Leggings are an essential part of every woman’s wardrobe. They’re versatile, so you can wear some legging pants to the gym, for yoga, to the workplace, and even during pregnancy.
The most basic things to keep in mind when buying leggings include style, functionality, and fabric. The right pair of leggings will improve your performance in sports or workouts, keep you safe and comfortable when you’re expectant, as well as classy and stylish both at work and after-work parties.
Here is more to learn about how to choose leggings.
Here is the Table of Contents
How to Choose Sports, Yoga, or Workout Leggings
1. The type and feel of the fabric (soft and non-Chaffey fabric)
Workout leggings should be soft on the body for comfort. Polyester is a popular fabric for leggings because it’s soft and feels good on the skin.
It is also important to choose a non-chafey fabric to reduce friction, especially between the thighs when you’re working out. Lightweight leggings are the best for working out since the sweat dries out fast and they also feel light on the skin.
2. Squat proofed design
The last thing you want is for your leggings to rip in the middle of a squat. Squat-proof leggings will enable you to make different body movements in your exercise session without the fear of unexpected exposure.
With a squat-proof design, the leggings are 4-way stretchable, have strong seams, and also have a lightweight fabric.
3. Tight but comfortable
The trick in choosing workout leggings is to make sure that they are tight but also comfortable. Achieving this balance can be tricky but it all comes down to choosing the right fabric. Fabrics with a good stretch like polyester and spandex will help you to achieve tightness without compromising comfort.
You may also want to consider compression leggings for working out. These leggings are tight fitting and the compression feature helps with promoting blood supply. Proper blood circulation encourages the flow of oxygen for faster healing and it also reduces muscle cramping.
4. Breathability and sweat-wicking
During yoga and workout sessions you need to get breathable and sweat-wicking leggings. Opt for leggings made with lightweight combination fabrics like cotton and Elastane. They’re lightweight and breathable so they will help you to get rid of excess sweat and keep you comfortable.
Leggings come in two-way stretch and four-way stretch fabrics. Two-way stretch fabrics have a stretch going horizontally while four-way stretch fabrics have the stretch-ability going both horizontally and vertically.
Lycra leggings have a two-way stretch and might not be the best for working out. The best leggings for working out are made from spandex which is capable of four-way stretch-ability.
6. It should be high waist and non-slip
Your pants staying in place during your workout session is something to keep in mind when buying leggings. Philip Wallage insists that high waist sports leggings are taking over among women because they make you look cool and they stay snug on your tummy throughout.
If you want non-slip leggings make sure that you get the right size so that they snug the body. It is also advisable to look for leggings with a smooth band around the waist so that you’re comfortable with them staying in place.
7. Versatility (for yoga, running, workout, cycling)
It is always a good idea to have multi-purpose leggings. With versatile leggings, you will get value for money and also have a small manageable wardrobe.
For versatility, make sure that your leggings have a good stretch, moisture-wicking features, are made from a high-performance fabric, and are simple for semi-formal wear.
8. Covert and overt pockets to carry essentials
When choosing sports leggings, you need to make sure that they’re practical. Running leggings should allow you to carry all the essential items that you need.
We have leggings with pockets large enough to put your phone so that you can listen to music or podcasts while working out or running. Leggings with different pockets will make your life easier during yoga, cycling, physical exercise sessions, or any other outdoor activity.
9. Darker or non-stain colors and prints
Your fitness gear will always be exposed to sweat and grime. It’s important to opt for darker or non-stain colors and prints that won’t show sweat stains. The best colors for workout leggings are black and navy since they absorb sweat and dirt without showing.
Plain dark colors and shades are the best since they do reveal stains but you can still choose a checkered print as long as it’s dark.
10. Machine washable and quick drying
Workout clothes need to be machine washable and quick-drying. Machine washable fabrics are generally easy to maintain and you do not have to worry about extra care. You should also go for fast-drying fabrics so that you can wash and dry the leggings quickly at the gym.
11. Guideline on how to take care of them
The merchant should guide you on whether or not it should be machine washed so that you don’t damage the fabric. If there is no comprehensive guide, the garment should at least come with a label.
