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Meet your new wardrobe staple.
A timeless little black dress is the ultimate, stylish piece that works for every occasion. The same is true for leggings: A great pair of black leggings can anchor your wardrobe and be dressed up or down. The right styles can take you from the gym to the office, and even out to dinner. Finding the perfect pair is easier said than done, though.
When shopping for a pair, there’s a lot to consider — opacity, fit, material, and length are just the beginning. Quality is also important because you’ll want to invest in a piece that can last through years of wear and washing without fading or pilling. We’ve scoured our closets and the market, consulting fashion and fitness experts to compile the ultimate list of the best black leggings.
Best Overall: Lululemon Wunder Train High-Rise Tight
What We Love: They have an internal drawstring to stop the waistband from slipping down.
What We Don’t Love: They’re very compressive, so you may want to size up.
The Lululemon Wunder Train High-Rise Tight is our top overall pick because the fit and quality are nearly unmatched — for $100. Made from quick-drying, sweat-wicking fabric, they have a classic silhouette that makes them versatile for all types of workouts, hot girl walks, and coffee runs. Fitness trainer Sara Zambrotti also considers these to be the best black leggings out there because they never fall down and last for years. Yoga instructor Kate Posch agrees, noting, “These were the first iconic leggings to come out in the early 2000s and I still love them — they’re a classic, like PB&J.”
We like that they come in sizes ranging from 0 to 20, plus four different lengths (unlike many other pairs on our list). They also pass the squat test, staying opaque when we bent over or squatted down despite their lightweight fabric. Most people have to size up in this style as they run slightly small, but that’s not a dealbreaker considering how great these leggings are.
Price at the time of publish: $98
Size: 0–20 | Material: Polyester, LYCRA® elastane, nylon | Length: 23, 25, 28, or 31 inches
Best Budget: Offline By Aerie OG High Waisted Legging
What We Love: They’re lightweight and soft to the touch.
What We Don’t Love: Since they’re made from cotton, we recommend them for lounging or running errands over working out.
If you’re looking for leggings you can stock up on, the OFFLINE by Aerie OG High Waisted Legging is our favorite. The lightweight material isn’t as supportive as our top overall pick, but it does keep its shape and won’t sag over time. They’re also completely opaque, to keep you covered whether you’re holding a Downward Dog or reaching for the last carton of oat milk.
This pair is mostly cotton, making them extra soft — ideal for lounging around or meeting a friend for brunch. But we don’t recommend them for working out, since cotton tends to absorb moisture instead of wicking it away. Even so, we like that they come in sizes ranging from XXS to XXL in three different inseam lengths. This, plus the price? A win-win.
Price at the time of publish: $25
Size: XXS–XXL | Material: Cotton, polyester, elastane | Length: 25.5, 27.5, or 29.5 inches
Best Splurge: Commando Neoprene Leggings
What We Love: They’re made from thick, flattering neoprene that feels luxurious to the touch.
What We Don’t Love: They tend to run small, so you may want to size up.
Searching for an upgrade? When you’re ready to invest in lush leggings with a flattering fit, we recommend the Commando Neoprene Leggings. The neoprene material is thick and supportive, and we love that there are no side or inner seams, to add to how expensive they look. Wardrobe stylist Abby Arad says this pair is “comfortable like leggings should be, but completely opaque, so it’s the ideal choice for work.”
We like that you can wear these to Pilates or dress them up with a blazer and heels for happy hour. Quick-drying and pill-resistant, with a smoothing waistband, the styling potential is endless — but considering how well they’re made, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the options. Just note that they tend to run small, so we suggest ordering one size up from your usual.
Price at the time of publish: $138
Size: XS–3XL | Material: Nylon, elastane | Length: 25.25, 25.9, or 26.5 inches
Best Plus-Size: Universal Standard Roya Leggings 27-Inch
What We Love: The thick, high-rise waistband won’t roll down.
What We Don’t Love: We wish they came in longer lengths.
While many pairs on our list run from size 0 to 20, we love that the Universal Standard Roya Leggings are offered in sizes 00–40. The brand starts with a sample size of 18 to engineer leggings that fit comfortably and securely on most frames. This pair is made from a luxe pima cotton that feels soft and ultra-light, like your favorite T-shirt.
As with our Aerie pick, these are more suitable for everyday wear rather than hitting the gym, since they’re made from absorbent cotton. But we like that they have a thick, high-rise waistband that doesn’t roll down. Opaque and pill-proof, we only wish they came in more lengths to fit longer legs.
Price at the time of publish: $72
Size: 4XS–4XL (00–40) | Material: Pima cotton, modal, spandex | Length: 23 or 27 inches
Best on Amazon: YUNOGA Women's Ultra Soft High Waisted Seamless Leggings
What We Love: The four-way stretch and squat-proof opacity.
