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These days, finding a perfect pair of leggings is essential. Since most of us are still working from home, we want to feel comfortable in whatever outfit we decide to stick it out in for eight (or more) hours. Or, sometimes, we may have a happy hour after work or a gathering with friends, and we want to stay in the leggings we’ve been wearing all day; it's imminent that we ensure we can turn our casual daytime look into one that’ll last all night.
Of course, investing in leggings is something we don’t take lightly. Since there are numerous brands of leggings designed for a multitude of uses, we want to find the perfect pair(s)—which is why we tapped three experts to help us sort through it all. While each has their own personal preferences, they recommend paying special attention to the waistband, fabric, fit, and length when shopping for new leggings.
Meet the Expert
Jasmine Caccamo is a celebrity and athlete fashion and wardrobe stylist based out of New York and Los Angeles. She has worked with Alex Morgan, Taylor Swift, Kelly O'Hara, Camila Cabello, Katie Ledecky, and more.
Andrea Jagaric is the Chief Design Officer at Aerie, OFFL/NE by Aerie, and Unsubscribed. She has also designed for Abercrombie & Fitch and Victoria's Secret. She graduated from FIT with a degree in fashion design.
Stephanie Valponi is a stylist and the California Styling Team Lead at Stitch Fix. She previously was the sales manager of the women's ready-to-wear division at Macy's.
Below, we’ve rounded up the best legging brands to match any mood or activity.
Best Overall: Athleta
Athleta’s leggings are designed for people on the go. From running errands and sports practices to even just lounging around the house, they have a pair of leggings for everyone. Plus, these leggings are known for their longevity, ultimately ensuring a super low cost-per-wear ratio. They have high-waisted, printed, 7/8-length, and more, along with sizes from XXS to 3X.
What Our Editors Say
"Not only do these leggings feel like nothing when you have them on, but they also last a very long time. I have had a Salutation Stash Pocket Tight pair for about 3 years, and when I tell you they look good as new, they look good as new." —Angela Trakoshis, Beauty Commerce Reviews Editor
Best for Yoga: Alo
Yogis everywhere need leggings that are durable and breathable, allowing them to move and twist in any position. Alo’s leggings are just that for them. They’re lightweight and cool, which make for an ideal feel while doing yoga, or even pilates. As a celebrity favorite (Kaia Gerber, Kendall Jenner, and Alessandra Ambrosio basically live in them), you have to assume they're doing something right. It's worth noting that these run long, so if you're below average height, we recommend going with a shorter length.
Best High-Waisted: Aerie
High-waisted leggings are designed to be comfortable, so that when you move, they move with you, too. Plus, they maintain holding you in all the right places. At Aerie, they design high-waisted leggings with all of this in mind. “We’ve loved playing around with what we can do with these tall waistbands and are continually challenging ourselves to explore different details–like our viral Crossover “V” shape in Real Me–with super flattering lines, and now, most recently in foldover,” says Andrea Jagaric, Chief Design Officer at Aerie, OFFL/NE by Aerie, and Unsubscribed.
Best for Running: Lululemon
If you’ve finally decided to get back into running and need some workout gear, Lululemon’s leggings are for you. Their Fast and Free leggings are designed specifically for running, as they’re sleek and weightless. They even have pockets if you want to bring a snack on your journey! “If you are looking to use it for a bike ride or run, consider snagging a pair with pockets that will keep all your necessities close and out of your hands,” says Stitch Fix Stylist Stephanie Valponi.
What Our Editors Say
"I’m partial to Lululemon’s Align pants for yoga, and the Fast and Free high-rise crop for running. Beyond fabric that is silky smooth (it’s like pulling on sweatpants), the waistband pockets are the true hero. When I head out for runs, I can just stash my keys in one and my phone on the side or flat against my low back. Plus, as someone who’s only 5-foot-2, the option to have leggings that are actually capris, or hit just above my ankle bone is rare. No more cutting off the hems to make them fit me!" —Meg Lappe, Senior News & Deals Editor
Best Subscription: Fabletics
Want leggings delivered right to your doorstep? Then look no further than Fabletics. To get started with Fabletics, take their quiz to figure out what kind of leggings you need. You can shop by activity or compression, legging length, type of waistband, and more. They drop new styles all the time and are a good value if you're looking to expand your athleisurewear, seeing as you can get a two-piece workout set every month for only $50 when you join.
What Our Editors Say
"I needed a major activewear update since I'm training for the marathon, and Fabletics seemed like the most cost-effective way to get high-quality running gear into my wardrobe. There really is something for everyone and the leggings are durable and comfortable. I always get the high-waisted versions for running." —Erika Reals, Associate Fashion Editor, Commerce
Best Prints: Wolven
Who said leggings can’t be fun? Wolven’s printed leggings add some excitement to your wardrobe and, at the very least, will stand out in your next workout class. The range of patterns and sizes will have you feeling chic and comfortable. Beloved by celebrities like Vanessa Hudgens, the kaleidoscope-like prints are perfect for modern-day hippies.
