Whether you’re athletically inclined or not, leggings are generally considered a staple of the modern everyday wardrobe. Their versatility makes for ease of wear while lounging, for post-partum comfort, or while in pursuit of fitness goals.
Not only are leggings comfortable but the best pairs make us look as good as they feel—and sometimes that means getting a little help from a compressive fabric or strategic, slimming design. In shopping for a pair of leggings, look for great quality fabric and design, as these play a role in overall fit. Your lifestyle and expectations of a given pair are also worth considering. (Do you plan to work out in them, or do you just need a pair for casual days about town?)
Meet the Expert
Jasmine Caccamo is a celebrity and athlete fashion and wardrobe stylist. She has worked with Alex Morgan, Gayle, and Mikaela Shiffrin, among others.
Ahead, our recommendations for the best tummy control leggings to consider for your wardrobe, along with key insights from our experts on what to look for when shopping for a pair.
Athleta Salutation Stash Pocket II 7/8 Tights
Who else recommends it? PureWow and CNN both picked Athleta Salutation Stash Pocket II 7/8 Tights.
A pair of leggings from Athleta might cost you more money upfront than a pair from another brand, but the wear you get from them long-term is well worth it. The athleisure brand crafts its leggings from Powervita™ fabric, a proprietary blend of nylon and lycra, best showcased in their Salutation Stash Pocket II Tights. The leggings are so buttery soft, and they seamlessly fit the contours of your body with a high-rise waistband that also holds you in.
Sizing: XXS-3X with petite and tall sizing | Waist: High rise | Care: Machine washable
Best for Workouts
Alo Yoga 7/8 High-Waist Airlift Legging
Some days call for more durable leggings styles, like this pair from Alo Yoga. The leggings are made from moisture-wicking, double-knit fabric with a four-way stretch for the most mobility. Choose from a palette of colors, including raspberry-pink, grey, and baby blue, to name a few.
Sizing: XXS-XL | Waist: High rise | Care: Hand wash in cold water; lay flat to dry
Madewell Knit High-Rise Leggings
If you’re looking for a more casual and wallet-friendly option, this pair from Madewell may be more your speed. While the color selection is limited to black, the subtle hue, along with the knitted fabric, is appropriate enough to wear to the office or run errands when worn with pieces like riding boots and a blazer. Positive reviewers on Nordstrom said they loved the style for its stretchiness and support.
Material: Cotton, elastane | Sizing: XXS-XXL | Waist: High rise | Care: Machine wash; tumble dry
Best Faux Leather
Spanx Faux Leather Leggings
Looking for a pair of faux leather leggings that are sure to hold you in? Look no further than Spanx, the original champion of compressive garments, our experts say. (The brand started with undergarments but has since expanded in to clothing and swimwear.) Its faux leather leggings feature a contoured waistband to help shape the tummy while lifting the butt for more emphasis on your assets.
Material: 87% nylon, 13% elastane with polyurethane coating | Sizing: XS-3X with petite and tall sizing | Waist: High rise | Care: Machine wash cold on a gentle cycle
Best for Workouts, Runner Up
Fabletics Trinity Mid Rise Pocket
Fabletics is a top destination for activewear in cute colors, fun patterns, and bold prints. Its Trinity Mid Rise leggings are one such style—they offer compression for a good range of motion in virtually any activity. Each side of the pant has a triple-pocket design where you can safely tuck earbuds, cards, a cellphone, and keys without worrying about them slipping out.
Material: 75% nylon, 25% elastane | Sizing: XXS-4X | Waist: Mid rise | Care: Machine washable
Best Biker Shorts
Athleta Ultra High Rise Elation Short
With the resurgence of '90s fashion trends, biker shorts are back in style. This style from Athleta offers a high rise and good amount of compression, so that you can feel comfortable in any outfit you choose to use them in.
Material: Nylon, Lycra | Sizing: XXS-3X | Waist: Ultra high rise | Care: Machine washable
CROSS1946 Women Scrunch Butt Yoga Leggings
Show off the hard work you’ve been putting in at the gym with these leggings, which are not only designed to hold in your tummy but also enhance your bum. With a high waist and built-in ruche seam that cuts straight down the butt, this pair is sure to emphasize your derrière and give it even more definition. However, it's worth noting that these leggings run small, so be sure to check the brand's size chart and read some reviews to ensure the best fit.
