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We, the badass women of the world, have reached a consensus: Leggings are pants. Let’s face it, black leggings are a wardrobe staple that tells the world I’m chic, comfortable, and could jump into virtually any athletic situation at a moment’s notice.
There’s just one small problem—our best black leggings, the ones we rely on for our early morning runs and sweaty yoga flows, aren’t always conducive to everyday wear. While your go-to LBLs provide support while showing off your shape during your workouts, tight compression can make a four-hour flight a little more uncomfortable than it already is.
Best Black Leggings for Everyday Wear
To help you find the perfect leggings for everyday wear, I trimmed down the seemingly countless options and tested out five of the most popular pairs. From the moment I woke up to the moment I hit the sack, I kept careful (and honest) notes detailing my experiences. Taking factors such as the level of comfort, quality of the waistband, fabric type, and aesthetic appeal into account, I came out with a clear bracket winner. Follow along to see which leggings I deemed the best for everyday wear!
lululemon Align Pant
Was I naked? Was I floating on a cloud? Or was I wearing the most buttery soft pair of leggings? The lululemon Align Pant has unparalleled comfort, taking me from flows at my favorite local yoga studio to lunch at the nearby organic eatery and out for an evening of drinks with the girls. I even toted this matte black legging on a quick trip to Colorado for a round of graduate school interviews. When my world was buzzing and bustling, my outfit was one less thing to worry about.
The thin material hugged every inch of my lower body, from my waist to my ankles. It flaunts a ⅞ length, hitting about 2 ½ inches above my ankles (keep in mind that I’m 5’4”). The key word here is hugged. The leggings fit snugly against my body, but there was no feeling of compression or squeezing. Think of it this way: no residual marks from the seams after taking these leggings off!
If I had to describe this pair in one word, I’d choose angelic.
The minimal seaming and matte black finish make the lululemon Align Pant one of the best leggings for everyday wear because they’re comfy and cozy, yet polished. Without a single hint of the stereotypical “athletic look,” I happily paired these with everything from checkered Van’s slip ons to boho booties and vintage crop tops to silky kimonos.
The high-rise waistband sits above the belly button and laid flat around the entire circumference of my torso. There is absolutely no digging, pinching, or folding.
The small pocket in the waistband of the Align Pant is best used for a loose key, small wad of cash, or a credit card and ID when you’re out and about on the town. The tapered mouth to this pocket kept my items perfectly secure throughout my daily adventures.
Due to the thin nature of the material used for the Align legging, these pants are fairly delicate. I would opt out of machine drying altogether to preserve the integrity of the pant. Machine wash on cold with like items (no jeans or zippers—they’ll snag!) and air dry. A hassle? Perhaps, but I can assure you that once you’ve got your hands on these leggings, you’ll want to ensure they last as long as possible, which means giving them proper care.
This pair of leggings also has the priciest tag of the bunch, but trust me when I say that lululemon is providing you with unrivaled quality. That said, if the price tag is a bit outside for your current budget, read on!
Reminds me of: HeavenGet them from lululemon
Old Navy High Rise Compression Leggings
For a pair of leggings that you could wear on the daily, $30 seems like a steal, right?! Well, Old Navy nailed the concept with their High Rise Compression Leggings, but unfortunately under-delivered with the quality. Perhaps it was the fact that these tights had to compete against brands like lululemon and ZELLA, but I was considerably underwhelmed.
In a pinch, heck yes I’ll grab these Old Navy leggings, but it may only happen when they’re the one pair not sitting in my dirty clothes hamper.
These soft black leggings are tailored through the leg, slimming down from belly button to ankles. They have a cottony finish, reminding me of the traditional legging many of us are familiar with from years past.
Due to the cottony feel, the High Rise Compression Leggings feel noticeably limited in regards to movement and flexibility. As opposed to the four-way stretch many brands offer these days, this pair of leggings only offers two-way stretch. If you have a tendency to sit in slightly wild, very contorted positions like I do, this may not be the pair for you.
The thin fabric also had a shine to it, which translates into sheerness when bending and hinging. These leggings lacked the matte black finish that complements my everyday attire. Although they didn’t have a standard athletic look, their texture meant they appeared far too casual to pair with cute outfits.
