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Why high-waisted leggings are the skinny jeans of your activewear wardrobe


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Photo: Instagram/@Bandier

Have you noticed the waistband on your leggings becoming more elevated as of late—and not just by luxe, high-performance fabrics, but actual inches? It’s not an optical illusion.

Rises have, well, risen in recent years as “activewear trends follow high fashion, and as the pants and denim got higher, leggings did, too,” says fashion consultant Devina Foley. “Then, everyone realized they sucked everything in at all the right places and stayed put whether on the bike, in Pilates, or in a boxing class,” she says (thus ensuring high-waisted tights a permanent place in most people’s leggings drawers).

“This is one of those here-forever trends like skinny jeans.”

Real talk: Sometimes, you just don’t want to see what you had for lunch quite so clearly while you’re in the midst of a hardcore ab work. But the silhouette offers more healthy benefits than that. High-waisted styles also elongate the leg—which never hurts in a barre class—and slim the hips. “This is one of those here-forever trends like skinny jeans,” says Foley. “They’re just more flattering and more functional on more people.”

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Fitness blogger Melissa Eckman, AKA MelisFit, is a fan of this trend. “I truly believe high-waisted leggings are the one of the best things to ever happen to the athletic wear industry,” she says. “When you’re working out, you want to both feel great and look great. High-rise pants accomplish both.”

Though a big part of what make them so flattering is how you wear them. Style yours with an oversized T-shirt, for example, and you’ll lose the most best effects. “The most fashionable way to wear this is with a cropped top—longer than a sports bra, shorter than a tank top,” says Foley. “This shows just a sliver of skin at the narrowest part of most people’s bodies.”

“The most fashionable way to wear this is with a cropped top—longer than a sports bra, shorter than a tank top.”

In other words, this is the ultimate hack for showing off your abs when you don’t necessarily have a six-pack or don’t want to show off more midriff.  “My tip is to know there are different high-waisted heights, and to try a few out to see which works best,” Eckman says. “I like a mid-rise high-waist instead of an ultra-high waist because of where it hits on my body.”

Because high-waisted tights allow the cropped top-and-leggings combo to shine, without the need for a third piece to cover up on those who don’t do just-bra workouts, they’re often most fun to style as a set—matching or otherwise. “I love color scheming with my high-waisted leggings,” says Eckman. “I’ll wear a solid color bottom and pair it with a similar-colored—but not exactly the same—crop.” With so many reasons to choose a high waist, this look will likely continue to rise and rise and rise—in popularity, that is.

High-rise waists aren’t the only leggings trend of note. Check out five buzzy prints you should shop, stat. Plus, sales abound right now—snag steals at Athleta, Lululemon and Alo Yoga.

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