Whether you’re planning to spend an easy breezy morning basking in the sun at your favorite park followed by a quick trip to the local farmers market and an evening of cooking (and dancing) in a music-filled kitchen, or you want to turn up the heat in a spin class, at the gym, or on the mat at your fave yoga studio, we all know high-waisted leggings can take us from morning to night in comfort and style. Why dread the inevitable undoing of the top button by the time the clock strikes 7 p.m. when you could be comfortable (and limitless!) in your most aesthetic tights around the clock?
It’s a no-brainer; the only tricky part is finding the right pair. Of course, not just any style will do. You need high-waisted leggings that move from one weekend shenanigan to another without chafing along the seams, suffocating your waistline, showing your undergarments, or clashing with your boho summer booties. Girl, I’ve got you covered.
Best High-Waisted Workout Leggings
I put five pairs of leggings to the test to see which brands and styles rose to the occasion, boasting perfected tummy-hugging, high-rise waistbands and to see which options quickly fell by the wayside. Read on for my notes and suggestions, so you can decide which pair deserves the beloved top-shelf spot in your wardrobe.
C9 Embrace High Waist Leggings
While these C9 leggings are indeed high waisted, there are a few unfortunate factors that kept me from falling head over heels for these budget-friendly leggings. The C9 Embrace High Waist legging has a waistband that fits snug around the abdomen, settling just beneath my belly button, which was great. The thin material, however, lacked the 4-way stretch capabilities that most of us expect to find with high-rise leggings, which made them a bit uncomfortable. The traditional cottony material didn’t move with my body and required frequent re-adjusting, which is not ideal for yoga flows or cardio workouts.
Does the price tag make up for the limitations? In my opinion, no.
C9 makes finding a last-minute legging in a pinch quite easy. Stop by a Target on your way to any final destination, and voila! You have a wallet-friendly find that will allow you to jump into any legging-dependent activity without breaking the bank.
I’m less than enthused with this workout legging in general, especially the waistband. When I look for a pair of high-waisted leggings, I want to be able to lounge and snack in them after a hard workout without feeling as though the waistband of my pants is digging into my sore abs or food baby.
I’m personally not a fan of thick seams on my workout leggings, which also contributed to a bit of discomfort. Last but certainly not least, these leggings exhibited a bit of sheerness around the rump and noticeably lost shape after a full day of wear.
Old Navy High Rise Compression Leggings
I remember the days when Old Navy was the center of my family’s necessary pre-Fourth of July clothing haul. Now, the store is revamping its brand with items that are truly non-negotiables in this day and age (because leggings are pants). Old Navy’s High Rise Compression Leggings hug the torso just above the belly button, and although some waistband rolling seemed to be unavoidable when I wore these, it certainly wasn’t excessive.
The High Rise Compression Leggings truly did exhibit a fair amount of compression, though the material did have a softer, cotton finish. While this may not be your go-to pair for sweaty pursuits, it could certainly be a contender for everyday wear. Despite the occasional folding, the waistband stayed in place. No shimmying—what a victory!
The fabric is prone to clinging and pilling, so prepare yourself for a waistband (or rather, an entire legging) that requires a few rounds of lint rolling before leaving the house. The quality of the material did reflect the price tag, but that said, the pant was undoubtedly higher quality than the C9 Embrace. Despite being the correct size, the seams of the legging definitely exhibited signs of straining as I pulled them above my hips. Suffice it to say, these pants are compression forward, and there isn’t much “give.”
lululemon Align Pant
Size 2—Available in 19”, 21”, 25”, and 28” Lengths
If I was deserted on an island with only one item of clothing, the lululemon Align would be it. As much as I would love to rant and rave about a pair that’s considerably less pricey, none could compare to the buttery soft, luxurious fit of this high-waisted workout legging.
This pant is perfectly high rise, hugging my abdomen snugly above the belly button. This legging also has one of the highest waistbands, which is perfectly complemented by the sweat-wicking, form-fitting Nulu material. Drool.