One more “ouch” for this pair of everyday leggings: The material used for the High Rise Compression Leggings is prone to pilling, clinging, and fading.
Reminds me of: The C9 Freedom LeggingGet them from Old Navy
ZELLA Live In High Waist Leggings
The name says it all! Trust me when I say you can live in these ZELLA Live In High Waist Leggings. The thick, brushed material is as cozy as it gets, making them a dream for everyday wear, long travel days, and even grooving through my 25-hour yoga workshop weekends. These leggings were particularly wonderful for the late-spring chill and rain Mother Nature decided to surprise Midwesterners with this year.
I kept my driver’s license, debit card, and car keys handy—without needing to lug around a purse—thanks to the hidden pocket cleverly placed in the waistband of these Live In High Waist Leggings.
The leggings hit at the ankles, making them appropriate for my favorite sneaks and best pair of combat boots. The seams were faint, with one wonderful surprise that all of the other pairs in this cohort lacked: piping over the glutes! Hello, shaping.
And can we talk affordability? You’ll be just as shocked as I was: For how comfortable and functional these leggings are, a $54 price tag is nothing short of incredible.
The brushed material these everyday leggings are made of was fairly prone to clinging. An impromptu snuggle sesh with my pup required thorough lint rolling before strutting out in public again. If you have any long-haired, light-colored furry friends running around at home, be warned.
Reminds me of: A portable hug—whether you’re in a plane, a train, an automobile … or yoga teacher trainingGet them from Nordstrom
Beyond Yoga High Waist Leggings
The Beyond Yoga High Waist Leggings are a welcome alternative to the jeans sitting in my dresser drawers. No zippers and no nagging waistlines digging into your obliques! That said, when compared to other pairs of leggings, these fell short.
Similar to the Old Navy High Rise Compression Leggings, these bottoms only offer two-way stretch, which means they’re significantly limited in terms of overall flexibility and functionality.
The fabric used for these leggings is fairly thin, and the overall style is very simplified. There aren’t any bells and whistles to distract from a perfectly executed casual or athletic outfit. Instead, I was able to pair these everyday leggings with whatever my heart desired.
Without any technical features for moisture-wicking or quick-drying, the sweat (even minimal amounts) that accumulated throughout the day just … sat. I experienced a lingering clingy feeling after spontaneously hopping into an afternoon power yoga class. From yoga to a night out with the girls? Probably not.
The Beyond Yoga High Waist Leggings are also prone to clinging, pilling, and fading. All factors considered, this pair isn’t worth the price tag.
Reminds me of: The Old Navy High Rise Compression LeggingsGet them from Amazon
Athleta Meshblock Pocket Salutation Tight
If you take the lululemon Align Pant and sprinkle it with super cute aesthetics, you get the Athleta Meshblock Pocket Salutation Tight. Merging heavenly soft material with side pockets and mesh cutouts for both functionality and style, these leggings are the ultimate game changer. Not only was I able to comfortably move through my daily schedule in these everyday leggings—I also looked gooood.
The waistband was one of the most comfortable, tying with the Align Pant. These had a similar fit down the leg, hugging tightly around the bottom of my shins. I happily noticed no bunching fabric behind my knees or around my ankles. If you ask me, this in itself is a major win. Great for a spin bike and for gladiator sandals.
The matte black material lacked any hint of sheerness. It passed my goddess-warrior squat test and remained opaque throughout my wildest stretching. These leggings weren’t shiny in the least. After the most zenned out yoga flow, I threw on platform Vans and a boxy striped crop to balance the femininity of the cutouts, then grabbed a casual dinner with my beau in the city. Thanks to the breathability featured in these leggings, I didn’t have a single worry about lingering moisture.
Despite what you may think would come with the territory of the luxurious softness of these leggings, the Athleta Meshblock Pocket Salutation Tight was essentially anti-clinging and anti-pilling. And no pup hair, despite our best cuddles.
No compression and all of the stretch? Exactly what we want for a long day of wear and travel days.
They may be stolen by my best friend when I’m not looking.
Reminds me of: The lululemon Align PantGet them from Athleta