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Whether you’re athletically inclined or not, leggings are a staple of our everyday wear. No wardrobe is complete without a pair of them, especially since we’ve practically been living in leggings and loungewear for the past year. And, with the widespread popularity of slim, stretchy pants, there is a wide range of colors, patterns, and sizes to suit a diversity of tastes as well as needs. Their ease of wear gives them versatility over other styles of pants, whether it is for lounging, post-partum comfort, or fitness reasons.
Not only are leggings comfortable but they make us look as good as they feel. As far as what makes a pair of leggings reliable, both for everyday wear and working out, there are some features you will want to look out for—namely, quality, brand, fabric, and fit. It's worth considering if you plan on working out consistently in them, or you just need a nice pair for walking around in.
Ahead, our recommendations for the best tummy control leggings to consider for your wardrobe.
Best Overall: Athleta Salutation Stash Pocket II 7/8 Tights
A pair of leggings from Athleta might cost you a bit more upfront than others, but the wear you get off them long-term is well worth it. The athleisure brand crafts its leggings from Powervita fabric, a proprietary blend of nylon and lycra, best exemplified by their Salutation Stash Tights. The leggings are so buttery soft, and they seamlessly fit the contours of your body with a high-rise waistband that holds you in. It’ll almost feel like you are wearing a second skin.
Material: Nylon, Lycra spandex | Sizing: XXS-3X | Inseam: 23-28 inches | Waist: High-rise | Care: Machine-washable
Best Budget: 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. These leggings are a more casual option better suited for everyday wear. While the color selection is limited, they are subtle enough to get away with wearing to the office or running errands. Plus, you can dress them up or down.
Material: Cotton, elastane | Sizing: XXS-3X | Inseam: 27 inches | Waist: High-rise | Care: Machine wash; tumble dry
Best for Workouts: Alo Yoga 7/8 High-Waist Airlift Legging
Some days call for leggings that won’t rip apart at the seams when under pressure, and this pair from Alo Yoga fits the bill. These leggings are made from moisture-wicking, double-knit fabric with a four-way stretch that moves when you move. They’re not only opaque, but they also come in several bright hues, such as lavender, teal, cherry red, and baby blue, for a fun pop of color. They are thick enough, so you don’t have to worry about them splitting open at the seams.
Material: Polyester, spandex | Sizing: XXS-XL | Inseam: 24-25 inches | Waist: High-rise | Care: Handwash in cold water; lay flat to dry
Most Stylish: Fabletics Trinity Mid Rise Pocket
Nothing gets you more psyched to go to the gym than a stylish outfit, and Fabletics is a top destination for activewear in cute colors, fun patterns, and bold prints. And if pockets are a concern, check out the brand’s Trinity Mid Rise leggings. They are compression leggings, so they afford you plenty of range of motion, whether you cycle or barre. And, each side of the pant has a triple-pocket design where you safely tuck earbuds, cards, a cellphone, and keys without worrying about them slipping out. Plus, they produce colorways that can be hard to find from other popular brands.
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 trends, biker shorts are back in. And as far as classic style is concerned, you can’t go wrong with this pair from Athleta. With a sleek construct and high-waist, these biker shorts are a versatile essential for any everyday look or workout wardrobe. And thanks to their body-hugging fit, you can wear them all day.
Material: Nylon, Lycra spandex | Sizing: XXS-3X | Inseam: 9 inches | Waist: Ultra high-rise | Care: Machine-washable
Best Butt-Lifting: CROSS1946 Women Scrunch Butt Yoga Leggings
Show off the hard work you’ve been putting in with these leggings. With a high waist and built-in ruche seam that cuts straight down the butt, this pair is sure to emphasize your posterior and give it definition.
Not to mention these pants come in leopard, snake, zebra, and plaid print as well, so you can still wear them as part of a more casual outfit. It's worth noting that these leggings run small, so be sure to check the brand's size chart to ensure the best fit.
Material: 92% polyester, 8% spandex | Sizing: XS-XL | Inseam: 26-28 inches | Waist: High-rise | Care: Machine-washable
Best Capri: Beyond Yoga Spacedye Walk and Talk High Waisted Capri
Any piece of Spacedye apparel is a reliable addition to your wardrobe. For those not familiar with the brand, its much-loved capri leggings are a great place to start. These leggings are made from an ultra-soft fabric with a nice density to it that bends to the body while holding you in at the waistband, which is five inches thick.
Material: 87% polyester, 13% Lycra spandex | Sizing: XXS-XXL | Inseam: 21 inches | Waist: High-rise | Care: Machine wash and dry
Best Seamless: Eleven by Venus Williams Smooth Legging
If you don’t like the look of seams on your leggings, consider this seamless pair from Eleven by Venus Williams. Made from a blend of moisture-wicking spandex, nylon, and polyester, these compression leggings are comfortable without being too thick. They were made for going the distance, whether that’s running errands all day or long-distance running.
Material: 91% nylon, 7% spandex, 1% polyester | Sizing: XS-XXL | Waist: High-rise | Care: Machine wash cold; lay flat to dry
Best Maternity: Pea In The Pod Ultra Soft Maternity Leggings
Pea in a Pod is one of the best places for maternity apparel. The same applies to the brand’s leggings offerings, and you can’t overlook these ultra-soft leggings, which have hundreds of positive reviews. They’re super comfy with lots of stretch to accommodate your belly throughout the entire pregnancy. These leggings fit snugly over your bump for maximum support without being too tight but are still slim enough to wear underneath a T-shirt. Plus, you can dress them up or down depending on the occasion.