What We Don’t Love: The size range is pretty limited, and they only come in one inseam length.
With a four-way stretch for workouts and a hidden waistband pocket for stashing keys while running errands, the Yunoga Ultra Soft High Waisted Seamless Leggings are our favorite pair on Amazon. Take it from Arad: She loves how well these fit, and that the thick fabric can hold up to years of washing. The nylon and Spandex blend isn’t just squat-proof — it’s also moisture-wicking and breathable, creating the ultimate athleisure staple.
Like many of our other top picks, these leggings have a high-rise waistband for additional support. And while we wish they came in more sizes and inseam lengths, the 7/8 style will hit most people right above the ankle, for a sporty look. Overall, the fit, feel, quality, and price make these leggings a must-have.
Price at the time of publish: $26
Size: XS–XL | Material: Nylon, spandex | Length: 25 inches
Best for Work: Cuyana Ponte Legging Pant
What We Love: The sophisticated, tailored silhouette gives these a major upgrade.
What We Don’t Love: They only come in a few sizes, and they’re not as breathable as some of our other top picks are.
In need of tailored work pants with a legging feel? The Cuyana Ponte Legging Pant is made with a silky smooth blend of viscose, polyamide, and elastane, for a pair that’s just as comfortable as it is polished. The fit is more structured than most other leggings on our list, pairing well with a sweater, button-down, or simple tee.
The 26.5-inch inseam length and two small slits at the back of the ankles make these pants perfect for showing off your go-to loafers or ballet flats. Since the ponte knit makes these thicker and less breathable than many of our other top picks, they’re better for layering in cooler temperatures. We wish they came in more sizes, but we appreciate that Cuyana is a female-led company with a commitment to sustainability. Don’t be surprised if you reach for these leggings on your days off, too.
Price at the time of publish: $148
Size: XS–XL | Material: Viscose, polyamide, elastane | Length: 26.5 inches
Best with Pockets: Girlfriend Collective Compressive Pocket Leggings
What We Love: The wide size range and moderate compression.
What We Don’t Love: The side pockets aren’t big enough to fit all smartphones.
The Girlfriend Collective Black Compressive Pocket Legging checks plenty of boxes: medium compression, opaque fabric, and most importantly, pockets. We love that the two side pockets lay flat, so they’re barely visible until you need them. Meanwhile, a hidden back pocket in the waistband is ideal for keeping your keys easily accessible. The sweat-wicking material with a four-way stretch is supportive enough for your toughest workouts, but also great for running errands.
We also like that these leggings are made from recycled plastic bottles — plus, they’re recyclable through the brand’s ReGirlfriend program, so you can feel good about minimizing your impact on the planet. With sizes ranging from XXS to 6XL, finding the right fit is simple. However, the handy side pockets may not be wide enough to stash larger smartphones.
Price at the time of publish: $88
Size: XXS–6XL | Material: Recycled plastic bottles, spandex | Length: 23.75 or 28.5 inches
Best Everyday: Everlane The Perform Legging
What We Love: They’re easy to dress up or down.
What We Don’t Love: They’re on the thinner side, and they may run small.
For a pair of staple leggings you can rely on, the Everlane The Perform Legging is our top pick. They’re easy to dress up or down, with an extra-high-rise waistband and two inseam lengths to choose from. Another detail we love? These leggings only have a few seams and lightweight compression, making them a do-everything pair you can wear for hours on end.
Unlike other pairs on our list, we like that these have a hidden waistband pocket in the front, instead of the back. But they are on the thinner side, and they may run small — the brand recommends sizing up if you’re between sizes. Sweat-wicking and breathable, The Perform Legging is sleek and technical, to upgrade your look whether you’re in the gym or going out to dinner.
Price at the time of publish: $68
Size: XXS–XXXL | Material: Recycled nylon, elastane | Length: 25 or 28 inches
Best Cotton: Pact Purefit Legging
What We Love: The budget-friendly price tag and free returns.
What We Don’t Love: They only come in one inseam length.
Soft and cozy, cotton leggings like the Pact Purefit Legging are made for lounging. With just a touch of elastane, they’ll still hug your curves and hold their shape—but with less synthetic materials than many other styles. The organic cotton is thick, but breathable, and has a matte finish that won’t look out of place at work or brunch.
Sustainably made in a Fair Trade Certified Factory, these leggings save 35 gallons of water and offset 14 pounds of carbon with each pair, according to the brand. And at about a fifth of the cost of some other leggings on our list, you can stock up without spending a fortune. But we wish they came in multiple inseam lengths. Choose from sizes XS to XXL — and rest easy, because you can return them for free if the fit is off.