The waistline of the Align Pant stays in place during any and all activities, from morning errand running to an evening yoga flow. The thin, smooth material lies completely flat against the skin, making it ideal for wear with bodycon tops. Need to pair your lululemon Power Y tank with a cute but simplistic bottom? This is it.
This legging has mastered the high-rise waistband, leaving me held in without any unnecessary digging or chafing. Squeezing and cinching? Also absent. Eating, breathing, and uninhibited living can be done in peace. Can I get a, “YAS!”? Also wonderful: The Align pant isn’t prone to clinging and lasts quite a while before showing any signs of wear. This is something that can’t be said for any of the previous pairs!
lululemon has yet to make these in every color, and far too often, my local store is sold out of Military Green. Sigh. Also, if you choose to purchase these workout leggings, keep in mind that the delicate material requires more care when washing and drying (P.S. Lay this pair flat, and allow it to air dry!) to extend the life of the legging.
7Goals Cyber X Mesh Legging
I wish I could time travel back to the moment I first tried on these 7Goals Cyber X Mesh Leggings and capture my facial expression. Pleasantly surprised would be the understatement of the century.
The 7Goals leggings are not only more comfortable than the C9 and Old Navy styles, but they’re also far more stylish. Sure, we’ll get to the high-rise details, but first, can we take a moment to appreciate the chic mesh and X-band? Cuter than your typical legging, these could be paired with a low-line sports bra or airy crop top for a winning everyday outfit.
The waistband featured on this high rise is unlike any other I’ve ever worn or seen. The fabric creates an X across the abdomen, which will actually accentuate your waistline. While the band itself lies fairly flat, the added material needed for the X does make it a little, well, lumpy, meaning confidently rocking a crop top is in order, especially if you’re looking to nail an athleisure outfit!
The waistband sits above the belly button and is easily the highest legging of the high waisted pairs that I tested. It stays in place well, making it through a long day of pup-walking and vinyasa malasana. The material has noticeably more stretch than a traditional cotton legging. It’s unbelievably comfortable and moved with my body every which way. The pant was also tailored well throughout the leg, hitting at the ankles without any excess fabric.
The only sheer thing about this pair was the actual meshing. What a relief! While the pant isn’t thin, it isn’t what I would describe as thick, either. All in all, it sits comfortably in the middle of this spectrum.
The brushed material of the Cyber X Mesh Legging is prone to pilling and clinging. While this isn’t a drag in my book, it’s something to consider prior to purchasing and definitely necessitates proper care if you want your new favorite high-waisted legging to last.
ZELLA Live In High Waist Leggings
Another legging that boasts qualities true to its name, ZELLA has created a legging that I could truly live in. These high-waisted leggings are noticeably different from the rest of the pairs in this cohort, and in all the best ways!
If the material used for the lululemon Align Pant is thin, and the 7Goals Cyber X Mesh Legging lands somewhere in the middle, the ZELLA Live In High Waist Leggings are what I consider thick. Although they may not be as airy as the other pairs, these leggings offer a compression that’s evenly dispersed throughout the entire pant including the waistband.
The band sat at the top of my belly button, leaving nothing but the upper rim of the navel visible. To my surprise, the waistband stayed in place throughout 12-hour work days that involved training clients, teaching yoga, and partaking in my own metabolic conditioning session. There wasn’t a single instance that required wiggling or readjusting the pant.
The ZELLA Live in Leggings’ material is by far the most supportive of the group. It lies flat across the tummy, making it another perfect option for semi-fitted shirts. The flexible 4-way stretch also means no digging along the seams or cutting into the obliques.
The simple design and brushed finish make this legging a wonderful pairing for everyday outfits and even casual work attire. The subtle notes of glute-accentuating piping along the back of the waistband are also a welcomed addition! Commando-friendly, squat-proof beyond an ounce of doubt, and notably cheaper than the lululemon Align Pant, this legging makes an ideal high-waisted contender.
As far as the waistband is concerned, ZELLA has no faults. The level of comfort doesn’t compare to that of the lululemon Align, yet it’s certainly a pair that I would want in my own wardrobe—especially for cool days and laid-back activities.