Let’s Talk About Leggings

Oct 2, 2018

I’m old enough to remember the early-80s, when every woman in America under-40 wore ponte leggings with stirrups on the bottom.  So when leggings came back into vogue a decade ago, I was non-plussed.  Suddenly, there were interns wearing leggings with blazers, and uncomfortable conversations to be had.  Now, leggings are everywhere.

Leggings now cost more than denim jeans.  They cost more than business trousers.  I cleaned out a closet last month for a twenty-something female lawyer, and she was spending $98+ on her wardrobe of leggings, but buying her business attire at Forever21.  I had to stop myself from shouting, “This is backwards.  This is all backwards!”

Companies like Lululemon and Outdoor Voices are happily selling the idea that leggings are essential to living.  That if I buy their leggings, I’ll be doing yoga poses with my friends on the precipice of some picturesque desert vista.  But what about all the women who aren’t looking for a legging-lifestyle?

Women who just want to chill on the couch in a pair of leggings?  Who just want to pick up their kids and run their errands in something comfortable?  Who might actually wear these leggings to the gym (a novel concept)?

When I started wearing leggings as casual attire, I wore the Zella leggings from Nordstrom.  But then, the quality went downhill.  So I switched to Lululemon, but I quickly tired of paying so much for pants that I wear while hiking, lounging and cleaning.  So I switched to the Core10 leggings from Amazon.

The Core10 Leggings from Amazon run between $55 and $65 per pair for their customizable line.  You can “build your own” legging, choosing the length and waistband style.  They make a full-length, as well as a 7/8 crop legging.

They also offer a “build your own” running legging and a straight-leg yoga pant.

I like the criss-cross waistband in the photo.  It’s flattering on, and a bit more comfortable than the straight waistband if you carry weight in your stomach.  And as a long-torsoed, short-legged person, it’s nice not to have to hem my leggings.

The leggings come in one size XS to XL.  I would typically be a medium legging, and they fit me fine.  My neighbor is a L, and she hasn’t had any problems either.  They also offer 1x-3x sizes.

I think the quality is better than Zella.  The compression isn’t quite as good as Lululemon’s higher compression options, but the difference isn’t worth $30 more per pair.  I also love that if I need to replace a pair, prime shipping has them to my door in two days.

Core10 makes a selection of other styles as well.  Some cost as little as $39 per pair.  Here are a few more pairs of Core10 leggings that caught my eye.

Spectrum High Waist Legging ($39)

Tri-Color Legging ($45)

Warrior Mesh Legging ($63)

Daredevil Legging ($53)

Whichever leggings you buy, wherever you wear them, the most important thing about leggings is that the material is thick enough to be flattering.  Only pre-teen girls can get away with the thin leggings most stores sell.  Women need a good fabric and probably a bit of compression to keep things flattering.  Because whether you’re petite or plus-size, sleek and opaque looks best.

If you’ve struggled to find a legging you like, give the Core10s a try.  I’m happy with mine.  And I’m happy not to be searching the Lululemon sale pile for decent leggings anymore.

{image here; this post contains affiliate links that may generate commission for the author}

Casual Style, Style, Weekend

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  1. 1979 here says:

    I agree with your first 4 paragraphs. I am not very trendy but I’ve heard the “if you were old enough to wear it the first time around, don’t wear it again” mantra. All I think of is my elementary school outfits with leggings, with an ankle print that matched the large, oversize puffy-paint sweatshirt. I did finally give in recently and own maybe 2 pairs of leggings. What can I say. I prefer jeans. Maybe I’ll give Core10 a chance. Thanks.

    • Anna says:

      I just convinced my mom to buy her first pair of leggings – thick seemed ponte style – and she looks bomb in them. Of course, only to be worn with tunic tops with plenty of coverage.

    • Joanna says:

      I agree, I am not a leggings lady unless I am actually going to the gym. I do own a paid of Spanx leggings. I wear them under a regular dress when it’s freezing out. They offer control, are soft and very warm.

  2. SC says:

    My one pair of black leggings bit the dust 2 years ago so I’ve been just wearing my drawstring fleece pants around the house–I’m going to order that high-waist pair tonight. I find leggings keep me warmer than my looser, thicker pants and they’re a necessity for travel and sick days. (Leggings are strictly loungewear for me, but I do not begrudge those who think otherwise.)

  3. JD says:

    I LOVE my compression leggings from Girlfriend Collective. I wear them across settings — lounging, taking kids to playground, and hard-core fitness (boxing). They are comfortable, durable, flattering, and cheaper than LuluLemon/Athleta. The price is comparable to the Core10s above.

    Plus, they are sustainably made out of recycled plastic water bottles. You’d never know it from wearing them.


    • Alisha says:

      Have you had any issues with Girlfriend Collective being see through? I got a pair a while back and they were a little too sheer for me. Not sure if the quality has changed.

      • Jessica says:

        I have had mine for at least 1.5 years, maybe more but I can’t remember specifically. No problems with them being sheer and they’ve held up well.

    • Hillary says:

      I LOVE my Girlfriend Collective leggings. I bought mine when they were doing “a pay $20 and get these leggings for free because we’re a new company” deal. Very opaque, held up extremely well.

  4. Kelly says:

    Yup, as someone who wore leggings in the mid-90’s, it took me awhile to get into them this time around. I was browsing the Core 10 selections last week after the Amazon clothes post and planned to pick up some of the thermal sweatshirts for winter running. I’ll have to try some of the leggings, too. (Just wish they had some warm ones, I’m gearing up to keep running outside in fall and the temperature is dropping FAST.)

