dream” and are super comfortable, making them ideal for lifting and gym routines.

Frequent drying machine users: Be sure to follow the care instructions carefully. Trakoshis accidentally put them in the dryer and they shrank slightly. While getting into them now is a bit of a workout in itself, she said they do comfortably stay put once they're on.

Material: 79% nylon, 15% polyester, 6% elastane | Size Range: XS-XXL | Inseam: 30.5 inches | Care: Machine wash; hang dry

best-black-leggings-gymshark

Nick Kova / Byrdie

Best Fit: Athleta Ultra High Rise Elation 7/8 Tight

athleta-ultra-high-rise-elation-tight
4.6

Our Ratings
  • Material
    5/5
  • Fit
    5/5
  • Hold
    4/5
  • Opaqueness
    5/5
  • Durability
    4/5
What We Like
  • Extensive size range

  • Three inseam lengths

  • Molds to your curves

What We Don't Like
  • Some slippage in waistband during sprints

The standout features of Athleta’s Ultra High Rise Elation leggings are their softness and how well they fit. The brand has an extensive size range up to 3X but also offers petite and tall sizes, too, for a more customized fit. Byrdie Editor Jesa Calaor described these leggings as being buttery soft but still supportive around the waist. “When exercising, they moved with my body,” she said. “The fit was better than expected. It didn’t cut into my body—rather, it adjusted to my curves.” She found herself only pulling them up when she was sprinting, which was two or three times during her workout.

Material: Nylon and Lycra blend | Size Range: XXS-3X (regular), XXS-L (petite), XS-XL (tall) | Inseam: 25 inches (regular), 23 inches (petite), 28 inches (tall) | Care: Machine wash and dry

Best Low-Impact: Alo 7/8 High-Waist Airbrush Legging

alo-high-waist-airbrush-leggings
4.8

Our Ratings
  • Material
    5/5
  • Fit
    5/5
  • Hold
    4/5
  • Opaqueness
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
What We Like
  • Sweat-wicking material

  • True to size

  • Completely opaque

What We Don't Like
  • Waistband slippage

One of stylist Sheyna Imm’s favorite leggings brands, the Alo Airbrush leggings scored high marks with our tester, too. Commerce Editorial Director Jessica Mahgerefteh gave this pair a go for a 30-minute workout, where she found they were true to size, sweat-wicking, completely opaque, and looked exactly the same following one wear and wash. One caveat: she would not recommend these for more strenuous exercise (like a boot camp workout), as this may cause the waistband to fall down. Overall, the leggings were comfortable enough to lounge around in and suitable for a low-key workout, too.

Material: Nylon and spandex blend | Size Range: XXS-XL | Inseam: 24 inches (XXS-S), 24.5 inches (M-XL) | Care: Machine wash cold on gentle cycle, inside out, with like colors; tumble dry low

What Our Testers Say

"These leggings are super soft and supportive. They are thick and hold you in, but not in a way that feels suffocating." —Jessica Mahgerefteh, Commerce Editorial Director

Most Comfortable: Beyond Yoga Spacedye Caught In The Midi High Waisted Legging

beyond-yoga-spacedye-caught-in-the-midi-leggings
4.6

Our Ratings
  • Material
    5/5
  • Fit
    4/5
  • Hold
    5/5
  • Opaqueness
    5/5
  • Durability
    4/5
What We Like
  • Looked brand new after four washes

  • Stays in place while jogging

  • Buttery soft material

What We Don't Like
  • Shorter inseam than preferred

  • Pricey

Most leggings that are comfortable enough to wear to bed aren't typically the most secure during a workout, but this was not the case for the Spacedye leggings from Beyond Yoga. Sprint, squat, bike, child's pose—this pair won't budge. Mahgerefteh said these super buttery soft leggings didn't roll or slip down at all during her jog. Plus, they're durable: She washed them four times and they looked exactly the same as they did when they were brand new.

Her only qualms? She wished they were a smidge longer—she's 5-foot-1 and they hit right above the ankle on her—but that's more of a personal preference. (The brand does make a longer version, which she said she'd try out next time.) They're also pretty pricey, but she noted that the quality is high enough that it's worth the investment. "I would buy one pair and wear the heck out of them," she said.

Material: 87% polyester, 13% Lycra | Size Range: XXS-4X | Inseam: 25 inches | Care: Machine wash; hang dry

Best Seamless: SET Active Sculptflex Leggings

set-active-sculptflex-leggings
4.6

Our Ratings
  • Material
    4/5
  • Fit
    5/5
  • Hold
    4/5
  • Opaqueness
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
What We Like
  • Warm, thick material

  • Super compressive and toning

  • Comfortable enough to lounge in

What We Don't Like
  • Some rolling at waist during stretches

Sturdy and compressive, these seamless leggings accentuate your curves while keeping you secure during your workout. The LA-based brand is worn regularly by the likes of Kaia Gerber and Hailey Bieber, so we had to give them a try. Overall, they did not disappoint. Associate Commerce Editor Erika Reals took these on a long run and was surprised by their performance, especially since she felt like they were designed more for gym workouts and weightlifting.