Best for Tennis/Golf: EleVen by Venus Williams
Planning your next golf or tennis outing and need an outfit? Founded by tennis pro Venus Williams, EleVen’s leggings are designed for both tennis and golf; their dry and cool material, along with UV protection, will get you through your next match or round. Not to mention you are meant to stand out in these leggings, with bold colors, high shine, and flared options that will help you do just that.
Best 7/8: Outdoor Voices
Outdoor Voices’ range of 7/8 leggings provides enough coverage to let you feel cool and comfortable while you wear them; they’re designed to hit just above the ankle on most people, so a bit of skin still shows. These 7/8 leggings from Outdoor Voices come in a range of colors, fabrics, and waistbands. They're really an everyday legging since they're are designed to be worn for a wide range of activities, from running and hiking to just lounging around the house.
Best for Dress-Up: Spanx
Looking for your newest outfit to wear out for a night on the town? Try a pair of leggings from Spanx. We love that their faux leather leggings give a dressy vibe, so you can style them in a variety of ways, and the Jean-ish Ankle Leggings (view at Spanx) look like the real thing. They even have (faux) suede! You'll feel like you're cheating the system once you dress these up while still enjoying the comfort and support that only leggings can offer. The wide size range allows you to find a perfect fit, as well.
Best Selection: Nordstrom
We may not realize it, but at some point in our lives, we’ll need a pair of leggings for just about any occasion. Where to find them? Nordstrom. They have leggings for lounging around, dressing up, going for a run, and more, so there’s no shortage of what you can invest in. With brands from BP. and Zella to Sweaty Betty, it's the ideal one-stop shop.
Best Trendy: Anthropologie
When you wear a pair from Anthropologie, everyone in your yoga class will be asking where you got your leggings. These curated designs from brands like Free People, Varley, Sundry, and The Upside are just as functional as they are fun and vibrant. Ideal for yoga, they can also be great for chores around the house or weekend errands. Even better if you can coordinate with a matching top.
Best Budget: Old Navy
Old Navy’s leggings are the best bang for your buck. If you want a pair of leggings that are both affordable and durable, then you’ll want to get a pair of these. As someone who’s stocked up on numerous pairs of leggings in the last year, Old Navy has been the place to go for me. They also offer an incredibly wide range of sizes and patterns, and with a small price tag, you can snag a few of these for the price of one from almost any other legging brand.
What Our Editors Say
"I am newly obsessed with the Old Navy extra high-waisted Powersoft line. They are like if [Lululemon] Align and Wunder Train had a baby. Pure butter, amazing compression and control—perfect fit." —Sara Hines, Senior Director of Product, Commerce
Most Inclusive: Girlfriend
Girlfriend’s leggings are sought after for their widest range of sizes. They have a variety of high-rise, lounging, and even maternity leggings in sizes from XXS to 6XL—all sustainably made from recycled water bottles. What's unique about Girlfriend is also their unique range of colors that you don't normally find in activewear leggings. Even more, they offer a recycling program called reGirlfriend to dispose of your old or damaged items.
Best Basic: Tommy John
In need of an essential pair of leggings that can go with just about anything? Tommy John has some pairs for you. They have a variety of solid colors that can be worn with T-shirts, sweatshirts, and sweaters, and will last through all the seasons. For the colder months, we recommend the brand's Fleece-Lined Brush Leggings (view at Tommy John) for optimum warmth.
Best Sustainable: Summersalt
If you’re looking for sustainably made leggings that come in a variety of sizes and fun prints, then Summersalt is the brand for you. We're especially smitten with the Modern Zebra print, which would look stellar with a T-shirt and Vans—if you're being casual. They also use recycled materials to create the fabrics of their leggings, as well as the product packaging, and its sizing widely ranges from 2 to 22.
Best Maternity: Hatch
If you’re pregnant and having a hard time finding pants that fit *just* right, then Hatch is your solution. They have leggings that work for before, during, and after pregnancy, and are so comfortable that you won’t even notice them on your body. If you have sensitive skin, these may be a good choice for you, too, since they are Oeko-Tex certified (simply meaning that the manufacturing process is free from potentially harmful chemicals).
Best Compression: Nike
Whenever you’re on the go, you want to make sure you’re feeling the most comfortable. The solution: compression leggings. Nike’s compression leggings are designed to be long-lasting and stretchy, while also giving you the best overall experience while wearing them. They can improve blood flow, keep you cool, and enhance your reason for wearing them in general. You can't deny Nike has some experience when it comes to formulating comfortable, durable activewear.
