Arguably the one and only good thing about the end of summer: Leggings make a comeback! These wardrobe staples save the day right now by easing the transition into fall—making a lightweight dress more substantial, extending the season on a tunic or turning a T-shirt into a fashion statement.
So as we mentally prep for the back half of the year, Bare it All asked our Bare Necessities leggings experts, buyers Melissa McDonald and Kelly Morales, to find their very favorites. These pairs are the most versatile, best looking, least painful ways to walk away from warmer weather.
Drumroll, please: Presenting the first annual Leggings Awards….
BEST BASIC BLACK: Hue Ultra Leggings with Wide Waistband
We all need a few of these go-to, go-with-everything pairs in rotation. For standout value on your everyday opaques, stock up on Hue leggings. The Lycra-Spandex blend helps them fit your figure and keep their shape even after repeat washings and wearings. The wide waistband offers some nice structure around the tummy. They’re so all-day comfortable, don’t be surprised if you end up wearing them to bed every now and then, too.
BEST WEAR-TO-WORK PAIR: Spanx Faux Leather Quilted Leggings
Stretch cotton leggings are essential, but it’s not always clear whether they pass the office-appropriate test. To avoid any possibility of a faux pas, go for an obviously kicked-up pair, like these luxe moto-inspired leggings. The chic stitching detail brings them firmly (and we do mean firmly, as they’re shaping) into the realm of pants. With, say, a tailored black blazer or a tuxedo blouse, you’re stepping into boss babe territory.
MOST WEARABLE PRINT: Spanx Faux Leather Camo Leggings
What do you get when you combine no fewer than three of the top trends in one pair of pants? These matte-and-shine Spanx leggings is what. They’re the definition of versatile: You can put them with heels and a silk blouse for the office as easily as with sneakers and a sweatshirt on the weekends. The green shade is brand new, but whichever cool camo you choose, you can be confident you’re pulling on the easiest-ever outfit-makers.
BEST FOR GOING OUT: Spanx Faux Leather Sequin Leggings
For a dressy look without the dress, just pull on your party pants. Leggings go black tie when they’re covered with sequins in the front and lookalike leather in the back. This glitzy alternative to tights alternative has you covered for every affair from now through winter. Throw them on with a white button-down shirt and heels for a masculine-feminine contrast. You’ve never felt more comfortable at a cocktail party, promise.
BEST LEGGINGS THAT LOOK LIKE REAL JEANS: Spanx Distressed Denim Leggings
Everything you love about designer denim, except for the stiff fabric and price tag starting with a two-hundred. With the added advantage of built-in slimming, these detailed jeans—note the real rear pockets, unfinished hems and subtle, worn-in-all-the-right-places distressing—are gunning to unseat your standard pairs.
BEST JEGGINGS: Lyssé Medium Control Denim Leggings
The difference between real jeans and these convincing lookalikes is that they don’t add any bulk to your body; who doesn’t want that? As sleek and simple as it gets, they visually elongate the length of your legs, using as few seams as possible and zero pockets. In a wardrobe’s worth of colors, pull them on anytime you’d ordinarily reach for jeans or tights for a more textural, interesting layered look.
BEST SIZE RANGE: Spanx Ready-to-Wow Faux Leather Leggings
The biggest trend to hit the leggings market in recent years, faux leather has really been embraced all along the style spectrum—but it isn’t always so easy to find a pair tailored to fit different body types: petite, average and plus. That’s why we’re so in love with these modern classics, which come in unparalleled sizes, from petite XS to 2X. Now everyone can get in on a good thing.
MOST VERSATILE: Commando Fast Track Leggings
If you’re the type to go from Pure Barre to brunch, you’ll be happy you found these all-around winners. Made from soft, light-compression fabrics, they help ease muscle fatigue for all-day energy, improve circulation and smooth the tummy with an internal panel. Like your favorite yoga pants, they’re machine washable and fast-drying so you can get back at it later on the same week.
BIGGEST STATEMENT-MAKERS: Commando Perfect Control Faux Leather Snake Leggings
Nature-derived designs are always a do. Go all-in with this season’s freshest animal motif: a rather charming snake print. For good looks and comfort, this smoothing, high-waisted style features a flattering built-in waistband and four-way stretch. They’re machine washable, keep their shape and look sssssstrikingly like the real thing.
Tell us, what leggings do you live in? Which styles are you most excited to try? Let us know in the comments!
Brooke is the editor of this here blog. In a previous life, she was an editor at Good Housekeeping and O, The Oprah Magazine. Brooke has written for Glamour, Travel+Leisure, New York Magazine and more. She’s into concerts, travel and her exceptionally adorable daughter and husband.