Sweat is a natural and normal human bodily response. And, when it's not beyond humid outside, sweat actually serves a very helpful purpose in cooling you down. But in the middle of a HIIT class or when you're running in million-degree weather, you really don't need your back-of-the-knee sweat cramping your style — or your miles. Enter one of the edgiest activewear trends of the past few years: mesh.
For the uninitiated, "Mesh is a fabric constructed with an open-hole structure, encouraging breathability and allowing airflow," explains Ebru Ercon, vice president of women’s design at Lululemon. Essentially, mesh encourages your sweat to evaporate more quickly, reducing the temp of your skin in the process.
Not only does mesh provide some extremely valuable ventilation, it also just looks awesome. "Mesh is cooling and performance-enhancing, of course," says Danny Harris, founder and CEO of Alo Yoga, "but Alo engineers the placement of mesh panels to contour and sculpt the body."
However, not all mesh is created equally — or functionally. Even if it looks neat, a mesh panel on top of your thigh isn't going to do too much if that's not where your sweat is accumulating, for instance. On the other hand, you don't necessarily want a bunch of seams on the sweatiest parts of your body (unless you're a big fan of chaffing for some reason).
"We design and test our products to ensure the mesh is intentionally placed," Ercon says. "For example, in our run product, we avoid seams across key areas of movement, like the inseam or on the knee." On top of that, Harris suggests looking for mesh that's as soft as possible, and making sure there's an "ample amount" of mesh so that you actually feel the ventilation effect — a subtly placed strip here and there isn't gonna cut it.
Ahead, we've rounded up a few of our favorite pairs of leggings with mesh that'll keep you cool and, well, cool.