The Best Legging

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Something that you must understand is that 80% of my closet is literally athleisure. Nope. I am not joking or exaggerating. I live my life in leggings, hoodies and kicks. So while I am no fashion expert or trendsetter, I know a thing or two about what’s what when it comes to all things made from the likes of polyester, spandex and dri-fit.

For the past month, I have made it my personal mission to find the best legging…the one you can take from your workout to running errands around town. The one that doesn’t take a wash routine more high maintenance than Barbie. The one that doesn’t require you to play tug of war all workout long. Selfishly, I wanted to find the ace in the hole, perfect legging for myself, but of course I need to share my insider knowledge with all of you. So alas, I bit the bullet and subjected myself to buying new pairs and brands; rough life I know. Thank goodness for a good tax write-off.

Enough of my ramblings, let’s get down to business shall we? I have game tested six major athleisure brands and their “go to” legging (well really more than that, but this doesn’t need to be a novel) against four different standards:

1. Sweat Test – Do you get sweat spots in places that you would rather not have sweat showing up?
2. Tug Test – Do you have to hike the bad boys up all workout long?
3. Squat Test – If you squat down, are the pants see-through or show off a lovely plumber’s crack or whale tail?
4. Butt Test – In the words of queen Bey, do they make you bootylicious?

Note: I recommend line drying all of the leggings. Sure, you can throw some in the dryer without ruining them, but you will get way more life out of each if you line dry.

Also, all of the leggings are high-waisted (no explanation needed) and a 7/8 crop length (because not all of us can be Giselle Bundchen) so as to keep the playing field level.

Nike: Power Essential Run Crop
I have pretty much always been a Nike girl (still am really, especially if you are looking for a good hoodie), and I have had many of their leggings. My absolute favorite leggings of all-time are the Nike Power Epic Run Crop (not to be confused with the lux), but I can’t find my exact pair anymore. GRRRR. The Essential Run tight is very similar, and here is the low down:

Price Range: $50
Tug Test: Almost nil
Sweat Test: Shows nothing
Squat Test: You are safe. Nothing is hanging out for the world to see.
Butt Test: Definitely does you some favors.
Size: True to size
Overall Take-away: A good legging that passes all the tests, and they will last you awhile. Comfort level is pretty good, but one thing to keep in mind is that some Nike leggings have a drawstring, which to me is a thumbs down because I think it makes it more uncomfortable, but it could be a major thumbs up for some. Also, the high-waist is not as high as some other leggings.
Overall Grade: A-

Athleta: Salutation
Athleta always has very good quality, and their return policy is insane. Absolutely NO TIME LIMIT, and they have a “give it a workout” guarantee. Can’t beat that. These came highly recommended and they did not disappoint. The fabric on these bad boys is like buuuuttter. So incredibly soft and comfortable, but they have one big drawback, and it could be a game-changer. The sweat stains are TERRIBLE. Oh my goodness visible sweat in places you do not want to draw attention to if you know what I mean.

Price Range: $80
Tug Test: Some. They are pretty good unless I have had them on for an extended amount of time.
Sweat Test: Pretty awful. Shows butt crack and crotch sweat. Yikes.
Squat Test: You are safe. Nothing is hanging out for the world to see.
Butt Test: The seaming could be better in my humble opinion. It isn’t a game changer, and it doesn’t make the bum look bad, but it could help a sister out some more.
Size: True to size or size down … my regular size is a little big, but the smaller size was a little too suction cup tight for my liking.
Overall Take-away: These are the most comfortable leggings you will probably ever own, and the quality is top notch, but maybe stick to black so the sweat is not as visible or just wear them around town.
Overall Grade: B+

Lululemon: Wunder Under Luxtreme
This was my first soiree into lulu leggings, and they live up to the hype. I was skeptical as you have to pay an arm and a leg and maybe your nose to get them, but they are pretty great. So, so soft and comfortable. Again, smooth like butter, and I would have one in every color except for the fact that I would be broke very quickly.

Price Range: $100
Tug Test: When I first put them on next to nothing, but later in the day if I have had them on awhile, I need to hoist them up occasionally.
Sweat Test: Shows nothing.
Squat Test: Good to go.
Butt Test: There are no seams so it is pretty neutral territory.
Size: True to size … keep in mind they have a number sizing scale, however.
Overall Take-away: A very comfortable legging that will last you a long time. I find myself pulling these out more often than any other legging. Only drawback is the cost.
Overall Grade: A

Under Armour: Heat Gear Capri
I kinda hate to say it, but of all the leggings that I have tried (even the ones not mentioned here), I think this is my least favorite. It fails on so many of the tests that I have a hard time saying much positive about it. I feel like it is an awkward length in that it hits mid calf instead of write under it, and the bottoms slide up and bunch up under your knee mid workouts. Plus, I have to tug on them all the dang time. I seriously feel like a hitch hiker. And Under Armour in general usually does not pass the squat test…see through for sure. Yes, they are a notch cheaper than the ones mentioned above for a name brand, but in my opinion it is worth paying the extra for something I will actually wear. All my Under Armour sit at the bottom of my drawer.

