The best new leggings for exercise, work, and everything else Leave a comment


We’ve all got them. Maybe you have two. (Or, if you’re lucky, three or four.) But for those who love their yoga pants, these stretchy standbys have become indispensable quarantine workhorses. A staple in our 24/7 wardrobe. The spandex bottom half to our business casual Zoom-iform.

But there’s a formula for legging bliss: Are they squat-proof? Do they hold up well in the wash? Do they sag and stretch out after a few hours of wear? Are they soft??

Then, there are personal preferences: Light, heavy, or no compression? Ankle length or need a few extra inches? Wide, smoothing waistbands or seamless and elastic-less? Texture? Ribbing? Flared legs?

And most importantly: Are they comfortable?

Like the rest of the work-from-home masses, we’ve seen our share of yoga pant hits and misses this year. Here are our picks from the current market—whether you’re working out, lounging, or sitting behind your desk for hours at a time. These are the yoga pants and leggings we recommend.

[Photo: courtesy Beyond Yoga]

Beyond Yoga Patch Pocket High Waisted Midi Leggings
Beyond Yoga’s incredibly cute workout sets seem like they would be right at home in an airy, expensive, Beverly Hills yoga studio. But don’t let the aesthetic fool you: These pieces don’t feel at all fussy once you have them on. The Patch Pocket High Waisted Midi Leggings  are one of the most comfortable pairs of pants I’ve ever put on. The fabric is velvety soft, and while the high waist makes me feel covered up, the stretch is so gentle that you truly barely even notice you have them on. That comfort can be a plus or a minus; these pants wouldn’t be my first choice for a run, HIIT, or any other kind of jiggle-inducing exercise. But for gentle stretching, slow-paced yoga, or, let’s be honest, just laying around the house all day, their comfort is unmatched. (And if you’re looking for a more traditionally supportive fit, the adorable Tossed Star leggings in Sportflex fabric have a more structured, synthetic feel.) — Lara Sorokanich, Staff Editor

[Photo: courtesy Boden]

Boden Jessica Active Leggings
If Beyond Yoga’s leggings embody the free-spirited LA yogi ethos, UK-based Boden’s are the embodiment of proper, put-together London. The Jessica Active Leggings are made of thick, sturdy, compression fabric that makes everything feel tucked in, from waist to ankle. I tried them out in the Pressed Bloom pattern, and was pleasantly surprised by how flattering they were, even in such a bold print. I’d recommend buying a size larger than you think you need in these, as even after consulting the size chart I found myself doing the “jump up and down as you yank them up” dance to get these on. But once they were on, they were incredibly slimming, flattering, and fun—comfortable enough to wear while working from home all day and then take on an after-work run. Once the weather gets better and society opens up again, I could definitely see myself wearing these to run errands, hang out in a park, or to a casual hangout with friends. — Lara Sorokanich, Staff Editor

Lululemon Align Crop 21″ Cool
I’m a short human so any legging advertised as “cropped” is actually “about the right length” for me. The Lululemon 25″ Super High-Rise Align is my ride or die—my go-to for any workout, travel (when that was still a thing), and lounging around my house. So when I found out the brand had a new fabric tech—a temperature-controlling version of my fave Nulu Fabric—with a cropped inseam, I had to try them. The “Cool” fabric, which debuted last year, is created with additional yarns that are supposed to feel literally cooler to the touch than those in your traditional Align. The result is a legging so stretchy it feels sinful, still roll-proof, and yet barely noticeable when worn for a full flow. I’m not sure if it really feels “cooler” than my regular Aligns, but I like to tell myself I’m cooler for wearing it. (Haha.) To be fair, I spend a lot more time in a state of stagnancy than I do working up a sweat, so a more dedicated athlete than I may benefit more from the new fabrication. Regardless, I’ve worked these into my full rotation of daytime leggings, and for me and my strenuous six-hour “Midsomer Murders” marathons, they’re absolutely perfect. — Rachel Raczka, Writer

[Photo: courtesy Spanx]