Material: 87% rayon, 13% spandex | Sizing: XS-L | Inseam: 28.5 inches | Waist: High-rise | Care: Machine-washable
Best Faux Leather: Spanx Faux Leather Leggings
Leather pants look great, but they’re not exactly the most comfortable material to wear, especially in hotter temperatures. But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style for comfort; these faux leather leggings from Spanx are the best of both worlds. Featuring a contoured waistband, these leggings help shape the tummy while lifting the butt for more emphasis on your assets.
While these leggings are one of the pricier options on the list, Spanx is known for well-made garments, vouched for by Sethi and Caccamo, so these are a long-term investment. There are sizes available in petite and tall, as well. Not to mention these leggings also come in camo, snake, and crocodile prints.
Material: 87% nylon, 13% elastane with polyurethane coating | Sizing: XS-3X | Inseam: Up to 34 inches | Waist: High-rise | Care: Machine wash cold on gentle cycle
Best Bodysuit: Beach Hours Lana Maple Jumpsuit
The brightly-colored bodysuit over leggings that was all the rage in the 1980s has gotten an upgrade as well. Jumpsuits are the latest athleisure trend, and there is a myriad of options on the market, whether you’re looking for a cute unitard for running errands or hitting the gym. This jumpsuit from Beach Hours is the best of both worlds. A padded jumpsuit designed for fitness and yoga, the straps criss-cross at the back, giving the jumpsuit a more elegant feel. Plus, it features a built-in padded bra for more overall support. The only caveat is that the jumpsuit isn’t very size-inclusive, with only small to large available.
Material: 75% nylon, 25% spandex | Sizing: S-L | Care: Machine wash cold on delicate cycle or handwash
What to Look for in Tummy-Control Leggings
Cassandra Sethi, a personal stylist and founder of Next Level Wardrobe, recommends making sure that the fabric content contains spandex or elastane. “I would recommend at least a minimum of 2 percent of spandex or elastane in the fabric content. You can look that up on the fabric tag,” she adds. “Then, I would also recommend trying them on. I know many women may not want to do this. But I always say garments look very different on the hanger versus on your body. You kind of have to try a lot of different tummy control leggings to find which ones you feel most comfortable in.
“When it comes to the length and universally flattering styles, I always think a ⅞ length is best,” Sethi shares. “A true legging goes past your ankle bone. The ⅞ 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.”
She continues, “If a woman doesn’t want to expose her ankle as much, then I would go for a true legging, which means that the end of pant hits below the ankle bone. That is especially good for women that live in cold climates and may need to protect their skin in snow, sleet, or very cold temperatures.”
According to Sethi, the main thing to remember is that leggings should be fitted snug to your body. “You want to feel supported, but you also want to feel comfortable,” Sethi says. Some ways to test out a pair of leggings is to try a pair on while standing up as well as sitting down in them and see how that feels.
“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. “[Now], there is no sizing consistency among brands. Sometimes, you’ll be a small in one brand, and then you’ll be a medium or large in another brand. That is very common.”
“I truly believe you get what you pay for when it comes to clothing,” Sethi says. “If you determine that you are going to wear these tummy control leggings five days a week, then I suggest you should probably spend a little bit on them. So, maybe, instead of $20, it’s $50 to $100.”
“One thing that you can look out for is the rise of the garment. When I say the rise, I mean where does it hit you, either on your waist or your hips,” Sethi explains. “If you are looking for tummy control, I would recommend going for a legging that hit you more in the waist versus the hip area. So the garment is going to fit higher on you to give that control or that support in the midsection. That’s a good way to look if it’s true tummy control or not.”
What Are Tummy Control Leggings?
“Tummy control leggings are leggings that have a little bit of material in them that kind of contours or holds any excess skin in place,” explains Jasmine Caccamo, celebrity stylist and fashion expert.
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. A lot of the tummy control leggings will be advertised as just that. “High-waisted leggings are great because they come to a point on your waist where everything is kind of hidden,” Caccamo says. “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.”
How Should Tummy Control Leggings Fit?
“Because of the compression, they’re always going to feel a little bit tighter. So, just depending on the brand, maybe go up a size up. They should [still] feel like a normal legging,” Caccamo shares. “Be mindful of how tight you go because then it could create the opposite effect of what you are trying to do. If it’s too tight on your waist, that excess skin of whatever you’re trying to hide will most likely lay over the pant, and that’s something that you want to avoid.”
What Are Some Brands You Would Recommend?
Spanx, Athleta, Alo Yoga, DKNY, and Homma on Amazon are some of the brands that both stylists recommend for their quality of the fabric, price point, and universally flattering designs for a myriad of body types. The golden rule is to always try on multiple pairs of leggings across brands gauging comfort and fit. Sethi further recommends doing a squat test and having someone stand behind you to make sure the fabric is not see-through.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Danielle Ransom is an NYC-based writer and has covered a myriad of topics ranging across beauty, fashion, and lifestyle. For this article, Danielle researched different styles of leggings from multiple brands across different price points and spoke with stylists/fashion experts for further insight.
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, among others.