Price at the time of publish: $28
Size: XS–XXL | Material: Cotton, elastane | Length: 26.5 inches
Best High-Waisted: Beyond Yoga Spacedye Caught In The Midi High Waisted Legging
What We Love: The extra-wide waistband and UV protection.
What We Don’t Love: The midi length may hit an awkward spot.
With a flattering, 5-inch waistband, the Beyond Yoga Caught In The Midi High Waisted Legging isn’t just one of our favorites — our experts love it, too. “Whatever this Spacedye fabric is, wrap my life in it because it’s incredible,” says Posch. “The fabric washes so well, doesn’t get nubby, and consistently looks great.”
The moisture-wicking blend of polyester and elastane is engineered for movement but still feels soft to the touch. The four-way stretch is perfect for running errands or doing yoga, although we prefer more support for most higher-intensity workouts. Like some other pairs on our list, these leggings are only available in one “midi,” 25-inch inseam length that may hit some people in an awkward spot. Even so, we love that the fabric offers protection from harmful UV rays when you need to venture outside.
Price at the time of publish: $90
Size: XX–4X | Material: Polyester, elastane | Length: 24 inches
Best Capri: Athleta Salutation Stash Capri
What We Love: It comes in three inseam lengths to ensure a flattering fit.
What We Don’t Love: The petite and tall inseams aren’t available in every size.
Searching for the perfect black capri leggings? We’ve found them in the Athleta Salutation Stash Capri. Made from a buttery blend of nylon and LYCRA®, they’re silky smooth, with spacious side pockets for storing items while you’re on the go. With a secure, high-rise waistband and less seams, they’re made to keep you comfortable (even on your longest days).
Quick-drying and sweat-wicking, these leggings are the perfect pair to take you from jet-setting to sightseeing. Plus, the fabric provides UPF 50+ protection, meaning it blocks 98 percent of the sun’s rays. We also love that they come in three lengths, so you can get a true capri fit no matter how tall you are — and with free returns, you can try them on before buying, just to make sure. Although we wish all of the sizes were available in all three inseam lengths, we’re still impressed by the Salutation Stash Capri’s thoughtful, functional design.
Price at the time of publish: $99
Size: XXS–3X | Material: Nylon, LYCRA® | Length: 18.5, 21, or 23 inches
Best 7/8: Alo Yoga ⅞ High-Waist Airbrush Leggings
What We Love: The sculpting, smoothing fabric and matte finish.
What We Don’t Love: We wish they came in more sizes.
Not quite cropped, not quite full-length — 7/8 leggings fall right in between. The Alo Yoga 7/8 High-Waist Airbrush Legging is the best pair we’ve found, with silky smooth “airbrush” fabric that feels like a second skin. “They’re a classic,” Posch says. “I love the rise and the length.”
These leggings have a moderate amount of compression and are perfectly stretchy, from the Pilates reformer to the coffee shop. They have no side seams, to up the comfort factor, and a four-way stretch that moves with you. The one downside? We wish they were available in a wider range of sizes. That aside, this is a staple black legging that’s begging to be included in your weekly lineup.
Price at the time of publish: $98
Size: XS–XL (00–18) | Material: Nylon, elastane | Length: 24 inches
Best for Workouts: Alphalete Amplify Legging
What We Love: The contouring panels and supportive, layered waistband.
What We Don’t Love: They don’t have any pockets.
When you’re tackling an intense workout, you need leggings that can stretch to their limit while remaining opaque — like the Alphalete Amplify Legging. They’re contouring and compressive enough for everything from lifting weights to hitting the elliptical. The waistband is made with three layers of fabric for plenty of support, keeping these leggings in place whether you’re squatting, lunging, or running.
“The best part is that they have no front seam,” Zambrotti says — or any other seams, thanks to their sleek design. While we love how these leggings fit, we wish they had pockets for a phone. But it’s not a dealbreaker, considering their all-around quality. Get ready to tackle new personal bests in this breathable, flexible pair.
Price at the time of publish: $72
Size: XXS–XXL | Material: Polyamide, polyester, elastane | Length: Not listed
Best Compression: Gymshark Elevate Leggings
What We Love: The waistband is snug all the way around.
What We Don’t Love: The waistband tends to slide down a bit, and they don’t have any pockets.
From hot yoga to rest days, Gymshark has you covered — and its Elevate Leggings are no exception. With a waistband that won’t gap in the back and no front seam, they’re designed to fit (and feel) like a second skin. We also like that the blend of recycled nylon and elastane is breathable and sweat-wicking, for a high-performance legging you can wear anywhere. And even though they’re compressive, they don’t feel restrictive — perfect for most low- to high-intensity workouts.
