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Leggings: Many consider them a wardrobe hero, to be sure. They’re basic enough to serve as a foundation for some outfits and paired correctly, they’re super chic. And after so many months of sweatpants and other breezy garments to keep us comfortable at home, a pair of leggings, particularly the faux leather kind, is the perfect transitional garment—i.e., the best piece to ease back into sophisticated dress and the fall season in general, when it’s neither warm enough for flimsy linen trousers nor bitterly cold, when layers are often required.
“Even though these are super comfortable, they don’t look comfortable,” says Kotsiopoulos. This is a positive thing, as the best faux leather leggings will look polished, tailored “and like you’re trying” while maintaining a comfort level that’s close to what many became used to after the work-from-home trend.
Check out Byrdie’s top picks of faux leather leggings—along with Kotsiopoulos’ tips for spotting a great pair and styling them—below.
Our Cyber Monday faux leather legging pick is the Spanx Faux Leather Leggings, which is currently $78, down from $98.
Best Overall: Spanx Faux Leather Leggings
Material: Nylon, elastane, polyurethane | Colors: Black | Size Range: XS-3X
For a pair of leggings that slim and sculpt your figure, look no further than Spanx, the underwear maker that revolutionized shapewear and leggings, and has helped women enhance their natural shapes, from the early 2000s. Its classic faux leather leggings have a wide waistband to contour the midsection, and their lining contains a high amount of elastane (20 percent) to both lift the butt and allow for more mobility. We also love that this style is available in petite and tall sizes to accommodate many wearers.
Best Budget: Zara Faux Leather Leggings
Material: Polyester, polyurethane | Colors: Black, Taupe Gray | Size Range: XS-XXL
Zara’s faux leather leggings are exactly what you’ll want to wear in the cold weather seasons. They’re sleek, inexpensive, and versatile, given that they come in two neutral colors. Perhaps most importantly, they have all of the features to look good on every wearer; they have several seams, which elongate the legs, and slits to expose the Achilles—a modern touch that allows you to show off pumps or sneakers with details around the heels.
Best Brown: Banana Republic Factory High-Rise Vegan Leather Leggings
Material: 100% polyester | Colors: New Brown | Size Range: XXS-XXL (petite and regular)
These high-rise faux leather leggings, made exclusively for Banana Republic’s outlet store, are versatile, comfortable and a great affordable find. They’re pull-on—which means they have no zippers—and loosely gather at the ankles for a pant-like fit. They come in a gorgeous camel brown color, a shade that looks gorgeous with chunky knit sweaters and loafers.
Best Splurge: Wolford Edie Vegan Leather Leggings
Material: 54% polyurethane, 42% polyester, 4% elastane | Colors: Black | Size Range: FR34-FR42
This pair of faux leather leggings by Wolford is, admittedly, a bit of a splurge. But if you’re looking to invest in leggings with a near-universally flattering silhouette from a reputable brand, Wolford's Edie Vegan Leather Leggings could be for you. They boast a buttery, supple faux leather material and strategic construction. A wide waistband and seamed side panels provide shaping, while the unfinished hems invite wearers to tailor the length with ease, should it be necessary. They’re also loose at the ankle, which is a good feature, Kotsiopoulos says, because it “creates the illusion of pants” over loungewear.
Best High-Stretch: Nordstrom Faux Leather Leggings
Material: 97% rayon, 3% spandex with 100% polyurethane coating; 80% nylon, 20% spandex waistband | Colors: Black | Size Range: XS-XXL
For those who want to take an understated approach to faux leather but still want to benefit from the inherently stretchy nature of leggings, Nordstrom's leggings are for you. Made with 3 percent spandex throughout and an extra 20 percent spandex in the waistband, you'll stay comfortable and sleek with this pair.
Best High-Shine: Commando Control Top Faux Patent Leather Leggings
Material: Polyurethane, viscose, and elastane legs; nylon and elastane waist | Colors: Black | Size Range: XS-XL
Generally speaking, high-shine faux leather leggings are a bold choice, but Kotsiopoulos is all for it. “If you wanted to take a risk and be a little bit more adventurous with your clothing, this would be the way to do that. Wear it with a great blazer and oversized sweater.” This pair by Commando is ideal because it offers an interior panel that smooths the midsection.
