The best leggings for comfort and exercise—featuring top-rated brands like Lululemon, Spanx, and Sweaty Betty

Introducing the best leggings you’ll want to live in: whether you’re lounging at home, running errands, or hitting the gym

Three of w&h's best leggings picks in a collage image on a purple background, with styles from Sweaty Betty and Spanx
(Image credit: Future)

The best leggings have fast become an everyday staple, rooted in an athleisure wave that shows no sign of stopping.

The fanfare certainly comes with good reason. There's a pair for almost every activity and occasion, whether you're milling around, running errands, or dusting off your best running shoes for women for a sprint towards a new personal best. Couple this with the widespread allure of elasticated waists and stretchy fabrics, and it's a no-brainer to send even the best jeans into early retirement.

But as it goes with regulars in the wardrobe rotation, one pair of go-to leggings isn't quite enough to see us through our laundry cycles. And finding the perfect pair is no easy feat. The market is oversaturated, the styles are boundless, and many options sadly feature ill-fitting fabric and/or a high price tag.

We tested over 12 pairs of leggings to determine the cream of the crop, assessing quality, comfort, and design. Among the options we tried, the Proskins SLIM High Waisted Compression Leggings ultimately earned the top title: They're buttery-soft, stretchy, opaque, and supportive as workout and fashion pants. The inclusive size range is a major bonus, too.

How to choose the best leggings for you 

As with any item of clothing, the first thing to consider is when you plan on wearing your new pair of leggings. With so many types of leggings to choose from, it's crucial to think about whether you're after a high-tech pair to exercise in, a fashion-forward pair for everyday wear, or a flat-seamed pair to keep you comfy:

  • Fabric: It's important to examine the fabric when shopping for workout leggings or a lounge pair. You want something lightweight enough to keep you cool (mesh panels and perforated holes will help with this) but still suitably sturdy so as not to become see-through as you dip into a squat. Moisture-wicking fabrics are a godsend for sweaty sessions, not only minimizing pesky marks but also stopping your leggings from becoming damp and heavy.
  • Softness: The technicality of the fabric might be less important if you’re wearing your leggings around the house, but softness is key. Look out for cotton blends and plenty of elastane for a style that moves with you, rather than against you. Thoughtful details like a gently ribbed waistband and cuffs will prevent your leggings from inching down as you wear them, while specially shaped gussets stop them riding up.
  • Design: For every day, leggings are a comfortable starting point to build trend-led outfits on, as you can pretty much put together comfortable leggings outfits for any occasion. Opt for a pair that has borrowed design details from shapewear, like a high waist and contouring seams, to create a smoother, more streamlined silhouette. If you’re teaming yours with a shorter top or jumper, make sure your leggings pass the VPL test, too. You might feel a bit silly doing it, but squatting in front of a mirror in good lighting is the easiest way to see if they become see-through as you bend.  

The best leggings as reviewed by our experts

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best leggings: Proskins SLIM High Waisted Compression Leggings

(Image credit: Proskins)
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best leggings: Proskins SLIM High Waisted Compression Leggings

(Image credit: Proskins)

1. Proskins SLIM High Waisted Compression Leggings

The best leggings for most people

Specifications
RRP: $137.99/£59.99
Sizes: 4-24
Material: 82% nylon, 18% elastane Lycra
Machine washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Flattering high waist +Inclusive size range 
Reasons to avoid
-Long leg length not suitable for Petites 

Looking to replace your tired workout leggings with something a bit special? Proskins’ SLIM High Waisted Compression Leggings offer a supportive fit and flattering high waist. More notably, they’re crafted from the softest Lycra fabric we’ve ever tried on, naturally making them one of the best workout leggings for exercise.

Boasting a subtle sheen, they look far sleeker than their matte competitors. However, since they’re free from distracting logos and detailing, they work just as well for daytime wear as they do for sweaty gym sessions.

But back to that high waist. These are some of the best high-waisted leggings we've come across, with a double lining and a comfortable tightness. This pair compresses your stomach in the same way the best shapewear does for a smoother tum and smaller middle. Wear yours with short or longline tops safe in the knowledge these budge-proof leggings won’t inch down as you wear them. 

See our full Proskins SLIM High Waisted Compression Leggings review

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Proskins Active Origin Leggings | Sizes: 6-12 | Price: £37.46

Comfort, sweat-wicking, and supportive: what’s not to love? These leggings also feature a convenient pocket for mobile devices. Pretty neat, right?