As with the Alphalete Amplify Legging, we wish this pair had some pockets for storage. We also noticed that the waistband tended to slip down a little while we tested these leggings, although readjusting the fit was easy. Plus, we love that they keep their shape, stretch, and compression over time.
Price at the time of publish: $64
Size: XXS–XXL | Material: Recycled nylon, elastane | Length: 25.5 inches
Best Faux Leather: Spanx Faux Leather Leggings
What We Love: The contouring fabric that lifts and sculpts.
What We Don’t Love: Since they’re compressive, you may want to order a size up for the right fit.
Spanx is another InStyle favorite for its flattering, can’t-miss shapewear. Now, they’re bringing the same sculpting technology to their Faux Leather Leggings. While black leggings may be a key piece in your regular rotation, this pair’s sheen and texture make them a standout. They’re sleek, compressive, and — best of all — machine-washable, so you can wear them all the time.
This pair offers a healthy dose of style but feels like workout leggings. Since they’re so compressive, you may want to order one size up from your usual. But we love that they come in petite, regular, and tall inseams. If you’re in the market for an on-trend black legging that works as hard as you, look no further than this pair.
Price at the time of publish: $98
Size: XS–3X | Material: Nylon, elastane | Length: 28, 30, or 32 inches
Best for Travel: Vuori Evolve Legging
What We Love: These leggings have a light amount of compression that’s perfect for long periods of travel.
What We Don’t Love: They may run large.
If you haven’t already found the perfect legging for long days in the airport, let us introduce you to the Vuori Evolve Legging. Even through delays and layovers, this pair will keep you feeling polished and ready for anything. We love that these leggings have a smoothing, high-rise waistband and a flattering 7/8 inseam. Plus, the fabric has a slight shine that you can easily dress up — simply pair them with a blazer or a blouse once you reach your destination.
These leggings have a four-way stretch and wick moisture away, with smooth seams you’ll barely feel. Made with recycled materials, they’re low maintenance, too — you can toss them in the washer and dryer, for easy care. Just note that, since the fabric is silky smooth, you may want to order a size down from your usual to prevent them from slipping or sliding.
Price at the time of publish: $118
Size: XS–XXL | Material: Polyamide, elastane | Length: 24.5 inches
What to Keep in Mind
Opacity refers to how thick your leggings are. If they’re too thin, they won’t provide enough coverage for working out or warmth in cold temperatures. Thicker fabrics also have a dressier look that’s ideal for more polished outfits, especially in the workplace. When trying leggings on, make sure to squat or bend over to test their opacity. If you can see the color or pattern of your underwear through the fabric, we recommend steering clear.
The length you select for your black leggings depends on a few things, but it’s mostly up to your personal preference. Capri pairs hit at the middle of your calf, ankle-length styles hit right above your ankle, and full-length leggings hit at or below your ankle. Some leggings (like the Lululemon Wunder Train High-Rise Tight) even come in all of these lengths, so you can stock up on your favorite pairs. Ultimately, finding the right length comes down to what’s most comfortable for you, what the weather outside is like, and how tall you are.
Your Questions, Answered
Can black leggings look work-appropriate?
Yes — as long as you select the right pair. Arad says the material is the most important thing: “A work legging should be a thicker material with a matte finish.” (Our favorite is the Cuyana Ponte Legging Pant.) “A thin or shiny legging should stay in the gym or yoga studio,” Arad adds. She suggests styling black leggings as you would cigarette pants, picking an elegant top, and playing with shoes and accessories that you’d typically wear to work.
How can you tell if a pair of black leggings is high-quality?
“The best way to tell if a pair of leggings is quality is not by price,” Arad says. She recommends touching the fabric in a store if you can. “Spread the fabric. If you can see your fingers, that’s a bad sign,” she notes.
How do you style black leggings?
“Proportions are key,” Arad explains. “Because leggings are tight, they should be paired with something oversized on top.” To dress them up for work, she recommends pairing your leggings with an oversized button-down shirt, chunky loafers, your go-to jewelry, and a structured bag. In cooler temperatures, she suggests a thick, knit sweater or a sharp blazer, plus your favorite boots. “Throw a trench over that and you’ll be elevating your leggings game times ten.”
Why Shop With Us
Kirby Kelly is a Denver-based copywriter with over eight years of experience writing for outlets like NYLON, crafting blog content for lifestyle brands, and developing winning advertising and web copy for global corporations. To compile this list, she researched what makes a pair of black leggings great and looked to her long-time favorite pairs. She also consulted fitness trainer Sara Zambrotti, yoga instructor Kate Posch, and wardrobe stylist Abby Arad.
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Read the original article on InStyle.