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Long before the zeitgeist coined the term “athleisure” the stretchy bottoms that we now know as yoga pants were a key component to the workout look du jour that translated well as off-duty attire. An aerobics craze in the '80s fueled consumers’ burning desire for colorful and stretchy capris leggings, which later gave way to the stirrup fad of the early '90s and the rolled-waist-and-boot-cut aesthetic of the aughts.
In today’s crowded market, shoppers can have their pick of the bunch or collect a wide range of styles to work into a rotation. Still, the choice can be personal, with the experience of choosing a pair of yoga pants being akin to bra and underwear shopping. Like your undergarments, these bottoms can take you from the gym to a casual lunch with friends. You’re also likely to lounge in them for hours at home, and sometimes, you may even sleep in them.
For that reason, fabric, fit, rise, and general quality are all important factors to consider, as they’ll inform what looks and feels great on your body and steer you to the best choice for you. “There’s no right or wrong answer,” assures Justine Liu of Girlfriend Collective.
Meet the Expert
In sifting through reviews and reflecting on some of our recent purchases, in addition to speaking with Liu, we were able to find some of the most compelling yoga pants across various categories.
Below, find Byrdie’s list of the best yoga pants on the market right now.
Best Overall: Girlfriend Collective Black Compressive High-Rise Legging
The Compressive High-Rise Leggings from Girlfriend Collective are a game-changer, to be sure. The pair offers a four-way stretch and compressive fabric made from recycled water bottles and works well for any high-impact activity. “We know people who use this for every activity under the sun, including just sitting on their couch,” Liu says.
Material: 79% recycled materials, 21% spandex | Inseam: 28.5, 23.75, and 19.5 inches | Size Range: XXS-6XL
What Our Editors Say
“I felt incredibly confident wearing these leggings, and they're comfortable enough to throw on around the house, too. I also think they're a great value—they're definitely not the least expensive leggings on the list, but they're not the priciest, either. Also, I think the brand's inclusive size range is another huge plus.” —Avery Stone, Associate Commerce Editorial Director
Best Budget: Hanes Sport Women's Performance Pant
For under $15, Hanes offers a pair of yoga pants worth raving about—that is, according to thousands of enthusiastic reviewers on Amazon. Many describe them as lightweight yet supportive enough for high-impact activities like running or hiking, and at least one reviewer makes it clear that while they’re breathable, “they’re not see-through like a lot of leggings can be.”
Material: 88% polyester, 12% spandex | Inseam: 32 inches | Size Range: XS-XXL
Best Splurge: Lululemon Groove Super-High-Rise Flared Pant Nulu
This yoga style by Lululemon has garnered reviewers for its super-soft yet compressive feel. Design-wise, the waistband is a super-high-rise in both the back and the front for extra coverage. Plus, with the inseam as full length, the hem is intended to graze right above the ground (however, this might be a bit long for those who are shorter). We love that the style comes in many color options and at least one print. But of course, at $118, these are something of an indulgence.
Material: 80% nylon, 20% Lycra elastane | Size Range: 0-20 | Inseam: 32.5 inches
Best Size Range: Girlfriend Collective Compressive Drawstring Legging
Girlfriend Collective is well-known for its inclusive sizing, but what sets this pair apart from the other high-rise compressive styles is the adjustable waistband. If you’re bloated, worry not; the drawstring waist should help comfort-wise.
Material: 79% recycled materials, 21% spandex | Inseam: 28.5 inches | Size Range: XXS-6XL
Most Versatile: Beyond Yoga Spacedye High Waisted All Day Flare Pant
The most versatile legging is one that suits everyone, wouldn’t you say? Beyond Yoga's All Day Flare Pant is designed to do exactly that. It’s made from the brand’s signature compressive fabric and offers a high rise, minimal seaming, and an adjustable waistband.
Material: 90% Supplex, 10% spandex | Size Range: XS-4X
Best with Pockets: Colorfulkoala High Waisted Yoga Pants
Tens of thousands of positive reviews on Amazon convinced us that this is among the best pairs of yoga pants with pockets one could hope to find for under $30. “They make the booty look good and feel buttery soft,” wrote one reviewer on Amazon, who added that they’re best for low-impact activities like walking, lifting, or even lounging, given that they tended to “fall a bit” during runs. Snag them in a range of color and print options.
Material: Polyester and spandex | Inseam: 25 inches | Size Range: XS-XL
Best Ribbed: Outdoor Voices Rib Flare Pant
Outdoor Voices makes quality leggings and activewear championed by the likes of style icon Hailey Bieber and fitness brand Peloton. We love the label’s signature SuperForm Rib fabric, which is supposed to be good for high impact and high sweat exercise (plus shields you with UPF sun protection).
