Last January saw a 500 per cent rise in searches for ‘fitness leggings’ – and that was before we even entered lockdown. Now that we’re all exercising in our living rooms, working from our kitchen tables and taking longer and more regular walks than ever before, dressing for comfort has become paramount in ways we never could have predicted, so it’s no surprise that leggings are still high on many of our to-purchase lists as we enter 2021.
Fans of yoga and pilates will have different requirements to runners and weightlifters, but whether you’re looking for the perfect pair for work(outs) or play, the best leggings will always tick a few key boxes; quality fabric, close fit, supportive enough for any activity but also comfortable enough that you can wear them to relax in as well as work up a sweat.
We’ve taken a look at the biggest names in the world of lycra and picked out nine pairs that we think are worthy of your attention, whether you have a lot or a little to spend. From a bargain £9.99 pair to luxe labels like Sweaty Betty and Lululemon, here’s our pick of the best leggings to invest in this year – no matter what you’re wearing them for, these styles won’t disappoint.
The best leggings for women UK
They’re iconic for a reason – Sweaty Betty’s signature Power Leggings are the brand’s bestsellers, and have more than 3,600 glowing reviews as we type. They offer structure and support while still remaining comfortable, and are frequently described as ‘squat proof’ – these babies are really built to last. Plus, with more the 20 colourways up for grabs, they’re chic enough to slip on every when you’re not working out. Oh, and did we mention they have pockets?
Lululemon has dozens of legging options, and you can’t really go wrong with any of them – but if we had to pick just one, we’d go for the Align Pant II, which are super soft and incredibly versatile, whether you’re investing in a pair for yoga class, to run errands or lounge at home (or all of the above). The sweat-wicking fabrics have four-way stretch and added lycra to ensure that they really mould to your shape.
There are countless things we love about Girlfriend Collective’s leggings, from the size inclusivity (they run from an XXS to an XXXL) to their eco-friendly credentials (each recycled pair diverts 25 bottles from landfills), and that’s before we even get to the brilliance of the leggings themselves (which are fantastic). As a US-based brand, the Girlfriend website usually offers international shipping, but this has been paused due to severe disruptions in the airline industry, so you can also look to Net-A-Porter or Selfridges for prices in pounds in the meantime.
Another sustainable pick – made from plastic bottles and factory offcuts – with plenty of glowing reviews is the Tala range, which is also more affordable than many of its pricier competitors. There’s a whole rainbow of options in the popular Zinnia, which wins praise for its efficient compression and hold, even if you’re taking on a HIIT workout. ‘So stretchy, so comfy and so versatile,’ writes one fan. ‘Could not recommend a legging more.’
Surprisingly purse-friendly for an instantly recognisable sports brand, Nike’s Air leggings are reassuringly thick and sturdy, but still allow a full range of movement, no matter what kind of activity (or lack thereof) you plan on undertaking. From dog walks to downward dogs, this is a reliable pair that we can see ourselves repurchasing over and over again.
The Camo leggings are often hailed as Gymshark’s best set, and with good reason – not only is the design a fun, forgiving statement amidst a sea of plain black basics, the high rise waistband offers superior support. However, as the fit comes up on the tighter side, which is great when you’re exercising, they’re perhaps not as ideal if you want to wear them with your favourite sweater for a night in on the sofa.
Under Armour’s leggings are lightweight and breathable, but still pack a serious punch when it comes to wicking sweat – while still feeling soft against the skin. They’re another offering that boasts a pocket for your phone, making them ideal for the great outdoors. We’re also pretty smitten with this pretty lavender hue.
For a brilliant pair of leggings for women on the high street, don’t overlook good old M&S. The store’s Goodmove activewear range has had a positive reception since its launch last year, with these Go Move staples racking up more than 150 reviews so far. They’re ‘ergonomically designed to fit and flatter’ and made with a blackout material which means no accidental underwear reveals when you’re lunging. For £25, you can’t go wrong.
Luxury, they ain’t, but if you’re on a budget and need reliable gym or loungewear that won’t break the bank, give Decathlon a go. Sizes span an XS to an 2XL, and they’re flexible without feeling restrictive. A word to the wise, however – this means that the 100 runs on the thinner side, so if you’re looking for a style with slightly more opacity, try the 120s (they’re only £1 more!)