  5. Jill says:

    Thank you for this. I recently bought a pair of yoga shorts and a longer version from this brand on Amazon. Link to the longer pair. Really nice quality and I like that they have long, deep pockets. Had my keys in a pocket doing errands, no problem. ODODOS High Waist Out Pocket Yoga Capris Pants Tummy Control Workout Running 4 Way Stretch Yoga Capris Leggings,Black,Large https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BPV7NKQ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apap_KkaAtKmVuLuKh

  6. Susan says:

    Dissenter here: I LOOOOATHE leggings. On anyone. Even supermodels get crotch weirdness in them. so looking forward to the death of this trend. Even in exercise I hate being behind women in them…when a fabric is ‘distressed,’ it becomes see through and shows far too much.

    Ran into a lovely older lady the other day and she complimented me on my professional appearance because (her words) “everyone looks like a slob now.” I agree, I look forward to a return to ladylike style.

    I’ll show myself out before I get shoved out. Lol.

    • Julia says:

      Like minds…..its vision pollution at times, 80% should beware of what is just wrong” what happened to feminine class, with a touch of sexy”

    • Belle says:

      Leggings don’t automatically equal slob. Though, I do think more women should think about how a certain pair fits or whether it’s opaque enough.

    • Anna says:

      You should never see the crotch in non-workout leggings. Whatever you’re wearing over them should at least be long enough to cover that area. I much prefer workout leggings from both an aesthetic and functional perspective. I lift weights and with shorts they ride up to practically underwear length when I squat or deadlift, and I don’t even want to know what other people see when I’m laying on a bench with my legs on either side or using the ab/adducter machines. I make sure the ones I buy are pretty thick, but just in case, as long as they have a gusset, I don’t wear underwear with them so no panty lines or zebra print undies showing through.

    • Michelle says:

      I wish I could find pants that fit well. I’m in dresses and skirts all the time for work and casual wear, but if chores require more movement, leggings it is. Jeans and pants are torture, always some issue-too big in the waist, too tight in the calves or thighs, can’t fit over my booty, look weird due to my proportions- hello, too much fabric in the front jeans!?!, the problems are endless so I don’t wear them, and won’t until I can afford custom jeans and pants.

      If you wear non-legging pants for your normal attire be happy you can find pants that fit! Just know for some of us leggings are the only easy choice for leg coverage!

      • Belle says:

        Michelle, this sounds like a problem for tailoring. Buy a pair of pants to fit the biggest part of you, and then tailor the parts that don’t fit. Clothing does not fit women’s bodies off of the rack. I have to buy all my pants and jeans to fit my rear, and then take them in at the waist.

      • Jules says:

        true dat!

  7. Jo says:

    For active purposes, I’ve had good luck with the Target champion leggings. Reasonably priced (I think the highest price I’ve seen is ~$35), and mine are holding up just fine with washing by machine and hanging to try, with the occasional accidental trip through the dryer.

    Fair warning, though: squat test all of them in bright light. The ones I own are completely opaque, but I tried on a few that were scandalous!

    • E says:

      For activewear, I’ve had success with Old Navy. Many of their pairs are thick, quality, and hold you in. I do have one pair I ordered online that would not pass the squat test, so I’d recommend buying in person if possible, or staying a way from the more cotton materials!

      • anna says:

        I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the ON leggings, especially the compression ones. They’re super flattering and thick.

    • Nonymouse says:

      I agree with E and Anna about Old Navy activewear leggings. I’ve had good luck with Gap ponte pants in the past as well.

    • B says:

      Echoing the love of Old Navy! If they ever discontinue 7/8 high rise compression leggings I will stock up like the apocalypse has come. I buy the black C9 athletic underwear from Target and find it eliminates any “squat test” worries. I actually do wear leggings to workout, but I definitely also run errands on my way to and from the gym – my favorite Athleta chi high-neck tank provides adequate coverage for both settings. I prefer joggers for casual wear or lounging – pockets!

  8. Jenn says:

    I tried on 90 degrees by reflex leggings recently and really like the fit: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0797X522S/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    • Anna says:

      I find the quality of these varies by color so it could require some trial and error. They also sell them at TJMaxx!

  9. Jane says:

    You wrote about Zella leggings years ago, and I’ve had several pairs ever since. I will definitely give this new brand a shot. Could you follow this with tunic suggestions? I’m extremely pear shaped, and struggle to find a tunic that’s small enough on top and generous enough on the bottom.

  10. Jules says:

    I don’t care what anyone says, LEGGINGS FOR LIFE!!! 🙂

    that being said, I’ve only ever lived on the west coast in sunny weather, where people tend to dress more casually anyway. I might think differently if I lived in more formal/cold places.

  11. Mila says:

    I LOVE leggings and usually wear them at some point throughout the day, every day. I have Spanx leggings (the faux leather and camo, worn with long shirts or sweaters) for travelling and running errands because they are soft, super flattering, and comfortable. I have Lululemon leggings strictly for working out because I love the secure feeling of the high compression styles and I absolutely hate workout shorts. And I have Athleta leggings for lounging around since I work from home pretty often. Clearly, I have pretty strict self-imposed rules to avoid looking “sloppy” in leggings, but honestly, if they fit well and you feel good wearing them, nobody else should care.

  12. Katie says:

    I don’t know what it is about leggings but I find it impossible to find a pair that I’m not tugging at the waistband all day. I have found that I prefer ponte knit pants (with button/zipper/pockets) to leggings in most instances (except the gym). I like that the pockets provide a bit more coverage so I don’t feel like every lump and bump are on display. The Kut from the Kloth version from the Nordstrom anniversary sale have become my new go-to. I should have bought more pairs.https://shop.nordstrom.com/s/kut-from-the-kloth-donna-high-waist-ponte-skinny-pants-regular-petite/4944534

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