Last summer we heard rumors that the athleisure bubble was about to burst, but let’s face it: Once you start wearing leggings as pants, there’s no going back. We would wear this most comfortable and elastic legwear just about anywhere, but which pair is best when you actually want to work out? Here, ten women weigh in about their favorite pairs for everything from yoga to barre to running an ultramarathon.
“I’d have to say my favorite leggings for yoga have been my Hard Tail leggings. Specifically, a pair of black and gray tie-dyed ones I picked up at Pure Yoga. They’re super comfy and soft, have the perfect amount of stretch so that they hug without squeezing, and they’re cute, so they transition well from the studio to the street. (I’ve never been the everyday-spandex-wearing type.) Most importantly, they’re durable, which is key when I wear them a ton, while moving around on a mat and the floor, and wash them regularly.” —Jessica Caplan, yoga and sound meditation instructor
For Running Every Day (and Yoga)
“I run almost every day and in my experience, Nike Dri-Fit is the answer, always. I’ve tried similar stuff from Under Armour and Gap Body but Nike Dri-Fit is just the best. My favorite, and the only one I buy — in bulk, basically — is the Power Legendary training capris from the Nike Dri-Fit line. Compression feels super supportive and taut, and they keep their shape over multiple years, even with constant washings. I also do yoga in them and give them another A+ rating for that … On my body, the fit is really higher-rise than the photo online shows. I have a short torso and they definitely go above my navel, which is how I like it — Under-Armour stuff fits me right at the navel, which makes me feel crazy and is super distracting for me.” —Carmen García Durazo, producer
For Under $20
“I like my leggings to be several things: cheap (miss me with that $80 nonsense), opaque enough to wear as pants (shush, haters!), and short enough to fit my legs without any extra fabric bunching around the ankles. Old Navy’s leggings excel on all of these points, with the added benefit of being able to pick up an iconic American Flag shirt in the same trip!” —Brennin Cummings, marketing coordinator at Penguin Random House
For Under $50
“Hands down my favorite leggings are the mid-rise long Adidas Climalite Tight. The mid-rise hits right below my bellybutton and doesn’t grip into my sides, making my waist look smaller. I got sick of spending $120 for a single pair and always buying black to maximize the use. With a lower price point I can buy multiple colors, patterns, lengths, and duplicates.” —Meagan Kong, dancer and movement coach
For Women With Curves
“Leggings are a huge issue for curvy femmes, and my favorites right now are from Lineagewear and Bombsheller. Both companies use fun printed fabrics that don’t stretch into literal sheer oblivion over fat asses, and they both have high elastic waistbands that stay up even when your belly is hell bent on pulling them down.” —Jessamyn Stanley, yoga teacher and author of EveryBody Yoga: Let Go of Fear. Get On the Mat. Love Your Body
For Running When It’s Cold Out
“I love this Reebok pair because they have a high-rise fit and they’re skin-tight at the ankle. The lining is moisture wicking but really warm so they’re perfect for wearing outside in the cold. The pair I have says REEBOK pretty big down the calf, so when I wear them I feel SUPER SPORTY. My friend and I liked them so much we bought the same pair … And they have a tiny secret pocket at the waist to hold my tiny secrets — my keys.” —Mariana Garces, PR assistant
For Ultra Marathons
“Okay, so I am really cheap and generally wear whatever, be it secondhand sportswear, etc., but I dabble in ultra marathons and the occasional Ironman, and I love exercising in the cold, so I do need pants that keep me warm but don’t feel like I’m wearing a diaper. My favorite are the Under Armour ColdGear pants. Very warm; they stay dry and they don’t chafe my downstairs. Also, the fit is very slimming, like you are wearing a leg girdle. Sexy.” —Jill Smith, advertising executive
For Dancing and Traveling
“Beyond Yoga! I love the fit, the materials are the softest and most comfortable around, plus they are really flattering on the leg. I use mine to teach ballet, work out at the gym, and even in my Latin ballroom classes, and of course for travel, which I do a lot. They also have made some really stylish ones that have a crisscross straps on the bottom, which reminds me of how we used to tie our pointe-shoe ribbons.” —Christina Lyon, dance instructor, and founder and artistic director of Gala de Danza
For Cardio Training + For Yoga
“For all things cardio and training, I’m obsessed with my Nike Zoned Sculpt Women’s Training Capris. They offer the right amount of compression, and are high-waisted, so it feels as though my body is enjoying the benefits of my workout in part because of what I’m wearing. And then for all things yoga, especially during the colder months, I like Lululemon’s high-rise Wunder Under pants. They’re especially perfect for non-heated yoga practice environments as they offer the right amount of warmth, with style, perfect fit, and support.” —Lauren Ash, founder of Black Girl in Om
For Spin Class + For Barre Class
“For workouts like spinning or any cross training, I wear Nike knee-length leggings. Any legging with compression is the way to go — leggings without compression will fail you. I like the full-length Outdoor Voices leggings because the material is thick and they hold their shape for light workouts like barre classes.” —Laura Naparstek, researcher at Forrester Research
For Not Sliding Around
“I like workout leggings that are a bit high-waisted. My Under Armour leggings fit well and don’t slide around too much … I think the worst thing is when leggings slide down or move around when you’re running and you constantly have to stop to adjust them. The UA ones I have stay in place and feel light and comfy. These grip really well to your body and they stay cool during my workouts.” —Sim Hothi, assistant at 3 Arts Entertainment
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best workout leggings, gym bags, workout gear, flattering sweatpants, running shorts, and sports bras. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.