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best leggings: Spanx Faux Leather Leggings

(Image credit: Spanx)
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best leggings: Spanx Faux Leather Leggings

(Image credit: Spanx)

2. Spanx Faux Leather Leggings

The best leather-look leggings

Specifications
RRP: $77/£89
Sizes: XS-3X
Material: Outer: 87% nylon, 13% elastane with polyurethane coating
Machine washable : Yes
Reasons to buy
+Smart enough for eveningwear+Shapewear and clothing in one
Reasons to avoid
-Little tricky to pull on 

Faux-leather leggings are great in theory, but typical results comprise baggy knees, sweaty thighs, and a fit so tight you can barely sit down. Then we tried the Spanx Faux Leather Leggings: the best leather leggings worth owning.

Unlike most leather-dupe styles, this pair is not entirely made of faux leather. Rather, the leggings feature a shiny polyurethane coat, also known as a soft and stretchy elastane-blend fabric. This sweat-wicking blend stays cool against the skin and adapts as you move. Moreover, it helps these leggings retain shape, so they won't chafe or sag over time.

The leggings also include a 'power waistband,' which functions similarly to heavy-duty control pants. By construction, this feature hones and smooths the stomach area, hugging natural curves for a flattering fit.

Much like shapewear, this pair lacks a front center seam, eliminating the risk of camel toe. However, it has a seam at the back, which lifts and accentuates the bum.

See our full Spanx Faux Leather Leggings review

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Spanx Look At Me Now Seamless Leggings| Sizes: XS-3X | Price: $68/£58

With soft, flexible yarns, the Look At Me Now Leggings integrates stretchy fabric that adapts with you.

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best leggings: Lululemon align leggings

(Image credit: Lululemon)
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best leggings: Lululemon align leggings

(Image credit: Lululemon)

3. Lululemon Align High-Rise Pant

The best leggings for yoga

Specifications
RRP: $98/£88
Sizes: 6-18
Material: 81% nylon, 19% Lycra
Machine washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Super soft+Lightweight 
Reasons to avoid
-Sell out quickly 

Designed to work like a second skin, somehow these clever leggings manage to enhance, instead of hinder, your performance. The super-soft fabric not only feels comfortable against your skin but is super lightweight, too—especially important during a sweaty Hot Yoga session.

The double-layered high waist creates a flattering smooth line across your stomach, as well as staying perfectly in place from warrior pose through to downward dog. 

Great for traveling light, the hidden pocket on the inside of the waistband is big enough to store a key or even a small snack if yoga makes you peckish.

They are pricey, but we think they’re well worth the investment. Follow the washing instructions to the letter and these are leggings you’ll be enjoying for a very long time. 

See our full Lululemon Align High-Rise Pant review

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Lululemon Invigorate High-Rise Tight | Sizes: XS-3X  | Price: $128/£88

Break a sweat in the Invigorate High-Rise Tight, powered by Everlux: the brand’s fastest drying fabric. 

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best leggings: Falke Impulse Running Tights on model

(Image credit: Falke)
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best leggings: Falke Impulse Running Tights on model

(Image credit: Falke)

4. Falke Impulse Running Tights

The best leggings for running

Specifications
RRP : $200/£130
Sizes: 01-04, equivalent to UK sizes 8-16
Material: 94% polyamide, 6% elastane
Machine washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+High-tech fabric+Compression fit
Reasons to avoid
-Sizing is a bit complicated

The Falke Impulse Running Tights aren't your standard pair of running leggings. Instead of smooth fabric—a hallmark of many popular options—these tights are covered in knitted paneling, and the lining is peppered with tiny silicone nodules. As you run, the duo gently massages the muscles and tissues for a quicker, less painful recovery period.

This detailing is primarily focused around the hips and knees, supporting joints as you pound against high-impact, high-pressure pavements. Rest assured, your PB awaits. Pair this with one of the best sports bras and you'll be ready for your run.

See our full Falke Impulse Running Tights review

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Falke Women Tights Wool-Tech| Sizes: XS-XL  | Price: $90/£59

Made of merino wool, Falke’s Wool-Tech tights offer warm protection against blistering-cold outdoor temperatures. Still, they’re breathable and sweat-wicking. They even neutralize body odor.

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Athleta Ultra High Rise Elation Tights

(Image credit: Athleta)
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Athleta Ultra High Rise Elation Tights

(Image credit: Athleta)

5. Athleta Ultra High Rise Elation Tights

Best leggings for lounging

Specifications
RRP: From ‎$34.97 - $89 / £42
Sizes: XXS-3XL
Material: Nylon and elastane
Reasons to buy
+Breathable sweat-wicking material +Three-layer waistband +Versatile
Reasons to avoid
-The fit could be more compressive

Generally, workout leggings feature synthetic blends and sweat-wicking fabrics for a compressive fit. Conversely, lounge leggings are defined by their buttery-soft feel and the wiggle room offered. Allow us to introduce Athleta's Ultra High Rise Elation Tights, a cult-favorite pair that marries qualities of both, but primarily serves as a couch-potato's sartorial mainstay.

