They’re a practical and eminently versatile fashion staple that dominates every fit woman’s workout wardrobe. Black yoga pants perform at the vinyasa studio or the gym, and transition into a street-style look when worn with flats, heels, or boots.
And while color, print, and wild details have made yoga pants more chic than ever, the category’s most coveted item is still the basic black legging that performs both sculpting and wicking magic.
Here are 14 great takes on the fitness fashion must-have that we’re all sweating in…
Lululemon created the defining pant in this category with the Wunder Under. Designed for yoga, running, or everyday wear, the second-skin legging gave women fashion-forward fitness wear and body (or booty) confidence in the same (yoga) breath.
Get them in Full-On Luon, a denser (almost winter-weight weave), that’s midnight black and new this fall. It’s soft, not shiny, and super supportive.
The indie brand’s been a hit for its boudoir-inspired collection, made for someone fashion forward and athletic. The Carve Leggings have mesh panels that provide a bit of peek-a-boo and treadmill sex appeal, while serving a flattering function by “carving” out a slimming pattern on your legs. And these black pants aren’t just for show: the almost silky, four-way-stretch fabric is wicking and ideal for dance cardio to Megaformer workouts. (Note: They have a hot 2014 update, which we haven’t yet tried.)
Yoga Smoga’s MO is making high-performance, modern clothing that retains a connection to yoga’s ancient Indian roots. The seriously technical fabrics are eco-engineered shade of black that’s uber dark, opaque, and incredibly flattering. (But its probably too thick for workouts on 90-degree days.) With this look-good technology also comes a feel-good message—the company supports Namaskar, a foundation that benefits economic, health, and education in the remote villages of the Himalayas.
They may be shinier than a high-end brand, and they don’t quite shape and flatter in the way that the compression fabric used by the big yoga brands do, but they’re really comfy and last a long time for how down-right inexpensive they are.
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Hyde is a native New York-designed label that’s a favorite brand of marquee yoga instructors across the country. The brand appeals to natural-fabric lovers, as it’s made from 95 percent organic cotton. But the Twisted Seam Legging is far from crunchy. Witness the subtle, sexy slit at the ankle. Wear them to class year-round with a pair of booties, flats, or sandals.
The hot indie brand debuted on the scene with bright-colored pants and has rolled out must-have tie-dye prints. But their black four-way stretch leggings have a high-caliber fitness following, including Lis Halfpapp of Exhale, whose legs looks like those of a 20-year-old ballerina in them while teaching CoreFusion. The wide flat waistband hides a (gluten-free) muffin top and bisects your backside in a way that’s incredibly flattering.
Ideal for the modern fitness maven, these elegant, low-rise tights move with you on the Megaformer or the yoga mat. They’re a winning combination of design details, like a side seam that draws the eye down the leg, giving you the illusion of a few extra inches, and performance considerations: The tights provide a flattering amount of compression without being too warm when building your own heat in the studio. The no-shine Power Pilayo fabric wicks when you need it to and dries almost by the time you’ve slipped your shoes back on.
The multitasking pants from this super-popular indie brand have been popping up in boutique fitness studios across New York and the country. Yes, they wick away sweat, but they also have chic design elements like a low-rise waist and seaming that makes your tush look terrific. You’ll want a few pairs.
We’re obsessed with the extra length and ankle-ruching that gives these pants a cool, bunched-up look. And the softness of these pants—made of Peached Supplex—gives them a very cozy quality sans shine. This, and the placement of the logo at the top of the waistband, means you can absolutely wear them on a night out with none being the wiser that they’re suitable for yoga.
Australia’s leading fitness-fashion line, which recently launched a slew of stores on the West Coast, makes this cute pair of workout pants. The dense LJExcel fabric breathes surprisingly well during a workout. From the cute “LJ” scripted logo at the hip and zipper key pocket to the fitted ankle, the high-performance fabric holds their shape (and yours) well. And did we mention they’re super flattering? They might not last forever—I could see stretching them out or personally snagging or wrecking them at boot camp. But we’ve already solved the problem by getting a second pair.
Running outside year-round? As temperatures drop, the brushed-knit performance pants trap heat to keep you warm. The high waist is nice if you regularly experience pants that slip lower and lower on a long run. They may compress more than they stretch, but the fabric isn’t chafing. And we love that this athletic pair doesn’t scream “I just came from a race or the gym” with tons of reflective material for those moments when we just want to wear them with tall boots and long cozy sweater.
The West Coast brand is beloved by yogis across the country for its signature, sexy roll-down waist pants. We love them best with this balancing boot-cut leg. The pre-shrunk fabric is mostly cotton with a hint of Lycra, which means they’re best for yoga or Pilates, and not workouts where you’re going to sweat from every pore.
While the UK-based brand makes tons of chic workout clothes with beautiful design details, from lace to prints, we might just pull on this simple pair of Sweaty Betty leggings the most. They’re incredibly light and game—they enjoy boot camp, yoga, and long walks on the beach—and they really do wear well with many workday pieces, like an hip-skimming button-down, jacket, and jewelry. And since they’ve opened boutiques in the States, we have a feeling we’re going to be seeing a lot more of them.