Price Range: $35
Tug Test: Constant
Sweat Test: Shows nothing
Squat Test: Let’s just say I know exactly what kind of underwear my clients have on when they wear Under Armour (not every single pair of leggings, but generally).
Butt Test: Sweden – completely neutral – neither good nor bad
Size: True to size
Overall Takeaway: I will probably never by a pair of Under Armour leggings again. It is a shame because I like their designs, but I can’t not handle how much I have to adjust them. Plus, you kind of give the world a show.
Overall Grade: C

Old Navy: Compression Run Crop
The price was definitely right for these at less then $20, and they were decently comfortable. I didn’t want to live in them all day, but I wasn’t dying to take them off either. I ordered my normal size, and as my Mother would say growing up “the next size up might be best”, I did end up keeping them as I knew I would pretty much be between sizes. The tug test was really good, but that could be because they were quite tight. I find that the more suction cup the legging is, the less I have to pull up mid workout. The downfall…these are not going to hold up for long. While I have only had this particular pair for about two weeks, I have owned enough leggings to know they will not last as long as some of the others. If you don’t live in athleisure like me, you will probably get more mileage out of them, but I would at most get one season.

Price Range: $20
Tug Test: Minimal
Sweat Test: Shows nothing
Squat Test: Just ever so slightly transparent if someone was eyeing down your butt like hawk.
Butt Test: No seams so it is what it is.
Size: True to size or size up depending on how tight you like your leggings.
Overall Take-away: They probably will not last very long, and they could be slightly more comfortable.
Overall Grade: B

Victoria Secret Sport: Knockout
Disclaimer: VS Sport recently came out with an updated version of the knockout, but my pair is the older version. several of my clients have been bragging these up so I figured it was high time that I test them out. I got these leggings on sale at half the price so already winning, and they honestly keep doing so. They are not nearly as soft as Lulu or Athleta, but I didn’t really have to tug on them during my run, and they make the tush look good.

Price Range: $65
Tug Test: Next to nothing
Sweat Test: Shows nothing
Squat Test: Good to go.
Butt Test: Definitely makes your bum look round and lifted.
Size: True to size, but at 5’6″ the full length tight is LONG so I ordered a petite and it was perfect.
Overall Take-away: These are not quite as “live in” comfortable as Lulu or Athleta, but it is one of the best leggings. I will definitely purchase this brand again.
Overall Grade: A

Other pants I have tried…

C9 by Target: I would put these on par with the Old Navy leggings. They are inexpensive, but the quality is not as good so the comfort level goes down as does the durability. I guess you get what you pay for.

90 Degree by Reflex: If you are looking for an inexpensive high waist legging, these are pretty good.. You can find them at stores like TJ Maxx for less than $20. There are no seams on the butt, and they sit just below your belly button, making them flattering. There are also a variety of colors and styles. It is kind of hit and miss because you are shopping at TJ Maxx though, and again, they do not hold up quite as long.

Lucy: I have only had one pair of Lucy leggings, and while they were super cute, they were one of the most uncomfortable pair I have ever owned. I suffered it in the name of fashion, however. For me styles were cute, but for the lack of comfort, I couldn’t justify the $$. Other styles in the brand might be different, however.

So there you have it. If you are still reading by now, I applaud you because this turned into a bad novel with more than you wanted to know about athleisure. To sum it up, I will probably never buy anything but Athleta, Lulu, VS Sport or Nike again when it comes to leggings. I know they are more spendy, but they are just that much more comfortable, and thus the ones I pull out every single time while the others collect dust at the bottom of my drawer (talk about a waste of money). My two cents if it means anything to you at all.

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2 comments on “The Best Legging
  1. Kate says:

    I too live in leggings!! I agree with all your grades given here but would like to add 2 to the list, if I may. 1 might be overlooked even though there are advertisements everywhere is fabletics, they have a few different kinds & it really depends on your body type which 1’s you’ll love more but they are super comfy & they can take a beating so I encourage y’all to check them out and another tough pant is mpg they are pricey & very form fitting but they will last forever!! I was hiking & snagged a pair; the hole did not run or get bigger. I have continued to use them for my hiking pair & they look new otherwise & have been washed & even DRYED too many times to count!!!

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