12. Warranty and return policy
Before buying sports leggings, check out whether they’re guaranteed. A long warranty is always an assurance that you are getting the best quality leggings. It is also advisable to check the return policy so that you can comfortably return them in case they do not fit you.
When buying leggings online, you can never be too sure whether they will fit perfectly so confirm whether you can return them.
13. A reputable brand
Buying workout leggings from a reputable brand is always safer. These brands have been in the business for a long time so they have mastered the art of making good quality products. Some brands like Nike have built a good reputation over time because they manufacture some of the best sports outfits and shoes on the market.
How to Choose Everyday Leggings
1. Differentiating Leggings from Tights, Pantyhose, and Stockings
Leggings are opaque and can be worn alone as normal pants. This makes them a great option to wear when exercising, in the outdoors, or at the office without any fears of exposing your body or appearing indecent. They are close-fitting and most of them are made of stretch fabric. Typical leggings are not footed, stretching from your ankle to the waistline. They are made of different colors, fabrics, styles, and patterns.
Pantyhose are thinner than stockings, leggings, and tights and are mostly made of nylon blends. They are footed, so they cover your feet and stretch to your waistline. They come in a wide range of styles such as opacity, patterns, fishnet, and colors.
Tights are usually thicker compared to pantyhose. They are also usually completely opaque. Tights are available in different patterns, fabrics, and styles. Unlike leggings, tights are not suitable for wearing alone but under a dress or skirt. They’re also footed with either closed or open toes. Tights are designed from elastic materials, mostly polyester or cotton blends.
In most cases, stockings are synonymous with tights. They are tight-fitting and available in various styles, fabrics, and weights. They cover the lower part of your leg including the foot. Stockings are mostly made of nylon, but you can also find some made of silk, wool, and cotton.
2. The Type and Feel of the Fabric
Advantages of cotton leggings
- Feels good on the skin – since cotton is a natural fabric, it feels good on the skin. You can wear it for a long time and it won’t feel tight or uncomfortable.
- Good for those with allergies – if you are prone to skin allergies, you can opt for cotton leggings. Natural fabrics like cotton do not have any harsh fibers that can irritate your skin.
- Easy to maintain – it is easy to clean and maintain your cotton leggings since they do not need specialized care.
- Versatility – you can use cotton leggings for everyday wear, lounging, in bed, and so on.
Disadvantages of cotton leggings
- Loose shape after some time – unlike other fabrics, cotton leggings do not hold their stretchy nature for a long time. They will lose their original shape over time with frequent wearing and washing.
- Fading- we all have cotton garments that have faded due to exposure to the sun.
- Not ideal for cold weather – cotton leggings will need an extra layer to keep you warm in winter.
b.) Synthetic fabrics
Synthetic fabrics used to make leggings include nylon, polyester, and lycra, which is also called spandex, or elastane.
Advantages of synthetic leggings
- Durable – leggings made from synthetic fabrics are generally durable. They are heat and fade-resistant so you will wear them for a long time before they lose their original look.
- Easy to clean – synthetic fibers are easy to clean. You can throw your leggings into the washing machine and they will still stay in good shape.
- Quick drying- synthetic clothes can even dry on your body so they’re very functional.
- Interesting colors and prints – synthetic materials tend to absorb colors and dyes easily. You can therefore get synthetic leggings in a variety of unique colors and prints to suit your preference.
Disadvantages of synthetic leggings
- Might not be ideal for those with certain allergies
- They’re not enough to keep you warm on a cold winter day
Advantages of pleather leggings
- No animal cruelty is involved – these leggings are made from synthetic leather as opposed to genuine leather that is sourced from animals.
- Available in different colors – unlike genuine leather, pleather takes in different dyes so it’s available in a variety of colors and prints.
- Easy to maintain – unlike genuine leather that needs to be treated all the time, for pleather, you only need to moisturize it regularly and apply olive or mink oil.
- Waterproof – you can wear your pleather leggings under heavy rain and they won’t get damaged.
