12 High-Waisted Leggings that Make You Look and Feel Great
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A pair of high-waisted leggings can flatter any shape with compression, tummy control, and coverage.
The rise of the high-waisted legging
High-waisted leggings are having a moment. Unlike their lower-cut cousins, high-waisted leggings come up past the belly button, sometimes, all the way to the ribcage.
They’re usually made with compression material and have a thick waistband, so they keep everything locked in and don’t roll down or dig into your belly when you run, jump, and stretch. They generally feel and look great.
It may seem trivial, but a good pair of leggings can really make your workout. A pair that’s uncomfortable or ill-fitting can make it harder to get your sweat on.
“When leggings don’t fit well or are constantly falling down during a workout, it’s really distracting,” says Jenna Langhans, New York City-based certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and dancer.
“No one wants to constantly be pulling up their pants by the waist—or more annoyingly, by the thighs. The less time you have to worry about pulling up your pants, or feeling self-conscious in what you’re wearing, the more time you can focus on your training or your workout,” she says.
Of course, there are some other features beyond the height of the waistband that make a pair of leggings great. (These are the best workout leggings, according to fitness trainers.)
What to look for in a pair of leggings
When it comes to finding the “perfect” pair of leggings, there are several qualities you need to consider: fabric, function, sizing, and how you’ll feel wearing them.
Fabric and purpose
“It’s so important to find a perfect pair of leggings that stay up, are a bit compressive, and don’t cause discomfort—aka give you a wedgie or roll down—during your workout,” says Julia Brown, certified personal trainer at Dogpound Los Angeles.
“Also, squat-proof leggings are a staple.” They shouldn’t suddenly become see-through when you squat. If they do, you’ll want to find a pair made of a thicker fabric.
You also want to consider what activities you plan to wear them for.
“If you’re running, you want to make sure that you’re wearing compression or something very sweat wicking that won’t hold onto sweat and leave your pants wet,” says Holly Roser, certified personal trainer and owner of Holly Roser Fitness in San Francisco.
Ditto for strength training or a sweaty HIIT workout class. “If you are doing yoga, you probably want a material that’s easy to move in and something very light that has zero compression,” she says.
Do the squat test
If you can, trying on before you buy is the best way to make sure a pair of leggings fits and feels great. Brown recommends doing the squat test in front of a full-length mirror in bright and natural light to ensure they aren’t see-through.
You want your leggings to feel snug, but not super constricting. Comfort really is the most important thing.
If you’re shopping online, definitely utilize the brand’s fit guide and customer reviews, says Kaitlin Bitting, certified health and wellness coach and barre3 instructor.
“Some brands will suggest that you size down for a more compressive fit, or up if you like to have a little more room,” Bitting says.
“Customer reviews are an often untapped yet incredibly helpful resource. Some sites allow customers to comment on an item’s fit according to their height, weight, bra size, etc., so you can find someone close to your body type for a more educated size recommendation.”
Even general comments on if the item runs small or large or if the quality is good can help guide your purchase, she says.
Look for comfort and confidence
At the end of the day, Langhans stresses that the most important thing is to find what makes you feel comfortable and confident.
“All of our body types are different and a legging that may feel really comfortable and flattering on me might not feel the same on you, and vice versa,” she says.
“My best advice is to try them on, practice some jump squats, fold over a few times and see if they fall down or the waistband folds. If you feel comfortable and confident in them, that’s all that matters.”
The best high-waisted leggings to buy
To help take some of the guesswork out of your shopping, we rounded up some great high-waisted leggings that meet the high standards fitness pros set for their leggings.
Lululemon Wunder Under High-Rise Tight
The Lululemon Wunder Under leggings are a bit of a cult classic. They’re made with soft fabric that’s breathable and stretchy, yet they also have just the right amount of compression to hug your body.
They work well for pretty much any workout—so you’ll definitely get some good use out of them if you do decide to add them to your workout wardrobe.
Also, here are the best thermal leggings to stay warm.
Vuori Clean Elevation Performance Leggings
Brown says that Vuori makes “the best buttery soft leggings and joggers in the game.” She loves them for things like yoga and Pilates. But depending on the style, they really could work well for any type of workout.
This pair from the brand is made of sweat-wicking material and has a hidden zipper pocket—perfect to stash your keys and a credit card or cash when you head out for a run.
Highdays High Waisted Leggings
At less than $15 a pair, these leggings from Highdays are a steal. Customers rave about how soft, stretchy, and squat-proof they are, while also being lightweight and just overall very comfortable.
