I tried many pairs before I found leggings that worked for my body. Here’s my list of recommended leggings that have been put through the ringer (and washer) countless times.
I’ll tell you where to buy them, what they’re made of and of course, why they’re holy grail worthy.
Photos Taken By: Cori L.
My Stats: 5’3” (Petite) and Athletic Curvy Build
Why: I believe this brand was made by the creative designer for Lululemon. Either way they’re pretty reminiscent of lulu and they’re made of a thick, nice quality fabric that feels tech inspired but can be worn to work, since they’re still matte. The ones I bought are high waisted and have a little pocket for your cell phone at the top. They also don’t get that crotch wear down as fast as most leggings do – you know – that weird pilling thing that happens near your thighs after wearing the leggings a lot. I’ve bought two of these leggings and I wear them daily to work – it’s been about a year a half and there’s some pilling but no holes or anything and they haven’t stretched at all + I may or may not have accidentally thrown them in the dryer a few times. After 365+ days of wear, I’d call that a win for leggings. OH. These also make your stomach basically disappear – that waistband at the top is thick and comfortable! For someone 5’3” I’d recommend maybe hemming these to your liking still – even XL short is a little too long for my legs and they bunch up.
My Size: XL Short
Material: Polyester & Spandex
Price Range: $30-55
Why: I really tried not to get a pair of these but then I found a pair on Poshmark for only $40 and I thought I’d try them out – the ones I tried were the Wunder Under Hi-Rise Tight. I’d also recommend the In Movement Tight if the Fast and Free/Wunder Under don’t do it for you. I’ve worn the Wunder Unders for the past year and a half and they haven’t pilled at all. So I invested in a pair of Fast & Free ⅞ Tights this year too, for workouts. Those haven’t pilled either. AND they offer free hemming on all their leggings for as long as you have them. Short girls, rejoice! The high rise and thick waistband don’t foldover when I sit and my butt looks the best in these leggings. The material has a bit of an “activewear” sheen but I’ve worn the full on luxtreme Wunder Unders to work without issue. The Fast and Free have reflective dots for night running on the ankle area – so those probably wouldn’t work for office wear. They’re ranked second mostly because of price but I definitely wear them more often than my Zella leggings. Lululemon really does many things right in their legging department but you should always look out for their reviews, I’ve heard about see-through legging nightmares and such (Align Tight – a pilling nightmare), so I’d just caution and advise that you make sure to check the reviews and try on in store! And while sales are tempting at Lulu, make sure the type of legging etc is what you really want, these will last awhile so buying exactly what you’re looking for is more important than $10 off!
My Size: 12
Material: Full On Luxtreme or Nulux are my favorites. Full On Luon pills more quickly. In case you’re curious, these patented materials are just percentages of nylon and lyrca. Like I believe the Luon percentage is 86% nylon, 14% lycra.
Why: Yeah I totally paid the $20 for shipping to try these leggings out. It took forever to receive them and when I first tried them on they were tight and uncomfortable. I threw them in the bottom of my drawer and forgot about them until a few months later, I took them out and tried them on – still tight, but a little more comfortable so I wore them out. Then I washed them. Next time I wore them they were SO COMFORTABLE. I think the website said something about them “molding” to your fit after a few wears and washes but I kind of forgot about it at first, which is why I tossed them away. They’ve now become my go-to for hiking and other activities – I’m glad I gave them another chance. They don’t stretch or pill and they wash easily, I think I’m probably going to get another pair pretty soon! The only gripe I have with these is that the bottom does bunch up, if you’re around 5’3”, get the ¾ length. It’s what I’m most likely going to try next, the ones I have, while they’re good for hiking (no dirt in my shoe, ever), really bunch up a TON at the bottom like they were made for someone 5’10”.
My Size: XL
Material: 79% recycled polyester and 21% spandex. Doesn’t seem as breathable as other leggings but definitely makes up for that in fit.