What Our Editors Say
"Nike’s leggings are what I reach for when I’m heading out on a long run, or to dance cardio or HIIT class. The brand is constantly dropping new styles and fabrics, but I highly recommend the AeroAdapt collection and Dri-Fit styles. I prefer the high-waisted options—it means I’m not constantly pulling the legging up once I start sweating. The variety of styles, range of size options, and colors are what make Nike shine." —Meg Lappe, Senior News & Deals Editor
Best Personalized: Stitch Fix
Want leggings that are specifically stylized for you? We’ll guide you toward Stitch Fix. All you have to do is take their style quiz and figure out what type of outfit or look you’re going for. Then, they’ll pull items and send them right to your door. While known for more daytime wear, they also offer brands in the activewear categories, too, so you'll have plenty of great options. They also have a range of sizes (XS to 3X), as well as a variety of brands, styles, and designs.
Best Sculpting: LA Made
LA Made’s sculpting leggings made out of a compression jersey fabric are just what you need in your wardrobe. They’ll hug your body in all the right places while keeping you feeling comfortable and confident. If you're a tie-dye hoarder, you'll be pleased to know they offer a selection of different dyes and designs. Plus, these leggings are usually matched with a coordinating top or bra, which will take you from cardio to coffee without much effort.
Best for Outdoors: Backcountry
As the colder months approach, we’ll need to stock up on some leggings that will last us through any type of weather. Backcountry will be your go-to for outdoor weather leggings this year. They have leggings made from various materials, such as wool and cotton, that will keep your body temperature controlled and comfortable.
What to Look for When Buying Leggings
“Check for the right fit at the waist,” says Valponi. “Choosing your preference is key, but be sure the waist lays smoothly. Be sure to bend and twist as a test to make sure you are getting that support without prohibiting movement.”
Wardrobe Stylist Jasmine Caccamo also says the waistband is the first thing she looks for when shopping for leggings. “This can make or break a pair of leggings,” she says.
“The core of a great pair of leggings is the fabric,” says Jagaric. “For each fabric, we seek out the perfect stretch, softness, opacity, and technical properties, like [sweat-]wicking, based on our vision for the style.”
Jagaric also says that they offer different ranges of support levels of fabric, from softer to slicker, and lighter to heavier. “This allows our customers to experience different options and choose their favorite. We always recommend choosing an option with wicking, or other technical properties, for life’s sweatiest moments, and saving those comfy cotton styles for coffee runs.”
Considering climate to determine fabric thickness for warmth or moisture is also important, says Valponi. “Especially as we head into fall, many brands will share this information, which provides ease in selection.”
“We make sure that our leggings feel even—nothing too tight or too loose—and that they stay in place while moving around,” says Jagaric. “Attention to detail is crucial—even down to the type of thread and stitch each garment is sewn with.”
Our experts say that, overall, finding leggings that hit at just the right length is important but can be difficult. “You never want them to hit your ankle too long, or fall at an awkward length mid-calf, depending on your height,” says Caccamo.
If you love the fit and fabric of a certain legging, but they're too long, we recommend taking it to your local tailor for a simple alteration. Valponi says that you can check the length of your favorite denim jeans and use that as a starting point for how long you want your leggings to be.
What are 7/8 leggings?
7/8 leggings are ones that hit just above the ankle on most people. They’re designed to only show a small amount of skin, prompting those who wear them to feel a bit cooler, as well as make legs look longer. However, this may only work for those of average or above-average height. Many shorter people may benefit from wearing 7/8 leggings as a full-length style.
What are compression leggings?
Compression leggings are designed to increase blood flow while wearing them. They’re ideal for exercising or participating in more high-intense activities—especially outdoors. If you’re planning on going for a run, hike, or just standing for a long time, you’ll want to invest in a pair.
How do you know what to wear with leggings?
“My favorite looks to style are daytime to nighttime athleisure looks,” says Caccamo. "For an easy look, pair your favorite leggings with a perfectly fit cropped white tee for daytime, and throw on an oversized blazer.”
If you’re looking for a glam option, Valponi says to not be afraid to play with colors and textures. “A faux bomber jacket looks great paired with deep-hued leggings and instantly elevates your day look. Add some gold touches like hoop earrings and a bold lip.”
For more casual looks, Jagaric says that, at the end of the day, you can live in [Aerie] leggings and wear them with just about anything.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Kylee McGuigan has more leggings than she can count. From leggings that were used during dance rehearsals in high school to her favorite pairs that she wore to football games in college, she’s tried just about all of them. Leggings have been her go-to type of pants for the last year or so, anyway. Plus, after hours of researching numerous brands and chatting with our experts, she’s gathered enough insight to determine which leggings are currently the best on the market.