Susannah Taylor: My pick of the fittest leggings

It’s weird to think of a time that we didn’t exercise in leggings. Lycra-clad legs are now a wardrobe staple and market researchers predict that, by 2026, the global leggings market will be worth around £33 billion.

From sweat-wicking and cool-touch fabrics, to seamless engineering, bum-sculpting and squat-proof technology (non see-through), four-way stretch and UV protection, there is almost as much science going into a pair of sports leggings these days as an electric car. And the good ones can cost as much as a pair of designer jeans. Sweaty Betty’s Power Leggings, for example, cost £80 yet a pair is sold every 60 seconds. Do I rate them? Absolutely. But with such an array on the market, how do we know what’s good, bad or downright see-through? I’ve road tested more pairs over the years than I’ve owned pairs of knickers, so here are my recommendations…

susannah taylor in exercise leggings and top
Photograph: David Venni. Stylist: Sairey Stemp. Running top, vest and leggings, Sweaty Betty. Trainer, Veja

The perfect budget pick

About seven years ago I bought a pair of navy H&M leggings with neon coral go-faster stripes for £19.99. I still wear them often and receive compliments every time I do. Why do I love them? They are flattering, the fabric is super-soft and they come up to my belly button (whoever invented low-rise leggings clearly wasn’t a mother of three). They also stay put without causing any overhang and never budge mid-sprint or squat. While this particular style is sadly no longer available, H&M’s leggings are still amazing value and its Super Soft Sports Tights, £19.99, are the next best thing.

The runner’s best friend

I own two pairs of Zero Gravity High-Waisted Running Leggings, £95, from Sweaty Betty that I have had for about three years and still pull on every week. What I rate about them is their super-light, barely there fabric that never gets sweaty. High-waisted, they don’t roll down and the latest versions have a side pocket on the hip where you can stash your phone – essential for runners. I also love Sweaty Betty’s All Day Leggings (which I’m wearing here in Emboss), £70. They’re perfect for any activity including lounging.

The yoga pose hero

A yoga teacher once told me that many people don’t realise their leggings are completely see-through. Ever since, I’ve been paranoid about exposing myself in my downward dog. One brand that has you covered is Lululemon. Its Instill High-Rise Leggings, £108, have been specifically designed with the yogi in mind. The ‘Smoothcover’ technology hugs the body and somehow creates a more streamlined silhouette, while the super-high waistband means you’ll never have to think about covering up your stomach mid pose. And no one can see your bits and bobs even if you are twisted into a pretzel.

The super support act

While I love wildly designed leggings, they can often look dated fast. This is where Varley comes in. Its leggings are available in chic, Farrow & Ball-type shades – think dusky blues, muted pinks, soft greys, off-whites and olive greens – that will stand the test of time. They also give superior support where you need it and create the illusion of smooth, dimple-free thighs. My favourite is the Let’s Move Super High Rise Leggings 25, £78.

READ MORE: Where to get Kate Middleton’s sportswear look

Power up your immunity

What immunologist Dr Jenna Macciochi doesn’t know about staying well isn’t worth knowing. Steering us clear of pseudo-science and quick fixes, her second book, Your Blueprint for Strong Immunity (£14.99, Yellow Kite*), offers an essential guide to cultivating strong immune health. Macciochi helps us identify our wellness weak spots and guides us through creating a personalised immunity plan.

*To order a copy for £11.99 until 13 March go to or call 020 3176 2937. Free UK delivery on orders over £20.

Dive into a dreamy bath

The Into the Deep CBD therapeutic bath oil from Dreem Distillery (£75, is my new favourite bath tonic. With high-grade, broad-spectrum CBD, arnica, juniper and lavender, it has been designed to bring skin and senses into equilibrium prior to sleep. Prepare to defrazzle…

READ MORE: The best cold weather exercise leggings and clothes