Best for Work: Wolford Edie Forming Leggings
Material: Polyurethane, polyamide, elastane | Colors: Black | Size Range: IT34-42
Faux leather leggings are not for every professional, but there are a few kinds that can pass in certain ones. Cropped, flared, and pairs with tailored seams, like this pair by Wolford, are the most suitable options. In picking a pair of faux leather leggings for any purpose, Kotsiopoulos advises shoppers to choose ones with well-placed, mainly vertical seaming to create the appearance of longer legs. A waistband also featured in this pair, can contribute to the appearance of a more tailored look as well, and overall flatter the waistline by adding definition.
Best Plus-Size: Eloquii Faux Leather Leggings
Material: 70% polyester, 30% spandex; 100% polyurethane coating | Colors: Black, Melted Chocolate | Size Range: 14-28
Eloquii designed these faux leather leggings to be comfortable and sleek with an elastic waistband, skinny leg silhouette, and stretchy polyester-spandex fabric. Reviewers rave, saying they fit true to size and are surprisingly warm. You really can wear these with anything: try them with loafers and a crisp oversized button-down or with a sweatshirt and sneakers for optimal comfort.
Best Fleece-Lined: VOGUEMAX Women’s Faux Leather Leggings
Material: Polyester, polyurethane, spandex | Colors: Black | Size Range: M-3X
In cold weather, faux leather leggings aren’t particularly warm—this is because polyurethane, the main material used to make faux leather leggings, is essentially plastic and matches the temperature of its environment. Leggings with fleece linings can serve as good insulation in these cases, and no brand achieves this better than VOGUEMAX, reviewers say. Apart from the cozy lining, they say they love this pair for its stretch, high-rise cut, and tapered leg.
Best with Pockets: Zara Mini Flared Faux Leather Leggings
Material: Polyester, polyurethane | Colors: Black | Size Range: XS-XXL
Functioning pockets on faux leather leggings aren’t generally a good idea, so if you’re looking for a pair that mimics jeans in terms of silhouette, be sure to focus your search on ones with false pockets on the sides, like this pair by Zara. High-waisted, cropped, and slightly flared with functioning pockets in the back, these leggings offer a combination of details that aren’t like any other number on this list.
Best Flare: Commando Faux Leather Crop Flare Legging
Material: Polyurethane, viscose, elastane, nylon | Colors: Black, Cocoa | Size Range: XS-XL
Commando’s Faux Leather Crop Flare does a nice job of slimming and elongating the legs without looking like leggings, reviewers say. Wear them with an oversized knit, breezy button-down, or rich-looking blouse to complete an ensemble for the day, night, or even for work. “[They’re perfect for work] because no one would think you’d be wearing leggings,” Kotsiopoulos says.
Best Maternity: Spanx Mama Faux Leather Leggings
Material: Nylon, elastane, polyurethane | Colors: Black | Size Range: XS-3X
These maternity leggings in faux leather will support you from the bump down. They’re designed with a waistband that extends over the belly, like conventional maternity wear, but made with a structured fabric that’s rich in elastane to best support the butt and legs. However, you can wear these postpartum and beyond as well, making them well worth the investment.
Best Moto: Plush Fleece-Lined Liquid Moto Leggings
Material: Acrylic, polyamide, spandex | Colors: Black | Size Range: XS-L
For a great moto-style legging in faux leather, see this pair by Plush. Reviewers note that this pair is most comfortable and warm, thanks to the fleece-lining, and runs very true to size. Dress them up with a stiletto heel for a night out, or partner them with a chunky knit and slip-on sneakers for a casual-but-put-together weekend look.
Best Stirrup: Wolford Amina Muaddi Edition Faux-Leather Leggings
Material: 59% polyurethane, 41% polyester | Colors: Black | Size Range: IT34-IT44
Leggings with stirrups aren’t easy to come by, but if you’re looking for an ultra-fitted pair that won’t budge, this construction is the only one to fit that bill. That said, this pair of faux leather stirrup leggings from the Wolford x Amina Muaddi collaboration is quite the find—we’d go as far as to say it’s show-stopping. Pair them with high heels and a slightly oversized top for proportion. And if you’re looking for maximum shine, be sure to check out the glossy latex version.
