Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Best Leggings, A Round-Up

Photos: published in Elle magazine
Just like denim jeans and a leather jacket, leggings are a wardrobe essential. They are casual smart. So comfortable and versatile, you can dress them up or down. Opaque leggings can be worn with a big shirt or sweater. Underneath a skirt or dress, they keep you toasty warm in the winter. Leggings are equally chic with ballet flats or boots; and they are great for traveling since they roll up and take up little space in a suitcase/

At one time, I loved Victoria Secret's classic leggings. They were 92% cotton and 8% spandex, hit at the belly button and over the hips (so they stayed put!); plus they were fairly thick, opaque and dressy. They often sold for $15 on sale, so I always bought 10 pairs at a time. Moreover, they lasted through numerous machine washings. No longer available, I hope Victoria Secret brings their classic leggings back soon! Why mess with perfection? They have been replaced by their thinner and lower waisted offspring: daily leggings and yoga leggings

The closest to VS's classic leggings today are the retailer's Pink label leggings; however, the wrinkle for some of us is, they are shorter with a 27-inch inseam.

So where can a lover of full-length-basic-leggings turn to buy a decent pair? Leggings soft, opaque and thick enough to wear alone; are not shiny; or athletic looking ... leggings which flatter your legs and are warm in winter, but still thin enough to wear under a dress??

Here are my finds for the best basic leggings right now:

1. Victoria Secret - From the Pink Shop  - 2 varieties: (a) the basic leggings - They are soft and fairly opaque. But as noted, they have a shorter 27-inch inseam. Cost: $19.50, or special - 2/$30. (b) Another choice, Pink's much loved yoga leggings - They are thicker and come in an assortment of colorful wide-waist-bands, but have the limited, 27 ½-inch inseam. (not to be confused with VS's daily and yoga leggings. Yes, it is confusing.) Cost: $34 - $49. 

For longer legged ladies who need a 32-inch or 34-inch inseam ... well, we'll just have to wait for VS to bring them back. Every season, VS seems to change their leggings, and frankly, it's not always an improvement.

2. Express sexy stretch leggings - At $29.90, they are affordable and feel like the old Victoria Secret classic leggings. Jet black, thick, opaque, and soft with 95% cotton - 5% spandex. Express leggings come in several styles and lengths: cropped, ankle and full. Full length is 29 inches and ankle inches shorter. My # 1 pick: the perfect leggings: classy, slenderizing, sexy and cozy. They go on sale often, costing 40% less, thereby earning my blue ribbon - the best quality leggings at the best price!

3. Old Navy Women's Fold-Over Yoga Pants - In my opinion, the name is misleading. Yoga pants and leggings are usually two different things. Fortunately, these are indeed leggings, and at $19.90 a pair, they are also blue ribbon worthy. In fact, these are my 2nd favorite leggings available today. They are 93% cotton and 7% spandex. They are soft, opaque and durable. Better in quality than leggings costing 2-3 times more. By the way, Old Navy also sells excellent traditional boot-cut yoga pants. Stock up!

4. American Apparel cotton spandex jersey leggings - Well-made; a choice of colors, prints and textures; soft, a comfortable cotton-spandex blend; durable. They are heavy enough to wear solo. Cost: $28.

5. Hue ultra leggings with wide waistband - Pricey, but fine basic leggings ... and they are definitely not thin or shiny. So you can pair them with shorter tops and wear them outside the gym. Cost: $34-$44 (depending on seller).

6. James Perce stretch jersey long leggings - I like them very much, but at $68 a pair, they are an investment. Personally, I hate paying so much for basics. I'd rather own several pairs of basics -- like leggings (socks or t-shirts) -- so I can carelessly machine wash and dry them many times over and not really think of them as an investment. But that's me. If a pair of James Perce leggings in my size landed on my desk, I'd be very happy. Who wouldn't?

Without a doubt, good quality leggings at affordable prices are harder to come by than years ago. So if you have a brand to recommend, please share under comments. Savvy Shoppers want to know!

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  1. Those are some really nice looking leggings. Time to update my wardrobe!

    1. Katie, Looks look another great find! Thanks for the link!

  2. I agree that leggings are wardrobe essentials as they are too comfortable and versatile. I like work out leggings a lot. I use these leggings with my casual wear too. Pairing your clothes with leggings can give a feeling of wearing something new and stylish.

    1. So true, Carbon 38. I often wear leggings under a dress instead of tights in winter. They're more comfortable.

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