Disadvantages of pleather leggings
- Not very durable – the synthetic leather material is likely to start cracking after some time
Advantages of leather leggings
- The classic look of leather is enviable.
- Durability – your genuine leather leggings will last for years as long as you take good care of them.
- Good protection – genuine leather will protect you from cold weather, breeze, and other elements
- Luxury – genuine leather is considered elegant so real leather fabrics have a luxurious feel.
Disadvantages of leather leggings
- Requires extra and sometimes pricey care to keep looking good
- Some people are worried about animal cruelty since leather is from real animals
The best way to measure your leggings size is to determine the waist, hips, and inseam size. Leggings are supposed to be snug, so it’s advisable to consider your body weight. Some manufacturers will give you a bodyweight chart so you can use it to measure the legging size. If you are using the international clothing size chart, you can convert between US and European sizes to help you determine the correct size.
4. Seamless vs Seamed Leggings
Seamless leggings are the best for everyday wear since they are comfortable, lightweight, and do not show underneath dresses or skirts. Sometimes seamless leggings do not mean a total lack of seams, it only means that the leggings have only an inseam and no outseam. Seamed leggings can be uncomfortable since the seams press into your skin.
5. When to Choose either Full Length, Mid-Calf, or Short Leggings
Full-length leggings are versatile and you can wear them for different activities. Mid-calf leggings are ideal for walking and moving around since they are stylish. Short leggings are great for working out, sleeping, or leisurely in the outdoors.
6. When to Choose either Wide-Leg or Close-Fitting Leggings
Wide leg leggings are a good style for tall ladies, especially when the weather is hot and you want to feel freer. But short women would always do well with high-waist close fitting leggings that can make the legs appear taller.
When you’re wearing full length, skin-tight leggings, you have to tuck them into your shoes, while wide-leg pants can be left to cover the shoe or boot.
7. Workwear vs Casual Wear
If you want to wear leggings to work, you may want to choose plain designs and neutral colors, just like dress pants. Casual leggings on the other hand are available in all sorts of colors and prints and you can wear them anywhere, from running errands, chilling in the house, hitting the gym, and whatever next.
8. High Waist vs Low Waist Leggings
High waist leggings are great for hiding tummy fat. If you want leggings that will snug your belly, opt for high waist leggings. Most of the high-rise leggings will also stay in place and you do not have to worry about them cinching your tummy.
Low-rising leggings may be good if you’re tall but they’re certainly not flattering for short ladies. They can also dig into the waist area especially when you’re working out, making you uncomfortable.
9. Easy to Put On and Take Off
It is advisable to get leggings that are easy to wear. Leggings with an elastic waistband are easy to wear around the waist no matter the body size. Stretchy fabric leggings are also easy to wear and will accommodate your changing body shape or size.
10. Prints and Patterns vs Plain Leggings
Plain leggings are the most versatile for styling. You can wear plain leggings with different top prints and even under your dress.
But if you’re feeling bold, you can experiment with different prints and patterns.
11. Presence and Size of Pockets
Leggings with pockets are ideal for everyday wear. If you will be running errands with your leggings, you need to make sure that it has pockets for keeping valuables like your phone and money. Leggings with zipper pockets are the best for keeping your items safe.
The price of leggings can sometimes be an indicator of quality. If you are looking for high-quality leggings, they are likely to come at a premium cost. Cheap leggings tend to wear out fast and you have to keep replacing them.
Types of Leggings Based on Function
1. Sports, Yoga, or Workout Leggings
Workout leggings are made from high-performance materials such as nylon and polyester. Unlike cotton, nylon is durable and has a better stretch. When doing yoga, polyester is the best material because it’s soft and develops less friction.
Workout and sports leggings have an extra piece of clothing on the crotch area to keep them in place during motion. The edges are also smooth or seamless to prevent irritation when the garment rubs the skin.
2. Casual Leggings
Casual leggings are mostly made from cotton fabric blends. They are lightweight, comfortable, and absorbent. You can wear casual leggings as standalone pants or under a dress, skirt, or a pair of shorts.