Material: 82% nylon, 18% Lycra spandex | Inseam: 31 inches | Size Range: XS-XL
Best Bootcut: Alo Yoga Airbrush High-Waist Bootcut Legging
This style is for bootcut lovers only. It’s made from Alo’s sculpting performance fabric to shape the body as it wicks away moisture and fights odor. It’s cut for a high rise, making it the perfect piece to pair with a cropped tee or sports bra and wear for a day of lounging at home or a long walk on a warm day.
Material: Nylon and spandex | Inseam: Corresponds with size | Size Range: XXS-L
Best Cropped: TAIBID Yoga Bootleg Pants
For a cropped style with a bit of flair, there are these flared capris, which hundreds of enthusiastic reviewers say fit properly, feel comfortable, and hold up well over time. They also offer an inner invisible pocket that’s convenient for stashing small essentials, like a credit card or chapstick.
Material: 87% nylon, 13% spandex | Inseam: Corresponds with size | Size Range: S-3XL
Best Lightweight: Girlfriend Collective FLOAT Ultralight Legging
Sometimes, you want a next-to-nothing feel in a pair of leggings. And for that desire, Girlfriend Collective has just the thing. The FLOAT Ultralight Leggings have no compression. Instead, they work well for low-impact workouts (when you may be OK with less structure, a cardio session on a hot day, or simply when you’re looking for that second-skin feel when lounging.
Material: 90% recycled materials, 10% spandex | Inseam: 28½, 23¾ inches | Size Range: XXS-6XL
What to Look for in Yoga Pants
In searching for the perfect pair of leggings, you want to make sure the material will suit you for your intended workout, be it hot yoga, pilates, hiking, or spin. That said, compression leggings offer more support during high-intensity workouts. This makes them ideal for athletes or those with poor circulation or muscle weakness. Meanwhile, leggings made for a barely-there feel are likely to provide more range of motion, making them best for activities that involve stretching.
Most activewear is made from synthetic materials, like polyester or nylon, and spandex for stretch. The higher the percentage of spandex, the more likely the leggings are to have a compressive component to them. If you're not sure exactly what you’re looking for, it’s worth trying leggings of various compositions to see what feels best to you. Conscious consumers may also take note of how a brand sources its materials and make a decision accordingly. (Girlfriend Collective, for example, makes its fabric from recycled plastic bottles.)
Sometimes, designers offer multiple inseams for a given style to cater to many consumer preferences and body types. “We have folks who are shorter than the average height, and they tell us they love wearing our three-quarter-length [that have an inseam of 23 inches] as their full-length leggings,” says Liu. “We also have folks who just love our three-quarter-length leggings because they want their ankles to breathe or they like the look of it on their body.”
Typically, an inseam of 22 or 23 inches, labeled as “3/4” by some brands, will have the look of a full-length legging on a frame under five-foot-three.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a pair of yoga pants with a low rise, as this would go against the supportive nature of yoga pants. Most brands offer yoga pants with mid-rise, high-rise, or extra-high rise. The additional coverage over the belly that the latter two offer tends to help wearers feel more secure and held in.
We’d be disappointed if we invested in a new pair of leggings, and they fell apart after a few washes, and we imagine you would as well. Research the quality by reading online reviews to gauge a pair’s lifespan and looking at resale sites like Depop, Poshmark, and eBay to see how a style has held up over time. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller questions about when they bought the pair for sale or approximately how many times it’s been worn. They’re usually happy to answer any questions, and asking could help you get an idea of what the leggings look like with wear.
Equally disappointing: Leggings with little opacity. In the reviews, look out for any mentions of sheerness. You wouldn’t want to be caught in a pair that shows your underwear when you’re at the studio.
What’s the difference between yoga pants and leggings?
Yoga pants generally have more flexibility than other bottoms that are simply labeled “leggings,” which many fashion brands add to their ready-to-wear collections in materials like faux leather and velvet.
Why do yoga pants fold at the top?
“Depending on designer construction, as well as the fabrication, like how well it holds, the fabric on the top basically serves as a waistband, and it’s meant to help anchor the pants,” explains Liu. “When you think about the yoga pants from the 2000s, they were generally made of a lighter weight jersey that doesn’t have a lot of hold around the waist, so I think that foldover waistband was really to keep your pants up.”
Why Trust Byrdie
Hayley Prokos is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor focused on fashion and lifestyle. She contributes regularly to Byrdie’s commerce section and has a passion for sourcing fashion items that are both stylish and sensible. For this roundup, she spent upwards of 8 hours researching the best yoga pants on the market right now.