Best Women's Leggings

Updated January 2020
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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 we never accept free products from manufacturers. 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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Why trust BestReviews?
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 we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
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 we never accept free products from manufacturers. 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 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

24 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
370 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best women’s leggings

Last Updated January 2020

In the rapidly changing world of women’s fashion, leggings are no longer mere workout clothing or loungewear. They have emerged as one of the most versatile pieces in a woman’s wardrobe. Leggings are ideal for the gym, running errands, and traveling, but they can also be dressed up for a night out on the town. That doesn’t make choosing a pair of women’s leggings less daunting, however.

Women’s leggings are made from form-fitting, stretchy fabric. While black is by far the most popular color, leggings can be found in a wide variety of solid colors and prints. Speaking of variety, you’ll also find plenty of on-trend leggings, featuring unique materials, embellishments, and cuts.

Our buying guide has all the information you need to choose a pair of women’s leggings that fit well, feel great, and give you a fashion-forward look. For our picks for the best women’s leggings on the market, see the matrix above.

When packing women’s leggings in luggage, save space by rolling them instead of folding.

Key considerations

Types of leggings

Athletic leggings are designed for exercise or performance, so they have high tensile strength and maximum flexibility. These styles tend to be thicker than fashion leggings. Athletic leggings also require special care when washing to preserve the stretchy materials in their blends.

Fashion leggings are designed for casual wear, and they are either worn on their own or beneath skirts and oversized tops. These leggings tend to be on the thinner side, though that sometimes means they can be slightly sheer, which isn’t always popular with wearers. On the upside, these leggings are generally machine-washable.

Size

Women’s leggings don’t follow the same sizing as women’s pants and jeans. To find your correct size, consult the manufacturer’s size chart. You’ll often need to know your height, weight, inseam, and waist or hip measurements.

In terms of sizing, most women’s leggings are available in XS through XL. Some manufacturers make plus-size leggings up to 4XL. Some also make XXS women’s leggings, though this size can be hard to find.

Length

While leggings are typically associated with ankle-length cuts, women’s leggings now come in a variety of other lengths. A cropped cut lands just above the ankle, though if you have shorter legs, this cut will fit like a full-length style. There are also mid-calf, skimmer, and capri cuts, which are more popular for athletic leggings than fashion ones.

Waistband

Regular waistbands have either a high, low, or medium rise. These waistbands tend to have thinner elastic bands of one to two inches. Regular waistbands are more popular on fashion leggings as their design isn’t very conducive to high levels of activity.

Wide waistbands have either a medium or high rise, and they are usually found on athletic leggings. On average, these waistbands are between three and five inches. They don’t always rely on an inner elastic band. Instead, they often have a panel of material that hugs the torso and acts as tummy control.

Design

While plain black leggings are always in style, there are plenty of colors, patterns, and trendy designs to choose from as well. Mesh panels are a popular design element that give leggings a modern, sporty edgy. They’re most commonly located on the sides of the thighs or calves. In addition to adding curb appeal to leggings, mesh panels also provide ventilation, which is why they’re a popular choice for athletic leggings. A popular trend for women’s fashion leggings is faux denim with zippers and pockets to mimic jeans.

EXPERT TIP

If you want neutral women’s leggings, you’re not stuck with just black. Gray, chocolate brown, and navy blue are also neutral enough to match the majority of your wardrobe.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Materials

Women’s leggings are made from unique material blends that usually include cotton, polyester, rayon, spandex, and microfiber.

Cotton is extremely breathable and soft but stretches out easily. To minimize this, cotton is often blended with spandex to help retain its shape and hide moisture stains.

Most women’s leggings are made from a blend of polyester and spandex. Polyester has decent stretch and holds onto dye well, but it’s not breathable. Spandex has both breathability and extreme stretch, so it’s an ideal pairing.

Microfiber blends are more popular for fashion leggings than athletic styles. This ultra-soft plush material is comfortable and stretchy, but it isn’t the most breathable. That’s not always a bad thing – since they help retain warmth, microfiber leggings are ideal for cooler temperatures.

Fleece-lined

Fleece-lined leggings can either be athletic or fashion leggings. When fleece is present in athletic leggings, they are usually intended for outdoor exercise in cold weather. These leggings are much thicker than their unlined counterparts, so there’s a bit of adjustment when exercising in them.

