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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

38 Models Considered
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115 Consumers Consulted
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best plus-size leggings for women

Leggings are a wardrobe basic — the average woman has a collection of three pairs or more. Plenty of leggings are designed for athletic wear, but a variety of styles exist for other purposes as well. You can wear casual leggings, lounge leggings, and even dressy leggings. What leggings all have in common, however, is that they offer a high level of comfort without compromising on style.

Finding the perfect leggings, according to many women, is an unparalleled quest in the world of fashion. With countless cuts, materials, and styles, it’s safe to say that you’ll be spoiled for choice. But what size and style should you get? What material and waistband are right for you? How much should you expect to pay for a quality pair?

To take the hard work out of finding the best pair of leggings, we put together this buying guide to point you in the right direction. We’re covering everything you need to know as you compare styles, and we’re sharing a few fashion and styling tips along the way.

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While black leggings match virtually every outfit, make sure you have other popular neutrals in your wardrobe. Navy, charcoal, and chocolate brown are staple neutrals for legging wearers.

Key considerations

Style

There are thousands of leggings on the market. For the most part, they fall into four basic style categories: athletic, fashion, dress, and jeggings.

Athletic

Athletic leggings are designed to be worn for exercise. These leggings are ultra-durable in order to withstand plenty of bending, stretching, and squatting. Many styles in this category have unique features that keep wearers comfortable, such as wick-away properties and mesh panels for ventilation.

Fashion

Fashion leggings are ideal for casual wear. Because they’re comfortable and practical, they are often referred to as “every day” leggings. These styles are typically made of cotton or a polyester blend. Unless they are thermal or lined with fleece, fashion leggings are usually thinner than athletic leggings.

Dress

Dress leggings refer to stylish leggings that are often worn for dressier occasions. They’re far more figure-flattering than fashion leggings and often feature embellishments or stylish accents. Materials vary considerably for dress leggings, from faux leather to high-quality polyester blends.

Jeggings

While jeggings are a bit of an outlier with respect to the trio of more traditional styles, they deserve an honorable mention. Jeggings are made with either stretch denim or a material made to look like denim. They fit similarly to fashion leggings, though they have slightly more structure. Many jeggings feature real pockets or faux zippers.

Material

The most common materials for leggings include cotton, polyester, spandex, Lycra, elastane, microfiber, and fleece.

Stretchy materials: Stretch materials like spandex, Lycra, and elastane give leggings impressive flexibility. They add to the overall durability because they are colorfast and won’t shrink. However, leggings made of these materials are heat-sensitive, which is why they should be washed in cool water and hung to dry.

Cotton and cotton blends: These leggings are soft and breathable. They’re comfortable and become progressively softer with washing. Generally speaking, cotton leggings are the most affordable, but unlike leggings of other materials, they are prone to fading and shrinking.

Fleece and microfiber: Fleece and microfiber are the warmest options for leggings. More often than not, they’re thickener than most stretch and cotton-blend leggings. Fleece and microfiber are incredibly soft and durable, but they may end up pilling in high-friction areas, such as between the thighs.

Size

Plus-size leggings for women range in size from 1X to 6X. It’s important to note that sizing often varies considerably among brands; one company’s 2X might be another’s 3X. Leggings of different materials may vary in fit, too. For example, spandex leggings may feel more snug than cotton blend leggings, even if they’re the same size.

If you wear several pairs of leggings on a regular basis, you’ll need space to hang them for drying. Invest in a drying rack rather than draping the leggings on chair backs and sofas.

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Features

Waistband

According to many women, the waistband can make or break a leggings purchase.

High waist: High-waist leggings are universally flattering because they create a sleek, smooth silhouette. Some styles in this category also offer tummy control. Well-made high-waist leggings are comfortable and stay put, but poor-quality styles are prone to rolling down or cutting into your midsection.

Natural waistline: Many leggings are cut at the natural waistline, meaning they’re cut close to the belly button or just above it. These styles are typically preferred by women who like a less-constrictive or compressive fit. Quality leggings in this category have comfortable waistbands that fit well, whereas low-quality leggings can end up digging into your hips and creating a muffin top.

Length

Leggings are available in a wide variety of lengths. Full-length leggings reach the ankle on most wearers, while 7/8 leggings are cut a couple of inches above the ankle. Three-quarter leggings typically reach the middle of the calf.  Capri leggings are cut a couple of inches below the knee.

Pockets

Many leggings are now designed with pockets, both for style and convenience purposes.

Side pockets: Side pockets on leggings are usually large enough to hold a phone or media player. They’re mostly found on athletic leggings because they eliminate the need for a bulky armband or fanny pack. As expected, side pockets are especially popular among gym-goers, runners, and cyclists.

Hidden pockets: These are usually sewn into the waistband seam. They’re fairly small, and in most cases, items larger than your keys or lip balm won’t fit inside. While convenient for some women, others feel they’re not very functional.

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DID YOU KNOW?
Wick-away leggings are made with materials that sweep sweat and moisture away from your body while you exercise. Some wick-away leggings have odor management properties as well.
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Plus-size leggings for women: prices

Inexpensive: Basic cotton and entry-level athletic leggings cost $25 or less. Construction quality is decent, though these styles only last through a season or two of regular wear.

Mid-range: Mid-range leggings, including athletic and fashion styles as well as jeggings, run between $25 and $50. These are generally well-made and hold up through considerable wash and wear.

Expensive: Premium leggings cost $50 and above. These include performance athletic leggings with unique qualities as well as high-quality fashion and dress leggings.

You can wear cropped or capri leggings in the wintertime. Just slip on a pair of knee-high socks and knee-high boots with them.

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Tips

  • Always buy a pair in black. Even if you have a few neutral patterns or colors in leggings, it’s a good idea to have a classic black pair in your collection.
  • Roll for packing. The best way to pack leggings in luggage is to roll them up. Rolled leggings can be used as protective bumpers around fragile items.
  • Stay away from Velcro. Leggings made with stretch materials are prone to snagging if they brush against the sticky side of Velcro.
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Many women prefer wide waistband leggings because they’re less likely to dig into the belly and sides.

FAQ

Q. About how long will leggings last?

A. It depends on how often you wear them. Leggings washed and worn a few times a week might only last for a couple of years, while those worn less often may last up to five years. Leggings with stretch materials may relax and loosen after about a year of wash and wear.

Q. Why are my leggings always loose around my ankles?

A. This is actually quite common with leggings, especially budget-priced styles. Better-fitting leggings cost more, but one of their perks is that they are appropriately tapered around the ankle. While you could get leggings tailored, it’s usually not worth the cost.

Q. Are leggings available for petite or tall wearers?

A.There are quite a few leggings available in petite sizes, but it is much harder to find leggings for taller women. A few brands cater to taller women, in which case you may find they offer more than one inseam. These leggings tend to be pricier than the norm.

 

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