Since we’re all stuck in our homes and only our top halves are visible on Zoom these days, it felt like an appropriate time to finally blog about one of my latest obsessions: seamless waistband leggings. Back in late 2019, I discovered the glory of the seamless waistband, something that I didn’t even know existed. Here I was running around in leggings I thought were cozy enough, but I was wrong.
Whether you’re a fellow seamless waistband convert OR someone who has yet to experience the glory of no elastic band OR a legging lover who is ready to venture down the Lululemon dupe rabbit holes on the interweb, I’m here for you. I’ve fallen down the rabbit holes so you don’t have to. I’ve researched, tried on, returned, and reordered until I realized I had a slight leggings obsession. Now I’m at the point where I’ve sloooowed down my obsession, and I’m happy to live vicariously through others by recommending leggings.
Which, believe it or not, I get a lot of questions about leggings. And my reply is always, “Well, what are you looking for?!” I know, I know, answering a question with a question. But seriously, these are the things I need to know! Do you want a lounge legging? Compression leggings? Leggings that can do it all? Do you need instant gratification in the form of Amazon prime leggings on your doorstep in one day? Or are you up for a little hunting and gathering for a good deal?
Seriously, there’s a lot that goes into finding your Holy Grail leggings, but I’ve learned a lot. I can tell you my preferred ratio of polyester to spandex (75-25), and I can tell if I’ll like or hate a pair of leggings just by glazing my hands over the waistband, like a weirdo. (Yes, I do this in stores). And most of all, I can tell you that I’ll never ever spend $100 on a pair of Lululemon leggings when there are BETTER, MORE AFFORDABLE LEGGINGS OUT THERE. I said what I said. Now go ahead and read what I wrote.
Please note that all of these leggings have seamless waistbands (no elastic bands at the top), but they do have other seams. Entirely seamless leggings are a different story. Legging lovers have different terminology for seams, bands, and cuts, so I am referring to all of these as seamless waistband leggings.
1. BEST LOUNGE LEGGINGS
When I want my legs to be softly swaddled in flexible, buttery-soft fabric so I can lounge all day long, I grab my Aerie OFFLINE Real Me High-Waisted leggings. These seamless waistband leggings are super flattering and crazy comfortable. At first glance, they look small, but they are so stretchy that they have this way of magically molding to your body. They’re so cozy that they feel like you’re wearing nothing! They come in a variety of solids and prints, as well as different lengths for taller or shorter gals. My favorite variation of this legging is the crossover waistband style. The seamless v-cut is slimming, flattering, and just plain cute.
These leggings are definitely a thinner material, and they do not offer much compression, so keep that in mind. Personally, I like how lightweight these leggings are because they don’t hold my legs captive like thicker compression leggings do. The quality of the nylon & elastane fabric checks out, too: I have pairs that I’ve worn and washed every week for a year and they’re still in great condition. You can stick to your true size in these leggings, and if you’re in between sizes, you can probably go down. I’m a pretty solid medium, and they fit great, but they’re so stretchy that I could probably do a small, too.
These leggings are perfect for athleisure looks, but you can also dress them up! When I’m not wearing these with an oversized sweatshirt, I love pairing them with a slouchy sweater and cute booties.
I love wearing these Aerie leggings for…
- Running errands
- Walking, yoga, or light-impact exercise
- Traveling (whether I’m driving or flying)
2. BEST WORKOUT LEGGINGS
My obsession with seamless waistband leggings began when I tried on a pair of my sister’s Lululemon leggings and almost fell in love. Well, it was love, but it was unrequited, because my wallet was not in love with that price tag. After lots of research and clinical try-on trials, I landed on my holy grail workout legging and Lululemon dupe: the CRZ “naked feel” legging. These, like the Aerie leggings, feel almost as if you have nothing on, so the “naked” lives up to its name. But along with this flexible, breathable goodness is magical, comforting compression. It’s not like the “I feel like a busted can of biscuits” compression, but more like a loving, tender embrace in all the right places.