Spanx Every.Wear Active Icon Leggings
So long to the days of oversized men’s tees and old college sweats at the gym. The recent uptick in photoshop perfect Instagram fit-fluencers means going to the gym requires looking your best. Enter Spanx’s Every. Wear Active Icon Leggings, which are wildly lightweight, waistband less (I’ll get to that later), and have an exceptionally discrete tummy toning panel.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by the ability of these leggings to flatten my soft spots while remaining comfortable. The process of dressing and undressing, however, is anything but simple. Getting these on is comparable to pulling on a wetsuit: easy-ish while dry, but when they’re sweaty? Well, that’s a whole different story. The leggings manage to maintain their dry look even when soaked, which make them the perfect counterpart to a high intensity workout, or you know, any sweaty activity where you don’t want to look like you’ve peed your pants. The toning panel in the front is slightly rubberized and even when wet, never slides or rolls down. And while we’re talking about the waistband, or lack-there-of, it’d be hard not to mention how flattering not having a horizontal seam wrapping your most vulnerable area can be.

All in all, I give these leggings a solid thumbs up. But as I’m sure many people have undoubtedly said before me, there’s nothing quite like walking through your front door and ripping off your Spanx after a long day. — Chelsea Schiff, Art Director

[Photo: courtesy Alo]

Alo Yoga Airbrush and AloSoft Leggings
I’ve been a fan of the cult brand Alo Yoga ever since my ultraflexible sister gave me a gift subscription to the company’s Alo Moves streaming service for Christmas a few years back. (It’s the gift that keeps giving: The service includes thousands of hours of classes from top instructors, from pilates and HIIT workouts to meditation and, yes, yoga.) I’ve also spent the pandemic encouraging friends and colleagues to just buy the company’s perfect Urban Moto Sweatpant already. But surprisingly, I’d never given Alo’s renowned yoga leggings a try—until recently.

I decided on two styles that would be equally appropriate for my WFH days (i.e. not too constricting) and my evening yoga and pilates workouts: the incredibly soft, brushed cotton High-Waist Alosoft legging and the slightly more structured, though not quite as cosy High-Waist Airbrush version. Both leggings feature a flatteringly thick waistband and, according to the company, “contouring” seams in the back for an “extra-lifted look.” The Alosoft legging may well be the most comfortable thing I own—so buttery soft and delicious that it’s basically ASMR apparel. That said, it doesn’t deliver quite enough compression to be my go-to legging for all occasions. On that front, the High-Waist Airbrush is incredible versatile: soft and flexible, but still thick and supportive enough to wear just about anywhere. I’ve also washed it more than a half dozen times, and its shape and elasticity have held up. It’s not easy to find a pair of soft leggings that will stand the test of time. The Airbrush is one of them.  —Amy Farley, Senior Editor

[Photo: courtesy Everlane]

Everlane Perform Pocket Legging
I started the pandemic by panic-buying the recycled nylon Everlane Perform Legging in an easy ink-grey shade. Since then, I’ve logged hundreds of hours in this legging: at my desk, working out, at the park, on hikes, and even camping trips. I’ve washed it dozens of times, spilled on it, run my jagged nails across it—and it still looks brand new. (This performance fabric really performs.) My only complaint is the lack of pockets, which means I end up tucking my phone into the waistband as I move around the house. So I was thrilled when Everlane recently introduced a similar style—this time with pockets. The new Perform Pocket Legging is made of the same easygoing nylon fabric, which keeps you feeling put together without giving off a scuba-suit vibe. It includes some additional seams, which appear a little superfluous, but are supposed to be “leg-lengthening.” If they mean that Everlane was able to build in pockets, I’m all for them. —A.F.

[Photo: courtesy Madewell]

Madewell MWL Form High-Rise 7/8 Leggings
Before the pandemic, I wore leggings only on the weekend. Now that I’ve been working from home, they’ve become part of my Monday to Friday wardrobe as well. So I’ve been on the lookout for new styles and colors to upgrade my collection of black cotton spandex pants. Madewell’s MWL (Make Weekends Longer) leggings are a stylish alternative to my current look. The indigo is an instant mood lifter on these cold winter days. The recycled nylon fabric is breathable and feels cool against the skin. You get a smooth fit with mild compression, which makes them well suited for leggings you want to wear all day. And with the high waist I didn’t worry about the top creeping or down curling over. I would probably go a size larger than my usual pant size, though, for a little more give. I felt athletic with them on but the most active I got was taking the stairs to my apartment building’s laundry room, when the hidden pocket in the waistband proved the perfect size to hold my laundry card. Paired with sneakers and an oversize sweater, these leggings are the perfect casual look for every day. — Charissa Jones, Copy Chief

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