The Ultra High Rise Elation Tights are unapologetically good for all purposes, courtesy of the brand's Powervita™ fabric. Coined as "a new breed of yoga fabric," this unique material feels like a tender hug: light, comfortable, and breathable with just enough support and compression that give the pair shape and structure. Best of all, the fabric prevents these tights from pilling and sagging over time.

In terms of fit, these tights are high-waisted, sit comfortably at the waist, and cut right above the ankle. You can save yourself a trip to the seamstress, too—these leggings come in regular, tall, and petite sizes.

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Athleta Elation Rib Trim 7/8 Tight| Sizes: XXS-3X  | Price: $89/£48

These trim-tight leggings include the brand’s unique Powervita™ fabric, which offers buttery-soft comfort and support. They also include a three-layer waistband with mesh inner lining streamlines.

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Girlfriend Collective Compressive High-Rise Leggings

(Image credit: Girlfriend Collective)
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Girlfriend Collective Compressive High-Rise Leggings

(Image credit: Girlfriend Collective)

6. Girlfriend Collective Compressive High-Rise Leggings

Best plus size leggings

Specifications
RRP: $68/£62
Sizes: XXS-6XL
Material: 79% recycled polyethylene terephthalate, 21% spandex
Machine washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Inclusive size range and color variety+Sustainable+Stretchy, yet compressive fabric
Reasons to avoid
-Material is a bit thin 

It's not hard to see why the Girlfriend Collective's Compressive High-Rise Leggings is a resounding best-seller. The size range is ever-spanning, upwards of 6XL; and the color variety incorporates a mix of neutrals and brights (don't worry, they're all opaque!). In addition, each pair is available in full, 7.8, and Capri lengths, making the perfect fit well within your reach.

Then, of course, there's the premium quality. Thanks to its high-rise waist, these leggings hold you in and smooth the tummy area, much like our favorite shapewear pieces. Nevertheless, the material is undeniably soft and stretchy, crafted to be adjusted to your liking. 

As the antithesis of fast fashion, this pair is made sustainably from 25 post-consumer water bottles. The bottles are pounded into tiny chips and spun into soft, recycled yarn weaved with spandex. The brand's supply chain isn't just great for the environment: It's exceptional for your wallet, too. These leggings are designed to last, meaning you won’t need to shuffle through replacements.

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Girlfriend Collective Fog FLOAT High-Rise Legging | Sizes: XXS-6XL | Price: $68

The FLOAT High-Rise Leggings balance comfort with durability, with lightweight material that’s cozy for relaxation—but reliable for workouts.

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best leggings: Commando fast track leggings

(Image credit: Commando)
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best leggings: Commando fast track leggings

(Image credit: Commando)

7. Commando Fast Track Leggings

The best leggings for shaping

Specifications
RRP: $108/£89
Sizes: XS-XL
Material: 57% polyamide, 43% elastane
Machine washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Really flattering+Tech-focused fabric 
Reasons to avoid
-Tricky to get on and off

A name most recognizable for their shapewear, Commando’s departure into the world of activewear doesn’t disappoint.

The shapewear influence is still present in the smooth, matte fabric and neat, raw-cut edges, creating a tailored fit and streamlined silhouette. Instead of a visible waistband, Commando has hidden this double-layered band on the inside for extra smoothing and shaping around the tum.

Expertly designed for a compression fit, these leggings work in a similar way to flight socks to help aid circulation. Experts believe this can speed up recovery time after exercise, too, which is a welcome bonus. 

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Commando Faux Leather Leggings | Sizes: XS-3X | Price: $98/£78

The ultimate wardrobe staple for casual and elevated wear, featuring smoothing fabric that won’t bag or sag.

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best leggings, Pretty Polly leggings

(Image credit: Pretty Polly)
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best leggings, Pretty Polly leggings

(Image credit: Pretty Polly)

8. Pretty Polly Eco-Wear Legging

The best budget leggings

Specifications
RRP: $32/£20
Sizes : SM, ML and XL
Material: 93% polyamide, 7% elastane
Machine washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Eco-friendly product and packaging +Inclusive sizing
Reasons to avoid
-Slightly sheer

‘Buy better, buy less’ is the fashion mantra of the moment, and what better to spend your money on than a pair of biodegradable leggings?

Putting a planet-friendly spin on the classic black legging, Pretty Polly managed to make a pair that is not only a soft, seam-free dream to wear, but won’t clog up landfill sites once you’ve worn them out. 

Don’t worry, the biodegradable fabric won’t shorten the lifespan of your leggings. They only start to break down once they come into contact with the kind of micro-organisms typically found in landfills—and even then it still takes them three to five years to fully disintegrate. That might sound like a long time, but the average pair of tights can take up to 40 years to break down.