These leggings are available in different colors and prints to suit your preference. You can wear casual leggings to run errands or just chill in the house.
3. Maternity/ Pregnancy Leggings
Maternity leggings are great for pregnant and nursing mothers. These leggings are comfortable and they are made from stretchable fabric, more so around the tummy, to accommodate your growing body.
The waistband area is wide so it keeps the pregnancy tummy snug and for breastfeeding mothers, the wide band is good for post-partum healing. According to experts at whattoexpect.com, maternity leggings should feel supportive but not tight.
Tiffhall says “my new TXO maternity leggings aren’t just for pregnancy, they are perfect to hold, support and love your body post-partum too”.
4. Compression Leggings
Compression leggings are specialized leggings that people wear to prevent or recover from conditions such as lymphedema or varicose veins. These are medical leggings that are tighter than your regular pants, but they’re comfortable and breathable. They boost the supply of blood and circulation of body fluids to fasten recovery and also reduce swelling.
Some elite athletes prefer to wear compression leggings when working out or training.
5. Legging Pants for the Office
It’s possible to wear legging pants to the office. Office leggings are heavier than regular leggings so they almost look like dress pants.
Unlike casual leggings, work legging pants come in conservative colors like blue, black, navy, brown, or grey. You can pair them with a regular shirt, blouse, or top. You can also add a blazer if you want to give the outfit a formal look.
Different Designs of Leggings
1. Shapewear Leggings
These leggings are meant to help you achieve a perfect silhouette by giving a smooth lift and finish to the waist, hips, and legs.
Shapewear leggings are perfect for overweight women because they are great for hiding a belly pooch. They are also great for slimming the thighs and legs or hiding cellulite because the fabric keeps body fat in place.
2. Tummy Control Leggings
We have leggings that specifically target the belly area. They have a wide waistband that is good for cinching the waist area. Some of these leggings also feature a compressive fabric around the waist to tuck in the tummy.
3. Butt Lifting Leggings
You do not need a Brazilian butt lift to look good in leggings. We now have butt-lifting leggings that’ll enhance rounder bums. To define your behinds, the seam sits just above the butt line making it appear bigger. Some booty leggings- like the TikTok leggings that have grabbed the hype since last year- have a sponge-like material on the butt cheek area to make the butt appear bigger.
4. Stirrup Leggings
Stirrup leggings are an upgrade to stirrup pants. They were initially worn by horse riders because they could stay in place when wearing riders’ boots.
Today, these leggings are still great for cowgirls but they are also making a comeback as a trendy style. They can be worn with boots or even regular sneakers to show the stirrup style.
5. Footed Leggings
Footed leggings are a heavy/opaque version of hosiery or pantyhose and they come with the foot parts. Unlike pantyhose that shows the skin, footed leggings or tights are heavier and thus ideal for keeping the legs warm.
You can wear them under your skirt or dress and better styling is achieved by pairing the leggings with closed shoes since they look like they come with attached socks.
6. Wide Leg Leggings
Wide-leg leggings are a reminder of the 60s and 70s style. They are fitted on the waist, hips, and thighs but the lower legs are gradually wider. Unlike normal wide-leg pants, the leggings are made with a soft and lightweight fabric so they feel airy.
7. Flared Leggings
Flared leggings are popular among teens on TikTok. They look exactly like what millennials would call yoga pants but they have a flared hem. Unlike regular yoga pants, these are lighter and also have a good stretch.
8. Sheer Leggings
Sheer leggings are an adaption of pantyhose but they are not footed. These leggings are transparent or translucent. They come in different finishes such as matte, and glossy. For a bold look, you can wear sheer leggings on their own to the club. It is also possible to wear them under your skirt or dress when going to work.
Types of Leggings by Fabric
1. Cotton Leggings
Cotton leggings are perfect for everyday wear because they are soft and comfortable. Pure cotton pants will keep you warm during winter but you would soak in sweat on a hot summer day. Pure cotton is also not stretchy for adjustability.
