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The Ultimate Legging Comparison // 9 Pairs Reviewed

November 6, 2019


Erin Schrader

You know that song by Ray LaMontagne that goes “You are the best thing, to, ever happen to me”? I’m pretty sure a woman wrote that song about leggings. Because truer words have never been spoken. Ever. Whether it’s the buttery smoothness of the material, the elastic waistband [gimme all the mac and cheese], or the fact that I can basically wear a dress[ish] without shaving my legs for months at a time, I am team legging until the day I die. Jeans, see ya never, there’s a new fav pant in town.

If you’re new to these parts, you may want to take a look at our other product comparison posts! We figure there’s no better way to find the best of the best than give things a try and run ‘em through the grueling testing process [aka wear things in real life – it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it].

The Leggings We Reviewed

For this comparison, we chose to stick to casual leggings [not athletic, not fancy pants faux leathers, just plain, old fashioned, casual black leggings]. There’s also quite a price range, as we included pairs from $22 to $98 and everything in between. These are the nine pairs we ran through the ringer:

How We Did The Comparison

We ranked the leggings based on five categories with a 1-5 scale [1 being the worst, 5 being the best].

  • Sheerness
  • Smoothing
  • Overall Fit
  • Quality
  • Staying Power

We then also took a look at two key factors that can make us love or hate leggings: What is the seam situation and  do they attract lint? No one wants to wear black leggings that you can’t snuggle up to your pups in!

Now that we’ve gotten all the details out of the way, let’s get to talking about which stretchy pants we’re going to be living in all winter, and which pairs we couldn’t get off fast enough.

#1 Best Overall – Athleta

Drumroll please! Our best, overall, favorite, hands down, never taking ‘em off legging is… the Athleta Salutation Tight in Powervita. These leggings are amazing. Hands down, these leggings make your butt look the best, and are crazy smoothing [aka hiding all rumps and bumps!] They attracted a little bit of lint, but honestly barely any! The quality of Athleta leggings [and honestly, all Athleta items] is outstanding, so you know you’re going to have a great pairs that lasts with these.

The only downfall with these is that there are a lot of seams- inside, outside, and down the front. BUT that’s probably what gives these the magic power that they have!

#1 Best Budget Friendly – Colorfulkoala

We couldn’t just give the award to Athleta though, because a] those are not in everyone’s price point and b] these are a SERIOUSLY close second. So we’re going with two winners! Our favorite budget friendly pair of leggings is the Colorfulkoala [say that three times fast] Buttery Soft High Waisted Yoga Pants Full-Length Leggings. Because when a legging has “Buttery Soft” in it’s name, how can you not love it? This pair doesn’t attract lint [we’ve been wearing them a lot lately] and truly is buttery soft. Like, we can’t stop rubbing our hands on them. They feel almost identical to the Lululemon Aligns, but for almost 1/4 of the price, which is why while they may have scored lower than the Lulus, we’re giving them the budget award. That’s a math equation we can get down with.

The rest of the lineup

While we wish all nine pairs had won and we now had a reason to wear leggings nine days a week [again, math], we have a limited amount of spots for the winners. These seven remaining pairs had some great [and not so great] qualities. From best to worst, see how the rest of the lineup stacks up.

#3 Lululemon

When most people hear Lululemon they think “ooo gimme gimme gimme” and we get it. It’s a great brand, with great products, and several of us on the team love what they put out! So it was no surprise that this pair ended up towards the top of the list! The Lululemon Align leggings are SO crazy soft, aren’t sheer, have magic smoothing powers, and overall fit great! Unfortunately, they do attract quite a bit of lint, and after owning them for about a year, we’ve noticed that the crotch ends up pilling quite a bit – so much so that you don’t want to wear them out unless the top you’re wearing will definitely keep everything covered! For the price of these, we’d recommend stocking up on four pairs of the Colorfulkoala pair instead. But if you’re a hardcore Lulu girl, these are still a good pair!

