Since finally finding a workout routine I love, I've become more invested in finding the right attire to go with it. There are countless options on the market—every athleisure label has their own version, which is practically indiscernible from their online descriptions—and for a time, I simply went with the brand my best friend swears by. I've since discovered that finding the perfect black legging is not a one-style-fits-all process, so I recently bought and tested 11 different pairs before landing on the ones I wanted to keep. After doing the leg work (pun intended), I ranked them below in order of price from low to high, to help you find the best pair—and price point—for you:
A quick note on the grades: I graded each pant based on comfort, shine (I prefer low-shine), flattering hold, and fit, but broke down each of the grades into graphics, in case you're looking for something different
Available Here: Varley
Notes: These are definitely my favorite of the options I tried on (it's no coincidence we carry them in the Shop!). They're crazy-soft, hold me in without being over-constricting, and hit the perfect spot, just below my belly button. I love alternating between the black and white pair for my weekend dance class—they do a great job wicking moisture and the front and back panels are sexy, but stylish. If you're looking to invest in a great pair, these are a fantastic option..
Available Here: H&M
Notes: Considering their low price point, these leggings held up far better than I expected them to. They're very simple and come up fairly high (to just below my belly button), which I prefer because they help "hold" everything in. They also have a good weight to them and hit a touch above the ankle, so they don't end up pooling at the bottom of your legs (for reference, I'm 5'6"). I also noticed that they helped lift up my butt, which means they ride up a little, but they still look great from the back.
Available Here: Champion, Available at Target
Notes: While these have a great weight and solid hold, there were several factors that bumped down their grade. First, they're not as high as I'd prefer, and they have a little bit of sheen in certain light (I find that sheen is unflattering in leggings since it usually bounces off the parts I'm hoping to conceal). I liked the small side pockets, which you could use on a run to hold a credit card or even a phone, though it doesn't zip close.
Available Here: Old Navy (similar style available here)
Notes: These leggings have very subtle floral detailing that I couldn't see in the online image, since it's black on black. While I didn't hate the design, they're a little more feminine than something I'd select for myself, but they're a great option if you're on the fence about embracing patterns. Flowers aside, they feel more like a cotton legging than a workout pant, so they're incredibly comfortable but I wish they held me in a little bit more.
Available Here: Nike
Notes: I expected to love these (in addition to the swoop, it also says "Nike Pro" around the waistband), but they were one of my least favorite pairs. The slippery material barely had any hold to it, and it bunched around the ankles. The worst part was that it also bunched weirdly at the thighs, and the only way to avoid that was to pull the waistband down, which made a weird muffin-top.
Available Here: Adidas
Notes: These are incredibly lightweight and felt like a second skin, which is highly unflattering but comfortable. They were also so shiny I looked like a seal. The black zippers on the ankles are a cool detail.
Available Here: Athleta
Notes: These are extremely soft and feel like a cotton legging, so they're perfect when traveling or anytime you just want to feel comfortable, but would be less appropriate for a dance class. They also had barely any hold at all, so there was no tightening around my butt or thighs, which would have been nice!
Available Here: Prism Sport from Lou & Grey
Notes: These are way too long (you can see in the photo above how much they bunched around my ankles) and had some unfortunate riding-up action happening in the front. Overall, not a great find.
Available Here: Outdoor Voices
Notes: I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but when I first put these on, I put them on backwards—they have tags on both sides, which was annoying. But once I figured things out, I liked that they had a lower front and higher back, but the darting on the sides wasn't as flattering as I hoped it'd be before I put them on (it actually created the illusion that my hips were protruding more than they were). They were also extremely restricting, which I'm okay with if they make me look crazy-good and hold me in, but it didn't make a huge difference.
Available Here: Lululemon
Notes: These are an all-around great legging and do exactly what they promise to do. My favorite feature is the wide front panel that flattens the stomach nicely and comes above the belly-button, but I also love that it has pockets on each side that could fit a phone (but add a tiny bit of bulk to my thighs). I would wear these to workout, or on a plane with a slouchy sweatshirt, and feel extremely comfortable.
Available Here: Sweaty Betty
Notes: These felt like a second skin, and come up really high at the navel, which I like a lot. My only concern is that they're too shiny, and I wish that they held me in just a bit more.
Available Here: Varley
Notes: These are definitely my favorite of the options I tried on (it's no coincidence we carry them in the Shop!). They're crazy-soft, hold me in without being over-constricting, and hit the perfect spot, just below my belly button. I love alternating between the black and white pair for my weekend dance class—they do a great job wicking moisture and the front and back panels are sexy, but stylish. If you're looking to invest in a great pair, these are a fantastic option.
I'd love to hear: What are some of your favorite black legging brands? Let me know in the comments, below!