Price Range: $58-68
Why: These hug very well and the mid-waisted band is both forgiving while also concealing. I can wear them two days in a row and the elastic won’t stretch a bit. I also have bigger hips, I found that these don’t ride down even if you’re walking for awhile. I love leggings that hug well and let you move around! I wore a pair four days in a row in Europe. YEP. I didn’t know it was going to be so cold in Paris so those were my ONLY pair of long pants. They never stretched or anything in that four day period – every time I pulled them back on they felt the same as the first day. Protip for travel – bring jeans just in case. Always. As far as length goes they bunch a little bit on my frame but not too much, surprisingly!
My Size: XL
Material: 80/20 Cotton/Elastane blend. They’re very breathable. After buying these, elastane is the top fabric material that I look for in leggings because it seems to retain shape even after several wears.
Price Range: $30-60
Why: I love balance collection too but they are less frequently available in the right black color / size I’m looking for. I found them in high school and I don’t wear them super often now, but I still have one or two pairs of these laying around for workouts. They’re great because they have a pretty thick and sturdy band at the top that never rolls down. I believe the leggings are manufactured by the Marika brand but I found the Marika leggings to be a little ill fitting on my frame, the Marika brand also doesn’t have that signature “sanded” feel that the Balance leggings do. However, if you don’t find what you like with Balance Collection – maybe Marika will have what you’re looking for!
My Size: L to XL, depending on fit.
Material: Polyester & Spandex
Price Range: $16-44
They have some really great joggers and shorts for petite people, but their standout Chaturanga leggings really fell short (ha) for me. A little too thick and just not as hugging as a pair of other leggings in the same price range.
Thin and ugly, but I wasn’t expecting much for $3-5 a pair. Also holes in crotch after two or three wears. Does not work for thick thighs. Their workout leggings are okay – not amazing but they are decent.
Aerie is so GOOD at marketing. They make their leggings sound so awesome and then they just don’t fit in the right places. They also look more like sport leggings than fashion leggings and they have a tendency to ride down your hips throughout the day. Like sometimes if you don’t have hands to pull them up you’ll end up in an embarrassing situation. With bigger hips and thicker thighs, I’ve found that Aerie leggings – the Move, Chill, etc. – all tend to stretch out and ride down over the day, I think they need to increase their elasticity by a lot! I’ve tried almost every variation of their leggings as well and have not been satisfied. Their material seems to be more cotton than elastic, so wearing them over a few days is pretty difficult, they’ll stretch out within the first few hours. They do have a wide band and are very comfortable at first – but they give a slight cameltoe and the wide band rolls down over the day so it’s a moot point.
H&M leggings are for tall people. That’s it. They’re very long and most of their leggings do not have that wide, comfortable band at the top. They have a little like elastic kinda scrunchy style band which rolls down when you sit. And material is disappointingly thin for a $14 pair. Plus they pill like crazy and they’re definitely not opaque.
A Costco pair that’s $14 for two is too good to be true. I still use these for maybe dresses and insulation but they pilled the second I put them on. They also have a thin band at the top and don’t really hold anything in. I couldn’t try them on at Costco but now I can’t return them. #regret
I think this brand is okay. The waistband is on the medium side but it’s thin and constricting so if you eat anything you’ll find that uncomfortable muffin top strain. Also made of more cotton-type material so it doesn’t really move with you at all.
Same with DKNY, I think these are okay in terms of make and comfort but they are not the best. Calvin Klein also makes very thick, warm leggings. I live in California so it’s not very comfortable to wear these leggings on the daily – and it’s not just the weather – I also feel like I can’t move in ‘em.
So that’s it. Long post over, let me know if you try any of the ones I suggested or if you have any you think I’d like even more!
Thanks for taking a break xx
This was posted on Break From the Pace, a blog I ran with my best friend Wendy, three years ago in 2017. I’m moving a few pieces over to this website. Hope you enjoy, I’ll be updating with a new legging post soon too!