I wear these leggings for working because 1) the lightweight, caring compression & 2) THEY STAY UP! Whether I’m wearing these on a run or in the weight room, I don’t have to worry about them. However, I will note that I size down for this. Trust me on this one. These are so incredibly stretchy and they will fit. My medium-to-large behind hasn’t been a small since my freshman year of college (I’m not doing the math), and I wear a small in these. But only in the naked feel! CRZ’s other leggings are different when it comes to sizing. I especially love CRZ’s cropped, capri length version of these leggings.
Perhaps the best part of these leggings is that they are workout-approved, but they’re comfy enough to wear whenever. I wear these for lounging and errands when I want some gentle compression to suck me in. I also love putting these on in the morning when I know I’m working out later. It’s my little life hack, like if my leggings are already on, I might as well workout!
A note on the “Lulu dupe” claim: These look like Lululemons! They have the same extended gusset crotch, cut, and hidden waistband pocket. Before any Lulu-lovers ask, the “naked feel” legging isn’t a perfect Align dupe or even a Wunder Under dupe. It’s better: It’s a happy medium. It’s like if the Align and the Wunder Under had a baby.
I love wearing these leggings for…
- High-impact exercise: running & HIIT workouts
- Weightlifting & any other exercise
- Running errands
3. BEST “DO IT ALL” LEGGINGS
Love lounging, but also love working out? (Because same.) If you’re ready to get you a pair that can do both, allow me to introduce you to another one of my Amazon obsessions: YUNOGA leggings. I don’t even know how I discovered these, but I did. I took a chance on them in their infancy, when they had few reviews and few colors, but I’m so glad I did! These were love at first tryon. When you know, Yunoga. (They should hire me for that line.)
The YUNOGA Ultra Soft High Waisted Seamless Leggings are stretchy, soft, and flexible. In fact, I love them so much that they’re nearly tied for both lounging and workout categories. They’re really that good, and I reach for them just as much as I reach for my Aerie or CRZ pairs. So they deserved their own unique category! What makes them special is their gentle but effective compression. These hold you in and hide all the quarantine snacks you’ve been eating, but not at the expense of comfort. Also, they make your butt look good. So even if you’re not working out, you’ll look like you do!
Compared to the silky Aerie and CRZ leggings, these have more of a matte feel, thanks to the polyester/spandex blend. This makes them very cozy, and they’re perfect to pair with oversized sweatshirts and sweaters if you’re not wearing them to the gym. Stick to your true size in these, unless you want extra compression.
If you need a Lulu comparison, they are closest to Aligns. But better! Here’s why: They’re probably 95% of the softness of Aligns. But who cares about that 5% when you’re saving $75? Not me. Especially when they make up for that 5% with the gentle, casual compression I need.
I love wearing these leggings for…
- EVERYTHING from working out to running errands to lounging
- A dressier look with a long sweater and boots
- Walking, traveling, hiking, etc.
4. BEST PRINT LEGGINGS
When you research Lululemon dupes, Colorful Koala leggings are often the first to pop up. In fact, these were my first faves when I fell down the seamless waistband leggings rabbit hole over a year ago. While Aerie, CRZ, and Yunoga are my current “holy grail” leggings, these are a close second! When I’m in the mood to wear some cute printed leggings, I often reach for my Colorful Koalas!
These are similar to Yunoga, but a little less soft, even though they’re made of the same blend of fabric (75% polyester & 25% spandex). These have the same kind of slimming, comfortable, and “gentle” compression that keeps everything in the right place without feeling restrictive. Some of their prints are very similar to Lulu aligns, so you won’t be able to tell the difference between a $25 pair and a $100 pair. Once again, I can attest that these hold up well for workouts & multiple washes (without doing anything special). Your true size will be comfortable, but if you’d like extra compression, you can size down. (I have a combination of small and medium pairs for this reason).
Here are my favorite prints from Colorful Koala:
- Cyan Leopard (the cutest, subtle blue leopard print EVER)
- Deep Grey Camo (classic, subtle camo…can you tell I like subtle prints?)
- Leopard (not subtle, but adorably on trend)
If you’re looking for a loungey legging, Colorful Koala also makes some that are very comparable to the Aerie ones! At $23, their Buttery Soft High Waisted Leggings are also more affordable, especially if you can’t snag the Aerie pairs on sale.