Made of polyester and spandex, the material is sweat-wicking. Compression is minimal, which makes them best suited for more low-impact, high-mobility activities like yoga.
Athleta Ultra High Rise Elation 7/8 Tight
Bitting describes these leggings as “SO soft,” thanks to Athleta’s Powervita fabric, which is a mix of nylon and Lycra. The fabric is also just the right amount of compression, and dries quickly.
Another feature you didn’t know you needed: The pants have very few seams, so you don’t have to worry about anything rubbing in the wrong places. They also come in sizes up to 3X.
Beyond Yoga Women’s Spacedye High Waist Midi Legging
Beyond Yoga is known for its super-soft yoga leggings that you’ll want to live in. This specific pair is proof that the reputation is very well deserved. Great for low-impact activities, like yoga, Pilates, walking, and indoor cycling, these leggings are super stretchy and conform to your body once you have them on.
They also have a double-layered waistband that lays really flat and comfortably on your stomach, and also keeps the leggings from rolling down or sagging as you do your thing.
Set Active Sculptflex Leggings
“These high-waisted leggings are perfect because they are not too tight around the waist and are super flattering,” Brown says. They’re made of the brand’s proprietary material, a blend of microfiber nylon and spandex, and are completely seamless for a flattering, no-fuss fit.
Spanx Look at Me Now Seamless Leggings
It’s really no surprise that a brand known for its shapewear makes a perfectly compressive and flattering pair of high-waisted leggings. The double-layer waistband on these Spanx leggings is huge, so you’ll get full coverage of your entire midsection.
The fabric feels secure and supportive, but not so tight that it’s constricting or uncomfortable. Reviewers note that the fabric is thick—which means they’re not see-through and are a good option for chillier days.
Yogalicious High Waist Ultra Soft Lightweight Leggings
Satisfied customers have called these leggings a dupe for the Lululemon Align Pant. This pair of Yogalicious leggings is made with material that’s sweat-wicking, gently compressive, and provides a four-way stretch.
Reviewers say the pants are thin, providing a “second-skin” feel, but not so thin that they’re see-through—meaning yes, they pass the squat test.
Alo Yoga Women’s High Waist Moto Legging
These Moto Leggings from Alo Yoga are one of Bitting’s go-to picks. The fabric is thick and stretchy, and the waistband really locks you in.
But they’re also really different and look pretty cool with the motorcycle-inspired detailing—the kind of leggings that can easily pass for “real pants,” she says. (You can also try these cozy loungewear sets.)
Heathyoga High Waisted Leggings with Pockets
Described as soft, stretchy, not see-through, sweat-wicking, and compressive in the midsection, these Heathyoga leggings have everything you’d want from a good pair of high-waisted leggings and more.
The more? Side pockets. The spacious pockets are built into the sides of the pants and are big enough to fit your smartphone. Since they’re sleekly built right into the pant, whatever you slip in there lays flat against your legs, so you don’t have to worry about your items bouncing around when you move.
Universal Standard Danica Mesh Legging
The mesh detail on these high-waisted leggings from Universal Standard makes them even more breathable and airy, so you can stay cool during a sweaty workout. Made of antimicrobial and sweat-wicking fabric, these leggings stay dry and comfortable during sweaty workouts.
The thick waistband and nylon and Lycra fabric makes them compressive but comfortable, so you can move freely without worrying if your leggings will stay where they should. And Universal Standard has extremely inclusive sizing: These leggings are available in sizes ranging from 4XS to 4XL.
90 Degree by Reflex High Waist Squat Proof Ankle Length Interlink Leggings
Another popular and inexpensive leggings pick, this pair from 90 Degree by Reflex is compressive, stretchy, and buttery soft. The Healthy senior editor Lizette Borreli loves these leggings so much, she actually bought them in three colors. They’re easy to pull on and off, and “fit like a glove.”
The fabric is woven together in a way that ensures they’re squat-proof and don’t show a panty line. They work just as well for running errands and doing lunges, so you can wear them for pretty much anything. And they hold up nicely in the washer and dryer.
Next, check out the best bike shorts for women.
- Jenna Langhans, New York City-based certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and dancer
- Julia Brown, certified personal trainer at Dogpound Los Angeles
- Holly Roser, certified personal trainer and owner of Holly Roser Fitness in San Francisco
- Kaitlin Bitting, certified health and wellness coach and barre3 instructor