Material: 92% polyester, 8% spandex | Sizing: S-XL | Waist: High rise | Care: Wash before wearing; hand wash only
Beyond Yoga Spacedye Walk and Talk High Waisted Capri
For those not familiar with Beyond Yoga, its much-loved capri leggings are a great place to start. It comes in a wide range of sizes to appeal to virtually every shopper, and length-wise, the style, which has a 21-inch inseam, will fit even a petite frame, albeit in the form of a longer legging. For material, they're made from a dense yet ultra soft fabric that's designed to stretch with the body but still hold you in at the natural waist.
Material: 87% polyester, 13% Lycra | Sizing: XXS-4X | Waist: High rise | Care: Machine wash and dry
Eleven by Venus Williams Champs Legging
A mounting craze over Y2K fashion is bringing flared leggings back to the fore. Should you be interested in hopping on the bandwagon, this pair from Eleven by Venus Williams would make for the perfect (re-) introduction. It's made from polyester and a high percentage of spandex for intense compression, to keep you supported on your every endeavor.
Material: 75% polyester, 25% spandex | Sizing: XS-XXL | Waist: High rise | Care: Machine wash cold on a gentle cycle inside out or hand wash; lay flat to dry
Pea In The Pod Ultra Soft Maternity Leggings
Expecting mamas shouldn't overlook these ultra-soft leggings from Pea In The Pod. Most reviewers across the e-retailers that sell it say that they’re comfortable, supportive, and offer a lot of stretch to accommodate your growing belly. Wear them casually with a humble tank top or T-shirt or dress them up with a luxe sweater or blazer depending on the occasion.
Material: 87% rayon, 13% spandex | Sizing: XS-L | Waist: High rise | Care: Machine washable
Beach Hours Shoulder Tie Jumpsuit
For the most support, go for all-over compression with a jumpsuit. This one from Beach Hours promises to hug your curves in all the right places and offer support where you need it, thanks to an extremely high percentage of spandex.
Material: 75% nylon, 25% spandex | Sizing: XS-XL | Care: Hand wash in cold water and line dry
What to Look for in Tummy Control Leggings
Cassandra Sethi, a personal stylist and founder of Next Level Wardrobe, says the key to a true tummy control legging is compression from a percentage of spandex or elastane. “I would recommend a minimum of 2 percent of spandex or elastane in the fabric content. You can look that up on the fabric tag," she says, adding that trying on a variety to gauge comfort is the best way to find the perfect pair for you. “I know many women may not want to do this, but I always say garments look [and feel] very different on the hanger versus on your body."
For length, "I always think a ⅞ length is best,” says Sethi. “A true legging goes past your ankle bone. The 7/8 length hits right above your ankle bone, give or take, and I find that length is so flattering on all heights, all body types, and all ages.”
However, if you don't want to expose your ankle as much, then go for a full-length legging, that is to say, one that hits below the ankle bone. This choice is especially good for women who live in cold climates and may need to protect their skin in snow, sleet, or very cold temperatures, she points out.
The main thing to remember is that leggings should be fitted from the waist to at least your knees. That is, after all, the basic qualification of a legging. Some ways to test out a pair of leggings is to try a pair on while standing up and sitting down in them to see how they feel. “You need to buy your size. You should not go up a size, two sizes, or anything like that because what happens is the fabric will sag out. You need it to be fitted so it can support you throughout the day,” Sethi says.
The rise of the garment can impact your comfort and the amount of support you receive from a given pair of leggings. To be clear, the rise is where the waistband hits on the body. A low-rise pair sits on the hips, while a high-rise or an ultra high-rise style covers your belly button. For the most tummy control, don't go lower than a mid rise to maintain support around most of the midsection.
What are tummy control leggings?
Tummy control leggings are ones that contour or hold any excess skin in place, usually with the help of a compressive fabric.
Is there a difference between tummy control leggings and high-waisted leggings?
The difference between the tummy control and high-waisted leggings is the fabric. “High-waisted leggings are great because they come to a point on your waist where everything is kind of hidden,” explains stylist Jasmine Caccamo. “Tummy control leggings are really like a Spanx or controlled undergarments that are made like leggings so it’s more of a streamlined fit from ankle to waist.”
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Danielle Ransom is an NYC-based writer and has covered a myriad of beauty, fashion, and lifestyle topics. For this article, she researched different styles of leggings from brands across different price points and spoke with two fashion experts for further insight.
The Best Athleta Leggings, Ranked for Lounging, Running, Yoga and All the Things. PureWow. https://www.purewow.com/fashion/athleta-leggings
The best leggings of 2022. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/cnn-underscored/reviews/best-leggings