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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 more sophisticated dress, and the fall or spring season in general, when it’s neither warm enough for flimsy linen trousers nor bitterly cold, when layers are often required.
Byrdie Researched & Approved
By far, the best pair is the Spanx Faux Leather Leggings, which have a wide waistband, high elasticity, and diverse sizing options.
“Even though these are super comfortable, they don’t look comfortable,” says fashion expert George 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 picks of best faux leather leggings—along with Kotsiopoulos’ tips for spotting a great pair and styling them—below.
Best Overall: Spanx Faux Leather Leggings
Who else recommends it? Cosmopolitan, The Strategist, and the NY Post all picked the Spanx Faux Leather Leggings.
What do buyers say? 3,400+ Nordstrom reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
For a pair of leggings that 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 be exact) that both lifts the butt and allows for more mobility. We also love that this style is available in petite and tall sizes (as well as up to 3X) to accommodate many wearers.
Material: Body: 87% nylon, 13% elastane, with polyurethane coating; Lining: 80% polyester, 20% elastane | Colors: Black | Size Range: XS-3X (in regular, petite, and tall) | Care: Machine wash cold, gentle cycle; Lay flat to dry
Best High-Stretch: Nordstrom Faux Leather Leggings
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.
Material: 97% rayon, 3% spandex with 100% polyurethane coating; Waistband: 80% nylon, 20% spandex | Colors: Black | Size Range: XS-XXL | Care: Machine wash; Line dry
Best High-Shine: Commando Control Top Faux Patent Leather Leggings
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 (if you're looking for that).
Material: Leg: 62% polyurethane, 36% viscose, 2% elastane; Waist: 78% nylon, 22% elastane | Colors: Black, Sienna, Cinnamon, White, Navy, Cocoa | Size Range: XS-XL petite, S-XL, 1-3X plus | Care: Hand wash cold; Dry in shade
Best Versatile: Zara Faux Leather Leggings
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 features that fit different types of bodies; 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.
Material: 100% polyester with 100% polyurethane coating | Colors: Black, Sand | Size Range: XS-XXL | Care: Machine wash gentle cycle; Hang dry
Best Moto: Plush Fleece-Lined Liquid Moto Leggings
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.
Material: Shell: 100% acrylic; 90% polyester, 10% spandex lining | Colors: Black | Size Range: XS-L | Care: Dry clean only
Best Plus-Size: Eloquii Faux Leather Leggings
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.
Material: 70% polyester, 30% spandex with polyurethane coating | Colors: Black, Melted Chocolate | Size Range: 14-28 | Care: Hand wash cold with like colors; Lay flat to dry
Best for Work: Yummie Faux Leather Shaping Legging
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 Yummie, 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, like one featured in this pair, can contribute to the appearance of a more tailored look as well since it adds definition.
Material: Body: 95% polyester, 5% spandex; Waistband lining: 86% polyester, 14% spandex | Colors: Black | Size Range: XS-1X | Care: Machine wash cold gentle cycle with like colors; Line dry
Best Maternity: Spanx Mama Faux Leather Leggings
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.
Material: Body: 87% nylon, 13% elastane with polyurethane coating; Tummy: 89% nylon, 11% elastane | Colors: Black | Size Range: XS-3X | Care: Machine wash cold, gentle cycle; Lay flat to dry
Best Flare: Commando Faux Leather Crop Flare Legging
Commando’s Faux Leather Crop Flare does a nice job of 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.
Material: Leg: 55% polyurethane, 44% viscose, 1% elastane; Waistband: 72% nylon, 28% elastane | Colors: Black, Cocoa | Size Range: XS-XL | Care: Machine wash cold; Drip dry
Best Splurge: Wolford Edie Vegan Leather Leggings
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 fitting 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.
Material: 54% polyurethane, 42% polyester, 4% elastane | Colors: Black | Size Range: FR34-FR42 | Care: Machine wash cold extra gentle; Line dry
Best Fleece-Lined: VOGUEMAX Women’s Faux Leather Leggings
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.
Material: Shell: 100% polyurethane; Lining: 90% polyester, 10% spandex | Colors: Black, Brown, Wine Red | Size Range: S-3X | Care: Dry clean only
Best Stirrup: Wolford Amina Muaddi Edition Faux-Leather Leggings
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.
Material: 59% polyurethane, 41% polyester | Colors: Black | Size Range: IT34-IT44 | Care: Machine wash cold extra gentle; Line dry
Best with Zippers: Mango Faux Leather Leggings
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.
Material: 100% polyester with polyurethane coating | Colors: Black, Green Apple | Size Range: XXS-XXL | Care: Machine wash; Line dry
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.
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. We added key care insights for each product above to ensure you pick the best legging for your lifestyle.
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.
How We Researched
To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, shade range, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.
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.
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 were not able to find enough faux leather leggings from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.
18 of the best faux-leather leggings that are perfect for fall. Cosmopolitan. https://www.cosmopolitan.com/style-beauty/fashion/g37597339/best-faux-leather-leggings
What are the best faux-leather leggings? The Strategist. https://nymag.com/strategist/article/best-faux-leather-leggings.html
Best faux leather leggings to look sleek in 2022: Spanx, Commando, more. New York Post. https://nypost.com/article/best-faux-leather-leggings