Before I started working at Man Repeller, I was creative director of Outdoor Voices, which felt, at least at first, a little ironic. I’d always been the least sporty kid in school, the one who always had a letter from her mum to get out of P.E.—yet there I was, suddenly thinking about sports 24/7. There was team yoga, team basketball, team jogs. We conducted walking meetings outside and met with collaborators and partners on hikes and bike rides. During my time there, the lines that usually separate exercise, work, and social time blurred completely. As a result, I spent a lot of time wearing leggings—and have since become a bit of an authority on the subject. So here I am, ready to share it with you, along with a few other people who’ve pulled on their fair share of spandex.
Below: Tiffany, third from the right—An early leggings aficionado at sports day.
Requisite “Okay, maybe I’m biased, but…” — I still wear OV’s TechSweat Legging in the summer or for any high-sweat activity like running, boot camp, or spinning. The fabric is really light and has a cool, silky feeling. Bonus: The structured waistband is super flattering and stops them from falling down while you’re moving.
The soft, cozy fabric and a simple, flexible waistband make these leggings great for colder weather and in-studio activities like yoga and Pilates. They come in a range of waistband heights and inseam lengths, which means all folks of all heights can avoid camel toe or the baggy-ankles look of too-long leggings.
A smooth, flattering fit, in a nice range of colors. They’re not specifically suited to one activity or the other, but they’re a nice, simple compliment to everything else in your wardrobe.
Made from 25 recycled water bottles, Girlfriend Collective leggings get bonus points for an extended size range (XXS-6XL) and three different inseam lengths.
At the beginning of my pregnancy, my Lulu Align pants had enough stretch to fit, but as I’ve gotten bigger, some bump-specific support has been extremely welcome. I’ve recently been wearing these Blanqi over-the-bump leggings. They also make a high-waisted, postpartum legging with a slightly compressive waistband that I’m going to try once the baby arrives. If you’re in the market for maternity leggings, it’s worth noting that Girlfriend Collective and Nike both recently launched maternity lines, too.
Founded by former American Apparel designer Eliana Gil Rodriguez, these ethically-made-in-the-USA leggings are 90% cotton, 10% spandex. Perfect if synthetic fabrics aren’t your jam. I’m pairing mine with the El Tigre Chiquito crop top.
PRU stands for “Power + Representation + Unity” and the brand’s mission of sisterhood and community can’t be beat. Neither can their sweat-wicking, squat-proof, leggings in vibrant prints, perfect those looking to stand out.
I’ve got my eye on this seamless set by Roam Loud, founded by Toyin Omisore—one of many BIPOC brands our market editor, Eliz, turned me onto. Others to consider include Ju’Nae, Glamourina, and Pretty Girl Athletics.
Live the Process’s knit-rib leggings can be paired with a matching cardigan to make a chic set that would look as good with mules as it does with sneakers. And if pockets are your thing, Bandier’s got you covered. While you’re there, pause to consider their tie-waisted legging, inspired by lace-front football uniforms.
Leggings Made for Hiking in Style
Picked by: Evelynn Escobar-Thomas
Evelynn is a Los Angeles-based creative activist and founder of an intersectional womxn’s hiking group, Hike Clerb. She’s a champion of representation and equity for Black and brown womxn from the great outdoors to digital media and beyond.
My favorite leggings are Outdoor Voices’ TechSweat 7/8 Zoom leggings. They keep everything in place, are super breathable, and come in super-cute colors!
Runner-up: My runner-up would definitely have to be any Nike leggings. They fit like a glove!
Natural-Fiber Leggings Designed for Cozy Sundays
Picked by: Eva Alt
Eva is an independent dancer and social media/content consultant based in NYC. She’s currently choreographing and producing her first performance piece.
I’m in love with my friend’s recently launched brand, Ceres. It’s sportswear made from all-natural fibers and produced in LA. The warm-up legging is my favorite—it’s in this cozy, yummy waffle-knit I’ll be wearing every day this fall. I’m trying to be a more conscious consumer and a lot of activewear isn’t made very sustainably. Ceres’ ethos really speaks to me, and the styles and feel of the clothes are unique and beautiful.
Runner-up: Capezio. Simple and classic.
Sweat-Resistant Leggings (With Pockets!) for Marathon Stars
Picked by: Thị Minh Huyền Nguyễn
Born in Germany, Thị Minh Huyền Nguyễn is a Vietnamese writer, multi-disciplinary creative, marathon runner, and activist. After having lived in NYC for five years, she’s currently empowering Black, brown, and queer communities in Berlin.
Nike Luxe Running tights have been my go-to for every chilly fall and winter run. They’re super comfortable and sweat-resistant, and they have a compression feel while also allowing air circulation with the mesh on the calves. As a marathon runner who likes to run-commute or go grocery shopping right after my workout, the two large pockets (one with zip in the back) outside and one inside are my favorite since I can carry my keys, credit cards, and phone with me.
Runner-up: For running, I like to stick to Nike tights. For yoga or pilates, I like Outdoor Voices leggings, since on the mat, I don’t need the pockets or zippers. Those are incredibly comfortable as well and shape a nice butt, too 😉
Gimme Those “Leggings That Hold Everything in Place”
Picked by: Minami Gessel
Minami is a 22-year-old model who has been quarantining in Los Angeles.
I love love love the Outdoor Voices TechSweat Legging! They’re super comfy, and they have a compression band so they really snatch your waist! I love to wear them to work out or to run errands. I don’t like leggings that are see-through or snag easily. I have a big ass, so when I’m looking for leggings, I make sure they don’t show my undies when I bend down.
Runner-up: Nike high-waisted leggings. I gravitate toward leggings that hold everything in place.
The Form-Fitting Leggings of Choice for a Pro Ballerina
Picked by: Nardia Boodoo
Nardia is a professional ballerina with The Washington Ballet—as well as a college student and Pilates enthusiast.
Tory Sport—they’re typically high-waisted, breathable, and form-fitting, plus they have a pocket for my phone or keys. They also don’t show sweat. I really dislike sheer leggings. I love a solid color or fun, classic pattern.
Runner-up: Beyond Yoga.
‘Mindfully Made’ (and Female-Owned) Danish Leggings
Picked by: Bianca Valle
Bianca is a certified holistic nutritionist and artist living in New York.
The sustainably made leggings from Planet Nusa, a female-owned Danish brand. I adore the girls who run it and their mission of inclusivity. My pet peeve is when leggings aren’t true to size. These are.
Runner-up: My second choice is Girlfriend because they’re also mindfully made.
Photos by Shana Trajanoska.