2. Synthetic Leggings
Synthetic leggings are good for durability, stain resistance, and heat resistance. They are ideal for working out or sporting since the sweat dries out fast. The material is stain resistant, thus easy to clean and the leggings are also known to retain their form since they do not fade or stretch out after washing them many times.
3. Combination Fabrics
The best leggings are made from a combination of fabrics and most leggings today are made from a blend of cotton and spandex. Cotton is necessary for comfort while the spandex is important to keep the leggings stretchable.
Most sports leggings are made of polyester but the crotch is made of cotton to absorb excess moisture.
4. Wool Leggings
There are many things to love about wooly leggings. Wool is natural and soft so it feels good on the skin. Today we have merino wool leggings that are great for working out. They are breathable, absorbable, and great for protection against extreme weather.
5. Fleece-lined Leggings
Fleece is a very comfortable material. We have fleece-lined leggings that are great for comfort and warmth during the cold weather. The outer fabric can be any other material such as cotton or polyester but the interior fleece fabric makes the leggings warm due to the extra layers.
The main difference between fleece and wool is the source. While both of them have insulating properties, fleece is an artificial fabric and it’s also lighter than wool. On the other hand, wool is a natural material and heavier than fleece.
6. Leather Leggings
Leather leggings are a fashion statement. Leggings made from real leather are expensive and they need extra care. You will find them in natural colors like black or brown because they are made from animal hide. Nevertheless, they are great for keeping you warm.
7. Pleather Leggings
If you loathe the slaughter of animals just to clothe humans in leather but you love the look of leather, you can get pleather leggings.
These leggings are shiny and they are easy to maintain since they are made from an artificial fabric. You can find them in interesting colors such as red and even green since they are easy to dye. Unfortunately, they are not as durable as real leather leggings.
8. Denim Leggings/ Jeggings
Denim leggings, also called jeggings, closely resemble normal jeans or denim pants. They are great for people who love the look of jeans but want something lighter.
Normal jeans can be heavy, bulky, and difficult to clean. Jeggings are lightweight, stretchable, comfortable, and fit the body perfectly. You can wear jeggings anywhere since they are versatile.
Unlike normal leggings, treggings are made from a heavier material. Some of them are made from knitted materials so they are opaque and warm. They also have the trouser style so you will realize that they have pockets and even a front zipper.
Types of Leggings by Length- How to Choose Right Size Leggings
1. Full-length Leggings
Full-length leggings are the classic type. They go all the way to the ankle and they’re also versatile for styling. You can wear them with boots, sneakers, or sandals. These leggings are good for working out since they offer full leg protection in case you slip at the gym.
2. 7/8 Leggings
These leggings sit just above the ankle. They are also called cropped leggings since they do not touch the ankle. Many people argue that these leggings are more flattering than full-length leggings since they show some skin on the legs. For women who are shorter than average, these are the best leggings to wear since they elongate the legs.
3. Capri or Mid-Calf Leggings
These leggings fall somewhere between the knee and ankles. They are also called three-quarter length leggings. For women with thick legs, these are the least flattering leggings since they make the legs appear fuller. Due to their length, the very tight ones are likely to be uncomfortable since they can curtail blood supply in the calf region.
4. Short Leggings
Short leggings are knee length or slightly above the knee. The trendy ones are also known as biker shorts.
Today, short leggings are becoming a popular streetwear trend. They can be worn with a long t-shirt or shirt for a streetwear look. Knee-length leggings are also great for working out in the gym since they are comfortable and easy to wear.
5. Customizable, Self-Hem Leggings
You do not have to be limited by the length of the standard leggings. It is now possible to find leggings that you can cut to your preferred length. Some leggings such as Free People Self-Hem leggings come with dotted lines around the hem.
All you need to do is to carefully cut along the dotted lines and you will have shortened the legging pants to your ideal inseam length.
So, How Do you Buy the Right Leggings?
When buying leggings, you will do well to consider the fabric, style, and features. Cotton leggings are ideal for everyday wear while polyester ones are good for sports. High waist fabrics are great for holding the tummy in place. Remember to check for a practical design that matches your needs. Look for features like seams and pockets since they make wearing leggings easy and functional.