See our full Pretty Polly Eco-Wear Leggings review

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Pretty Polly Curves Smooth Leggings | Sizes: XL | Price: $28/£16

Buttery-soft compression leggings with great leg coverage and a comfortable waistband.

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best leggings, Sweaty Betty leggings

(Image credit: Sweaty Betty)
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best leggings, Sweaty Betty leggings

(Image credit: Sweaty Betty)

9. Sweaty Betty Power Leggings

The best leggings for all activities

Specifications
RRP : $100/£75
Sizes: XXS-XXL
Material: 62% polyamide, 38% elastane
Machine washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Comfortable to wear+Stretchy fabric moves with you 
Reasons to avoid
-The fabric feels thinner than expected 

As soon as you slip into a pair of Sweaty Betty leggings, it’s immediately clear why the athleisure trend has boomed. Soft, high-waisted, and light enough to keep your legs cool and comfy, it’s hard to see why you’d ever wear anything else.

Staying perfectly in place whether you’re working up a sweat with a set of burpees or flowing into a downward dog, they’ll give you the confidence you need to take your training to the next level. 

Reimagined in new prints and colorways each season, these leggings cater for the bold gym-goer, thanks to bold patterns and look-at-me shades, and also come in muted, understated tones for the fashion-shy. 

See our full Sweaty Betty Power Leggings review

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Sweaty Betty All Day High-Waisted Workout Leggings | Sizes: XXS-2X | Price: $78/£65

Supersoft leggings that are comfortable enough to lounge in all day. Features sweat-wicking fabric, an adjustable drawcord, and a slip pocket at the waist.

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New Balance Premium Printed Impact Run Tight

(Image credit: New Balance)
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New Balance Premium Printed Impact Run Tight

(Image credit: New Balance)

10. New Balance Premium Printed Impact Run Tight

The best leggings to make a style statement

Specifications
RRP: $75/£75
Sizes : XS-XL
Material: Outer: 77% recycled polyester, 23% spandex
Machine washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Eye-catching print+Practical pockets 
Reasons to avoid
-White backing can distort print-Only available in one leg length

Let’s be honest, sometimes it takes more than a little persuasion to get ourselves off the sofa and into our running trainers. But when your kit looks as good as these New Balance leggings with pockets, suddenly it doesn’t feel like quite so much of a chore. 

The sheer panels across the sides not only look chic but make space for two narrow pockets, letting you keep your phone close to your body without hiding the screen. The zipped pocket at the back is just big enough to house your keys and a glucose gel—everything you need for long runs. 

And, because the bulk of the pattern is on the lower part of your legs, these leggings cleverly create the illusion of a slimmer bum, hips, and thighs. A more streamlined silhouette before we’ve even stepped outside? Consider us sold. 

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New Balance Achiever Remix High Rise 7/8 Tight| Sizes: XS-2X  | Price: $65/£48

It’s no secret that these hardwearing leggings feature thoughtful details: a high-rise waist for added coverage, fitted silhouette, streamlined rib elastic waistband, and a soft poly-knit and spandex blend.

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fabletics leggings review: model wearing Fabletics High-Waisted PowerHold Leggings

(Image credit: Fabletics)
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fabletics leggings review: model wearing Fabletics High-Waisted PowerHold Leggings

(Image credit: Fabletics)

11. Fabletics High-Waisted PowerHold Leggings

Best leggings for the gym

Specifications
RRP: $49.95/£49
Sizes: XXS-4X
Material: 88% Polyester, 12%Elastane
Machine washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Supportive fit+Wide choice of colors 
Reasons to avoid
-Lighter colors slightly sheer

Co-founded by actress Kate Hudson back in 2013, Fabletics has been making a name for itself in the activewear market ever since. The brand operates on a membership system, whereby you sign up for a monthly clothing delivery, instead of adding to basket as and when you choose. While this model isn't for everyone, it does have its perks in the form of VIP discounts, early access sales, and online workouts.

The Powerhold leggings are one of Fabletics most popular pairs, with the main draw being the compression fabric. From a purely aesthetic point of view, this does a brilliant job of sculpting your frame, as well as supporting your muscles to minimize those post-gym aches and pains. The fabric is of good quality and washes well with minimal bobbling. We did find the lighter colors and prints to be a little less forgiving, so if in doubt, go darker. 

See our full Fabletics High-Waisted PowerHold Leggings review

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Fabletics Oasis 7/8 | Sizes: XXS-4X | Price: $74.95/£48

Ankle-cut leggings with breathable fabric and ample support. Available in a variety of sizes, styles, and colorways.