Best Cropped: Calvin Klein Cropped Faux Leather Leggings
Material: 51% polyurethane, 49% polyester | Colors: Black | Size Range: FR32-56
Calvin Klein’s cropped version is tighter than a classic trouser but looser than the average pair of leggings, which makes it very versatile—and one reason that it’s easy to love. Another is that this pair has four panels, two in the front that are faux leather, or polyurethane, and two in the back that are made from a more breathable fabric, polyester. This is ideal, according to Kotsiopoulos, because ones made exclusively from faux leather can get quite hot as the material mostly blocks wind and airflow.
Best Colors: Zara Button-Up Faux Leather Leggings
Material: Polyester, polyurethane | Colors: Black, Khaki, Sand | Size Range: XS-XXL
If you’re feeling experimental, go for color. This pair by Zara comes with the most variety of neutrals—a color palette that would most closely resemble real leather. It’s also high-waisted and features false front pockets, hidden inseam zippers at the hem, and front zip and snap closure for a tailored look.
Best with Zippers: Mango Faux Leather Leggings
Material: Polyester, polyurethane | Colors: Black, Green Apple | Size Range: XXS-XXL
Mango’s faux leather leggings are the ultimate pair with zippers. Fit-wise, they’re skinny with a high waist. And in terms of construction and aesthetics, its zippers are both for function and appeal. The brushed silver side zipper is exposed for contrast and designed to secure the fit, while the zippered hem allows the wearers to enjoy them as snug or as loose as they like.
What to Look for in Faux Leather Leggings
Material and Thickness
Faux leather leggings are generally made from polyurethane, which is a plastic material used to make everything from office items to sports equipment to apparel and accessories. This is possible because it can be adapted to be stiff or flexible, and it makes clothing mostly weatherproof, which is certainly convenient (though, as mentioned above, not very environmentally friendly). All of that said, one who is committed to finding great faux leather leggings should seek ones that look the most authentic, explains Kotsiopoulos. “If you’re not sure if it looks like leather, then it doesn’t.” The former "Fashion Police" co-star also recommends finding a pair made of a thick polyurethane blend “because it would be more substantial and look more expensive.” Plus, the thicker they are, the warmer they are for colder months.
Not every pair of faux leather leggings is created equal. The most flattering pairs will have several vertical seams, be loose at the ankles and contain some elastane for control. These features will create the illusion of longer and leaner legs, if that’s what you’re going for, and make the leggings look richer, like pants, according to Kotsiopoulos.
The most common color of faux leather leggings is black, but should you want to step outside of that, some brands on this list offer options in brown, sand, khaki, burgundy, and light green. “Even real leather tends to look fake in a bright color, so we’re talking about deep burgundy, deep cognac, or deep green. Those are safer categories for faux leather leggings [in color],” Kotsiopoulos says.
What Do You Wear With Faux Leather Leggings?
To maintain good proportions and create dimension with your look, opt for blouses, button-downs, knits, and T-shirts that are tailored or oversized. This will offset the fittedness of the leggings.
How Do You Wash Faux Leather Leggings?
Most faux leather leggings are machine washable, but it’s important to read the care guide of each pair to learn about what the brand recommends.
Do Faux Leather Leggings Stretch?
Some, not all, faux leather leggings stretch. If you’re looking for ones with some give, they must have fibers like elastane, otherwise known as Spandex or Lycra, which create stretch.
Why Trust Byrdie
This shopping guide was written by Byrdie contributor Hayley Prokos. A seasoned commerce writer and editor, she’s constantly on the hunt for classic and versatile pieces. Her work has appeared in SELF Magazine, Newsweek, and the daily Greek newspaper Ekathimerini, and she holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from Northwestern University.
Meet the Expert
George Kotsiopoulos is a fashion expert, author, and television host best known for co-hosting E!’s weekly hit series “Fashion Police” with the late Joan Rivers. He began his career in the Style department at The New York Times Magazine and has been listed twice on The Hollywood Reporter’s “25 Most Powerful Stylists” list, as well as Out Magazine’s annual list of 100 most influential people in the LGBTQ+ communities.
*Disclaimer: Kotsiopoulos is Prokos' uncle.