"They were super compressive and made my legs look toned, " she said. "They definitely aren't buttery soft but are surprisingly comfortable despite this." She also noted that the material is quite thick and seemed like it would keep you warm when running outside in cold temperatures. While the leggings did roll down at the waist during stretches, it was very slight and it wasn't distracting. Reals didn't need to pull them up, though—they stayed in place for her entire workout.

Material: Microfiber nylon and spandex blend | Size Range: XS-XL | Inseam: 22.5-24 inches | Care: Machine wash cold with like colors; tumble dry low and remove promptly

What Our Testers Say

"When I first pulled these out of the bag, I did not expect them to fit, because of how small they looked. But once I pulled them on (although it was a tighter fit), I did not feel restricted at all." Erika Reals, Associate Commerce Editor

best-leggings-set-active

Nick Kova / Byrdie

Best Lightweight: Sweaty Betty Power High-Waisted Workout Leggings

sweaty-betty-power-high-waisted-workout-leggings
4.6

Our Ratings
  • Material
    5/5
  • Fit
    5/5
  • Hold
    4/5
  • Opaqueness
    5/5
  • Durability
    4/5
What We Like
  • Buttery soft material

  • Very compressive

  • No signs of wear after washing

What We Don't Like
  • Slight slippage during exercise

These leggings are uniquely buttery soft and incredibly thin. "I could see this legging being an incredible choice for hot and humid climates or for hot yoga performance," said Vandervalk, our tester for this pair. Because of the thin material, she initially had some reservations about how they would perform. In the end, though, they passed her tests. While thin, they were still very compressive, but in a good way. "As soon as I slipped them, on I checked myself out in the mirror," she recalls. Because of the super-thin material, she questioned how many washes they could endure before starting to pill or become less opaque, but she did not see any signs of that yet during her testing period.

Material: 74% polyester, 26% elastane | Size Range: XXS-XXL | Inseam: 24 inches | Care: Wash at 104 degrees on reduced spin

What Our Testers Say

"These were extremely thin—thinner than the Fabletics Anywhere, thinner than the Lululemon Align, thinner than the thinnest traditional Under Armour I wore in high school. They have an extremely sleek material, which means that there's just a little bit of slippage, but they stay up much better than I would've expected." —Kathryn Vandervalk, Editorial and Strategy Director

best-black-leggings-set-active

Nick Kova / Byrdie

What to Look for in Black High-Waisted Workout Leggings

Material

Not only do you want to ensure the material is designed for its intended workout, but you want to feel comfortable in them as well. If you plan to perform high-intensity workouts in a pair of leggings, sweat-wicking material should be high on your list of must-haves. If you like to sweat via a yoga session, it's important to find the right amount of flexibility and stretch. For those weightlifters and gym-goers, opaqueness may be your highest priority (in other words, if they pass the "squat test"). Compression is also something to keep in mind, depending on the workout.

“Compression leggings increase blood flow and circulation after your workout and also flow oxygen to your legs to help prevent cramping,” says Kasen. Because of this, she recommends them especially for post-leg workouts or on recovery days. However, the right amount of compression is key to avoid feeling restricted and uncomfortable.

Fit and hold

The fit and hold of the leggings are just as important as the material. Leggings are meant to be close-fitting and feel secure, so if you don't have the right size, it can defeat the purpose. Wearing the right size helps prevent the waistband from rolling and the leggings from sliding down during your workout. Check if the retailer lists them as true to size or if they recommend sizing up or down, based on their size guide. You can usually find a sense of sizing from online reviews, as well.

“​​The perfect leggings should fit properly on your body and hug in the right places," Imm explained.  "We have all made that mistake of buying too small with the mindset of 'They will stretch!' or buying too big—although there is nothing worse than having to readjust and yank up your leggings all day."

Durability

It's super disappointing when you invest in a new pair of leggings and they fall apart after a few workout sessions. While this takes a bit more digging, reading online reviews can provide a sense of a legging's lifespan. You can also check resale apps like Depop or Poshmark—not to buy used (although that is great for the environment, too!), but rather to see how a specific style has held up after considerable wear. The seller is usually happy to answer questions about when they bought the pictured pair or how many times they've been worn, so you can get a decent idea of what they look like when not new.