#4 Zella

The Zella Live In High Waist Leggings have been a long time love of mine [but it seems that brands keep coming out with more and more great pairs that keep moving up ahead of these!]. They have a tremendous staying power, so you’re not going to be pulling them up and adjusting them all day. The waistband seriously sucks you in, without being uncomfortable, which is great for those days where you had a bit too much pizza and wine the night before! Unfortunately they do attract a LOT of lint [and dust, and anything possible], and they’re not quite as smoothing as the other leggings we’ve already mentioned. If you’re going to give these Zella’s a try, size down if in between on sizing! I’m wearing them in an XS!

#5 Old Navy

Next up is the Old Navy High-Waisted Elevate Compression Leggings. While they do have a lot of compression to them, the price is right, and they did a great job of smoothing, I didn’t like the material which was a very cottony material. I could definitely tell they were from Old Navy, as in not the world’s greatest quality. However, they were VERY long! If you’re taller and struggle to find leggings to work, you may want to give these a try!

#6 90 Degree

Some 90 Degree leggings are the more athletic material with a bit of shine to them, and we love those! These? Not so much. This pair attracted quite a bit of lint, and was a very cottony material [I know, great terminology, Erin]. They’re super thick, so maybe they’d be a great mid-Winter pair to keep on hand? Also, there’s an inside pocket to hold a key, money, or whatever other tiny secret items you’d want to tuck away!

#7 Girlfriend Collective

We had high hopes for this Girlfriend Collective pair, due to their sustainability factor [they’re cut from a material made of recycled water bottles!], but unfortunately, they fell short in the actual wearability area. The fit was off – they were baggy in the knees and not smoothing at all. Although, they did feel smooth! One bonus- they didn’t attract lint! Overall, unfortunately, we have to pass on this pair.

#8 Spanx

Ohhh Spanx, Spanx, Spanx. While we LOVE your faux leather leggings, and we LOVED the pair we tested last year [found here], we did NOT love these High Waisted Look at Me Now Leggings. This is proof that just because a brand can excel in some products, it’s not always across the board. They attracted a TON of lint, and we just couldn’t give them a high ranking on any category except for the staying power [these were not moving- they seriously suck you in]. Fit tip: DEFINITELY size up if in between. I was 100% sweating and out of breath after trying to put these on.

#9 Target C9 Champion

Last, and well, least, was Target’s C9 Champion Everyday High-Waisted Leggings. While Target does a lot of things great [as my wallet knows very well], these leggings are not one of them. Save your hard earned Target money for all the other things you didn’t know you needed.

If you need some ideas of outfits to wear with your new leggings, be sure to check out these other blog posts with plenty of inspo to get you going! Happy legging season, friends!

For your Pinning pleasure…

share this with your best girlfriends:

  1. Lisa says:

    Id love to know, which pair are you wearing in the teaser photo with the starbucks?

  2. Beth says:

    You should try the athleta elations. No seams and are amazing.

  3. Kristi says:

    You need to try ZYIA!!! I would love to hook you up for a product review! Check out http://www.myzyia.com/zyiaruns or message me at [email protected] for more details! Company is just two years old, runs like a boutique, has new releases every Wednesday, and is high end like Athleta and Lululemon. I would love to get your feedback!!

  4. Mel says:

    Thanks for your reviews! I did notice in most of the pictures that the leggings were ‘baggy/wrinkly’ at the ankles. This happens to me too and I am about your height. I want a legging that is the right length so it doesn’t bunch up at the ankles. Your reviews didn’t really address this issue. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Thanks!

  5. Melissa Cooper says:

    Such helpful information in this blog post! Where’s sweater from? Sorry if I missed it..

  6. Diana Prewitt says:

    I don’t think you got the right fit in the girlfriend Collective. I have several pair and they fit wonderfully. I must

  7. Angela Meylor says:

    Sweater link?

  8. Christina Schelin says:

    Hi Erin, I’m so happy I found you! I’ve started my Christmas shopping for my daughters using your suggestions! Keep up the great work. I truly enjoy all things “living in yellow!”
    Warm regards, Christina

    • Erin Schrader says:

      Hi Christina, welcome to LIY! Ahh I’m so happy to hear this. Thank you for following along with us and thank you for the sweet message! xoxo

  9. Gina says:

    I’ll be trying a few of these!!! Do you have a link to the boots too??? ????

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