But Colorful Koala is not your only option for Lulu-like prints! CRZ also boasts a great collection of fun prints, including some that look identical to the one pair of Lulu aligns I got from Poshmark for comparison purposes!
Here are some of my favorite prints:
- Camouflage black (a nice super subtle camo)
- Leopard Print 4 (stylish brownish-red tinted leopard)
- Leopard print 6 (a cute purple/pink leopard)
- Tie Dye Smoke Ink (trendy black tie dye)
- Leopard prints 1 & 2 (adorable grey and beige leopard prints)
I love wearing these leggings for…
- Working out (all types of exercise, honestly)
- Running errands; throw on a solid oversized sweatshirt and you’re good to go!
- Lounging; these printed leggings look adorable with a solid colored crop top
5. BEST POCKET LEGGINGS
If you’re in need of some pocket leggings, good news! All of the above brands make pocket leggings, but some of the pocket styles have annoying waistbands…so here’s a quick rundown!
- Colorful Koala’s pocket leggings are tried-and-true! They’re just like the regular leggings–same fabric, same cut, just a few extra seams for the pocket (but none at the top). These are available in a large variety of solid colors, as well as a print or two!
- Aerie also just came out with pocket leggings in the OFFLINE Real Me line. I haven’t tried them, but they look the exact same as my holy grail leggings, just with pockets! *Adds to Christmas list*
- Yunoga also recently rolled out some pocket leggings, but they’re only available in black and a white/black print.
- CRZ’s pocket leggings appear to have elastic waistbands at the top, so those are a no for me.
I know some people are ride-or-die when it comes to pocket leggings. Admittedly, I only have a few pairs. I often go pocket-less when I want be able to transition from a cute sweater/leggings look to an athleisure look to a workout-ready outfit. But sometimes pockets are convenient! I love wearing these pocket leggings for…
- Weightlifting, when I often want my phone in a secure pocket
- Running errands, when it’s nice to have my phone accessible in a pocket instead of my purse
6. BEST WARM LEGGINGS FOR COLD WEATHER
Do you live somewhere where winter’s icy wind hurts your face and makes it hard to be a person? Or is that just me? Anyways, if you need a trusty pair of warm leggings, I have some that are midwest-winter approved! CRZ’s Matte Brushed Light Fleece Leggings are perfect if you need some extra warmth, but not too much warmth that will suffocate your legs.
Other fleece leggings I’ve tried are too fleece-y, if that makes sense. These are a light fleece; so light, that you might not even realize there is fleece! They are noticeably thicker and warmer than the other CRZ leggings, which makes them perfect for outdoor exercise or activities in the winter. These have a bit more compression, but they’re still very comfortable and soft! Stick to your normal size in these, because they’re not quite as malleable as the “Naked Feel” (which I size down in).
Also, I haven’t tried them (yet), but CRZ does make a full fleece option if you need even more warmth. It looks like they have an elastic waistband at the top, though, so that’s a no for me. Plus, as much as I try to get outside to walk/run in the winter, if it’s below freezing, it’s also a no for me. The light-fleece version works just fine me!
- Walking or running outside in the fall/winter
- Layering under other clothes for warmth
- Walking, hiking, camping, etc. in the cold
- Staying cozy in the winter
Honorable Mention: BEST AFFORDABLE LEGGINGS
I consider all of the above seamless waistband leggings affordable (as long as the Aerie ones are on sale), but if you’re looking for leggings that are under $20, my best recs are Yogalicious and 90 Degrees by Reflex.
But here’s the catch! (They’re always a catch). First, you have to find these at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s, because their online/Amazon counterparts are more expensive (annoying). Also, not all of these leggings are made the same, and many of them have annoying elastic waistbands at the top, so you have to find the seamless ones! Sometimes it’s like searching for a diamond in the rough, but they are out there. At my local TJ Maxx and Marshall’s stores, they’re usually $16.99 for full-length seamless waistband leggings!
Good luck finding your new favorite pair of seamless waistband leggings! I hope these help you stay comfy and cozy during this whirlwind of virtual teaching!
Let know if you have any questions in the comments! I clearly can’t stop talking about leggings. You can find all of these leggings linked in my Amazon storefront here.
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