Versatility

For those who not only partake in a variety of workouts but also prefer a pair of leggings that are comfortable enough to lounge or run errands in, it's important to find leggings that excel at all of the above. These kinds of leggings typically cost more, but when you factor in the price per wear, they can actually prove to be of great value.

Kasen recommends prioritizing versatility when it comes to workout leggings. “Look for leggings that you can go from your workout to running errands or lunch with friends,” she said. “We are all in athleisurewear nowadays, aren't we?”

How We Tested

Associate Fashion Commerce Editor Erika Reals spent seven days researching the leggings market, interviewing both fitness and fashion experts, and reading online product reviews to figure out which black high-waisted leggings we should put to the test. From there, Reals created a standardized methodology to evaluate the leggings to test the material, fit, hold, opaqueness, and durability of each pair on a 1-5 rating scale.

A total of 23 leggings were tested by 15 editors over the course of one month. The testers worked out for at least 30 minutes in each pair to evaluate the material and hold, taking notes on comfortability, absorbency, compressiveness, slippage, and more. To evaluate the fit, testers performed four groin stretches, while being mindful of the pair's flexibility, sizing, and proportions.

Nobody wants a pair of leggings that shows off your underwear when you're at the gym. To make sure each pair was fully opaque, testers performed a squat test in front of a mirror to determine the leggings' sheerness levels when the fabric is fully stretched out. Finally, testers put each pair through the wash to ensure that they kept their shape and color, avoided pilling, and generally didn't fall apart right away. These at-home tests were conducted at the testers' homes, gyms, and neighborhoods.

best-black-leggings-new-balance-danielle

Nick Kova / Byrdie

Other Leggings We Tested

Amazon Essentials Performance Mid-Rise Active Legging 

Senior Editor Meg Lappe was impressed with this Amazon Essentials option given its super-low price point. Earning an overall rating of 4/5, Lappe said they did have a slight sheerness to them when squatting, but it wasn’t anything noticeable. Since she typically forgoes underwear when wearing leggings, this is something she is especially mindful of when shopping for a new pair.

While good, overall, Lappe did have a few minor complaints. “The tag is pretty thick and sits right at the top of the tailbone where the high-waist ends, which is slightly annoying when walking around the house.” She also said she said they could use a smidge more compression, and that while she appreciated the one pocket they do have, it wasn’t big enough to hold her phone in addition to her keys.

“When working up a sweat, I barely even noticed these leggings, which is a sign of a good pair,” she said. “During the runs I took, I didn’t have to worry about the leggings slipping at the waist at all, which I found to be surprising.” 

Clique Stealth Compression Tights

Associate Commerce Editor Erika Reals gave the Clique Stealth Compression Tights an overall rating of 4.2/5, emphasizing that the biggest benefit of these leggings was their compression—they were definitely meant more for gym workouts than outdoor running (she rated them 5/5 for opaqueness).

She did appreciate some of the extra features that these leggings offered: "I really liked the grippy waistband and the deep pocket," she said. "The brand also offers short, regular, and long versions of each legging, and it's recommended to choose the shorter inseam if you're under 5-foot-8, which I am. The length was perfect." However, she said they ran a little small and were slightly difficult to put on, but once they were on, they stayed put really well and weren't uncomfortable by any means. While they had ample stretch, the mid-weight fabric could have been softer, but this didn't affect their performance.

Target Joylab High-Rise Ribbed Seamless 7/8 Leggings

Another budget-friendly option, Target's Joylab seamless leggings were rated highly by our tester with an overall score of 4.8/5. However, we decided not to include these seamless ribbed leggings in our top picks due to several online reviews that put their durability into question. Our tester, Commerce Editor Daniela Galvez, washed them once and did not notice a change in fabric, but we will update this review as more wear and washes are complete.

What do these leggings do well? Galvez raved about how well they fit her, cinching right at her waist, and confirmed they are true to size in her case. She wore them to a Pure Barre class and said while her upper body was drenched, her legs felt dry and comfortable. Another useful tidbit for those with furry friends: these leggings repelled dog hair quite well compared to other leggings she owns.

GapFit High Rise Leggings

Associate Commerce Editor Fran Sales liked the GapFit leggings, which she wore during a vigorous hour-long yoga flow. She said they felt soft without being too thin or sheer, but that they weren't as stretchy as other GapFit pairs she owns. However, they did indeed pass the squat test, which is a win. She said she would buy two more pairs!

The final verdict? Though she rated them 4/5 for durability, hold, and fit, she rated them 5/5 for material and opaqueness, resulting in a 4.4 overall rating. These are still a great pair of leggings, don't get us wrong, but for the price point, we think there may be better options out there.

