What To Look For When Buying Leggings

Leggings. We really can’t get enough of them. At a certain point, the “Are leggings pants?” debate ceased to exist, because according to women everywhere (including our girls Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner), leggings are most definitely chic — and, oh yeah, functional for the gym, too. Given that these comfy and form-fitting athleisure bottoms are now considered It Pants, we asked leggings experts at activewear brands and retailers Lululemon, Outdoor Voices, and Bandier about how to shop for the perfect pair based on your personal taste and preferences. Factors such as the waistband rise, the length, and performance during intense workouts all come into play. Ahead, we break it down for you. Consider this your easy, no-sweat guide to these trendy, wear-anywhere pants.

What Works: Compression
Let’s not forget: Before leggings turned into fashionable street pants, they were worn primarily to the gym. “For working out, leggings with compression and support are important! Many compression leggings boast quick-drying or anti-microbial fabric and ventilation via mesh paneling, which are great for sweaty workouts,” says Jen Bandier, founder of Bandier. Tyler Haney, founder of Outdoor Voices, is also a fan of the sculpting fit: “For me, the compression really has to be there — I do jogging, Pilates, and I go to [NYC workout studio] The Class by Taryn Toomey. My leggings need to perform and function correctly with my body,” she says. Compression leggings are made from wicking fabrics like Supplex and nylon/Spandex blends, and therefore pull moisture away from the body.

Our Picks:
Lululemon Speed Tight II for the sweat-wicking fabric and non-chafing flat seams.
Outdoor Voices Warmup Leggings for the leg-sculpting fit.
Daquïni Fluxus Leggings for the four-way stretch and breezy mesh paneling.
Nimble Lara Full Length Tights for the lightweight compression and elastic recovery.

What Works: Pockets
Where do you carry your essential phone-keys-wallet when you’re out for a jog? “Pocket styles are great for when you need to store your phone or credit card when you’ve got errands or running around town,” says Bandier. And now more than ever, leggings are cleverly adding flat pockets, both hidden inside the waistband and outside on the leg. “Who doesn’t love a pocket?” says Jill Chatwood, Director of Global Trends and Collaborations at Lululemon. “Our Inspire Tight II have not one but three pockets — two hidden in the waistband, as well as a secure back zipper pocket.” Here are some other styles that promise to hold your secret stash.

Our Picks:
Vimmia Pleated Band Pant for the two patch side pockets and lightweight compression fabric.
Michi Stardust Crop Legging for a fishnet pocket (that can fit an iPhone) and mesh-panel ventilation.
Vimmia Bloomburst Strength Pant for the convenient, sleek side pocket and comfy, wide waistband.

What Works: High-Rise
On both the style and the function fronts, high-rise leggings are preferred because of the comfortable, wide waistbands and coverage they offer. “The high-rise is a trend right now, and it works well with the whole high-waisted, Mom-jeans look,” says Haney. “They’re more flattering when they come up to your natural waistline.” Plus, you can pair these leggings with a crop top or wear them with a T-shirt tucked into the front, just as you would with high-waisted pants. “I specifically advocate for high-waisted leggings for yoga, because they really hold you in place with every yoga pose,” says Bandier. Here are the styles that rise to the occasion.

Our Picks:
Spanx Shaping Compression Pant for the high-rise fit and body-shaping silhouette.
Outdoor Voices 3/4 Two-Tone Warmup Leggings for the chic, high-waisted cut and textured fabric.
Beyond Yoga Dusk to Dawn Long Legging for the comfortable waistband and quick-drying fabric.
Under Armour Urban Jungle Leggings for the banded-waist rise and ombré pattern.

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What Works: Crop Lengths
Crop styles are generally a go-to length because the hemmed fits are perfect for petite and tall women alike. (On petite women, these styles tend to hit around the ankle.) “I’m totally into the three-quarter — they feel amazing for summer,” says Haney. “I’ve seen them on all body types, and the length really works for everyone.” Chatwood agrees, especially since cropped styles are big for summer: “There are two key lengths — a crop that stops right under the knee for athletic pursuits, and a longer crop pant. It’s all about the ankle.”

Our Picks:
Nike Pro Patchwork Dri-FIT Capris for the easy-to-wear length and smooth-finish flat seams.
Cynthia Rowley Cropped Stretch-Jersey Leggings for the comfy stretch and gilded flower print.
Splits59 Nova Galaxy Performance Capri for the three-quarter fit and hidden waistband pocket.

What Works: Prints and Color
While it’s important to consider all the components of leggings before purchasing, sometimes it really boils down to how a pair looks. “A statement-making pattern is important because it reflects your personality,” says Bandier, who carries exclusively designed legging prints at her shop. “I’m sick of the super-flat and black leggings,” says Haney. “I’m also obsessed with texture in the textile itself — Outdoor Voices leggings have a bit of bounce to them, so it’s more like a thick rubber-band stretch to it, not like a water-balloon stretch.” Tonal colors, textures, and patterns — select your workout leggings to match your personal tastes.

Our Picks:
Lululemon Wunder Under Pant for the breathable, four-way stretch fabric and marbled plum print.
Strut This The Charlie for the unexpected front-stripe print and sweat-absorbent Supplex fabric.
Without Walls Cropped Legging for the colorful floral print and flattering, ankle-baring crop style.

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