Fleece-lined fashion leggings are a popular choice for casual winter wear. While you could use them for layering under clothing, the fleece is a bit bulky, so you’re better off wearing oversized sweaters with these.

The squat test

Let’s keep it real: you can’t talk about women’s leggings without mentioning the squat test. This involves trying on a pair and squatting or bending over in front of a mirror to determine how sheer the leggings are. It’s an important consideration, especially since it’s hard to tell when leggings are on a hanger.

To find a pair of leggings that pass the squat test, there are a few details that are telling even before you try them on. One test is to hold the seat toward a light and stretch – if you can see through the leggings, they’ll probably fail the squat test, too. Another thing you can do is look at the seams in the seat of the leggings. If they’re not particularly well-reinforced, chances are the leggings will be pretty sheer.

Pair women’s leggings with a tank top and jean jacket for a simple layered look that is ideal for comfortable traveling.

Women’s leggings prices

On average, women’s leggings cost between $10 and $70. While you certainly get what you pay for with leggings, it doesn’t mean that all the styles at the top of the range are the best. Many of them are just made by better-known manufacturers.

If you’d like an affordable pair of leggings, expect to spend $20 or less. These leggings include many cotton-blend fashion leggings as well as some athletic styles. They tend to be hit or miss with the squat test, so if you really like them, expect to cover up your bottom.

Once you get into the $20 to $40 range, you’ll find a drastic leap in quality and style. Leggings in this price range fit better and come in far more colors, cuts, and designs. You’ll also find a broad range of lesser-known brands as well as major manufacturers.

At the top of the price range, closer to $70, are mostly high-quality and name-brand leggings. Fashion leggings in this category generally pass the squat test and often come with unique embellishments. There are also a number of high-performance athletic leggings in this range.

EXPERT TIP

If you notice any pilling on your women’s leggings, especially fleece ones, gently use a fabric defuzzer to keep it at bay.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Wear before exercising. Before wearing a new pair of leggings to the gym, try them out around the house to make sure they’re comfortable.
  • Try classic looks. Pair leggings with a cute pair of flats or heels. Even if your leggings are plain black, you can jazz up your outfit with animal-print or bold-colored shoes.
  • Put on socks first. To make sure your socks stay in place, put them on first, followed by the leggings. This will prevent your socks from falling down inside your shoes.
  • Wash dyed leggings separately. Leggings that are dyed, especially with bright colors, should be washed separately the first time you wash them. Otherwise, you might end up with bleeding on your other clothes.

Other products we considered

If you’re looking for leggings with fun designs, take a look at the Colorfulkoala Women’s High-Waisted Patterned Leggings. These top-rated women’s leggings come in unique patterns, including camo, floral, and animal-print styles. With a blend of 75% polyester and 25% spandex, they’re flattering and comfortable. They have a high-waist, no-roll waistband that’s ideal for hitting the gym.

For simple black fashion leggings, we like the Hue Women’s Cotton Ultra Leggings with Wide Waistband. The unique blend of cotton, rayon, Lycra, and spandex means the leggings retain their shape while remaining flexible and comfortable. As the material is on the thinner side, these women’s leggings are ideal for wearing under skirts and with oversized tops.

When you find a good, go-to pair of women’s leggings, buy at least two or three pairs so you’re not constantly washing the same pair, which will cause them to wear out faster.

FAQ

Q. How should I wash my leggings?
A.
Women’s leggings require special treatment since they contain stretchy materials. They’re generally machine-washable, though it’s a good idea to stick to cool water and gentle, bleach-free detergent. You’ll also want to avoid fabric softener as it causes stretchy fabric to deteriorate more quickly. Avoid the dryer, and line or hang dry instead.

Q. Can I wear thermal underwear under my leggings?
A.
It depends on the thickness of the thermal underwear and the fit of the leggings. Ultra-thin thermals are ideal to wear under form-fitting clothing. However, you may want to consider a pair of fleece-lined women’s leggings for an all-in-one solution.

Q. The ankle cuffs on my leggings are too wide. What can I do?
A.
You could take them in, but the tailoring bill might not be worth it. Instead, you could stick to wearing your leggings inside boots to hide the cuffs. With athletic leggings, try rolling them up to cuff them.

The team that worked on this review
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Sian
    Sian
    Writer

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