Nike Dri-Fit Leggings

As the name implies, these Nike leggings are designed to be sweat-wicking (our tester, Byrdie Editor Jesa Calaor, found this to be true). While this pair fit as expected, they were slightly long on Calaor (who is 5-foot-1) and also cut into the top of her waist a bit, but it wasn't anything major. While opaque, they did feel tight when performing the squat test and rolled down once or twice, but only during sprints. Earning a 4.4/5 rating overall, though, these are a great value, and our tester plans on wearing them again.

Everlane Perform Leggings

Buttery soft, sweat-wicking and super comfortable, the Everlane Perform leggings received an overall score of 4.4/5 from Senior Editor Karli Bendlin. "I love the fit of these leggings—they're very flattering and have a slimming effect," she said. However, while they claim to have lightweight compression, Bendlin was surprised by how snug they felt when she put them on. This wasn't necessarily a problem for her—she prefers more compression when working out—but it's definitely worth noting: if you're looking for true lightweight compression leggings, these may not be it. She also mentions that because of the high compression, they weren't comfortable to lounge around in when not working out, and she prioritizes versatility when it comes to leggings.

On the plus side, though, these didn't budge an inch during her workout. "They stayed completely in place—which isn't always the case with other leggings I sometimes work out in," she explained. "I didn't need to adjust them at all, so I could just 100 percent focus on my workout. The extra high-waist fit is very convenient for exercise."

Aerie OFFLINE

There were a lot of things we liked about these leggings: their lightweight feel, perfect fit, complete opaqueness, four pockets, plus they never rolled down. Trakoshis, who has long, pointed nails, tested these leggings, and her nail punctured through the fabric when pulling them on after just one wash and wear. Although she rated them highly for fit, opaqueness, and hold, she gave them a 2/5 for durability and fabric because of this incident. However, if you have short nails and are careful to avoid pointy objects, these may still be worth trying considering their low price point and high ratings in other attributes.

FAQ
  • What’s the difference between tights and leggings?

    Tights are a type of hosiery meant to be worn underneath dresses, skirts, and even pants, for added coverage or warmth. They are tight-fitting garments that typically cover your waist to your toe tips, with sheer legs and opaque where it hits the panty. However, there are many types of tights that are made from various materials, colors, and patterns, and are more or less opaque throughout. Leggings, on the other hand, are worn as pants rather than undergarments and are typically worn for working out or lounging.

  • What are 7/8 leggings?

    In leggings, “7/8” signifies the length of the inseam. These styles are designed to be almost full length but not quite, and are meant to hit just above the ankle for people of average height. Other types include cropped, which usually hit below the calf, and full-length, which should cover your ankle or have some excess fabric that gathers at the hem.

  • Are you supposed to wear underwear with leggings?

    This is simply a personal preference, but some people prefer to go commando when wearing leggings to avoid underwear lines and bunching. It’s especially ideal when wearing a compression-type legging that is meant to be worn like a second skin.

  • How can you dress up black leggings?

    "Black workout leggings are so versatile with styling; there are seriously endless possibilities with either the regular, longer, or short versions," says Imm. Here are some of her tips on how to style black leggings for a non-workout setting:

    • With a low black lace-up boot and a cool chunky sneaker or an oversized T-shirt (or layer with a cool sweatshirt), and a jacket on top. This is a great moment for a bomber, a leather moto jacket, or even a super-cool oversized long wool jacket or trench coat. 
    • With a thin sock and a loafer, oxford, or brogue, and a nice crisp oversized button-up or a comfy oversized cashmere sweater, with a nice jacket over top. 
    • With a thick comfy sock, pulled up over the outside with a light slouch and a comfy oversized sweatshirt—perfect for curling up with a tea or wine with some pals for a night in.

Why Trust Byrdie

Byrdie’s Associate Fashion Commerce Editor Erika Reals has three years of experience in the commerce space and a total of four years in the fashion industry. She has owned and tested dozens of leggings brands over her lifetime and, as a runner, knows exactly what to look for in the perfect pair. For this piece, she enlisted the help of 15 Dotdash editors with different body types to evaluate 23 pairs of leggings, which were all tested on standardized criteria and graded on the same rating scale. She also gathered expertise from a stylist and certified personal trainer, spent several hours conducting her own product research, and tested two pairs of leggings herself.

Meet the Expert

  • Jacqueline Kasen is a Body Architect and the Director of Group Fitness at Anatomy in Miami. She is a certified personal trainer and resistance training specialist and has a BS in Kinesiology and Exercise Science.
  • Sheyna Imm is a New York City-based stylist and image consultant who works closely with clients in the editorial, commercial, and personal styling worlds. Her client list includes Harper's Bazaar, The New York Times, the NBA, HBO, Target, Atlantic Records, and more.

According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we weren’t able to find enough black high-waisted workout leggings from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

Related Stories